Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Extension fosters stewardship of Oregon’s forests

Get Outdoors Day returns
Sponsored by the OSU Research Forests, FNR Extension, the Benton County Health Department and Linn and Benton counties, Get Outdoors Day returned to the Peavy Arboretum for the first time since 2019. The theme was “Returning to the Forest,” and the day featured bilingual activities, self-guided tours, fishing and more. More than 20 organizations from the Willamette Valley worked together to host the event, dedicated to encouraging healthy, inclusive outdoor recreational opportunities.

Teaching youth to value forests
Associate Professor Alicia Christiansen, the FNR Extension agent for Douglas County, hosted the 60th annual Douglas County School Forestry Tour at the Glide Educational Forest in April. Students learned about topics such as wildlife, forest products, forest management, fire management, fisheries and hydrology, tree identification and archeology. They were also able to participate in activities like choker races and using crosscut saws. FNR Extension foresters like Christiansen are in the community teaching the public, including young people, about the value of Oregon forests.

Fire program expands outreach
The FNR Extension Fire program has a mission to teach all Oregonians how to be prepared for wildfires. The program developed and translated informational cards in Spanish about basic wildfire preparedness for the home, simple actions to reduce wildfire impact before it strikes, how to be smoke ready and tools to support mental health before, during and after a wildfire. The program also offers online resources for those who can’t attend in-person events, such as a recent webinar on preparing for wildfire season in Benton County.

Research shows Klamath Mountain Douglas-firs in ‘decline spiral’
A study by FNR Extension found there are multiple factors in the decline of Douglas-fir trees in the Klamath Mountains of southern Oregon. Douglas-fir growing on hot, dry sites are further stressed by drought and then left susceptible to flathead fir borers. The researchers, including Extension agent and Associate Professor Max Bennett and Professor and Forest Health Specialist David Shaw, developed a measuring tool that landowners and managers can use to predict a stand’s chance of infestation by borers, other insects and fungi to understand mortality risks.

Tree School returns in Oregon
Tree Schools, which are mini-colleges for people who love forests, were held this spring in Clackamas and the Oregon coast, and in early summer in Eastern Oregon. Participants include family forestland owners, foresters, loggers, arborists, teachers and the public. Classes are taught by FNR Extension foresters, natural resource professionals and experienced local landowners. Each year, regional Tree Schools are hosted in various counties around the state of Oregon.

Helping Oregon’s woodland owners manage their land
The Master Woodland Manager training is offered by FNR Extension as a high level course for private landowners who are interested in intensive forest management training and sharing the knowledge gained through this training with people in their local communities. The program addresses technical forestry topics such as forest planning and management, reforestation, wildfire, fire, timber harvesting and more. More than 600 landowners have been trained through the program, and in 2022, participants reported 3,400 hours of volunteer public education in their communities.

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Forest birds with short, round wings more sensitive to habitat fragmentation
Tropical forest birds tend to have wings that are short and round relative to their body length and shape. Professor Matt Betts, the Ruth H. Spaniol chair of renewable resources, and Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral scholar, found these birds are more sensitive to habitat fragmentation than species common in temperate forests. This study, published in “Nature Ecology and Evolution,” provides solid evidence for the idea that forest birds in the lower latitudes struggle to relocate when their habitat breaks up because they weren’t required to evolve in ways that promote movement to new areas. Birds from temperate forests, like jays, robins and migrant warblers tend to be better movers as they have long, narrow wings that are better suited to long-distance flight.

Bees flock to clearcut areas but decline as forest canopy regrows
Doctoral Student Rachel Zitomer and Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology Jim Rivers studied 60 intensively managed Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) stands of multiple ages, including within the OSU Research Forests. They found that bee abundance and species richness declined rapidly with stand
age, decreasing by 61% and 48%, respectively, for every five years since timber harvest. This research is one of the first attempts to study how native bee communities change over time in the Oregon Coast Range. Management activities that keep the forest canopy open for a longer period during the initial stage of stand regeneration may enhance bee diversity in landscapes dominated by intensively managed conifer forests.

