To the more than six dozen youths who comprise the Corvallis Composite Mountain Bike Team, the McDonald and Dunn research forests aren’t just a convenience but rather a lynchpin to the team’s existence and excellence.

“The research forest is a fantastic resource,” said the team’s director, Matt MacClary. “We also practice on Starker forest land and have a great relationship with them, but the research forest is totally critical to what we do.”

Seventy-five riders from Corvallis-area middle schools and high schools participate on the five-year-old team under the guidance of 39 coaches. The team is growing “as fast as we can train coaches,” said MacClary, noting membership numbers are governed, for safety reasons, by coach-to-rider ratios set by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

“Some of our coaches are parent volunteers and others are just mountain biking enthusiasts who donate their time,” MacClary said.

The Corvallis team is a founding member of the Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League, a collection of 19 teams that compete in a series of four or five racing events each summer and fall.

The races are a cross country format involving laps of about 3 miles; younger riders’ races are two laps, older riders’ are four. All of the riders in each race start at the same time.

“It’s a rapidly growing sport,” MacClary said. “If someone is riding with us in the summer and fall, more likely than not they’ll bring a friend back with them the next year.”

Central to the Corvallis team’s efforts are twice-weekly practices on the research forest, spread over four days to keep the numbers smaller.

“We’ll meet at a trailhead, get in some stretching and education and then get out on the trails,” MacClary said. “The kids learn about trail stewardship, sharing the trail, how to dismount and listen to instructions from horseback riders. And we make sure kids get the chance to work on the trails, building and maintaining trails.

“We’re always moving around so kids get to see different parts of the forest,” he added. ”Having the good riding opportunities available has shown up with good results – Corvallis won the state championship this year and last year as far as the overall team result.”

by Steve Lundeberg

Among the recreationists who regularly enjoy McDonald and Dunn research forests are members of a nationwide, grassroots organization of women dedicated to the preservation of America’s wild places.

Great Old Broads and Bros enjoy McDonald Forest, rain or shine.

“We lead hikes here every month, sometimes more. We’re grateful to have the forest accessible,” said Peg Herring of the Willamette Valley Broadband, a local chapter of the national Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “We appreciate that the College of Forestry offers the research forest as a place for community members to hike and recreate and find solitude in the natural world. And we appreciate that the stewardship plans for the forest are being shared with those who use and love the forest. We are keen to protect its ecological values, which are irreplaceable.”

Headquartered in Durango, Colorado, Great Old Broads for Wilderness was founded in 1989 by “older women who love wilderness,” according to its website, for the purpose of bringing “knowledge, leadership and humor to the wilderness preservation movement.”

Since its inception, Great Old Broads has spread throughout the United States in the form of Broadbands, member-run local or regional chapters that support the group’s mission of education, advocacy, outreach and collaborative stewardship. Willamette Valley is one of four Broadbands in Oregon.

Among Great Old Broads is a strong representation of retired professionals, academics and scientists, said Herring, herself an OSU professor emerita of science communication. The Willamette Valley Broadband was established about 15 years ago by another OSU professor emerita, Carol Savonen, and now there are more than 300 people on its newsletter mailing list.

“It gives us opportunities to organize for the purpose of educating ourselves about forest issues and research, and it offers a beautiful place to recreate together,” Herring said. “The accessibility of McDonald and Dunn forests is a real gift to the community. Our desire is to see the forest sustained not just as a timber plantation but as a demonstration of research and ecological management as part of its mission of education.

“The Willamette Valley Broadband is focused on the legacy that’s left to future generations, and we’d like that to be an intact forest where students can learn and visitors can experience how forest ecosystems function,” she added. “We want to do all we can to ensure the forest is managed with that in mind.”

by Steve Lundeberg

Opportunities for the public to enjoy the McDonald and Dunn research forests continue to be enhanced by volunteers of all ages who are always eager to welcome new members to their ranks.

Multiple types of projects are available to volunteers including trail construction and maintenance, invasive vegetation removal and even landscape work at Peavy Arboretum.

Ken Imamura volunteers weekly

Ken Imamura, a retired Hewlett-Packard process engineer, is one of College of Forestry’s core volunteers, each of whom volunteers on a weekly basis and collectively are responsible for most of the trail work on the research forests.

