Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

There are many comings and goings in FNR extension with two recent arrivals in the Valley, and one upcoming departure.


Alex Gorman is the new FNR Extension agent for Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties. Alex has  forestry degrees from Humboldt State University and University of  Minnesota.  He is based in St. Helens, and started on June 30, the day after the discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer in Forest Grove.  So Alex was thrust into the state and local response to the EAB arrival, and working with the EAB task force.  All that certainly  hijacked some of his plans to meet, greet and network.  But he is getting out more, and happy connect with landowners.  If you have not met Alex yet, reach out and get on his mailing list!  P: 503-397-3462 x2

Another new face on the scene in Kaya Bordelon, the Regional Fire Specialist, Willamette Valley & North Cascades.  She is part of FNR Extension’s new Fire Program, developed to help span boundaries with new partnerships to help support community and landscape resiliency to wildfire.  Kayla is a Silverton native, coming to us most recently from University of Idaho. She has background as an educator, science communicator and conservation practitioner having worked with Forest Service, National Parks and community organizations.  Kayla is busy settling in, and yes, meeting, greeting and networking.


As for the departure, the time has come for me to retire from OSU Extension, effective January 1, 2023.  Some would say past time.

I have been with Forestry and Natural Resources Extension for over 20 years now, and have really enjoyed my time and work here.  It is hard to imagine a more dedicated and creative group of colleagues, great community partners, nor a more passionate and inspiring group of people than the woodland owners and volunteers I have worked with.   I have learned so much over the years about traditional as well as emerging forestry issues, and have done my best to share that effectively.

Good Forestry Eduction sometimes justs needs some old fashioned hand waving. Photo: Mike Barsotti.

As I leave, I am happy to assure you that Forestry and Natural Resources will remain an active Extension program in Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.  Holly Ober (FNR Program leader) sees this three county position as a priority and has already begun the search process for the next agent.   It seems likely that my successor will arrive by summer.  I know, it sounds like a long time, but that is fast for a University.  

Changes to this newsletter

What about Tree Topics, the Compass and Needle?  Tree Topics was a blog space that Amy Grotta and I used to make our writing more visible on the web, and also give easy access to each of us for putting together our individual newsletters.  Extension now has other preferred ways to make stories visible on line.  So this is the final post of Tree Topics.  However, the catalog of stories will remain.

The Compass Newsletter that I publish for Linn, Benton and Polk Counties will similarly not be published after I retire (pending the arrival and decision of my successor) but the Needle events bulletin will still be sent out from the Benton County office as needed to publicize events of our partners. You can still subscribe to that mailing list to receive announcements:

Although it feels like the right time, my looming departure is producing some mixed emotions for me.   It has been a great run, and I have really enjoyed being in Extension and working with so many great community partners and individuals.  But now I am looking forward to doing new things in retirement. 

Wishing you all the Best.


Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Agent, for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

Most woodland owners love their wildlife.  Deer, bear, foxes, bobcats and all those birds of course.  An increasing number of people are adding native pollinators to their list of desirable wildlife, and looking for ways to improve pollinator habitat on their properties.  Just as they might already be doing for other animals. 

I recently posted a teaser blog about creating pollinator habitat woodland properties.  I described key habitat features, gave a few tips on how you might go about supporting native pollinator habitat, and promised more resources in the future. Which is now.

The Bees in the Woods website is a new Extension resource for woodland owners interested in helping our native pollinators.  It features a new “Bees in the Woods” video series along with some blog links and other great resources. 

We are still learning a lot about native bees in our forests, but this video series aims to share what we know. It helps forest owners recognize native bee habitats they might have, or opportunities protect or improve bee habitat within the course of regular, common forest management activities usinbg both active as well as passive management.

This series offers resources for both wet Douglas-fir dominated forests and our dry forest ecosystems.

Check it out!

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Agent, for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

Many readers are aware of the interest in, as well as the importance of pollinators. Pollinators include many kinds of insects, and even some birds and mammals.  But the pollinators attracting most of the attention are our native bees. 

The Master Gardeners are great advocates of pollinator stewardship and do popular trainings on caring for mason bees and growing pollinator gardens.  The potential and also the need for supporting pollinators in urban/suburban settings, as well as in a larger agricultural landscape is clear.

But what about all the forestlands in Oregon? 

Well it turns out that many forest and woodland properties can and do provide native bee habitat.  Sometimes very good habitat that many of us would not even recognize.  So what does it look like? 

A new planing in a clearcut or other open area can have a great mix of nesting and flower resouces. Photo B Withrow-Robinson

The building blocks of native bee habitat are places to nest and flowers for food, located close enough together for bees to reach both. 

Most of our native pollinators nest in the ground, many preferring bare mineral soil to dig their tunnels.  Others nest in wood, in pithy centers of stems and branches and other woody debris.  Flowers that provide nectar for the bees to eat and pollen to feed their brood are a clear requirement; but that we need a procession of flowers over the season is easily overlooked.

So, open areas with a mix of bare ground, some woody debris and an abundance of flowers blooming throughout the season nearby is a pretty good thumbnail sketch of awesome pollinator habitat. 