Temperature, more than drought, caused heat dome tree damage.
In June 2021, the Pacific Northwest had multiple days of record setting, triple-digit temperatures resulting in widespread tree scorch. A team led by Professor Christopher Still attributes the damage more to the temperature than to drought conditions, citing evidence that leaf discoloration and damage are consistent with direct exposure to solar radiation in combination with extreme air temperatures. A previous article had concluded that the trees’ problems were the result of drought and a failure in the trees’ hydraulic system. The coastal Douglas-fir and western hemlock plantation forests saw the most extensive impacts from the heat dome, and they experienced low levels of drought compared to the Willamette Valley and the western slopes of the Cascade Range, which experienced less foliar damage.

Woodpecker adapts to both burned and unburned forests
Research led by Doctoral Student Mark Kerstens and Associate Professor Jim Rivers sheds new light on the Black-backed Woodpecker. This species is known for its strong association with recently burned forests. It is also a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss stemming from post-fire management practices in those same forests. Kerstens and Rivers studied breeding Black-backed Woodpeckers in southern Oregon to evaluate whether nest survival and post-fledging survival differed between green and burned forests. The woodpeckers in green forests were equally successful at breeding as those in recently burned forest, although densities of nesting pairs in green forest were lower than those in burned forest. Certain types of green forest, particularly mature lodgepole pine, and practices that promote pyrodiversity—landscape-level spatial and temporal variability in fire effects—as well as connectivity between green and burned forest within fire-prone landscapes are likely to provide the greatest conservation benefit for this species.

Research explores how wildfire can help restore forests
Graduate Research Fellow Skye Greenler and Assistant Professor Chris Dunn studied the dry forests of Eastern Oregon, which evolved amid frequent, low-severity fires. To explore the potential for fire alone to restore these dry forests, they developed a novel method to predict the range of fire severities most likely to restore historical conditions. They found moderate severity fires can help restore resilient forest conditions, but multiple burns or treatments are required to fully restore historical conditions.

TDI continues to advance mass timber technologies
TallWood Design Institute (TDI) has received a $1 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to research innovations in mass timber architecture, engineering and construction in the region. The National Science Foundation awarded the grant as part of its “Regional Innovation Engines” program. Advancing Mass Timber technology promotes environmental resilience and U.S. global competitiveness through the increased use of sustainable mass timber products and their applications in
buildings, including affordable housing.

Moisture is key to soils’ ability to sequester carbon
Soil is the Earth’s second biggest carbon storage locker after the ocean, and a research collaboration has shown that moisture levels are key to locking in carbon. Previously it was thought that temperature and the mineral content of the soil would have a larger effect on how long carbon stayed in the soil. The findings are important for understanding how the global carbon cycle might change as the climate grows warmer and drier. Professor Jeff Hatten was a co-author of the study, and Doctoral Student Adrian Gallo analyzed many of the 400 soil core samples from 34 sites.

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

At Oregon State University College of Forestry, students, faculty and staff work collaboratively with alumni, donors and partners toward a shared desire to improve life for all. Whether it’s developing innovative approaches to forest management, creating new wood products, preserving the health and vitality of ecosystems or expanding and supporting local economies, the college is strengthened by this collective approach.

At this year’s Dean’s Dinner on May 24, the college community honored current students and alumni who are making a difference in our changing world. This year’s outstanding alumni are leading the charge to ensure healthy forests, gender equality, and robust and resilient economies. Learn more about their legacies and join the college in celebrating their accomplishments:

Jessica Leahy, Ph.D.
‘99, B.S. Forest Recreation Resources
‘01, M.S. Forest Resources

An advocate for women in forestry, Leahy was the second woman tenured in the University of Maine School of Forest Resources and first to achieve the rank of full professor. She was a founding member of SWIFT, a UMaine group supporting women and gender minorities in forestry programs, and was an advisory council member for the inaugural 2022 Women’s Forest Congress. She recently served as the associate dean for the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture and associate director of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station at UMaine.