“I retired in October 2008 and started volunteering in the forest in November,” said the 76-year-old Imamura, who lives near Peavy Arboretum. “The work is meaningful – users of the forest really appreciate what we do. I see people I know from work or from town, and two-thirds of the people who pass us and know we’re volunteers thank us for what we contribute. That means more to me than any wage.”

Fifty years Imamura’s junior is volunteer Andrew Miller, a Corvallis High School graduate with a nearly lifelong relationship with the research forests.

“I first started going to the forest close to 20 years ago; I’m 26 now,” he said. “I’ve had a connection with McDonald forest most of my life – it means a lot to me for sure.”

Miller, a mountain biker, trail runner and running coach, was inspired to forest volunteerism by the local trail running community.

“Everybody in the community was so good to me, and I wanted to be a part of that,” he said. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do. Others have done it before me, which is why Mac forest is so cool, and now it’s my time to get out there and give back and hopefully get others involved.”

Andrew Miller enjoys running and volunteering in the forest

Whether it’s blowing leaves off trails, cleaning out ditches or pulling down overhanging limbs, the work of volunteers like Miller and Imamura involves “whatever needs to be done to make it safer for users of the forest,” Imamura said.

“The only time we’re not out there is when it’s hazardous to us, like if there is heavy snow on limbs, or high winds,” he added.

Miller stresses that volunteer opportunities are open to anyone who completes the college’s application process.

“You don’t have to be in the know, it’s not a select group of people,” he said. “Everybody wants to see more people getting out and giving back to the community.”

“We all like to contribute,” Imamura said. “We like to give back, and people definitely appreciate what we do. It touches your heart – that’s payment in itself.” For more information about volunteering in the forest, contact volunteer coordinator Matt McPharlin at 541-737-6730 or matt.mcpharlin@oregonstate.edu.

The 2021 Dean’s Award recipients and retirees were recently honored with an awards ceremony and celebration. Since 1990, the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement have recognized outstanding contributions by our community members that significantly advanced the mission of the College.

Dean Tom Deluca and Leon Rogers

Leon Rogers was recognized for outstanding achievement in fostering undergraduate student success. Leon is a Ph.D. candidate in wood science and engineering. A student nominator wrote “since starting his Ph.D., Leon has been the regular go-to for intern and undergraduate training. Whenever a student has a question in the lab, they go to him first, and he always seems to have the answer to every problem (also grad student problems!).”

Nick Miller was awarded for outstanding achievement in contributions as a student worker in his job at the helpdesk. Nominators noted “if Nick can’t solve the problem on the first visit, he is sure to schedule a follow-up. While he could just pass along the problem, he goes above and beyond to make sure that he is the familiar face that continues to work with them. His breadth of knowledge allows him to solve many problems without having to involve full-time staff.”

Dean Tom Deluca and Karla Jarecke

Two graduate students were recognized for outstanding achievement in graduate student leadership – Karla Jarecke and Caitlyn Reilley. Nominators noted “Karla has made outstanding contributions to the College through teaching. Karla TA’ed two classes (FES524 & FE434) for a total of four times and co-taught sections on soil water in FE434. Karla also mentored 7 undergraduate students through the undergraduate mentored employment program.” Nominators noted that Caitlyn “provides tremendous service to the FERM department as the student representative on the College’s graduate student council. Her upbeat attitude and friendly demeanor made it easy for her to connect with our latest cohort of incoming graduate students at the 2021 CoF grad student orientation.”

Dean Tom Deluca and Caitlyn Reilley

The Pauline Barto Award for Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion went to Ray Van Court and Jessica Fitzmorris. Ray has not just been the go-to for discussion and practical evaluation of wide commitments to diversity but has been an exemplary model of outreach and equity focused leadership that many students and faculty look up to. Jessica serves as one of the chairs on the Starker Lecture Series Committee and led the charge to get “Women of Forestry: Inspiring Leadership” a series focus. She rallied the sponsor to embrace this topic and built a team to facilitate the selection of speakers, organize a capstone experience that will enhance the education and opportunities for young women in the fields, and built excitement for the series among the college and external community.

Dean Tom Deluca and Ray Van Court

The award for outstanding achievement in the mentorship of graduate students went to Tyler Deboodt. Tyler has only been in the wood science and engineering department for the last 18 months and has already made an indelible mark in the progress and research profile of graduate students. Tyler was instrumental in recovery after the COVID related shutdowns and prioritized graduate student research as the resumption took place in order for the students to graduate.

