I’d rather be here than on a beach

We take a walk and four wheeler ride with Dan on his property on Oregon’s North Coast.

Dan rides a four-wheeler around trails of his land finding new things nearly every day. He describes trees he planted after coming home from work over the past decade. He says “I can visualize that tree, or this tree, or that tree over there, when I planted it. It’s just kind of satisfying to look back and say hey, there it is!” Looking back at the changes he has made on the land, from a field of invasive species to a thriving forest, Dan finds a kind of therapy and satisfaction from working on his woodland.  A statement to his dedication to the land he says “I haven’t ever made any money on this place, probably won’t live long enough to. But you know what’s a psychologist charge, per hour? What’s it worth to your mental health just to be happy with what you’re doing?”

Our favorite place on earth

Listen as we talk with Tom and Cindy about their land, their favorite place on earth.

Tom and Cindy at their property.

This story begins in 1863 when Tom’s great-great-grandfather purchased a homestead in the Walla Walla Valley. Tom, his wife Cindy, and their family now manage the land that has been passed down through four generations. Their grandson now helps tend the forest helping to make their forest more resilient to forest fire, insects and disease. The family dearly loves their property, which overlaps between Washington and Oregon. Tom says, “It was my grandfather’s favorite place on earth, and it’s my favorite place on earth.” Cindy agrees, “And it’s mine, and I think I could probably say it’s the children’s too.”  From huckleberries and mushrooms, to wolves and turkeys this land seems to have it all. Tom says, “If we had a Type II stream with trout running through it, it would be perfect.”

People work and tree work

Listen as we take a walk in the woods with Gilbert, a small woodland owner.

Gilbert, with walking stick talking about his woodland.

Gilbert says he manages his land for his family as well as the community that they have been a part of since 1864 when his father’s grandparents purchased a small parcel of land to begin farming. He looks not only at the trees that have grown on the property but also the value of involvement of family and many other people. Gilbert says, “Sustaining family forestland takes tree work but also people work.” He describes his experience learning from the land and helping future generations be able to have those experiences as well. His dedication to maintaining a sustainable forest that is productive in a way that keeps the forest healthy, but also that provides the plethora of other benefits that forests bring is very clear. He says, “I feel an obligation but I feel a great joy in being able to keep that idea [sustainable forest management] going. I manage in a way that not only keeps the forest productive and so we can pay all the expenses at the same time keeping the forests for visual, recreation, and any other kind of benefits like wildlife and fish.”

The voices of Oregon's small woodland owners