Camille Chow-Moyers
‘14, B.S. Renewable Materials and
Interior Design

After graduation, Chow-Moyers went on to work for Roseburg Forest Products in quality assurance and sales, before a 6-year stint working as a program manager of international compliance and auditing for Benchmark International (Eugene, OR and Shanghai, China). Today, she is co-owner of MCM Global, LLC (Portland, OR and Yorkshire, England), a consulting and auditing firm that specializes in international forestry compliance and quality management systems.




Suzanne Simard, Ph.D.
‘89, M.S. Forest Science
‘95, Ph.D.

Simard is a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia and the author of the book, “Finding the Mother Tree.” She is known for her work on how trees interact and communicate using below-ground fungal networks. Her work has influenced filmmakers and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, presented at conferences around the world and in 2023 she received the Kew International Medal.




During the dinner at CH2M Hill Alumni Center, the College of Forestry graduate scholarship committee recognized our top incoming and returning graduate students with College of Forestry fellowships. The committee selected 28 students, both Master- and Ph.D.-level, to receive college fellowships totaling just over $150,000 for the 2023-2024 academic year. Scholarships range in value from $3,000 to $8,000.

Pictured L to R: Victoria Diedrichs, M.S. Wood Science & Engineering; Katie Wampler, Ph.D. Water Resources Science, Forest Engineering, Resources and Management; Mark Kerstens, Ph.D. Forest Engineering, Resources and Management; Kira Minehart, Ph.D. Recreation Ecology, Forest Ecosystems and Society; Dean Tom DeLuca; Jacob Atkins, M.S. Wood Science & Engineering; David Hamilton, Ph.D. Forest Engineering, Resources and Management.

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Alumni come home to help the Forestry Club host and win the 83rd AWFC Conclave logging sports event

Conclave 2023 participants test their skills and endurance in the choker race

Over the span of three days, from April 13-15, student forestry teams from across the American West gathered at Peavy Arboretum for the annual Association of Western Forestry Club’s Conclave logging sports event. Each day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than 150 students competed in events like axe throwing, caber toss, birling and log chopping. The Oregon State University Forestry Club team proudly claimed the No. 1 ranking, with many of the team’s competitors also earning first place in their individual events.

Last hosted by Oregon State University in 2012, the success of the 2023 Conclave was due in large part to the support of dedicated alumni, including former logging sports team members, who secured sponsorships, spent hours in the research forest fixing up the arenas and volunteering at the event. This year, to celebrate that spirit of giving back, the chopping arena was dedicated to Patrick “Hoss” Fitzmorris who graduated from OSU in 2013. Patrick, along with his fellow logging sports team members from the classes of 2010-2015, worked tirelessly to build the George W. Brown Sports Arena and the chopping arena to host the 83rd Annual AWFC Conclave in 2012. Patrick passed away in December 2022.

The College of Forestry would like to thank all the community volunteers and the generous sponsors who helped make the 83rd AWFC Conclave such a success.

Oregon State Forestry Club Conclave 2023 Awards

  • Winning Team: Oregon State University, 1st place
  • Bull of the Woods: Eli Gold, 1st place; Zeke Bluhm, 2nd place; Angus Nicholson, 3rd place

View the photo album and see the full results on the Conclave website.

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Editor’s Note: On Aug. 5, 2023, after this story went to print, the Lookout Fire was sparked by lightning in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. It will be some time until the full extent of the damage is determined. Meanwhile, regular updates on the fire are being posted on the HJ Andrews Forest website.

Celebrating 75 years of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

Some things happen in an instant. Other things take their time, gradually evolving over the years. The work on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Long Term Ecological Research Program is more of a take-your-time kind of thing — like 75-year kind of time.

Managed by Oregon State University in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the Andrews, as it’s affectionately known, is a 16,000-acre ecological research site east of Eugene in Oregon’s western Cascades. First established in 1948 as a U.S. Forest Service Experimental Forest, the Andrews is committed to long-term, place-based research and celebrates its 75th anniversary this November.