Dean Tom Deluca and Tyler Deboodt

Meg Krawchuk received the award for outstanding achievement in distinction to the college. Meg took on leadership of the DEI community building and inclusion task force in 2020. Since then, she has been an inspirational leader to this group, and it is due largely to her efforts that the “community nook” space has taken shape. Her thoughtful, inclusive and participant-driven approach to this task has embodied DEI principles.

Retirees Jeff Wimer, Janey Lee Sutton and Badege Bishaw were recognized for their service to the college. Jeff Wimer was with the college for 18 years. He was responsible for providing leadership and management for the College of Forestry Student Logging Program, teaching an upper division course in use of harvest simulators, delivering guest lectures in several courses to support the department’s professional forestry degree, research support, and assisting in college development and outreach. Janey Lee Sutton worked in the Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) office. A colleague noted “Janey made the FNR extension team feel like home, feel like a family. You could always count on a good story and an even better laugh when you went into her office. She knew the ins and outs of the college like the back of her hand and was always willing share that knowledge to help get you where you needed to be.” Dr. Badege Bishaw enjoyed a 26-year career in the College of Forestry. Over his career, he taught many courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, including International Forestry, Agroforestry, Introduction to Sustainable Natural Resources, and Sustainable Natural Resource Development.

Among those on hand to celebrate the donation were (left to right): Ken Brown, Westwinds Farm founder; Holly Ober, program leader for Forestry and Natural Resources Extension; Jim Heater, owner of Silver Mountain Christmas Trees in Sublimity; Bryan Brown, owner of Westwinds Farm;  Ivory Lyles, vice provost, Division of Extension and Engagement; and Chal Landgren.

The College of Forestry George W. Peavy Forest Science Center on the Oregon State University Corvallis campus has a towering Nordmann fir Christmas tree thanks to a generous donation and the work of many hands.  Donated by Westwinds Farm in Dallas, the tree celebrates a 60-plus year collaboration between OSU Extension and local Christmas tree growers. It also honors Chal Landgren, who is retiring as the OSU Extension Christmas tree specialist. A couple of forestry students took a break from studying to help get the 30-foot tree into the building and raised. Benny the Beaver, the OSU mascot, also lent a hand getting the tree into its final position in the lobby!

The history of this tree starts in 1965 when Drew Michaels, a West Salem tree farmer, acquired seed from trees native to western Asia’s Caucasus Mountains. He found that this variety, now known as Nordmann fir, thrived in the hot, dry summer climate of the Willamette Valley. The descendant of Drew’s Nordmann plantation, along with other trees in the Westwinds Farm seed orchard, is part of an ongoing research project with Oregon State University. Together they are working to improve needle quality and retention and to enhance growth, with the goal of giving Willamette Valley farmers the tools to grow the best trees possible.

The OSU Christmas tree program is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Clackamas county, the heart of Christmas tree production in Oregon. ​​​​​​

At the College of Forestry, we are known for our collaborative research approach to advance knowledge and bring solutions to issues facing our forest landscapes and ecosystems. We take pride in creating new and innovative approaches to help partners enhance people’s lives while improving the health of our lands, businesses and vital ecosystems. This amazing work is carried out by our world-class faculty, staff and students and happens in labs and out there – on public and private lands across the state and in the College’s own 15,000 acres of College Research Forests.

In FY 2021, the College of Forestry received over $9.58 million in external awards. The awards support College of Forestry research that advances scientific knowledge critical to the health of forests, people and communities.

Here are some examples of the new awards (a complete list can be found here):

LTER: Long-Term Ecological Research at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (LTER8)
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: Michael P. Nelson
$1,053,700

Continued collaboration on developing leadership in the design, manufacture and construction of buildings using innovative wood products
Sponsor: USDA – Ag Research Service
Principal Investigator: Kathleen L. Kavanagh
$803,400

Advancing Rural Prosperity and Equity Through the New Forest Economy
Sponsor: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Principal Investigator: Emily Jane Davis; Co-PIs: Mindy Crandall, Reem Hajjar, Heidi Huber-Stearns, Gerardo Sandoval, Marko Bay, Don Albrecht
$166,571

Field trial of photosynthesis-modified transgenic poplars at Oregon State University
Sponsor: Living Carbon PBC
Principal Investigator: Steve Strauss; Co-PIs: Chris Still
$349,054

For her dissertation, Rebecca Sheridan, who recently received her Ph.D. in sustainable forest management, studied Douglas-fir seedlings. Her research on this famous tree is specific and based on the latest technology available in the Western world, but the Oregon native says one of the essential parts of her graduate school experience takes place 6,500 miles away in Armenia.

