It is with great pleasure that we share that Dr. Cristina Eisenberg will be joining the College as the Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Director of Tribal Initiatives in the College of Forestry. After a nationwide competitive search process culminating in the interview of three outstanding candidates, we identified Dr. Eisenberg as an excellent match for our needs and hopes for this new position within the College. 

In this role, Dr. Eisenberg will direct a new Office for Tribal Initiatives in the College, serve as our primary liaison with the nine Tribes of Oregon and with Tribal Nations throughout the Northwest, oversee the execution of the College’s DEI strategic plan, and work closely with our new Director of Student Success to improve recruitment, retention and completion of under-served student populations and help advance the College as a program dedicated to diversity, equity, justice and inclusion. Dr. Eisenberg is a first-generation Latinix and Native American (Apache and Rarámuri) scholar who comes to us with years of experience in Traditional Ecological Knowledge, restoration ecology and wildlife biology. She has previously served as the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute at Harvard University, as Director at Large on the Board of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Director of the Traditional Ecological Working Group, as a member of the Board of Trustees of Prescott College, and as a member of the Board of Directors of Sustainable Northwest. She has conducted extensive work as an independent scientist and researcher. Dr. Eisenberg holds a PhD from Oregon State University, a MA from Prescott College, and a BFA from the University of California-Long Beach and was previously courtesy faculty in the department of forest ecosystems and society. Dr. Eisenberg will start in early September.

At the virtual 2022 Oregon Society of American Foresters (OSAF) Annual Meeting on April 28, 2022, Jacob Putney received the Forester of the Year Award. This award is given annually to the OSAF member who has been recognized by his or her peers for contributing to both the profession and the public through application of his or her professional skills to the advancement of forestry in Oregon and through public service that benefits his community or some larger segment of society. 

“Although Jacob is new to his position in the OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension program, he clearly has already stepped up as a leader and collaborator, helping coordinate programs to best meet the needs of the community,” says Lauren Grand, the forestry and natural resources extension agent for Lane County. “He is the team leader for a carbon publication, has hosted numerous podcasts on forest management, and is one of the lead organizers of Tree School Eastern Oregon and Life on the Dry Side.”

A graduate of Oregon State University, Putney is an active OSAF member, serving as secretary and chapter chair for the Blue Mountain Chapter, delegate-at-large for OSAF in 2021, general chair for the 2021 OSAF Annual Meeting, program chair for the OSAF 2022 meeting and is OSAF chair-elect for 2023. He is also on the SAF National Quiz Bowl Committee member.

Additionally, Putney is an associate member of Oregon Small Woodlands Association, secretary for the Northeast Oregon OSWA Chapter, and has been instrumental in reviving, restructuring, and revitalizing the Baker OSWA Chapter. He is an inspector for the American Tree Farm System and co-chair for the Baker Resources Coalition. He participates in several collaboratives including the Blue Mountain Forest Partners, Northern Blues Forest Collaborative and ‘My Blue Mountains Woodland’ partnership. Not to waste a spare moment, Putney is also a volunteer firefighter for the Baker Rural Fire Protection District.

OSAF and its 15 local chapters represent all segments the forestry profession within the state. The society includes public and private practitioners, researchers, administrators, educators, and forestry students. Its mission is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethics of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

Christopher Still, a professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry, studies forest ecology and the physiology of trees. His research spans from a singular leaf on a tree to entire ecosystems. He also studies carbon cycling and forest-climate interactions.

So, when the temperatures rose to unprecedented levels in the summer of 2021 and a heat dome descended upon Oregon, Still knew the scorching heat and intense energy from the sun would stress the trees, scorch the foliage and impact Oregon’s forests. Especially after two years of state-wide drought. But at what scale? And what would that mean for the long-term health of the trees?

“The ‘heat dome’ led to numerous reports of foliage scorch and leaf drop in westside forests of the Coast Range and Cascades,” Still said. “Western hemlock and western red cedar seemed to be impacted the most, but Douglas-fir and various alders and maples were affected, too. Notably, trees and saplings with direct solar exposure and on south-facing slopes seemed to suffer the worst foliage scorch.”