“Most ecological research lasts for only two or three years,” says Matt Betts, a professor of landscape ecology and the lead principal investigator. “At the Andrews, we’ve studied tree growth and death in the same stands for 52 years, examined fish populations in the same section of stream for 37 years and measured climate and streamflow for 65 years across the forest.”

This kind of long-term research is incredibly rare and extraordinarily valuable because it’s nearly impossible to understand an ecological system on a two-to-three-year time scale. In fact, research results from short-term studies are often overturned by long-term studies.

However, this same commitment to long-term research can also be a challenge. How do you stay excited about looking at the same thing in the same place for 50 years?

Associate Professor and Co-Principal Investigator Catalina Segura says she never feels like her hydrology research at the Andrews is repetitive. “The ability to ask diverse questions in this same place keeps the excitement alive,” Segura says. “The overlapping research adds to the thrill, and on an emotional level, I have a deep love for the Andrews.”

Segura is not the only one. The love for the Andrews Forest runs deep and wide. And not just with scientists and researchers. The Andrews has a robust humanities program welcoming writers, artists, musicians and philosophers to explore the meaning of the ancient forest ecosystem.

“Though our data goes back 75 years, the legacy of the Andrews is found in its people,” says Betts. “We have a global, intergenerational alumni group and even now, have over twenty graduate students and postdoctoral fellows doing research, studying a range of topics from tree canopies and climate resilience to groundwater and streamflow to environmental psychology and social science.”

The collaborative nature of the Andrews extends its legacy goes beyond the College of Forestry. Posy Busby, a microbiologist and associate professor in the department of botany and plant pathology at the College of Agricultural Sciences and Brooke Penaluna, the lead scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, are also co-principal investigators, with a long history of research at the Andrews.

“The Andrews is a special and unique place because it makes you feel alive and curious about the world,” says Penaluna. “It’s also particularly special because of the people that make up its partnership, including Pacific Northwest Research Station, the Willamette National Forest, and the College of Forestry.”

A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Marbled Murrelet on its nest. Photo: Brett Lovelace/OSU

It’s not easy to find a marbled murrelet’s nest in Oregon. It wasn’t until 1990 that researchers even located the first one in the state. The elusive breeding behavior of this threatened species has made it challenging to protect through conservation efforts and strategic management of coastal forests. It’s clear the population of this small seabird has declined from historic levels — but the reasons why are murky.

That’s why a team of College of Forestry researchers launched Oregon’s first large-scale, long-term study of murrelet breeding biology. This collaborative project, initiated in 2016, drew immediate support from a diverse group of stakeholders across the state.

“Murrelets are a listed species, so there’s a lot of interest in recovering this population,” said Jim Rivers, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology who’s leading the research effort. “But we haven’t had the information we need to understand what’s constraining reproductive output.”

For phase one of the project, the research team turned to existing data to better understand why the birds travel inland to nest some years, but not others. Murrelets rely on the sea for their food, including forage fish like anchovy, herring, and smelt, and commute as much as 50 miles inland to nest in old-growth and late-successional forests, where they lay a single egg. The researchers learned when it’s a bad sea year and ocean temperatures are too high, the birds forego breeding, unable to get food to feed their young.

A small radio tag is affixed to a marbled murrelet so it can be tracked to its nest site. Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

For the next phase of research, the team studied the murrelet’s breeding behavior, tracking them from sea to nest. Venturing out on a research vessel, the team boarded inflatable boats to catch murrelets, install radio tags and release the birds back into the wild. When breeding season hit, the team patrolled the coast with airplanes, listening for beeps from radio tags to narrow down potential nesting sites for the
ground crew and tree climber to locate.

But because murrelets nest in older forests, just getting to the vicinity of a nesting tree usually involves scaling piles of blowdown and bushwhacking through thick growth for miles. And murrelets are sneaky nest-builders — and sitters. They don’t use twigs and branches to build their nests like other birds. Instead, they find a mossy branch where they lay a single egg and take turns incubating it. They trade spots once every 24 hours, sitting so still that their only movement may be just the blink of an eye.

