Tree farmers’ gathering in 2024 to be evolutionary step

Sep 24, 2023 | Author: Mike Barsotti, LCSWA President | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

President's column

The Linn Chapter will host next year’s Oregon Family Forest Convention. It will be on Friday, June 14, 2024 at Lebanon’s Best Western Boulder Falls Inn. A tour of the Merzenich family tree farm is set for Saturday, June 15. We are planning to have additional tours June 13.

It’s interesting to look at the evolution of these annual events that brings us to next year’s convention.

Until 2011, Oregon Small Woodlands Association (OSWA) and Oregon Tree Farm separately held an annual meeting and tour of Oregon’s Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year (OTFOY). In 2011 the two family forest landowner organizations decided to combine OSWA’s annual meeting with Tree Farm’s annual OTFOY tour.

The joint event was held in northeast Oregon. OSWA’s annual meeting was held in Baker City. The tour was on Harry Merlo’s MC Ranch outside La Grande. The experiment was a great success with a large turnout, so OSWA and Tree Farm agreed to make it an annual tradition.

In 2019, a Lane County committee representing the two organizations began planning the 2020 OSWA annual meeting. They advanced the concept of an expanded event and moved it from an OSWA Annual Meeting with OTFS tour to a Family Forest Convention open to the public. The convention was to be a gathering for all family forest landowners. Because of the pandemic, however, their vision was put on hold for a year and then modified. For 2021 the convention became a virtual event and the tour was scheduled as a separate event a month later. Each organization held separate virtual annual meetings later that year.

In 2022 and 2023, OSWA again sponsored two-day Family Forest Conventions, open to all family forest landowners. These events included board meets for the two organizations, educational sessions, dinners, award presentations, and a third-day OTFOY tour.

In 2024, OSWA will again host a two-day event but it will drop organizational (business) topics. The convention will reach out to all family forest landowners and focus on a broad array of current topics. Board meetings and award presentations will be left for the two organizations to schedule. The convention will continue to have optional tours on Thursday and educational sessions on Friday. We will have an evening dinner with a keynote speaker.

Those in Lane County that in 2021 moved us from an annual meeting to a conference for all family forest landowner need a big round of applause. Both OSWA and OTFS exist to encourage and support all family forest landowners to improve the health and sustainability of their forests.

The Linn County chapter’s hope is that next year’s convention adds a bit to this evolving event—encouraging many more landowners who see active forest management as doable and a value for them and all Oregonians.