Getting new trees off the ground

Oct 31, 2023 | Author: Larry Mauter, LCSWA member | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

After harvest, a long list of activities needed to ensure success

The path to replanting forests is filled with pitfalls.

That message was delivered Oct. 26 by a panel of Linn County foresters, who shared successful strategies for combatting deer and elk browsing, rodents, invasive weeds and even climate change.

The good news: there is a wealth of management information and a cadre of both private and public resources to assist a landowner through the process.

“Our responsibility as tree farmers is to restore the land,” said Oak Basin Tree Farm representative Jim Merzenich. “Management is essential.”

Merzenich, whose family was recently selected as “tree farmers of the year” by the Oregon Tree Farm System, was joined by three other speakers.

  • Mike Barsotti is president of the hosting group Linn County Small Woodlands Association. He is a past president of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association;
  • Justin White is a small forestland owner forester for the South Cascade District of the Oregon Department of Forestry, based in Sweet Home;
  • John Jayne is the silviculture forester for Cascade Timber Consulting Inc. of Sweet Home. CTC manages 145,000 acres in Linn County.

Jayne has been with CTC since 2006. He has overseen an estimated 20 million trees planted during his career.

Jayne’s presentation covered the bulk of replanting basics; including seedling purchases, site preparation, planting, weed and animal damage control to young stock.

Among the many potential hiccups in the reforestation process, he said, is ordering seedlings too late.

While fall and winter are chief planting windows, seedlings must be ordered months earlier.

“Call them early. Now is too late to get seedlings this year,” said Jayne. Order by “July at the latest, earlier is even better,” said the Oregon State University forestry graduate.

Barsotti, a retired USDA forester, shared strategies he has used on his 20-acre farm to thwart deer browsing (bud caps) and limit damage from mice and voles chewing on tender bark

Weed control before planting is essential, said Barsotti. “If you let grass grow around trees that will become mouse habitat. It’s a risk,” he said, adding that growing grass will suck crucial moisture from the soil.

He has used caging around young trees to protect against deer. He also noted that industry practices have changed through the decades to encourage songbirds and other wildlife.

“If you can leave the native shrubs like vine maple, cherry you will probably end up with a healthier forest than we had 30 years ago,” Barsotti said.

“Drought has replaced deer browsing as the greatest threat to plantation success,” said Merzenich. “I’ve had more problems in the last three years than I had the previous 30 years.”

Merzenich, a University of Montana forestry graduate, manages about 1,000 acres of family timber.

Updates on the state's Forest Practices Act was shared by ODF’s White. The state agency foresters provide advice to landowners and perspective landowners. “We’re always willing to come out and see what’s there,” he said.

White also brought a list of contractors who have worked locally. He reviewed rules relating to treatment of slash and retention of live trees and snags — all part of the reforestation process. He noted ODF has opened burn season for landowners with a permit.

His advice for prospective forest landowners was “do your due diligence” because citations and repair orders “ultimately fall on the landowner,” White said.

The Lebanon campus of Linn-Benton Community College was the site for the workshop. About 20 people attended. The LCSWA provided coffee and desserts for the gathering.

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Mike Barsotti, left, Justin White, and John Jayne, seated, responded to audience questions during the Oct. 26 workshop.
Photo credit Larry Mauter

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