And when they’re moving in and out of the nest, they’re really moving. Murrelets have been clocked at nearly 100 mph and their typical cruising speed is 60-70 mph. They usually fly at dawn and dusk, so it takes an eagle eye to spot these birds and find their nests, a large reason there were only 29 active nests recorded in Oregon before this project. The team of OSU researchers more than doubled that number, also installing cameras at each nest to monitor success.

“We’re learning a lot about where murrelets are nesting, how successful they are and what causes them to fail,” said Rivers. “This information has been a long time coming, and it ties back to how challenging it is to do this fieldwork.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Balancing timber production to maximize biodiversity

As the human population grows, the demand for resources is increasing. But at what cost to biodiversity? Just as the agricultural industry contends with how to sustainably feed eight billion humans, the challenge for forest managers is to find sustainable ways to meet human wood consumption needs, explains Matt Betts, Ruth H. Spaniol chair of renewable resources and professor in the department of forest ecosystems and society.

“What we consume has a huge impact on our planet’s biodiversity,” said Betts. “But very few researchers have tested approaches to minimize tradeoffs between timber production and biodiversity conservation.”
Betts explains that in agriculture, there are two main camps of thinking. The first, “land sparing” involves setting aside large portions of the landscape as unmanaged reserves, and growing crops intensively in others. The second, “land sharing” involves low-intensity “nature-friendly” agriculture. This results in lower yield, increased total area for food production and therefore few or no reserves.

In forestry, this “land sharing versus sparing” model has been expanded to a triad approach, where a given landscape may be divided into differing proportions of three distinct management groups — reserves, focused on biodiversity conservation; intensive management, focused on wood production; and ecological forestry, which is a mix of both.

To test this approach, he is collaborating with stakeholders inside and outside the College of Forestry to launch a 20-year study across 40 different sub-watersheds in the Elliott State Research Forest. The research is designed to test different proportions of all three management types across various forest landscapes (watersheds). By doing this, Betts and his team hope to learn how these management approaches affect biodiversity and wood production over time.

Before the project can begin, it must gain the approval of many stakeholder groups to be completed on the state-owned forest. In the meantime, Betts is working on a shorter-term version of this project funded by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

In collaboration with several CoF researchers, including Klaus Puettmann, Doug Mainwaring and John Sessions along with Taal Levi, a professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences, and doctoral student Maggie Hallerud, Betts’ team is collecting data from forests that fall under the categories of reserve, intensive management and ecological forestry. They are performing preliminary modeling about how each approach affects biodiversity. Hallerud is leading the biodiversity data collection and analysis and Levi is leading the eDNA analysis in this work.

Before and after each experiment, the team counts various species, measures vegetation and incorporates cutting-edge research methods. Researchers are identifying recorded bird sounds through machine learning, tracking wildlife with game cameras powered by artificial intelligence and using DNA barcoding (eDNA) to monitor species diversity.

This study comes with limitations, however, and Betts thinks the most meaningful insights will come from a longer-term project with more controlled experiments at landscape scales.

“That’s the real gold standard for science,” he says. “What we find in short-term studies is often overturned by what we find in long-term studies. And with how long-lived trees are, there’s certain information we could never get during a single career.”

Betts believes a long-term research project in the Elliott State Research Forest could offer critical insights into how to conserve biodiversity and sequester carbon while sustainably keeping up with society’s increasing demand for wood products.

“We don’t have enough information about this mix of forestry practices in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “A long-term project like the one proposed for the Elliott would enable us to try to reduce the potential trade-offs between timber production and conservation — and identify an ideal mix of forestry management practices that enable production of wood while still maintaining biodiversity. If successful, this could be a fantastic example of approaches to balance human needs with biodiversity conservation, and how people can collaborate to move beyond historical conflicts about forest values.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Food-grade vacuum tubing is linked to draw sap from multiple trees.