With help from citizen scientists, researchers like Still spent months documenting the heat dome’s effects on Oregon’s trees. Using a website created by the Oregon Department of Forestry, community members and researchers reported their observations to map and analyze the foliage scorch.

Still then organized a symposium to share information and begin piecing together what the heat dome event might mean for the long-term health of trees.

“Researchers do not know what the near- and long-term physiological causes and consequences of foliage scorch and heat stress will be, at either leaf or tree scales. The impacts could range from impaired metabolism on surviving leaves, to reduced stem diameter growth, to eventual tree mortality,” Still says.

The symposium served as a central place for tree experts like foresters, silviculturists and botanists to meet and discuss their findings and plan for the next steps to monitor the impacts of the heat dome.

“I think there are many challenges for forest management. The challenges range from trying to help forests become more resilient to climate change impacts, to working on assisted migration and planting of new genotypes and identifying species that can better handle a warmer and drier climate in the future,” Still says.

Still says we should expect more intense heatwaves in the future, and we should all work urgently to lower our carbon footprint to mitigate future climate change.

However, he said the data shows there is much to learn about heat stress physiology and how different genotypes, species and forest types will respond to future heat and drought extremes.

“I think the scale of the impacts – both the spatial scale and the range of species and forest types affected – was surprising. I think the resilience shown by some species and forests was also a pleasant surprise,” Still says.

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Have you ever hiked in the McDonald Forest and found a perfectly placed bench, appearing just as you need a moment to rest and enjoy the forest? You have just come across a commemorative bench! These benches commemorate an individual, a group, or an event and support the OSU Research Forests Recreation and Engagement Program, which creates and maintains the trails in the OSU Research Forests.

The most recent bench addition can be found on the Beautiful Trail. Long-time friends and avid trail runners Steve Strauss and Gary Barnes generously donated the bench “to honor all who run and appreciate the beauty of the forest and the joy of connection”. Strauss is a Distinguished Professor of Forest Biotechnology in the College of Forestry.

Gary Barnes and Steve Strauss enjoy testing out the newest commemorative bench.

There are currently 14 benches installed throughout the McDonald Forest. OSU Research Forest Recreation Field Coordinator Matt McPharlin and College of Forestry students construct the benches, using wood sourced from trees in the forest. In addition to the benches, the Research Forest honors people with memorial rocks and other installations.

“We’ve seen a notable increase in interest for our commemorative bench program,” says Jenna Baker, the Research Forests Recreation and Engagement program manager. “As a result, we’re in the process of thinking up some other creative and meaningful ways for people to commemorate and donate to our Recreation and Engagement program.”

The McDonald Research Forest, a short 15-minute drive from the Oregon State University campus, is part of the OSU Research Forests. These forests serve as a living laboratory and outdoor classroom for students, researchers and managers to learn about forest ecosystems and management. OSU utilizes the Research Forests to find new ways to sustainably manage forests for conservation, education, business, and recreation. If you are interested in learning more about how you can contribute and get involved with the Research Forest Recreation and Engagement program, contact Jenna Baker at jenna.baker@oregonstate.edu!

During the summer of 2021, the OSU Mechanized Harvesting Laboratory hosted a Career and Technology Education (CTE) workshop to explore opportunities for experiential learning in forestry using the harvesting simulator system. The laboratory is directed by Kevin Lyons, the Wes Lematta Professor in Forest Engineering.

Lyons and his team introduced participants to the John Deere forest harvesting simulator system. This system, which includes a terrain editor and a forest harvesting simulator, allows for virtual and experiential learning. It empowers users to begin learning about machine operation, silviculture and harvesting system planning, and mapping topography and forest cover.  It also explores ecology and non-timber values using gaming techniques.

