Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Clackamas, Marion, and Hood River Counties

Many family forest owners I meet have older trees and forests – 60 to 80 or more years old – and they would like to retain mature forest conditions. They are interested in periodic thinning, selective harvesting of trees or small patches, and keeping options open for the future. But landowners with larger older timber often hear that they are better off, from an economic and operational standpoint, to clearcut a patch and regenerate it all at once.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties, and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent, Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties.

MWM Class of 2019

We are excited about recently finishing a Master Woodland Manager (MWM) training and welcoming a new group of MWM volunteers in the mid and north Willamette Valley. The 22 local landowners hail from Benton, Polk, Washington and Yamhill Counties, and bring a wide range of interests, experience and skills to the program.  This advanced training included eight full days of classes and field tours, over four months, providing participants with lots of practical information and opportunities to share and learn from classmates.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk counties.

A recent clearcut/new plantation/rebounding forest in Coast Range foothills

Forests disturbed by fire or harvest look different than they did before the disturbance.  Just how different depends on the size and intensity of the disturbance, of course.  It’s no surprise that a site changed by fire or harvest clearly loses its value to certain wildlife species who like dark, closed forests.  But, disturbance creates opportunities for many other species of plants and animals which prosper in the different, more open environment as the forest rebounds. 

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk counties.

Mature forest in western Oregon

People enjoy and cherish Oregon’s forests for a number of reasons.  High among them are the beauty and the variety of plants and animals that live there.

While most of us picture older forests when we read that, we would be wrong to think of that as the complete picture.  Nonetheless a large part of our emotional, scientific and social energy is directed towards those older forests.

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

Insects – they can get a bad rap.  Many of our humankind categorically view them as pests – agents of uncleanliness, nuisance, or destruction. Sure, it’s hard to appreciate houseflies, ticks, mosquitos and yellow jackets, but the vast majority of them – nearly 100,000 known insect species in the U.S. alone –are simply going about their business and doing no harm to us. Many are even providing services that we take for granted such as disposing of detritus and cycling nutrients.

Larval galleries of wood boring insects in a dead ponderosa pine tree

The same goes for insects in the forest. We in Extension receive many photos and samples brought to us from people who suspect that insects are killing their trees. However, I’m here to tell you that if you have a dead or dying tree, then chances are that even though it is full of insects and their tunnels, it’s usually a case of correlation, not causation. Continue reading

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

 

We have written about forest diversity, its importance in providing habitat for different species, or a species at different seasons or at different stages of its development.  We have addressed the forest, trees and shrubs in particular, but the importance of habitat diversity applies to other parts of the forest environment too.  Like streams.

Guillermo Giannico discusses aquatic habitats along Griffith Creek, Benton Count.

We learned about the importance of having different stream habitats to support fish, insects and other aquatic life while on a recent Extension tour.    A stream can have many types of habitat.  The anatomy of a stream (the stream’s morphology) can be described in terms that are familiar to anglers: pools, riffles, glides, bars and tail outs.  Each term describes a different combination of water depth and flow that together provide a type of habitat.  You can see and often hear this:  Some parts are quiet (pool and glide), some gurgle their presence to those nearby (a riffle), while falls and a plunge pools announce themselves at a distance.  Aquatic biologists get excited about streams with a good mix of these habitats in a stream reach, just as wildlife biologists get excited by forest structure and snags.  Hmm.  Continue reading

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

I was recently on a tour where we looked at how growing conditions, productivity and plant communities all change across the landscape according to elevation, soils, rainfall, aspect and other factors.  These are often included in the term “site productivity”.  These factors give important insights to the ability of a site to support different types of plants, and also how well they will grow there.  This capacity to produce biomass, or support tree growth is often expressed in the important forestry concept of site class as described in this article.

There is something odd about this rock….

We traveled from near the crest of the Coast Range back to the Valley floor to watch changes in site class and vegetation.  Our final stop was a rock sitting on a small hill beside a vineyard in Yamhill County, looking out across the Willamette Valley.

It is a large rock (about 90 tons), unrelated to any of the bedrock of the hill.  This rock helps tell a story of events during the last ice age that shaped the Willamette valley and its historic vegetation.  It influences the present, largely agricultural, vegetation as well. Continue reading

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

If you’ve ever been out on a field tour with a bunch of foresters, you probably heard one of them use the term “site productivity” in describing a particular forest, or comparing two different forests. But to the person without a lot of formal forestry background, site productivity may be a vague concept at best. However, it is an underlying attribute that turns out to explain a lot of what we observe in our forests: what types of trees thrive, which seem to have problems, what amount of competition our seedlings face, and more. So let’s take a closer look at site productivity. Continue reading

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

The woods are full of living things, all contributing to the forest’s diversity: Trees; check. Shrubs; check. Woodland flowers; check. Birds; check. Obvious enough, right?
But there are all sorts of less-obvious things which are seen only occasionally, such as mushrooms (fungus), many often-tiny things like insects, or secretive things such as amphibians. All add to the diversity, and many play important roles in how a forest functions
Let’s take a look at some more obscure but fascinating members of the forest community: lichens. We’ve all seen them. They are everywhere, including your woods. But what is a lichen? Continue reading

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

A bumblebee on a lavender flower. Photo credit: David Cappaert, bugwood.org.

The health of insect pollinators is an issue of increasing concern and attention.  Both managed bees (honeybees) and native bees face various threats, including diseases, chemical use, and loss of suitable habitat. While pollinators can include other insects (flies, butterflies, etc.), bees are considered some of the most important. Without healthy bee populations, many flowering crops we humans depend on would not flourish; and native ecosystems that other animals depend on would be impaired.

Because many individuals and organizations are interested in protecting and conserving bees in Oregon, the Oregon Bee Project came into being in order to be a clearinghouse of information, a facilitator of bee conservation and education initiatives. Last week the Oregon Bee Project hosted the PNW Pollinator Summit in Corvallis, a two-day conference designed to bring together researchers, Extension, non-profits, and other groups that are involved in pollinator conservation. I got to attend and was especially interested in the presentations and field trip focused on forests and forestry. Continue reading