The sugar maple has a reputation as a powerhouse for maple syrup production — but it’s not the only maple game around. An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by the College of Forestry is at the forefront of a movement to tap into Oregon’s bigleaf maple. The goal? Put the Pacific Northwest on the maple syrup map.

“This is a great economic opportunity for Oregonians to build an industry centered around the bigleaf maple, particularly in western Oregon, where the tree is especially abundant,” says Eric Jones, the principal investigator for the project and assistant professor of practice at the College of Forestry.

So why hasn’t a bigleaf maple tapping industry taken off before in the Pacific Northwest? Economics. The bigleaf maple, acer macophyllum, has less sugar in its sap — usually about one-third to one-half — than the sugar maple. So instead of needing around 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, as is the case with sugar maple, you need 80-90 gallons of bigleaf maple sap. But technology advancements like food-grade vacuum tubing that extract higher volumes of sap from trees and commercial reverse osmosis machines which remove 75 percent of water from the sap, have resulted in a cost-effective way to turn less sugary sap into syrup.

“This technology is a gamechanger for the bigleaf maple,” says Jones. To help establish a sustainable bigleaf maple industry in Oregon, Jones assembled a diverse research team including scholars and students from anthropology, food science, extension, geography, environmental arts and humanities, economics, ethnobiology and engineering. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the team $1 million in funding through a pair of multi-year awards to promote the emerging industry, provide training and educate landowners interested in developing commercial enterprises.

“I think there’s a romance and infectious nature to tapping bigleaf maples and we’re trying to help landowners find the easiest and most economic and ecologically prudent path to get into ‘sugaring,’ as they refer to it in the maple industry,” says Jones.

Bigleaf maple syrup

Besides producing maple syrup with a complex flavor profile, the bigleaf maple is the source of other products like nutritional maple water, edible flowers, honey, lumber, figured wood and firewood.

The research team is working to mitigate the risks involved with managing and sugaring bigleaf maples, including incorporating food safety standards into commercial production and investigating how wildlife, diseases and different climatic conditions affect bigleaf maple stands.

With climate change ushering in greater uncertainty about the future of Pacific Northwest forests, the team is interested in how the trees will fare under changing conditions. While hotter and drier weather in some areas will negatively impact bigleaf maple populations, the trees may prove resilient in certain microclimates. Jones is currently an advisor on a pilot project in Washington, where the group is planting thousands of bigleaf maple trees on old dairy land as part of a carbon offset program.

“The bigleaf maple is a tenacious tree, as any forester will attest to, and perhaps it has a role in helping mitigate climate change,” says Jones.

Jones hopes that a growing maple industry will invite people to develop a deeper appreciation for the land and find new ways to engage with each other and with Oregon’s biodiverse and ecologically complex environment.

“Our team of researchers is working hard to make the emerging bigleaf maple industry an inclusive and equitable economic opportunity,” Jones says. “We hope to ignite a bigleaf maple culture in the Pacific Northwest like the sugar maple culture in the Northeast.”

In May 2023, the team will hold the first bigleaf maple festival in Salem, Oregon. Learn more at

Eric Jones – CoF principal investigator
Melanie Douville + John Scheb – CoF graduate students
Barb Lachenbruch – CoF professor emeritus (tree physiology)
Ron Reuter – CoF associate professor (soil science)
Badege Bishaw – CoF courtesy faculty (agroforestry)
Tiffany Fegel – Forestry and Natural Resources, Extension coordinator
Lisa Price – OSU professor (ethnobiology)
Joy Waite-Cusic – OSU associate professor (food safety)
Ann Colonna – OSU senior faculty research assistant, (sensory testing)
Rebecca McLain – Portland State University (ethnography)

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of

The College of Forestry is committed to integrating art and science to create and inspire sustainable solutions to climate change.

“As a mostly STEM college, it is all too easy to focus just on science, and yet, the arts help us be better scientists and citizens,” said Tom DeLuca, dean of the College of Forestry.

