From the Desk of Our President
Ash Threat Part of Bigger Quandary
You know you're a tree farmer when you hear people at the next table discussing the "Beatles Invasion" and your thoughts turn not to Liverpool’s "Fab Four” but to the Five-spined Ips (beetle) and the resultant damage to your Ponderosa Pine stands.
There has been a mass of new data that has been changing my outlook regarding my formerly tightly held ideas regarding our property, Bogwood, and how I've been managing it. Way, way back, in 2013, I used to think that if a shrub or tree was green and growing well, leave it alone. Mother Nature was tending my land and who was I to influence her?
Then I learned, the hard way, what English Hawthorn and Scotch broom were and soon realized, that while these were green and growing, I had to fight them to promote the native species which were being shaded or choked out.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. In the hands of an inexperienced land owner, mistakes can be made through ignorance. With guidance from fellow OSWA members and various state and federal agencies, I learned what to favor and what to cull.
Lifting, or pruning, the conifers, helps to promote a fine looking stand of trees, increasing visibility in the understory as it removes the fuel-ladder. It has been drilled into me that land managers shouldn't trim or fell Ponderosa Pine in the summer! Otherwise, a 'beetles invasion' (again, not the Fab-Four) could be brought forth. Such wisdom has been hard-gained by others and I can appreciate that advice and follow it.
Recently, a notice and invitation to attend a mini-symposium titled: Emerald Ash Borer in our natural areas: Preparing for the functional extinction of Fraxinus Latifolia: Science, options and actions on the imminent arrival of the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was accepted. It was a sobering eye-opener. Note the term 'functional extinction'. Only 98 percent of the news was bad. The rest was hopeful.
The think-tank symposium was a follow-up to one held last year in Portland. Of the six guest speakers this time, three noted that our Oregon Ash was the most susceptible of all North American species at a nearly 96 percent mortality rate in test stands. Watershed councils and foresters should not continue planting thousands of Fraxinus Latifolia, as those stands will become both a source of food as well as a highway for the infestation to travel even more quickly. The clear and oft-repeated theme from nearly all speakers was: greater diversity in riparian areas and forested land — mono-cultures like Ash forests and even-aged Doug-fir plantations will be doomed either through infestation or the warming climate.
Trees such as native Black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa), willows (Salix) and Red Alder (Alnus rubra) as well as Oregon White oak (Quercus garryana) even the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) can fill in the gaps, but not wholly replace the ash in boggy or riparian areas when the borer arrives. Another theme expressed by all speakers was that there is unambiguous evidence that climate change is causing both plant and animal species to relocate northerly. Species of trees from northern California and southern Oregon are poised to fill niches soon to be vacated by Willamette Valley natives as they die-off here.
A tree that has adapted to habitat similar to the Oregon Ash is already well known in the Medford area. It is the Hinds (or Northern California) Walnut (Juglans Hindsii). In essence, urban foresters, watershed council project managers as well as private landowners should seek such adapted and adaptable species for future reforestation areas.
Which leads us to today's Word of the Moment:
1. the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.
Now, more than ever, we as small woodlands owners and managers need to be adaptable to the speed with which new data and the evidence of obvious observable climatic changes are coming at us. Diversity of species is to be sought out and embraced, species which are both adapted to and are unperturbed by those climatic changes. The take-away I got from the Emerald Ash Borer symposium and hope to leave you with is that some change is inevitable; the Emerald Ash Borer is on it's way, nothing short of running out of Ash trees, literally, will stop it. The climate is changing, the empirical evidence is overwhelming.
The challenge we face collectively is how we as private landowners and managers can be adaptable to these threats and make the necessary changes for us, our land and those who follow. Perhaps we can learn from the Willamette Valley Ponderosa pine; it can live in foothills and the valley floor. It can withstand droughty periods as well as having its roots underwater. I think this tree can teach us a bit about adaptability.
(For additional information on the Willamette Valley sub-species of Ponderosa pine and the Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine Conservation Association, see: https://westernforestry.org/wvppca/ )
A parting thought:
“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the 'environmentalist' view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.”
– Edward O. Wilson
From the Desk of Our Past President
Some Thanks and Accomplishments at Term’s End
It has been an honor to be your representative at OSWA board meetings and presiding at Linn County Small Woodlands Association quarterly board meetings. I have enjoyed the past two years as president and will be helping your new president Lee Peterman get acquainted with his new duties.
We have accomplished a lot in the past two years with the leadership of your board members. Bonnie Marshal and husband Lance have done an amazing job organizing and overseeing the annual seedling sale. Jim Merzenich has taken the chairmanship of the membership committee — a huge task and vital to our chapter’s future. Due to the efforts of that committee our chapter has added new and retained existing members.
The Robert Mealey endowment committee is working with the city of Sweet Home to name a park in his honor. The area east of the new city hall would be planted with native Oregon plants and — of course —Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine. The board reviewed our investment position in the Mealey fund this year and determined that diversifying our position in the market was prudent.