Figure 1. Areas where harvesting simulators can contribute to CTE programs in high schools

Workshop participants included instructors from Oregon high school CTE programs and the executive director and a student officer of the Future Natural Resource Leaders. 

John Deere forest harvesting simulator

“There was unanimous agreement from the instructors that the simulator system provides unique opportunities for a range of natural resource management topics in addition to machine operator training, “ Lyons said. “The Mechanized Harvesting Laboratory is currently collaborating with the Future Natural Resources Leaders and CTE instructors on a program to bring the simulator systems to participating high schools.”

For more information, please contact Kevin Lyons, Wes Lematta Professor in Forest Engineering and director of the OSU Mechanized Harvesting Laboratory.

Research indicates that nature-based experiences are crucial for our health and well-being – especially for children.

The national ‘Get Outdoors Day’ program creates opportunities that encourage healthy and active outdoor fun for families and children – particularly on public lands and natural areas. The event emphasizes engaging underserved communities while providing a welcoming environment for first-time visitors.

For the past eight years, the OSU College of Forestry, OSU Research Forests, OSU Extension Service, and Community Health Centers of Linn and Benton County have partnered to host Get Outdoors Day at Peavy Arboretum.

“We focus on hosting a bilingual (Spanish and English) event and conducting outreach to Title 1 schools while providing free transportation and bussing to the forest. We also coordinate with dozens of local agencies and organizations to provide opportunities to learn about natural resources, forestry, cultural history, and healthy lifestyles,” says Jenna Baker, recreation and engagement program manager at the OSU Research Forests.

But, how do you hold a Get Outdoors Day during a global pandemic?

“It was tough to think of creative alternatives that encouraged outdoor exploration and remained inclusive and accessible,” says Baker. “For example, we couldn’t assume every child had access to a backyard, outdoor equipment, or vehicle. Plus – it is a bit of an oxymoron to say it’s a ‘virtual’ Get Outdoors Day.”

The planning team for Get Outdoors Day included a diverse group of outreach faculty, foresters, educators, bilingual school health navigators, extension specialists, and parents, which allowed the team to examine the virtual format from different perspectives.

For example, initial plans involved online activities that kids could complete throughout the summer. One parent noted the extreme screen-fatigue that kids and parents were feeling from the pandemic. Another educator highlighted that many families might not have consistent access to a computer or internet. The team provided a free bilingual printed Get Outdoors Day magazine as an additional option to address these constraints.

Throughout the entire process the planning team constantly addressed core questions: Will this be equitable? Would this approach exclude anyone?

These are complex and salient questions that outdoor professionals must think critically about to address barriers that prevent people from participating in outdoor recreation.

Baker says we need to broaden the narrative about what it means to connect with and enjoy the outdoors – and who is enjoying it.

“If we frame outdoor recreation as a primarily white endeavor, or if the focus is on activities that require lots of expensive gear, hard-to-access areas, or specific knowledge sets, then we continue to reinforce these patterns and exclude others,” says Baker.

Time, money and access are three barriers that can prevent people from accessing outdoor areas.

“The reality is, it takes time to go on a long hike. You need money to purchase or rent a kayak, life jacket and paddles. You often need a vehicle to access your nearest national park or forest. Unfortunately, many people work on weekends, have little to no time off, or don’t have reliable access to a vehicle. We can’t expect to make our outdoor areas and national parks more inclusive, for instance, without thinking critically about what it takes to get there,” says Baker.

Parks and outdoor areas also need to adapt their messaging by thinking critically about how information is shared, and the assumptions held about a person’s outdoor interests, comfort levels, and feelings of safety.

“We can’t assume that people want to experience solitude while visiting the outdoors,” says Baker. “For some, this experience may trigger real fears about encountering violence and prejudice.”

At the crux of addressing this shift in narrative is having more diverse and representative leadership at all levels of decision making, marketing, and outreach to better represent the demographics of our nation for Get Outdoors Day and outdoor recreation as a whole. Leadership must balance diverse perspectives, identities, and values, including Indigenous communities and other groups historically underrepresented in the outdoors.

