Early morning breakfast on Wednesday and time to load up the vans for the drive to the mill town of Gilchrist. After picking up Fitz in Bend we continue on to a mature pine stand being managed and thinned for future old growth structure. As you can see from the picture below, it’s just an awful day to be out in the woods like this, but someone has to do it!


Once on site, the students know the drill. Out of the van and 20 to 30 minutes for walking observations and then a meet back at the van for discussions. Students have now come a long way and observations are detailed on crown structure, stems per acre, disease noted, soil types, and lots of other details. We laugh now about the early discussions from week one where we got them to say they saw trees!

Time for a field tutorial where I walked them through the process a cruiser would take to size up the stand. Lunch time and then it’s time to cruise.

“Diameter estimation, critical limiting distances, VBAR/Tarif, man there’s just a lot to do here, and we gotta do crown class and down wood and all that stuff too?” – Colin

“And you’ll do just fine Colin” – me

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Jake rockin’ the “I’m a cruiser and that’s a damn fine pine” look    IMG_0258

Future “to be big one day” trees


Truly, a forester’s Filed of Dreams.



Yeah, we really do get paid to do this!



Tuesday morning and we’re off early to meet up with Fitz and head out south of the Sunriver area to a couple of sites. First stop is a regeneration stand, actually two of them that are part of a study on small gap reforestation in the Ponderosa pine area.

A whole new ballgame and things to consider. Students got to examine different site prep strategies and differences in how natural regeneration interacts with planted seedlings from a management perspective. The concept of “free to grow” took on a whole new meaning with typical student stocking surveys showing a fairly consistent 100-120 trees per acre but with the addition of naturals the stands moved beyond 250


IMG_0245        Students had new critters to deal with that just love to chew on little seedlings. At one point a cute lil’ bunny ran through the unit spawning a whole round of Monty Python jokes. Found the remnants of a couple seedlings later that had been sheared off by those cute lil’ teeth!

IMG_0246  It may not look like much, but there’s about 15 seedlings hiding in there

IMG_0247   All types of new shrub competition to learn. A lot of bitterbrush and manzanita in this area. We had about a good couple hours of rain before and during and while we were soaked, our soil pits in the regeneration area showed that all that precipitation had barely reached the upper few millimeters of the soil. It was a great segue to all the earlier talk on precipitation as a limiting factor on the East Side

On to the next area just down the road and into a thinning study that is part of a long term effort to build old-growth structure in the pine forests. Steve started off the discussion explaining concepts of  canopy structure and demonstrating characteristics of dominant, co-dominant, intermediates, and suppressed trees in the stand. Students examined different crown types and compared them with cores to see the changes in growth rates within the various crown classes



Students then did a thinning cruise and characterized crown classes for all trees in their plots as Steve and I visted with the groups asking them about their calls

A long day and a lot of information to dwell on. And a pretty hungry group. Tonight’s menu is spaghetti, sausages, salad, and garlic bread.



After dinner a quick trip to the main lodge where my senses tell me that the staff has put out a fresh batch of cookies


Tomorrow we’re off to the Gilchrist area for a trip to a mature stand being managed for the end result of the thinning stand we looked at today

Monday morning and time to get ready. Breakfast for 16 is on the stove and our first of several visitors has arrived and headed straight for the coffee pot. Steve Fitzgerald (Fitz) has joined us for the week. Steve is on the Faculty and is also the extension forester for the East Side. We are pretty lucky to have him with us this week and he has some great things in store for us. About 30 minutes behind Steve, Jeff Hatten and his Grad student Adian have arrived for a day visit and talk on forest soils on the East Side. Steve gave a everyone a fireside briefing and introduction to the East Side and it’s time to load up and head down the road.

First stop is Steve and field introduction to forest and understory vegetation on the East Side. Lot of new conifer and understory vegetation to learn. For most of the students, this is the first time away from the West Side forests


Jeff and Adrian and soils work. After a brief safety meeting, we are off to dig soil pits. Jeff gives us all a brief overview on soils for those who forgot their basic soils verbiage and then a discussion on the volcanic influence to the soils on the East Side. Time to pick up shovels and dig

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Students are trying to get down deep enough to find the layers of ash from the Mazama eruption. Hmmmm it seems we have several other layers of ash from some more recent eruptions of just a few thousand years back. Very interesting to see a basic history map unfold in the soil layers


Great day of soils work and a big thanks to Jeff and Adrian as we bid them goodbye in the late afternoon and head down the road to a quick visit and discussion with Fitz on fire history in the area and the influence of fire as a management tool on the East Side.

