panoramic view from Chehalem Ridge
Panoramic view from the top of Chehalem Ridge (click picture to enlarge)

Last month I was fortunate to have the chance to tour the Chehalem Ridge Natural Area, a 1,100 acre property acquired last year by Metro near Gaston. It was a fascinating field trip led by Kate Holleran, who is responsible for directing forest management for Metro at Chehalem Ridge.

Kate described Metro’s management objectives, which include restoring oak woodlands through thinning and release from conifer competition; thinning the extensive, dense stands of young Douglas-fir to improve forest health, productivity, and forest structure; maintain the property’s extensive road network; and protect and improve fish and wildlife habitat. Kate hopes that Chehalem Ridge will be managed as a working forest, with revenues from product sales going back into forest management activities.

Chehalem Ridge is currently not open to the public except through guided tours. Luckily, Washington County Small Woodlands Association has arranged for a tour on August 27th. I look forward to seeing what develops at Chehalem Ridge in the coming years. I think it could be a great local resource to demonstrate forest management for multiple objectives. 

Spring seems to be late in arriving this year, and so is the spring edition of our newsletter, Tall Timber Topics. But here it is at last. In this issue you will find information on new publications on soil management, weed management for Christmas trees, new online forest maps, and a calendar of upcoming events.

Producing, printing and mailing a newsletter takes time. I’m hoping that this blog will be a means of getting information out in an easier and more timely way. But for those who still prefer or rely on a printed source of information, rest assured that Tall Timber Topics is not going away.

A whole bunch of happenings of interest in our areas in the upcoming weeks. Here’s the rundown:
Sat. April 16th, 9 am – 2 pm: Oregon Woodland Cooperative Annual Meeting. Kinton Grange. Members expected, visitors are welcome. Lots of updates on Co-op activities and a potluck lunch.

Tues. April 19th, 6 – 8 pm: Build Local Alliance Spring Showcase. Portland. The event is free and open to the public who are interested in sourcing and utilizing local wood products.

Tues. April 26th, 6:30 pm: Washington County Small Woodlands Association meeting. OSU Extension office in Beaverton. Charlie LeFevere, well-known Oregon truffle expert, is the guest speaker.

Sat. April 30th, 5:30 pm: Columbia County Small Woodlands Association meeting. Beaver Homes Grange. Bruce Alber will speak on herbicide applications for forestry. Dinner beforehand; call 503-556-2014 to RSVP.

It’s nothing new for this time of year, but we sure have seen our share of precipitation lately. While we’ve likely seen the last of the snow (finally), more wet weather is in store. Good for planting trees, but maybe causing problems on your roads. Out in the field over the last several weeks, I’ve seen plenty of issues with roads. Here are some examples.

Example #1: A landowner has a steep, winding access road that leads from her house down to her pasture. Adjacent to the road, a culvert underneath a county road feeds into a small field. But heavy rain washed sediment and gravel off the county road and it collected in front of the culvert, diverting water from the field onto the landowners’ access road. Because the road had not been designed with water diversion features, severe erosion ensued. Lesson: Get the water off your road as soon as possible. Use ditches, waterbars, and cross drains to do so.

Example #2: The sidecast fill failed on an industrial haul road high up along a steep slope, sending a landslide that reached almost down to the fish-bearing stream that the landowner had been working hard to restore. In this case, the road was an old one that would have been designed differently under today’s standards, and if it were not for the need to access a harvestable unit in the near future, the landowner would have closed this road a while back.  Lesson: Old roads are often the worst. If you have an old road that is no longer needed, consider closing and restoring it.

Example #3: Busy beavers have created a pond directly upstream of a culvert on a landowner’s property. A timber company has a road easement to access their land in back of this property, and they dynamited the beaver dam in the past to protect the culvert and the road. But the beavers came back, and the pond is even bigger than before. Now the landowners are concerned that a big rain could cause the culvert to plug and the road to fail. Lesson: No easy solution here. Nature’s engineers are crafty. Re-engineering the stream crossing may be the long-term (but expensive) solution.

If any of these situations sound familiar, or if you have other road issues, check with the friendly folks at the NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District office. They might have some technical and financial assistance to help you out and protect our watershed health at the same time.

Longtime woodland owners always seem to have interesting stories to tell, and it seems like local writers are picking up on that. I just came across a story on Country Traveler Online about the VanNatta family and their tree farm outside of Rainier. This website says that it is  meant to “entice people to travel more in Oregon”. I wonder how many of these people will try to make it down the VanNatta’s driveway…

A couple of months ago, the Keasey family of Vernonia was featured in a long article in The Vernonia Voice. This family is now in the seventh generation of owning their land. Wow!

It’s great to see stories like these pop up in places where the public can learn what family woodland ownership is all about.

This is the big weekend for tree sales. Here’s the rundown for three sales, all happening Saturday, March 12th.

Columbia County Small Woodlands Association tree sale: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm at Lawrence Oil in St. Helens. Bareroot seedlings including Douglas-fir, western redcedar, grand fir, ponderosa pine,coastal redwood, port orford cedar, noble fir,  Oregon ash, and a variety of ornamental species. First come, first serve – arrive early for best selection!

Washington County Small Woodlands Association native plant sale: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Bales Thriftway in Aloha. A wide variety of container size trees, shrubs, and forbs. See the full list and details by clicking this link.

Weyerhaueser Public Seedling Sale: 8:00 am – noon, Aurora Forest Nursery. About a dozen conifer species of various stock types on sale as well as some hardwoods. Major forest species sold by the bag or in small quantities. All the details are here.

Happy planting!

There’s a workshop series coming up for rural, small acreage property owners who have (or want to have) multiple property uses, such as woodlands, pastures, and livestock. It will be at the OSU North Willamette Research and Experiment Station in Aurora on Wednesday nights beginning April 6th. Topics covered will include:
–conservation planning
–soil management
–well & septic management
–forests, rivers & wildlife
–mud and manure
For all the details and to sign up, visit this link.
Presented by the OSU Small Farms Program and the Tualatin, West Multnomah and Marion Soil & Water Conservation Districts

For those who are new to managing their property, or who want an overview of the concepts and applications of forestry as applied to small woodlands, this shortcourse is a great place to start. The class will meet for five consecutive Wednesday evenings, Feb. 16 through Mar. 16, in North Plains. In addition there will be a Saturday tour to see and discuss woodland management on the ground. The class is about half-full, so if you want to sign up, register soon! There is a $40 course fee that covers all materials. For more information, see our flyer.

I’m hosting Woodland Information Night at the Washington County Extension office on January 12th at 6:30 pm. The title of this program says it all – if you are a small woodland owner and are wondering where to go for help in taking care of your property, come and find out. You’ll find out about the multitude of local agencies and organizations that provide support to small woodland owners, take home resources to get you started, and get answers to your questions. The event is free. See you there!

Woodland Information Night
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 6:30 pm
OSU Extension Service
18640 NW Walker Rd, Beaverton