Over the years, Get Outdoors Day has made an impact; most kids and families that attend the event are visiting the Research Forests for the first time.

“We hope that this event can motivate outdoor engagement and plant initial seeds of inspiration for future forest stewards, scientists, and professionals,” says Baker. “I also hope that people join us for Get Outdoors Day next year – or let us know how we can continue to work towards our goal of creating a more inclusive and welcoming outdoor experience for all.”

For additional information visit cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu/go-day. A version of this story appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

The Oregon State University College of Forestry welcomes Professor Holly Ober as the Associate Dean for Science Outreach and Program Leader for Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

“I am thrilled to join the OSU College of Forestry,” says Dr. Ober. “The breadth and depth of the expertise of individuals involved in Extension and Outreach within the college are impressive. The Forestry and Natural Resources Extension program at OSU is one of the largest and most comprehensive natural resource Extension programs in the country, and widely recognized as one of the best.”

Previously Dr. Holly Ober served as Associate Program Leader for Natural Resources for the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. In the role, she provided leadership for approximately 150 county and state faculty. Dr. Ober was also a Professor and Extension Specialist, conducting applied, interdisciplinary research to increase understanding of the mechanisms that influence wildlife habitat selection and productivity in forests to inform conservation and management strategies. She raised over $2.2 million in external funding and nearly $300,000 in internal funding, advised 11 graduate students, three undergraduate interns, and two post-doctoral researchers during her career. She has authored 42 peer-reviewed articles in wildlife, forestry, and inter-disciplinary journals.

As an Extension Specialist, she taught agency employees and private landowners to sustainably manage natural areas and improve stewardship of forests to provide habitat for wildlife. She led multi-day Extension workshops for natural resource managers, gave presentations to Extension audiences, produced peer-reviewed Extension documents to serve as a resource, and wrote several journal articles on the scholarship and importance of Extension.

Dr. Ober received her PhD from Oregon State University in Forest Science and Wildlife Biology in 2008. 

“Dr. Ober brings a great deal of experience, knowledge, and energy to this position,” says Tom DeLuca, Cheryl Ramberg-Ford and Allyn C. Ford Dean of the College of Forestry. “We were fortunate to attract her back to OSU from her position at Florida.”

Ober believes the need to convey information about the management of Oregon’s forests and the production of forest products has never been greater as we collectively grapple with complex issues.

“Just as teaching is essential to training the next generation of scientists, and research is essential to generating better understanding, Extension and outreach are essential to ensuring that scientific knowledge gets into the hands of people who need it to make sound decisions outside the formal university setting,” Ober says.

Back in late April, OSU Research Forests had the exciting opportunity to plant native pacific aspens along the 600 road in the Oak Creek area of the McDonald Forest, as well as at the Marchel Tract near the Willamette River. Several were also planted near the new Peavy building on campus at OSU. College of Forestry Professor Steve Strauss and others used DNA sequencing to show that the aspens in the Willamette Valley, and nearby Washington and British Columbia, belong to a distinctive variety that grows in wet areas in the lowland Pacific. These types of areas were likely to be more abundant prior to the draining and leveling of the Willamette Valley for agriculture.

The DNA studies showed that these trees are clearly distinct from aspen in the Cascades, the Rocky Mountains, and the eastern USA and Canada. Strauss and others published these findings last year in the journal Ecology and Evolution. The authors inferred that the likely origin of this aspen was in an ice-free Pacific refugium during the last ice age.

Through a collaboration with the wholesale tree nursery, J Frank Schmidt & Son, the Strauss team’s aspen collections are currently being tested for release as a native variety. The trees planted on campus and on the Research Forests were mostly the result of samples taken by CoF staff member Anna Magnuson (supported by grant funds from Schmidt). The plantings include native trees from as close by as Peoria and the Calapooia River near Corvallis, Killen Marsh near Banks, and the Nature Conservancy’s Camassia Natural Area close to East Linn. Several other Willamette Valley origins are also represented in the plantings.