Since we are close by we head over over for a quick visit to the head of the Metolius River, gorgeous setting and we have a brief talk on the origin of the river and it’s sudden appearance from underground at the headwaters.  Wow, we haven’t done a group shot yet. Good looking group!


Almost forgot, we have to get back because one group still has work to do. The students have been divided into 4 groups and each group will be making dinner one night for the whole team. Jessie and his group are up first and the menu is barbecue steak and grilled asparagus with mushrooms!

Sunday morning and we are all packed and ready to head over to the East Side for the second week. We met up with Arne for one more time to drive over to the Sno-Tel site located at the top of the pass at the ODOT transportation rock yard. Got to the site and waited for Arne. And waited. Meanwhile, Arne is at the “Other” Sno-Tel site waiting for us…and waiting. Who would eer think to put two similar facilities within a few miles of each other. OK, no big deal, we finally all got together and Arne went through a discussion of the Sno-Tel monitoring site and the changes in precipitation as we moved from the wet west side to the dry east side. All of this as the rain moved in and winter let us in for a brief look at what was to come later.

We bid goodbye to Arne and continued east for a little bit more until we got to our home for the next week, Suttle Lake. Although I was in the pickup in the lead with Colin, we could both hear the oohs and awes from the back vans as we made the turn into the Suttle Lake Lodge area. First glimpse was the main lodge and the Lake. I know, it’s gonna be a tough week ..

IMG_0225     Then we got our cabins and the main cabin where we will have our morning meetings and evening get togethers…

IMG_0227  and inside, our meeting room  IMG_0228  Not sure how much of this “roughing it” we can all stand!

Well a bit of time off until dinner tonite so several folks went off on the 3 1/2 mile hike around the lake, others went on hikes on the Forest Service trails, and the Main Lodge had Sunday NFL on the Big Screen in the upstairs conference room. SAeveral of the students had to have their arms twisted to take part in that one!

6 PM and it was time for our briefing and work schedule for the week…. at our dinner spot… Pizza in Sisters. Poor guy was about an hour from closing up his pizza shop when 16 of us walk in. Great time had by all including the owner. Just about to leave and head back when someone mentions that nexr door is ice cream. OK, time for another meeting.

What a tough day this has been for us. Thank goodness we get back to work in the morning!

Saturday morning breakfast in the lodge and we are joined by the Student Logging Crew and Jeff Wimer. Jeff has a unit laid out for us and is ready to show their current logging operation up the 400 road. Safety briefing and last minute prep work and we’re off.

First stop is the Triad Shovel and Koller tower site


Jeff took the wheel of the shovel and had his crew handle the on-the-ground dialog. Half the students went down to the rigging to watch and take part in choker setting and learning the talkie tooter whistle language as they readied logs to come to the landing. After the carriage came up, they were unhooked at the landing and Jeff decked the logs from the shovel. Students were invited to watch from the wheelhouse of the shovel while Jeff moved logs around.

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Afterwards, I led a brief discussion on grading and merchandising and then students switched sides and we repeated the operation again

After the logging demo, we moved on to a falling demo and high climbing demo. Time for a quick lunch and we have a second date with Arne on the other side of the forest to look at precipitation and infiltration

We met with Arne and Amy at the interface of a reforested stand and older stand. Arne explained base concepts behind infiltration and the tools used to measure infiltration rates.

Students split up in twos and went off to put in infiltration plots. Amy, Arne, and I traverses between the groups checking on progress and answering questions. Afterwards we all met to discuss findings and what the measurements meant. Arne gave a last talk on how infiltration rates affected runoff and how western forests infiltration rates exceeded precipitation rates

Back to the cabin after a week packed full and a second week to follow. First steps, prep for the drive over to the East Side Sunday Morning. More importantly, get more food to hold over the group.


So anyways, on to Marys River after our day at Honeygrove Creek. Met up with Arne, Amy, and Alex and a short hike down to the river area. Arne gave a short talk on discharge and then the group split up to measure and calculate discharge in two sections of the river under the tutelage of Amy and Alex.

Discharge measurements began with a cross-sectional tape across the river


Next Alex and Amy explained the instrumentation and the proper way to take measurements



Students then took charge and took turns taking cross-sectional discharge measurements and converting to total river discharge


After discharge measurements were recorded, Arne led a short discussion on what the numbers meant and how measurement error could influence discharge volume estimates

On now to Saturday and our final day on the West Side

Full day of water and bugs on Honeygrove creek and the Mary’s river with Arne and his crew. Students met for a morning briefing with Doug Bateman on salmonid biology and habitat and then off to the field.


Words of Water Wisdom from Arne and Doug. Final instructions before being sent off to map salmonid habitat. Each group had their own section to map after learning about different habitat mapping units; Pools, riffles and glides.