Family forestlands in our area are often pretty diverse places.  You can generally expect to find a variety of woodland conditions from dense conifer stands, to hardwood areas.  There are often also a variety of open spaces like meadows, road edges and landings or recently harvested areas. In short, local woodland properties often have all the building blocks of great pollinator habitats.

Keep in mind that a thriving community of pollinators needs resources not for just one species of bee but for many kinds.  It needs a wide range of conditions:  different nesting substrates, and a wide variety of flowering plants that produces different shapes and sizes of flowers, in an ongoing succession of bloom from early spring into fall. 

Big leaf maple s an important and abundant early flower. Photo B. Withrow-Robinson

How about your place?  As a woodland owner you likely have some bee habitat already and can probably do some easy things to keep it or improve it.  It is often best to start with knowing what you have.

Take some time to thik about this, then take stock next spring and summer.  Pay attention to what is flowering on your property, as well as when and where it blooms.  Note (and identify) what you have in abundance, and pay attention to things that are particularly popular with a variety of insects. Channel your inner child, or better yet, involve your kids or grandkids in this! This would be a great journaling activity, combining observations, note taking, drawing and photography. Great fun! 

Ocean spray is an attractive summer flowering shrub important to pollinators. Photo B. Withrow-Robinson

Once you know what you have, you can think about ways to protect or improve it.  I’ll be back next time with some resources and ideas about that. 

Dan Stark, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension for Clackamas, Tillamook and Lincoln Counties.

Amid ongoing and expanding interest in redwoods among landowners in western Oregon, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) Extension convened Growing Redwoods in Oregon Science Meeting in October 2021.  Over 70 participants met virtually over two half-days, to discuss the potential of redwoods in Oregon.  Participants included researchers, public land managers, private landowners, geneticists, nursery specialists and other practitioners from Oregon and beyond.

Photo by Norma Kline

Information gathered at this meeting will be used to help FNR Extension develop a resources guide  for Western Oregon woodland owners and forestland managers that are interested in growing coast redwood and/or giant sequoia.

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Jim Johnson, familiar long-time leader of the Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) Extension Program retired last winter.  Jim served 15 years with OSU, primarily as Associate Dean and Forestry Extension Program Leader but also led international programs and was interim Department Head for two departments in the College.  Jim did a lot to strengthen the FNR program in his time with us.  We wish him well in Virginia where he has moved to be close to a small flock of grandchildren.

Dr. Holly Ober has followed Jim as FNR Extension Program Leader.  She started here at OSU on June 1, taking the position of Associate Dean for Science Outreach and Program Leader for Forestry and Natural Resources Extension in the College of Forestry. 

Dr. Ober previously served as Associate Program Leader for the Natural Resources Extension Program in Florida.  She was also a Professor and Extension Specialist.  Her research there looked at the mechanisms that influence wildlife habitat selection and wildlife productivity in forests to better inform management strategies to balance multiple uses.  She is a recognized expert in bat ecology.  As an Extension Specialist, she taught landowners and land managers about sustainable management practices to provide habitat for wildlife while also meeting their other objectives.  A familiar topic here in Oregon. 

Holly is actually returning to Oregon, having received her PhD from OSU in Forest Science and Wildlife Biology in 2007.  Please welcome her when you get a chance.

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn & Polk Counties.

The Oregon Master Woodland Manager (MWM) Program is one of the first and strongest forestry “peer to peer” learning and volunteer programs in the country. The MWM program had its start right here in Linn and Benton Counties in the early 1980s. 

MWM origninators Mike Barsotti, Don Carr and Rick Fletcher, 2019. Photo Jody Einterson. Cropped from the origninal.

Don Carr, Mike Barsotti and Rick Fletcher were three new, young Foresters working for different agencies (The Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry and OSU Extension, respectively).  They were meeting regularly to find ways to cooperate and better serve landowners in the area.  Even working together, they recognized their limited capacity and reach as public foresters.  Seeing the effectiveness of the Master Gardener program, they imagined a similar “neighbor to neighbor” program with landowners helping other landowners find information and motivation.  This remains the heart of the MWM program to this day. 

Oringinal MWM class of 1984. Photo from Benton County Extension.

They launched a pilot training in 1984, with 10 participants.  The power of the program was immediately clear, and they went on to develop the statewide program which today has trained over 500 men and women all across Oregon. 

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Master Woodland Manager class of 2014, for Benton, Linn & Polk Counties. Photo Paul Adams.

The Master Woodland Manager Program is an OSU Extension learning and volunteer training program with roots in the mid-Willamette Valley.  Master Woodland Managers (MWMs) are experienced woodland owners who take an advanced training to improve their own skills and knowledge of woodland management.  In return for the training, each MWM commits to volunteer service to their community.  Their service covers a wide range of activities, including  landowner education,  supporting Extension program activities and Community Science projects. 

Over 35 years old and going strong, the MWM program has trained over 500 volunteers across the state.  MWMs collectively contribute thousands of hours of volunteer service each year (5,276 hours reported in 2019, before COVID). 