These aspens will be studied as they grow to see if they are better adapted to local conditions than the mountain aspens that are now commonly planted. J Frank Schmidt & Son plans to have them ready for distribution in a few years. Hopefully this beautiful looking, beautiful sounding, and formerly common tree in the Valley becomes more widely enjoyed by everyone. Educational materials will be installed near some of the trees once they become established.

The OSU College of Forestry’s Research Forests include network of ten forest tracts spread throughout Oregon, totaling 15,000 acres. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive monthly newsletters as well as trail updates.

When the Oregon State University (OSU) College of Forestry had to fill the knowledge gap created by the departure of emeritus professor Jeff Morrell, it turned to Gerald Presley, who joined the college in 2019 after earning his PhD at the University of Minnesota and completing postdoctoral research at Oak Ridge Laboratory.

“The opportunity at Oak Ridge gave me a chance to work in a new field, bacterial genetics, where I worked on a project aimed at making value-added chemicals from biomass. At Minnesota, my work focused on the biology of wood decay,” says Presley, assistant professor of forest-based bioproducts. “OSU has been a leader in wood durability research for years and I plan to continue that program now that I am in a position here.”

Since joining the college, Presley finds himself performing a wide variety of research, the bulk of which is related to his role as leader of the Utility Pole Research Cooperative and the Environmental Performance of Treated Wood Research Cooperative.

“The Utility Pole Research Cooperative focuses on research to improve the durability of utility poles,” Presley says. “Many of the studies we perform are designed to compare different treatments that can be done to utility poles to extend their service life and improve their resilience.

This research, Presley says, can benefit the treated wood industry and utilities by improving the durability of commodities produced and used by these industries. It helps make wood products more competitive with carbon-intensive alternatives such as steel, which is important in the overall effort to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors.

The Environmental Performance of Treated Wood Cooperative studies how preservative chemicals leach out of treated wood. The cooperative also looks at ways to prevent leaching into the environment and provides outreach to the broader public. Data collected from this research is used to model the impacts of treated wood on the environment which helps builders determine whether treated wood structures are appropriate for a specific environment.

“The cooperative has performed extensive validation efforts for treated wood best management practices, which are voluntary procedures for manufacturers that can reduce leaching from treated wood products,” Presley says. “We also are embarking on a significant research effort to measure the impact of treated wood used in agriculture and are developing an accelerated leaching and migration test to look at preservative movement from different types of treated wood with different types of water exposure.”

The research the cooperative pursues improves our understanding of these wood products’ environmental dynamics. The work provides insight into the pathways treated wood interacts with in the environment. The efforts can inform mitigation efforts that will improve products and reduce impacts to the environment.

The Creosote Council and several wood-preserving industry partners gave OSU a gift to study the environmental pathways of creosote-treated wood in recognition of Presley’s research capabilities and publication efforts.

The widely used wood preservative is used to preserve critical wood infrastructures such as utility poles, railroad ties, and marine pilings. It has a long history of practical use and is the oldest wood preservative originating from the industrial age.

This gift will fund a master’s student, Skyler Foster, for two years and support a mixture of lab-based and field research studying the migration of polyaromatic hydrocarbons from creosote-treated wood with an intent to quantify the environmental impacts.

“This generous gift will allow us to perform research that will improve our understanding of how creosote treated wood impacts the environment,” Presley says. “We all rely on creosote-treated wood in some capacity, whether it be for the delivery of goods by rail or pilings that support a pier. Knowing the impacts of these commodities on the environment is essential for ensuring their continued use.”

Moving forward, there are many questions on the horizon the research cooperative will address.

“Opportunities will develop in the utility pole market due to the looming loss of pentachlorophenol (penta) as a utility pole treatment and our cooperatives will play an important role in assessing the viability of alternatives for western utilities,” Presley says. “These changes will come with questions about the environmental impacts of penta substitution, something we will continue to investigate as these changes unfold.”