“When I started graduate school, I wanted to do research that could be applied and helpful in solving restoration and reforestation issues,” she says. “The work I’ve done in Armenia is a reminder of the tangible outcomes research can have. It helps me stay grounded.”

Sheridan’s major professor was Interim Dean Anthony S. Davis, who has collaborated with the International Programs office of the U.S. Forest Service and other organizations to complete seedling-related projects. In 2016, Sheridan joined him for the first time in Armenia.

During Sheridan’s first visit, the U.S. team worked with a nonprofit organization to build a greenhouse and start the first growing season for seedlings with the goal of restoring the depleted landscape.

Sheridan says understanding Armenian culture, the history of the country and the greater region is important when it comes to the forestry and natural resources industries. For example, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an oil and gas blockade, so tree harvests increased to supply heat to homes.

“Deforestation rapidly increased during that time,” Sheridan explains. “I’m not sure what the landscape looked like before the blockade, but these days, it looks like Eastern Oregon with rolling hills and lots of juniper trees. It’s higher and dryer there, and the goal of this project is to reintroduce native species to the land.”

Sheridan says many of those species are wild versions of edible plants like pear, apple and almond.

“It’s cool to work with species that are familiar to us as food, but are native, wild plants in another region of the world,” she says.

Culturally, Sheridan says Armenia is an exciting fusion of West and East with diverse food and kind people.

During her three trips to the country, Sheridan relied heavily on local knowledge while gathering materials and planning her workshops. The first growing season in 2016 yielded about 200 plants, while during the
2018 season, production increased to about 5,000 seedlings. Now, Sheridan says, the greenhouse is at capacity.

“The biggest challenge is working in such a rural, agricultural community,” she says. “People there have experience with food crops and orchards. We do our best to be respectful of the knowledge of our in-country partners while also highlighting how and why we’re training them to grow container seedlings for restoration in a different way than they might be used to.”

Sheridan says they will plant the seedlings in challenging environmental conditions, without irrigation or long-term maintenance of competing vegetation, so they need to be ready for the conditions they will face. Wildfire is also becoming prevalent in the area, adding a new twist to the project, as Sheridan and her in-country partners consider whether the landscape is fire adaptive.

Sheridan says the international work experience inspired her, and even though she’s not sure what her future holds, she hopes to continue visiting Armenia.

“It doesn’t matter if I understand every detail about how plants grow,” she says. “But, if I don’t understand how fertilizer gets shipped into different parts of the world or the cultural norms that influence what time of day you
can get people to water at our greenhouse, I’ll be less effective in helping solve these problems.”

A version of this story appeared in the fall 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about international programs within the College of Forestry here.

What is your job?

I’m an assistant professor here in the Wood Science + Engineering Department. I’ll also be taking over the Utility Pole Research Cooperative and the Environmental Performance of Treated Wood Research Cooperative. I’ve just been here for about two months so far.

How did you end up here at Oregon State?

I got my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and my advisor actually did a job really similar to this one. I studied biofules and fungal biology. After that, I did a postdoc at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is a Department of Energy Laboratory that mostly focuses on nuclear energy, but there were a few biofules people like me there.

Are you a morning person or night person?

Morning. I’m also horribly addicted to coffee. In my office, I have an espresso maker, French press and drip brew to help keep me awake.

What does life look like outside work?

I have my wife and my 11-month-old daughter at home. We haven’t done too much yet other than explore the area since we’re still new around here.

Have you watched anything good on Netflix lately?

Every Friday night we’re watching the new episode of the Great British Baking Show. We really enjoy that. My wife is from Ireland, and we enjoy British humor.

Do you like to bake?

I do bake bread sometimes, but you really have to be sure you eat it before it goes bad, so I go in and out of those phases. I’m not baking right now because I felt like I was throwing away too much bread. I also enjoy cooking.

Conventional timber harvesting has no effect on carbon levels in the mineral soils of the western Pacific Northwest for at least 3 1/2 years after harvest, according to recently-published research by Oregon State University and Weyerhaeuser Company.

The study is important because soils contain a large percentage of the total carbon in forests – generally about half of it – and understanding soil carbon response to clear-cuts and other forest management practices is vital in determining carbon balance in any given stand as well as the overall landscape.

