By Amy Grotta and Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Through a creative and carefully planned harvest, this mature forest has undergone a structural diversity makeover.

Continuing our series, we’ll now look at steps that woodland owners can take to enhance structural diversity in their forests.  Recall that “structural diversity” refers to the amount of three-dimensional variation in the forest. In other words, a structurally diverse forest has trees of different sizes arranged in uneven patterns across the site.

Why do we care about structural diversity? Structural diversity is important to creating an “older” or “natural” forest look that many people want on their property.

Structural diversity is also a very important part of wildlife habitat. Continue reading

By Amy Grotta and Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Our previous installment of this series introduced the key elements of forest diversity. Species diversity (a.k.a. compositional or biological diversity) is one of those elements.  So how do you achieve it, especially if what you are starting out with is a plantation forest with only a few species? The transition to an older forest with many plant species will not happen quickly. However, at every stage in a forest’s life cycle, there are opportunities and choices one can make to move the needle to a more species-rich forest.

The rest of this article and the accompanying infographic takes us through these choices, stage by stage. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension.

 

Many landowners are interested in growing a diverse forest as discussed in the previous post.  Their reasons may include having an attractive woodland retreat, providing habitat for wildlife or having a more resilient forest.  Whatever the reason, knowing what different parts of forest diversity look like is a key step towards getting it.

There are several key parts to diversity: those things that grow and live in a forest, how those things are arranged and when those things happen. Each is shaped or influenced by the physical environment (like soils or elevation) and natural processes (like competition, storms or fire).  Many kinds of diversity can also be enriched by us.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension.

We often hear from landowners that that they want a diverse, natural-looking forest. Their reasons vary.  Some folks are aware of the many ecological benefits that diversity brings to a woodland property, while others may have been inspired by the beauty of an old growth forest.

Old growth forest at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River OR

Of course, it takes centuries for an old growth forest to develop and many of our readers have young stands planted within the last decade or two that may look more like this:

Young D-fir plantation in foothills of the Coast Range

So how do you move from one situation to another?

Happily, a landowner has many ways to influence and encourage diversity in their woodlands. Even if you have just bought some recently cut-over land, it does not have to remain a simple timber plantation if you do not want it to be.  You can grow a diverse forest.  And it can be done within decades rather than centuries.  No, it will not be old growth, but it may help reach many of the diversity-related objectives landowners commonly mention, including an attractive forest setting, better habitat for a variety of animals and a resilient forest.

A network of paths leads from any starting point in a woodland’s development. Each crossing is an event or decision that leads in a different direction and towards a different woodland condition.

In this series, we will be exploring the pathways to a diverse forest in western Oregon. These ideas also apply to an oak woodland, a riparian forest as well as an upland conifer-dominated forest.  In our next post we look at what makes a forest diverse and why it matters.  In later posts we will consider turns you can take throughout the life of the forest to restore, enhance and maintain woodland diversity to match your particular objectives.

Another view of pathways, incorporating competitive zones leading to certain outcomes.

 

Jen Gorski, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Clackamas County

Oregon forest landowners and Christmas tree growers are having difficulty locating seedlings to buy.

In response, the Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU Extension and other partners are working hard to identify and solve the problems limiting the supply. It’s not an easy fix; many pieces account for the problems and the solutions.

OSU Clackamas County Extension hosted a meeting in January to discuss the seedling supply. Landowners revealed that certain species or stock types are not always available within a year of planting. This presents some uncertain choices and potential compromise. One year plugs may be available in lieu of 1-1 transplants (2 year old seedlings). The 1-1 transplants have a fibrous root system and a track record of success in challenging conditions. However, future survival of one year plugs is uncertain. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Many landowners depend on professional operators to help get things done on their property.  This includes weed control. Finding the right person for the job is important. The process starts with knowing what you are looking for.

Good weed control is a boon to seedling survival
Good weed control is a boon to seedling survival

Like most forestry management practices, weed control is actually a mix of different activities. Depending on what you know and can do yourself, hiring a chemical applicator means you are actually looking to hire a mix of knowledge and skill, equipment and labor.

It is important to get this right. Otherwise you may waste money or injure your trees.  Worse still, it could mean causing damage to the environment or a neighbors’ crops, either of which would create a liability issue for you.

So how do you go about selecting the right chemical applicator for you? In conversations with some forestry professionals and landowners recently, it all boiled down to communicating about needs and expectations.  Here are some key questions and things to discuss before hiring a chemical applicator to work on your property.

Questions to ask potential providers: Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Tree planting season is upon us. Once the deep freeze departs western Oregon woodland owners will be heading out, shovels and seedlings in hand, to plant the next generation of forests.  The saying “green side up” implies that tree planting isn’t rocket science; but inevitably, come late summer some people will return their planting sites to find that their trees didn’t fare so well.  Weather and other uncontrollable factors cause seedling mortality some years more than others.  But, it’s also easy to unintentionally harm your trees before they even get in the ground. So before you go to a seedling sale this year to pick up a few trees, here are some common cases of seedling abuse and how to avoid perpetrating them.

A balmy sunny day might entice you outdoors, but it's not ideal weather for tree planting.
A balmy sunny day might entice you outdoors, but it’s not ideal weather for tree planting.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

 

I was given Norwegian Wood this summer. No, not the Beatles’ famous 1965 single about a John Lennon romance.  The gift is a book about the Scandinavian romance with firewood.  Its full title is “Norwegian Wood: chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way” (by Lars Mytting).  I loved it.  I would probably hesitate to admit that to most people, but Tree Topics and Compass readers are not most people.  You are wood people and will understand.  dscn5054

Norwegian Wood is an embrace of all things firewood. It delves into the historic Scandinavian reliance on wood to heat hearth and home when having enough wood on hand (at far northern latitudes) was a matter of life and death.  That dependence seems to still shape the collective Scandinavian psyche.  People there respect wood.

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By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Happy fall!
Happy fall!

For the fourth installment in our series on native shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife, I’ve chosen one that appropriate to the season, provides some nice fall color to our forests.  Now I’ve met more than a few woodland owners who are not fans of vine maple; it’s not a favorite of those who prefer a tidy or parklike forest. Working or wandering in mature forests you’ve probably tripped over it or crawled under it and possibly cursed it under your breath.  Nevertheless, vine maple is another of those “brush” species that benefits wildlife in numerous ways. With some tolerance for its rambling ways you can find a place for this species to provide that service on your woodland in concert with your other land management goals.  If you are interested in enhancing wildlife habitat on your property, read on for our species profile.

Species name: Vine maple (Acer circinatum)
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By Amy Grotta and Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Group mortality of Douglas-fir in May 2015.  Douglas-fir beetle was found in all these trees.  Photo Kara Shaw
Group mortality of Douglas-fir in May 2015. Douglas-fir beetle was found in all these trees. Photo Kara Shaw

We have certainly experienced some significant drought conditions lately.  Stressed and dying trees are showing up all around the Willamette Valley, with concern that this could lead to beetle outbreaks and still more trees killed.  Is it time to throw in the towel, cut your losses (so to speak) and just salvage everything that is looking poorly?  Maybe, maybe not.  The decision needs to be considered carefully, weighing individual sites and stand conditions along with your objectives for your property.  Anybody considering a salvage harvest needs to look before they leap. Continue reading