John Grade’s sculpture, “Emeritus”

Unveiled in October 2022, and co-presented by the College of Forestry and College of Liberal Arts, John
Grade’s sculpture, “Emeritus,” is inspired by the form of an absent tree. Suspended in the middle of OSU’s giant sequoias in the MU Quad, the 80-foot-tall sculpture invites viewers to peer vertically into the hollow, ghostly space of an imagined fourth trunk, formed of tens of thousands of cast and carved pieces that reference the species’ cones, needles and branches. The sculpture was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts.

During its 14-month stay in the sequoia grove, College of Forestry researchers will collect data about the ecological conditions of “Emeritus” using automated dendrometer readings, bio-acoustic monitoring and
rainwater DNA sequencing. College of Forestry researchers also helped install the sculpture.

“Emeritus” is open to visitors 24 hours a day and softly illuminated at night.

“The Perseverance of Decay,” by Robert Horner

Peavy Forest Science Center isn’t just a living laboratory gathering data from two hundred sensors to contribute to mass timber research. It’s also a showcase for public art, courtesy of Oregon’s “Percent for Art” legislation.

Dedicated to providing Oregonians with high-quality, accessible art in public places, the Percent for Art legislation sets aside no less than one percent of funds for the acquisition of public-facing artwork in all state building construction projects. The program has placed nearly 2,400 works of art around Oregon for the public to visit.

“The College is fortunate to host three extraordinary Percent for Art installations,” said Tom DeLuca. “These pieces of art bring life and reflection to our community and help us understand the past as we look forward.”

Reaching 22 feet in height, Robert Horner’s “The Perseverance of Decay” resides in the arboretum outside the building. This tree-like structure is built from torched ribs of wood, evoking the feeling of a burnt-out tree from a forest fire. The charred wood makes a direct connection to the fragility and impermanence of life. The inner core of the space, made of boulders and a basalt column that collects rainwater, prompts
contemplation on how humans manage the environment.

Wood figure from “Things Remembered in the Flood” by The Wakanim Collaborative

“Things Remembered in the Flood” is an interior/exterior installation by The Wakanim Collaborative: Earl Davis, Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe; Tony “Naschio” Johnson, Chinook Indian Nation; Travis Stewart, Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde; and Shirod Younker, Coquille Indian Tribe. It tells the first dated story of the Mary’s River Kalapuya, whose ancestral lands are what Oregon State University now occupies. Five exterior aluminum pieces illustrate lines of the Kalapuyan story, along with design elements of traditional Southern Oregon baskets. The exterior forms emerge as if from the drainage of flood waters, referencing the “Missoula Floods” (10,000–13,000 years ago). The interior figures, carved from diverse woods, represent Oregon’s nine federally recognized Tribes. The tenth figure is for the Indigenous peoples still fighting for federal recognition, as well as acknowledging unknown Tribes lost to cataclysmic events. The artists intend the work to be a visual reminder of the responsibility to cultivate friendship and collaboration between OSU and the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon.

The inspiration for Leah Wilson’s “Listening to the Forest” came from the changing light quality and color
she noticed while climbing the Discovery Tree in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. The texture and color of the panels are based on the cellular structure of woods — specifically red alder, western hemlock, pacific yew and Douglas-fir trees — and the variances of light quality from forest floor to forest canopy. Each outward-facing surface is white, but the back layer of each panel is painted, creating a reflection of color and light.

Detail from “Listening to the Forest” by Leah Wilson

Special thanks to Percent for Art committee members Seri Robinson, Mariapaola Riggio, Anthony Davis, Adrienne Wonhof, Thomas and Nicole Maness, Gail Woodside, Libby Ramirez, Bill Coslow, and Kate Ali.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Cristina Eisenberg

Cristina Eisenberg, Maybelle Clark Macdonald director of Tribal initiatives in natural resources and associate dean of inclusive excellence at the College of Forestry, is committed to creating a safe space for learning where everyone thrives.

“Inclusive excellence means regardless of barriers like socioeconomic status, gender identity or if you are a first-generation student or a person of color, you will thrive because we are actively working to dismantle and remove barriers to success,” said Eisenberg. “This work is a process and involves the whole community, working together, with cultural humility.”

