We started Monday and the summer solstice on an Oak Basin Tree Farm walking tour beginning at 9 am.
Despite a forecast of 95 degrees and a two-mile hike, 20 guests happily participated. Guest hosts included Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry extension agent, and Jessica Celis, the BLM district botanist.
The June 21 tour was hosted by brothers Ed and Jim Merzenich, managers of Oak Basin.
Our first stop was a reforested harvest unit planted in 2014. By spraying around each seedling to kill competing grasses, tubing trees to deter deer browsing, and keeping weeds under control, we now have a mixed Doulas-fir and incense cedar stand that is also prime habitat for songbirds.
Our pathway led us through a large restored oak stand and Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir plantations that are due for commercial thinning. After continuing upwards we arrived at the “big meadow” where we jointly work with the BLM to manage upland prairie habitat for the Fender’s blue butterfly. Botanist Jessica Celis discussed the role of lupine stands and nectar species essential for the butterflies along with the creation of corridors to connect meadows. One goal is to do prescribed burns and other habitat restoration treatments across ownership boundaries.
After climbing to the top of our hill and viewing the Kalapuya “spirit” tree we found cold drinks and cookies awaiting us. The tour finished at noon with a temperature near 80 degrees. The next several days broke all-time records for heat so we are happy to have completed this tour while the grass was green, the flowers were in bloom, and the skies were clear.
To learn more about Oak Basin Tree Farm visit the Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC) website.