A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry.

Often referred to as Oregon State University’s “front door” for outreach to the wood products industry, it’s only fitting that some of the work the Oregon Wood Innovation Center (OWIC) performs involves door testing.

OWIC, created in partnership with the OSU College of Forestry and Forestry and Natural Resources Extension and housed within OSU’s Department of Wood Science and Engineering (WSE), works to improve the competitiveness of Oregon’s wood products industry. OWIC accomplishes this goal by fostering innovation in products, processes and business systems through testing and technical assistance. It also serves as a “clearinghouse” to connect manufacturers to the research community and other organizations that assist businesses and facilitate networking within the forest industry.

“OWIC’s role is to connect people, ideas, and research,” says Scott Leavengood, professor and director of OWIC.

Some of the technical assistance and applied research OWIC performs includes helping firms with new product development and improving market opportunities for lesser-known wood species. The Center also hosts workshops, creates publications and provides experiential learning opportunities for students.

“For many industry professionals, their first contact with us, and in fact, with OSU, is through participation in a workshop,” Leavengood says. “And particularly for workshops on campus where participants see our facilities first-hand, many participants then follow up to request assistance with innovation in the form of product improvement or product development – things like ways to make their products stronger, more durable, more competitive, or their manufacturing processes more efficient.”

Much of the products tested within OWIC are non-structural wood products like doors, windows, cabinets and flooring. However, with the addition of the TallWood Design Institute (TDI), the combined efforts of OWIC and TDI also support computer-aided manufacturing, timber engineering and structural design.

Testing takes place in various locations on campus and one of the more popular resources in recent years has been the environmental conditioning chambers that test wood products’ performance in varying moisture levels, temperature extremes and levels of UV exposure. OWIC also runs tests to support product durability, strength and protection, including assessing insect and decay resistance.

Leavengood explains that when people visit OWIC, they often are impressed to see the wide range of product development and testing capabilities available.

“For example, we can explore the microscopic properties of wood, measure density profiles with x-ray, create products like composite panels and materials impregnated with chemicals,” Leavengood says. “We can densify products, and with TDI, we produce mass timber panels as well. And we can machine all these products and put them through a wide array of tests including measurement of strength properties, resistance to UV, insulation value, performance in temperature and humidity extremes, and durability.”

Some of the tests Leavengood has been involved with recently have focused on moisture performance, including coatings on structural panels, performance of a new line of exterior doors, testing additives for improving moisture resistance of particleboard, and testing moisture performance of new mass timber products. But he also works on collaborative, multi-stakeholder projects.

OWIC has a long history of working to foster an industry utilizing western juniper. In 2020, Business Oregon, via their High Impact Opportunities program, funded a collaborative effort between Sustainable Northwest and OWIC to explore opportunities for value-added products from juniper sawmill residues and non-merchantable timber. Tomas Pipiska, a post-doctoral scholar with WSE, conducted the work, sourcing materials from several juniper entrepreneurs, a start-up firm producing environmentally friendly wood adhesives and the State’s existing composite panel producers.

That kind of multi-institution collaboration is common for Leavengood and his work at OWIC.

A member of the OSU community since 1994 and director of OWIC since 2006, Leavengood is a mainstay in the wood products testing industry and has spent over 15 years with OWIC building trust and credibility. If a client wants a service that OWIC cannot provide in an efficient and cost-effective way, he will recommend another institution or place for them.

“A relationship that revolves around testing is based on trust. So, I am transparent and upfront with everyone about everything,” Leavengood says.

This means if the power goes out while testing wood products or if water leaks occur, Leavengood accounts for that. It also means if he knows a certain test or idea is already filled with pitfalls before the work even begins, he will let clients know.

“We have to maintain confidentiality at OWIC because the products we are working on are sometimes competitor products,” Leavengood explains. “But because we have built that trust, companies know that their products and technologies are safe with us.”

This story was part of the College of Forestry’s 2019-2020 Biennial Report.