We also have developed a Linn County website as another method to keep all our members informed about what the board is doing. The site includes educational presentations, events and stories from the tree farm. Lee Peterman has organized a group of members to take over the OSWA products sales adding revenue to our general fund.
A thank you to Larry Mauter who stepped in and took on the secretarial duties during Jonathan Christie’s absence. A final thank you to all the members who have contributed time and energy to making our chapter great.
I would like also to thank all the board members and the membership for the support during the past two years and wish that your forests flourish into the future.Bill Bowling, Past President
From Jim Merzenich, Past President28 Aug, 2018
Potential log buyers:
Linn County members report that two relatively new log buyers in our area are buying rough Douglas-fir, oversize whitewood, and Ponderosa pine at reasonable prices for export. They are:
Oregon Forest Grown Products: Albany
Greenhill Reload, LLC
88233 Greenhill Road, Eugene, OR
The effect of potential tariffs on log selling prices is presently unknown and may affect this market.
Many other firms buy logs and other forest products and the following two websites may be useful.
Oregon Forest Directory www.orforestdirectory.com
This interactive site helps you search for products and forestry services (planning, weed control, logging) by region.
Forest Seedling Network http://forestseedlingnetwork.com
This interactive site helps you find seedlings and services too.
From Jim Merzenich, Past President
Philosophy on Tree Farming in Oregon's Willamette Valley
Prior to European settlement, frequent fires burned across the Willamette Valley and surrounding foothills. These fires maintained open stands of oak, ponderosa pine, and Douglas-fir as well as seasonally wet and dry prairies. After a wind, ice storm, or other disturbance events, fire cleared out the debris and undergrowth and provided a seed bed that enabled conifers to regenerate and thrive.
Areas that are logged and not properly reforested, or areas of untended farmland, now suffer a different fate. Following a disturbance, non-native grasses quickly invade the site. These grasses utilize available soil moisture in our dry summers and prevent conifer tree seedlings from becoming established. Exotic invaders such as English hawthorn, Himalayan blackberries, and Scotch broom then move in making these sites unproductive both to society and wildlife for decades. The problem is exacerbated by those who live in the country without understanding that the beautiful blooms of the hawthorn and broom are not natural. Our valley ecosystem is clearly out of sync and is no longer capable of restoring itself. It is the responsibility of us as tree-farmers to restore our land and show our neighbors that rehabilitation of even the smallest acreages is significant.
Despite forest protection laws many areas cleared in the 1960’s or earlier remain brushed over and unproductive. Parcels are still logged with no plans for management and farmland parcels are still being abandoned. To the rescue comes the tree farmer. We typically buy land that has just been logged or has a history of abuse because we cannot afford to buy well-managed land with merchantable saw-timber. First the area must be cleared of brush in a process called site-preparation. While doing this we leave significant snags, downed logs, and riparian corridors for wildlife. After planting the appropriate tree species we control grasses and weeds around each seedling until the trees are “free to grow”, hopefully within five years. Even with our best efforts we are not always successful but try to learn from our mistakes. With deer browsing the leaders and meadow voles girdling the stems we are often happy to meet the “free to grow” requirement in ten years. Then the drought hits and it’s time to thin. Whether our primary interest is timber production or wildlife, our rehabilitated timber stands become our pride and our legacy.
The Holmberg’s, our 2016 tree farmers of the year, exemplify the determination and spirit of tree farmers. Joe and Shirley could easily have spent their retirement years living on a beach. They chose, instead, to buy fifty acres of hard-scrabble brush and hayfields, along with an uninhabitable century-old house. Their managed stands of ponderosa pine and Oregon ash and their restored home are now a jewel in the local landscape and serve as an inspiration to others.
On Nov 21st 2016, my wife and I attended the Oregon Tree Farm System’s award banquet. This event is held each year at the World Forestry Center in Portland on the Monday preceding Thanksgiving. The Holmbergs and tree farmers from five other counties were honored for the care they have taken in managing their forests. Although Joe and Shirley were not selected as the statewide tree farmers of the year, we were honored to have them represent Linn County.
One disturbing trend is the low number of counties now selecting a county winner. Twenty years ago, there were 15 to 20 tree farmers honored each year. In 2015, we had 5 counties participate and only 6 participated in 2016. In the 25 years since I have been tree farming, Linn County has always selected a county winner and has bucked this trend. This has been largely due to the efforts of Joe Holmberg, the 2016 Tree Farmer of the Year winner from Linn County.
The primary purpose of the tree farm competition is to promote responsible forest management across the breath of this nation. To achieve this goal we must honor tree farmers for sound forest management in every possible county so they can then serve as a model for others. Large or small, new to tree farming or not, we have stories to tell and successes and mistakes to relate to others. Please consider being recognized as a future county outstanding tree farmer of the year.Jim Merzenich, Past President