Three LCSWA members honored by Linn conservation agency

Mar 10, 2024 | Author: Larry Mauter, LCSWA member | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

Merzenich brothers earn golden shovels; Fay Sallee takes home educator plaque

Two brothers who manage Oak Basin Tree Farm and a long-time 4-H educator have been honored by a local conservation agency.

Fay Sallee along with Jim and Ed Merzenich were recently acknowledged by the Linn Soil and Water Conservation District.

All three are members of the Linn County Small Woodlands Association.
The trio was honored during the 77th annual meeting of the district held Feb. 13.

The awards “honored Linn County citizens who have contributed vast amounts of time, energy and resources to enhance conservation efforts in our district,” according to a press release from the agency. “Our board was very proud to recognize these folks this year for so many years of good work,” said Debra Paul, district office manager.

Jim & Ed Merzenich, Fay Sallee. Photo credits: Larry Mauter

Fay Sallee was selected as the 2022 educator of the year. She and her late husband Sherm were inducted into the 2020 National 4-H Hall of Fame for their lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H. They were recognized for their passion, dedication, and vision shown to thousands of young people during their combined 85 years of leadership.

The Sallees have been strong supporters of international programs and hosted numerous delegates from around the world. Members of the Oregon 4-H Natural Science Committee for more than 20 years, they helped build a strong natural resources program, one that has been shared regionally and nationally.

For decades Fay has also been involved in the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, with their conservation practices on Happy Valley Tree Farm, first begun by Fay’s folks, Bert and Betty Udell.

Fay and Sherm published The Quarterly Bark newsletter for OSWA for nearly 20 years.

The couple envisioned and launched the annual seedling sale 30 years ago. Their vision for the seedling sale united volunteers from the two organizations they loved and served, 4-H and OSWA, in an effort to promote public awareness, encourage member involvement, provide service opportunities for 4-H youth and raise funds for youth education.

The 2022 cooperators of the year are brothers Jim and Ed Merzenich.
The Merzeniches have been working for many years to promote responsible forest management. The families of Ed and Jim have collaborated in the management of Oak Basin Tree Farm for more than a quarter century.

In 2022, Oak Basin Tree Farm, a 956-acre family enterprise located south of Brownsville in the Coburg Hills was chosen as Linn County’s Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year by the LCSWA, recognizing their achievements and activities relating to forestry in Linn County. Oak Basin was named state tree farm of 2023, and will be open to tours during the statewide OSWA conference in June.

The family has collaborated with National Resource Conservation Service in the restoration of Oregon white oak habitat and developing wetlands. They are using agroforestry in conjunction with habitat restoration. They have vast experience in managing Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine, cultivating markets for non-timber forest products and restoring native habitats.

The mission of the Linn County district is to promote and facilitate the wise use of all natural resources, according to the district web site. It is operated by a board of elected directors who are local landowners and citizens with a commitment to local natural resources.

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Logo of Linn County Soil and Water Conservation District

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