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

Old basins found at the Matteson Forest probably belonged to a dairy farmer in the mid-20th century.

Ah, November. The wet and the darkness set in and we feel like turning on the teapot and bundling up. For woodland owners, winter lends an opportunity to catch up on indoor projects: accounting, taxes, and maybe updating or writing a management plan.

Another indoor activity that I guarantee will be more interesting than any of the above is researching and putting together a history of your woodland. It may mean digging through old family files or recording the memories of an elder relative, if your property has been in the family for a while. For those with a newer relationship to their land, it may mean a lot of online research. Either way, it can be a revealing and rewarding process; and by documenting what you learn you will gain a richer connection to  your woodland and ensure this history is not lost to future generations. Continue reading

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

This must be the end of the road...
This must be the end of the road…

One of the first orders of business on the Matteson Demonstration Forest is getting to know the lay of the land.  180 acres is a lot to get to know!  As is the case with any new woodland owner, we need a map to help orient ourselves while on the property, and to keep track of where different roads and trails lead.

Eventually, the OSU College Forests staff will create a GIS map of the Matteson Forest with various spatial layers – property boundaries, roads, forest types, culverts, and so forth.  In the meantime, I’ve been using Google Earth to create my own map, adding information as I continue to explore the tract.  While in the woods, I’ve been using a GPS app on my smartphone to keep track of where I am and to record points and paths. In this article I’ll describe how I’ve been using these two applications, which I think would be useful to most woodland owners who don’t have GIS at their fingertips. Continue reading

By Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension – Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

A local meeting of professional foresters last month focused on how forest management practices reflect the objectives of the owners. That sometimes creates challenges for the managers, since owner and manager are often not synonymous when it comes to forests and other natural resource lands. Some objectives and corresponding management practices are very well defined and developed, and others much less so.

An intensively managed young stand
An intensively managed young stand

For example, lands managed for stockholders and other investors are often planted as even aged stands on fairly short rotations, since it is an efficient way to manage risk and provide a return on investment while also providing some additional benefits to society.   There is good understanding and a pretty straight line between those objectives and managers activities, both of which have remained reasonably steady over time. Their management practices have been developed through applied research, so these managers are generally quite successful in meeting their objectives.

Continue reading

Lately I’ve been immersed in the subject of forest management planning. From developing a website that helps landowners navigate the process of creating a forest management plan; to collaborating on a revised set of management planning guidelines for Oregon; to teaching Mentored Management Planning workshops; this has been a major theme of my work over the past year.

So I was interested to come across a recent article about management planning in the Oregonian. The article described the management plan that is in place for the city of Forest Grove’s 4,200 acre forested watershed, and the positive impacts that having the plan has had on the land. Though this forest is much bigger than those that most small woodland owners manage, the article demonstrated many of the same principles of forest management planning that I use in my courses.

Management planning starts with identifying goals for the site. The number one goal in the case of Forest Grove’s watershed is, not surprisingly, protecting drinking water quality. Biodiversity and sustainable timber management are secondary goals. These goals drive all of the actions called for in the plan – such as road rehabilitation, erosion control, and carefully planned timber harvests.

Forest management planning has evolved over time. In the 1970’s and ’80’s, most forest management plans were concise timber management plans – laying out succinct timelines for planting, weed control, thinning and clearcut harvest to optimize wood production.  Nowadays we take a much more holistic approach. Today’s plans consider all the different resources on a given piece of land – timber, of course; but also recreational resources, streams, fish and wildlife, roads, aesthetics, soils, and much more. We recognize that most landowners value many other aspects of their property as least as much as the timber resource. Well-constructed plans reflect the suite of values of the landowner and place emphasis on them appropriately.

The other important management planning principle that I took note of in the article was the fact that the plan is being updated, ten years after it was originally written. It is a good idea to revisit one’s plan after a time, both to check that the goals are still relevant and to recognize the progress that has been made towards achieving them.

Join the Oregon Women Owning Woodland Network on Saturday, January 21st for a program on “How to Interpret Your Timber Cruise“. Learn how to understand what a cruise report tells you about your timber, when is the right time to have a cruise done, and options for updating an old one. If you have a cruise report from your own property, bring it along to work with.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 21st, 2012
Time: 9 am to noon (brown bag lunch optional)
Location: Hyla Woods, Timber (owned by the Hayes family) – see flyer for directions

The OSU Women Owning Woodlands Network presents a workshop: “Getting Computer Savvy: Google Earth and other Forestry Resources” on Friday, December 2nd, 9 am – noon at Clackamas Community College (the location of Tree School).

In this hands-on computer session, learn how to use Google Earth, Oregon Explorer, and Web Soil Survey to explore your property from your desktop. You will create and take home property maps with aerial photography, soil data, topography, fish and wildlife information, and more. Time willing, we will tap into a couple of social media opportunities that enable us to keep in touch and learn from home.

Participants should be comfortable navigating the Internet, but no specific experience with these programs is necessary.

RSVP to (541) 766-6750 or chrissy.lucas@oregonstate.edu.

To learn more about the Women Owning Woodlands Network, click here.

There are lots of reasons to have a written forest management plan. You need one to be a member of the Tree Farm system. You need one to obtain cost-share funding. You can use it to plan and keep track of future management activities.

There are also lots of reasons why most landowners don’t have a management plan. The fun of woodland ownership is in the doing, not in the writing down what you have done or are going to do! Writing a plan takes time and a certain level of knowledge, and having a professional write one for you takes money. 

If you’ve been putting off writing or updating your forest management plan, this fall is the opportunity to git-‘er-done. OSU Extension will be conducting a four-session Mentored Management Planning workshop in St. Helens. You’ll be guided through the writing process and will be paired with an experienced mentor who can provide one-on-one assistance. Work on your plan for “homework” between sessions, and by Thanksgiving you’ll have finished the writing and can get back to the doing!

Dates: Wednesday evenings, Sept. 14, Sept. 28, Oct. 12, Nov. 9

Location: OSU Extension Service, St. Helens

Cost: $40 per family/ownership

Download a flyer for the rest of the details…