Stable carbon levels in the ground means less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. An important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide’s concentration in the atmosphere has risen 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Age.

Historic in its scope, this collaborative and long-term effort between Jeff Hatten of the OSU College of Forestry and Scott Holub of Weyerhaeuser monitored nine managed Douglas-fir forest stands in Oregon and Washington, before and after conventional timber harvest and replanting, and involved more than 50,000 soil samples from 2700 sample points, thus far.  Continued monitoring of soil carbon with additional rounds of sampling is planned at these sites for decades to come.

“Our original hypothesis that timber harvesting would decrease soil carbon in the short term was disproven,” said Hatten, a soils researcher in the college’s Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management. “And I think it’s fair to say this has been the most extensive sampling ever conducted to determine if harvesting has an impact on soil carbon.”

“The no-result was remarkable,” he said. “Even where you have the highest soil temperatures and the highest soil moistures – the strongest environment for decomposition that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – harvesting doesn’t seem to have an impact in the areas we studied. And the results likely extend to similar areas, probably totaling many millions of hectares in the Northwest.”

Across all the sites combined, after harvest, the scientists found negligible change (+2%) in mineral soil carbon content and a 184 percent hike in forest floor carbon, the result of harvest residue.

Modern harvest methods are designed to cause minimal soil disturbance, and the stable soil carbon would seem to reflect that, the researchers said.

“Concern about rising atmospheric carbon dioxideconcentrations has heightened interest in the role that forests play in carbon sequestration, storage and cycling,” Hatten said. “Living trees sequester and store carbon, but less recognition has been given to soils’ role. We have plans to resample these sites in coming years and decades to look at the longer-term impacts.”

Citation:

Holub, S.M. and Hatten, J.A. 2019. Soil Carbon Storage in Douglas-Fir Forests of Western Oregon and Washington Before and After Modern Timber Harvesting Practices. Soil Science Society of America Journal 83(1):S175-S186.

Abstract available here: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/sssaj/abstracts/83/s1/S175

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is causing the Earth to warm, oceans to acidify and climates to change. Because tree growth captures atmospheric carbon, some scientists and environmental advocacy groups promote massive tree planting as a solution to climate change.

A group of 46 scientists from around the world, led by Joseph Veldman of Texas A&M University, are urging caution regarding plans to address climate change through massive tree planting.

These scientists teamed up with Veldman, whose research focuses on the fire ecology of savannas and forests of Texas and Tropical America, to publish a message of concern in the journal Science.

 “While tree planting can be good in some deforested areas, tree planting in Earth’s natural grasslands destroys plant and animal habitat and will not sequester enough carbon to compensate for fossil fuel emissions,” Veldman says. “Few people realize that planting trees in the wrong places can actually damage ecosystems, increase wildfire intensity and exacerbate global warming.”

The new publication is a critique of another recent paper in Science, which claimed global, large-scale tree planting could capture 205 gigatons of carbon, or one-third of the carbon dioxide emitted since the industrial revolution.

 “Because the estimate of 205 gigatons of carbon was so large, in July 2019, headlines around the world declared tree planting to be the best solution to climate change,” Veldman said. We now know those headlines were wrong.”

In their critique, Veldman and his collaborators write that serious methodological flaws led to a five-fold overestimate of the potential for new trees to mitigate climate change. Among the problems, they point out that the original study assumed that soils in ecosystems without trees contain no carbon, when in fact many ecosystems such as savannas and peatlands, contain more carbon in soils than in the above-ground vegetation.

The study also neglected the fact that coniferous forests in boreal and high mountain regions absorb more sunlight and emit more heat than treeless areas, and actually exacerbate rather than mitigate global warming.

Finally, Veldman and his collaborators argue tree planting in grasslands and savannas, as proposed by the original article’s research team, is damaging to the environment.

“Ancient grasslands and savannas contain immense biodiversity and provide services to humanity, such as livestock forage and groundwater recharge,” Veldman says. “We worry that a myopic focus on tree planting will reduce the capacity of people to adapt to climate change while distracting from efforts to conserve intact ecosystems and reduce fossil fuel consumption.”

Co-author Christopher Still of the Oregon State University College of Forestry, adds,  “Careful and targeted afforestation and reforestation can help with the climate crisis, but only if done in certain regions and with appropriate safeguards for biodiversity, water availability, and in concert with local communities. ”