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. Brad.w-r@oregonstate.edu

Glenn Ahrens, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Clackamas, Marion, and Hood River Counties

At Hopkins Demonstration Forest we have an area of maturing forest – 80 or more years old – that we would like to manage with continued thinning or selective cutting rather than clearcutting. As I discussed in Part 1 of this story, this is a common situation for family forest owners. Many are interested in periodic selective harvesting of trees or small patches and keeping options open for the future. There are many challenges and tradeoffs to consider, but now we have to choose an option for our Hillside Forest stand at Hopkins.

80-year-old stand of Douglas-fir on upper slope of Hillside Forest at Hopkins.

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

Family woodland owners (like farmers, ranchers, beekeepers and others) typically have busy spring schedules with lots to do in the woods.  Many of those activities come with acres of physical distancing  from others outside their families, so life remains busy.

Although our offices are closed, OSU Extension remains an available and useful source of information for doing many spring woodland activities such as weed control, fire preparedness and prevention, developing wildlife habitat.  We remain available by phone or email to answer questions and direct you to the information you need.  

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By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Slash is the term used to describe the treetops, limbs and other woody material left behind after a timber harvest. The amount of slash left behind will depend on several factors, including the size and quality of the harvested trees. Universally, how the slash is dealt with is an important consideration in the logging process. Heavy amounts of slash left on the ground can be a fire hazard and it makes tree planting more difficult and more costly.

Piling and burning is the most common method of slash treatment nowadays. However, some landowners are looking for alternatives to burning for various reasons. Pile burning can be challenging due to weather conditions or smoke restrictions. When logging contractors are busy, they may be reluctant to include pile burning in their contract due to the time involved, leaving it up to the landowner. And, there are greenhouse gas considerations with burning slash. For all of these reasons, it is worth looking at the pros and cons of other methods of slash treatment.

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By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties

If you’ve ever been out on a field tour with a bunch of foresters, you probably heard one of them use the term “site productivity” in describing a particular forest, or comparing two different forests. But to the person without a lot of formal forestry background, site productivity may be a vague concept at best. However, it is an underlying attribute that turns out to explain a lot of what we observe in our forests: what types of trees thrive, which seem to have problems, what amount of competition our seedlings face, and more. So let’s take a closer look at site productivity. Continue reading

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

The woods are full of living things, all contributing to the forest’s diversity: Trees; check. Shrubs; check. Woodland flowers; check. Birds; check. Obvious enough, right?
But there are all sorts of less-obvious things which are seen only occasionally, such as mushrooms (fungus), many often-tiny things like insects, or secretive things such as amphibians. All add to the diversity, and many play important roles in how a forest functions
Let’s take a look at some more obscure but fascinating members of the forest community: lichens. We’ve all seen them. They are everywhere, including your woods. But what is a lichen? Continue reading

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

In a previous post , I wrote about the value of roads for a woodland owner, as well as the responsibly to maintain roads to protect their value as well as our water resources.  Many family forest landowners have older, “legacy” roads.  These older roads were likely not built to today’s engineering standards, have lost some of their function over time, so are deserving of some attention and stewardship.

So what does that involve?

It likely begins with observation.  Make it a habit to get out and inspect your road system regularly.  Since water is a key element and force causing damage to roads, get out in the wet season.  Bring paper, make notes and keep them as a reminder of what you saw and did.

When on your walk, you should be looking for signs of drainage issues:  Water standing on the road, trapped water running down the road forming ruts, and water pooling in the uphill road ditch all indicate drainage issues that may leader to bigger more damaging (more expensive) problems. Continue reading

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington, & Yamhill Counties

We’ve discussed ongoing drought stress a number of times on this blog.  But when do we consider it dry enough to be called a drought?  There’s actually a system for that. The United States Drought Monitor updates and releases a national map each week, showing which areas of the country are experiencing drought, and how extreme the conditions are.  A variety of data sources go into their models, which I won’t begin to explain here, but their website has a lot of good information on how they determine drought conditions. In fact, all the data and visual tools on the Drought Monitor website feed the data geek in me; so if you like this sort of thing I encourage you to check it out.

If it seems like this blog has been a broken record stuck on the drought track the last few years, you’re not imagining things. But today, I want to highlight that in northwest Oregon we begin 2019 in a state of Moderate Drought, according to the Drought Monitor (see figure below; click to enlarge), even though we are in the midst of the rainy season. Continue reading

An Interview with Cory Garms, PhD Student – Oregon State University

Edited by Lauren Grand, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent – Lane County

Drones are becoming more popular to use in forestry. With recent innovations, small landowners are beginning to gain more affordable access to this useful new technology. I spoke to Cory Garms, a PhD student at Oregon State University, about what small acreage landowners might want to know about using drones to survey their own property.

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

Fire Season will soon be in effect in much of the Tree Topics reading area, as declared by the State Forester according to regional fire conditions (usually by early July). Here are some fire season basics to keep in mind:

To find out when an area is declared, you can visit the ODF Wildfire website and click on Forest Restrictions and Closures  section. There you can find links to an overview of the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), closures and other information about fire regulations and restrictions.

If you choose the Current IFPL/Public Use (Regulated Closure) Chart you can find the fire level precaution for each of the ODF Forest Protection Districts by clicking on that district. Changes in precaution level and closures will be posted there over the summer, so it is a good idea to monitor this information throughout the season.

Please remember that even a Level 1 precaution requires you to carry fire equipment when in the woods. The motor vehicle or light truck (<=26,000 pounds GVW) requirements are:

  1. A) 1 shovel with a minimum 8-inch wide face and a minimum 26-inch length handle, ready for immediate use.
    B) 1 axe or Pulaski with a minimum 26-inch length handle, ready for immediate use.
    C) 1 approved A,B,C extinguisher, 2.5 pounds or larger (preferably 5 pound minimum), ready for immediate use.
    D) Exhaust system with muffler in good operating condition.

photo: ODF

Be sure you, your family or others using vehicles on your property are aware of this.  I generally make it a habit to carry these tools in my vehicle all summer.

Additionally, if you are using a chainsaw, each saw must have a shovel (meeting above standards), ready for immediate use; an 8-ounce (larger preferred) fire extinguisher, ready for immediate use; the standard exhaust system (spark arrester screen) must be in good operating condition; and the operator must stop the saw before fueling and move the saw at least 20 feet from fueling location prior to starting.

Please be FireWise, alert, aware, and pro-active in fire prevention. Be aware of how and where you park your vehicle, since exhaust system components have been known to ignite dry grass.  We’ve had a number of reminders recently that western Oregon is primed for wildfire each summer.  You don’t want to be part of the next one.