Providence tour provides glimpse of woodlands management strategies

Jun 9, 2023 | Author: Lee Peterman, LCSWA Member | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

Followup visit expected after treatment of 50-acre site near Scio

Thursday, May 18 was a warm and sunny afternoon with the temperature in the “Goldilocks zone.” Nearly two dozen attendees gathered together for a pleasant walk in the woods.

The Providence tree farm property was purchased by the owner, Jim Merzenich, in 1990. The 50-acre farm, on Griggs Drive near the historic Providence Church, is a relatively flat property with some low, boggy zones populated with large black cottonwood trees which provide nesting habitat for various owl species, raptors, and pileated woodpeckers.

Merzenich has used the site to harvest hardwood 6-foot long sticks in winter months that are used to create old-fashioned brooms by a Eugene company called Broom Magic.

There are Douglas-fir stands ranging from 25 to 80 years of age and equal areas in Ponderosa pine, oak. Of special interest was the “Mother Ponderosa” pine tree (a unique and ancient specimen) and a grove of 120+ year-old Douglas-fir trees growing on the floor of the valley.

During the tour, while looping into and out of various stands, comments and at times lively, discussion ranged on multiple subjects including commercial thinning and group selection harvests; which are planned in the fir stands. Also discussed at length, with details supplied by NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) agents present throughout the tour, are planned contracts with the NRCS for funded habitat restoration.

Sandre Nelson, left, with her two granddaughters Jax (5) and Ripley (almost 4), with Anna Merzenich.

Sandre Nelson, left, with her two granddaughters Jax (5) and Ripley (almost 4), soak in the details with Anna Merzenich.

At several stops along the tour, Merzenich sought advice from other tree farmers on how to best manage this complex property. He carefully explained that this is a “before” tour; so attendees could view the amount of work and direction it might take to accomplish the goals in mind. There are plans afoot to host an "after" tour in two or three years when these management treatments are completed, Merzenich said.

At the conclusion of the tour, there was further discussion regarding NRCS programs for small forest landowners. With the mosquitos beginning to make an appearance from the rapidly cooling understory, the tour group broke up and began the warm walk to the nearby parking, graciously allowed at the historic Providence Church.

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In a stand of young pines, Jim Merzenich speaks with tour goers about his management issues. Photo by Mike Barsotti.

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