IMG_0206_1  Colin is about to discover that pool is deeper than he thought

IMG_0207_1    IMG_0208_1 Our classroom for the water day. I know, right, but someone has to do it!

About noon, we had a visit from Bill Gerth, the forest entomologist and after a brief intro on aquatic invertabrates he set the students off on a collection/identification mission. Like kids at Christmas, Bugs and toys to play with

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Up next…. Marys River to study water discharge…… I believe water is starting to discharge from the sky!

This day was packed full starting with sessions on volume and timber estimates for mature stands. A fair bit of classroom work on tree form/shape, understanding the volume tables, and the importance of understanding diameter measurements vs height measurements for volume. Students learned to use the Relaskop and Biltmore stick and we had a practice session outside the cabin. We took turns evaluating the trees outside for height and form, using the tarif tables to calculate estimated volumes. The big trick was learning to sight the 50% top. From there we moved rght away into a fairly nice stand of 65 year-old timber and students were tasked with computing tarif number for the stand, computing basal area with the relaskop and using their calibrated thumbs, and then back to the class for volume calculations and a quick barbecue lunch.

From there it was off to the College for an afternoon of lab work with Camille Freitag in the wood decay lab, Sara Robinson in the wood anatomy lab, and Gabriella Ritakova in the forest pathology lab. Camille introduced the groups to wood decay principles and had them perform isolation tests by sterilizing and plating wood cores. Sara had discussions with the students on aspects of wood anatomy and on her work with development of pigment dyes from fungal extracts in wood. Gabriella had her groups go through examples of wood and needle disease from insect and fungal pathogens, including sudden oak death and Swiss needle casts, two of the more pressing issues in Oregon now. A really good day and thanks to Camille and Sara and Gabriella for all their help in the afternoon labs


Big thank you to Eric for a great presentation on reforestation on day 3. Much appreciated by everyone.

Day 4 was a trip out to the Five Rivers area in the Lobster Creek Valley where Mike Newton has a young 2nd thinning stand just recently harvested.

We started out day 4 with Jessica leading the group in some team building exercises including a group human knot untying drill

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Afterwards we had a team field trial on tree height measurements and a field demonstration on the use of cruising prisms. Back to the classroom for snacks and a discussion on thinning management and variable plot sampling. We wanted to get right back to the field so it was off to the vans and a trip out west to the Five Rivers area where we got to Mike’s stand. Once situated we made our way to one of the remaining log decks for a quick briefing, another trail on tree heights and then the students were turned loose for a 20 minute observation walk. On returning we discussed their findings including the large amount of forked tops, several students quickly noted the evenness of planting and spacing, the amount of dead limbs still remaining, etc.

The stand is a 35 year-old planted Douglas-fir stand in it’s second thinning. Heights were a mind-boggling 115-120 feet with as much as 4′-5′ inter-node lengths. Very impressive growth.

Students then went out to cruise the stand using both a fixed plot that included stump measurements and variable plot for stand and tree volume estimates. Stump diameters were matched with DBH to use later to build a stump diameter to DBH relationship for reconstruction of the stand pre-thinning.


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IMG_0196 Increment cores were taken to examine growth responses

Afterwards we met back at the log decks to examine the cut ends of the logs remaining. Logs showed a very clear response to opening up the stand in each thinning and students were able to examine the stand response pre-thinning as growth rings slowed and then accelerated following the post harvest.

Day 3 highlights were all about our site visit and sampling in a reforestation stand in the College Forests. After a brief introduction on sampling methods and the statistics around the reforestation numbers, we drove out to the site and met up with Eric Dinger. Eric gave a great presentation on the biology and management of reforestation including a discussion on how reforestation fits in the scheme of succession dynamics. Good discussion on stand targeting and management practices from the critical point of nursery quality, to planting practices and competition release.

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Students were sent out to make personal observations and then we all came back together to discuss.

Great discussion on the importance of root quality and morphology and the importance of the fine root hair system to rapid seedling growth and survival. Eric then dug down along the side of  one of the seedlings to expose the root system structure and the importance of the fibrous nature of a good and viable seedling

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Eric showing how to assess damage in a dead seedling, looking for cause whether it be browse, or other aspect. He showed students how to pull and assess dead seedling by examination of the roots, or lack of. In this case, very evident of a seedling that was probably dead on planting due to the container root still being in it’s planted condition.


After the talk we had lunch on the landing and students went out to put in plots and perform the stocking survey. At the end of the day we returned to the Cabin and worked on calculation and results. Spent time on the correct calculation of confidence limits. The day wrapped up with a discussion on the preparation of a summary report and the importance of being brief yet precise on writing the summary. Spent time doing a verbal writing of the abstract.