MWM Roger Workman, demonstrating pruning for a Basic Woodland Managment Shortcourse tour hosted at his property. Photo Brad Withrow-Robinson.

The mid-Valley has one of the stronger MWM programs in the state.  The several dozen Linn,  Benton and Polk County Master Woodland Managers (MWMs) have been a great asset to the local woodland community over the years.  Their many contributions include hosting tours and demonstrations on their properties, making site visits to new landowners, writing news articles, supporting classes and other Extension educational programs, and providing core leadership for landowner organizations such as local chapters of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. MWM also contribute to other natural resource organizations such as watershed councils and SWCDs as part of their volunteer service.

“Our favorite MWM volunteer activity has been one-on-one (visits) with other forest landowners. Our knowledge from the MWM training has helped us help our family, neighbors, friends and strangers with questions they have about their forests. If we don’t have an answer, we know others who can answer” say Hal & Elin, MWMs in Yamhill County.

Master Woodland Manager, like so many other Extension programs was significantly affected by COVID.  We cancelled or delayed several scheduled trainings around the state.  While many volunteers have remained active in leadership service, it halted many valuable and enjoyable services such as leading tours and making site visits.  We hope that changes soon.

Spring 2022 MWM training scheduled!

After complications and delays, we have now scheduled an MWM training for this area in Spring 2022.  It will be shared by Extension agents Brad Withrow-Robinson and Glenn Ahrens, so it will serve their combined 5 county area of the Willamette Valley.  We are unlikely to have another training in this area for another 5 years or more.

MWM Trainees calculating site productivity. Photo Tiffany Hopkins.

The training will be eight Saturday sessions from April 2 to June 25, 2022. The field-oriented sessions will rotate around several counties, from Clackamas to Benton. 

If you are an experienced landowner, and the MWM program sounds like something you would like to be part of, please contact me and ask for more information about the schedule, expectations and prerequisites, and application process.

Are you ready for the wildfire season? Some great new sources of information, including a  webinar series and resource packet, are available online to share with family, friends and neighbors as we work to be more aware and more prepared for fire.

Last summer’s 2020 wildfire events affected most Oregonians and we learned that EVERYONE living in Oregon should be prepared for a wildfire emergency. And here we are in July, with 2021 becoming another historic fire year.  So it is important to keep focused even though every community is different, and it can be difficult to navigate all of the resources.

Oregon State University’s Forestry & Natural Resources Extension along with state and local agencies and community partners, is helping Oregonians prepare for the reality of wildfire through greater awareness and action. OSU Extension’s new Fire Program hit the ground running, providing post fire programming last fall, and also a series of fire preparedness webinars this spring.

The Fire Aware. Fire Prepared webinar series aired in spring 2021. Topics included:

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Are you seeing foliage scorch or other damage (as described in earlier post) and want to help increase our understanding of the impacts of our recent heat wave?  If so, you can report those effects to help foresters and researchers studying the longer-term impacts of this event. 

A group of scientists and forest managers at OSU and the USFS is asking people who observed these effects to report their observations by responding to this survey (link is also below). You will be using a website created by the Oregon Department of Forestry to survey drought impacts on forests.

Since this webpage was originally set up to report drought impacts on trees, you need to clarify that you are reporting about the recent heat wave. 

You will be asked to upload a photo of the injury.  Below that you are asked to provide a description or caption for the image.  In that description please note there  that you are reporting ‘impacts of the June 2021 heat wave and also include the phrase foliage scorch so they can retrieve these observations later for mapping and analysis of this extreme event. For example:

Impacts of June 2021 heat wave. Foliage scorch. Douglas-fir at day use area, Cascadia OR.
Impacts of June 2021 heat wave. Foliage scorch. Western redcedar at day use area, Cascadia OR.

Link to survey:

Thank you for your help! If you have any questions, please contact Chris Still at or (541) 737-4086. You will be using a website

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties. 

Mature Douglas-fir showing foliage scorch alng Hwy 20, East of Cascadia. Photo B Withrow-Robinson

People driving in and out of the valley have been alarmed by the damage to trees caused by the recent heat wave and wondering what it means.  They are not alone.

I have been asking around to try to get a clearer sense of the severity and extent of the effects of the heat wave around western Oregon.  What I have heard from within forestry and Extension circles is that the effects seem wide spread, but variable around the Coast Range and Cascades.  Hotspots I’ve heard about include areas along Hwy 20 near Toledo, and also above Sweet Home.  Hwy 58 around Lowell and Oak Ridge looks rough.  Damage seems less evident in the Valley.

A common symptom seen is foliage scorch/sunscald of new growth, sometimes first or second year needles too, generally on southwest exposures, and the southwest side of the tree.  This can be quite dramatic along roads and other exposed areas, with scorched needles visible from base to crown, particularly in Douglas-fir and grand fir, whose needles turn bright red.   Western redcedar and western hemlock are also affected, although the symptoms may be less dramatic, since the color change is more muted. 

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