In her role as director of Tribal initiatives, she leads the newly formed Indigenous Natural Resource Office and within it, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Lab.

“Tribal initiatives have everything to do with inclusive excellence,” said Eisenberg. “My job was created to take the College of Forestry beyond the land acknowledgment, which is not just about Indigenous peoples — it’s about everybody.”

The Indigenous Natural Resource Office guides people and the institutions with whom they work to find ways to support and empower Indigenous peoples and their communities while advancing social justice. Their work braids together TEK and western science and research to find solutions to humanity’s most pressing natural resource conservation problems.

“Indigenous peoples have stewarded natural resources for millennia through their knowledge and traditional practices, and we want to decolonize and re-Indigenize the practice of science and advance holistic, systems-based thinking,” said Eisenberg.

A priority for Eisenberg is to create, facilitate and support intercultural collaborative partnerships between Indigenous peoples, OSU, Federal agencies and conservation non-profits that identify mutual research interests, determine the tools needed and then co-create solutions that honor Tribal sovereignty.

Gail Woodside, Tribal liaison for the Indigenous Natural Resource Office and TEK Lab, says it’s important that work with sovereign Tribal Nations be centered around not only decolonizing and partnering, but also following best practices and protocols.

“One way to do this, is to create a Memorandum of Understanding to lead and inform action,” said Woodside. “As binding, enforceable contracts, these MOU’s assist in protecting local knowledge, Elder interaction, and research processes in ceded lands, territories and fisheries in usual and accustomed locations.”

End of field season closing ceremony, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation; Photo by Erin LaMer.

Honoring Tribal sovereignty also means confronting the reality of what it means to be a land grant institution within an academic system founded on principles of settler colonialism.

“It means going beyond acknowledging to accepting responsibility for what was done to Indigenous communities — like forcible removal, displacement and trauma — and finding a solution,” said Eisenberg.

Eisenberg believes education can be a powerful way to heal the damage. She is working to create opportunities and pathways for Tribal youth in higher education, using her lived experience as inspiration.

“I was a first-generation college student and am Latinx and Native American, of mixed Raramuri and Western Apache heritage,” said Eisenberg. “I experienced homelessness, the farthest my parents made it was middle school, but I had a network of mentors that encouraged me to keep going. Everything I do is about paying that back.”

While the TEK Lab’s work takes place in the Western U.S., with a focus on the Pacific Northwest, the lab aspires to build allyships across cultures worldwide. Co-Principal Investigators like Tom DeLuca, dean of the College of Forestry, Tom Kaye of the Institute of Applied Ecology, and Luhui Whitebear of the Kaku-Ixt
Mana Ina-Haws, embody this type of allyship.

“There is a hunger for Tribal inclusion, Tribal sovereignty, and honoring and respecting TEK,” said Eisenberg. “And the College of Forestry is filled with changemakers, embodying inclusive excellence and allyship. From those who work within the Indigenous Natural Resource Office and participate in the
College’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion workgroup, to those who work across the University, I have so much hope and feel so supported.”

Housed within the Indigenous Natural Resource Office, the TEK Lab includes Program Manager Holly Needham and project staff Savannah Buckman Spottedbird. Co-PI’s include Tom DeLuca, Tom Kaye, Luhui
Whitebear and Si Gao. Gail Woodside is the Tribal liaison and a postdoctoral scholar. The current graduate students are included below.

Tessa Chesonis

“My research honors multiple ways of knowing and explores the benefits of moving away from a westernized approach to ecosystem management.”





Allison Monroe

“Our research is based in reciprocity. In an increasingly challenging field, it is an honor to conduct research driven by both curiosity and care.”





Brooklyn Richards

“I am interested in working within the nexus of TEK and western science to study the relationships between pollinators and plants in forest ecosystems.”





Ashley Russell

“I am researching various vegetation treatments and reforestation methods, including my Tribe’s traditional methods, and how they affect the regeneration of culturally significant species.”





A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.