Workshops, tours coming in June as family forest group gathers in Linn County 

Apr 27, 2024 | Author: Larry Mauter, LCSWA member | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

OSWA convention has theme of "keeping family forests healthy"

Green trees are among Oregon’s iconic images.

Some 3.7 million acres of Oregon forest land — about 12 percent of the 30 million-acre total — is in the hands of small private woodland owners, according to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.

In addition, more than 61,000 Oregonians are employed in an array of jobs related to forests and wood products, according to the OFRI website.  This includes positions in forestry, millwork, cabinetmaking, engineering, hydrology, business management and academic research.

The nonprofit Oregon Small Woodlands Association (OSWA) has more than 1,500 families who own small private woodlands as members around the state. OSWA is organized into local chapters, including us, the Linn County Small Woodlands Associaton (LCSWA).

These people who grow many of our trees around the state will gather June 13-15 in Lebanon for the 2024 Oregon Family Farms Convention. This year the convention is being co-sponsored by OSWA, the Oregon Tree Farm System (OTFS), and our chapter, LCSWA.

“Keeping family forests healthy” is this year’s conference theme, said Rick Zenn, OSWA executive director. Tree farms and a local mill tour, plus workshops focused on climate, carbon, wildlife and other tree-growing issues will be featured during the three-day event.

“There is always something for everyone: forest tours, hikes, social events, workshops, working with state and local experts, and the fun meeting of landowners from all over Oregon,” said Zenn.

The Boulder Falls Inn near Hwy. 20 in Lebanon will accommodate the conference — with bus service to various offsite events.

“Family forest landowners can have a meaningful impact on the health of Oregon by just managing their forests to meet their personal goals,” said Mike Barsotti, president of the LCSWA. “We are organizing this convention to help them do just that.”

Barsotti said besides OSWA membership, he hopes the conference draws in the “unengaged family forest owners” as well.

“If you are new to owning forestland, you are sure to meet people who can help,” Zenn added. “If you are a long time forest owner, there are always news ideas and systems, and real world examples you can see on our tours to make your property better and your life easier.”

On Thursday, June 13, the conference will feature four field tours — one of them at the Freres Engineered Wood facility in Lyons.

Nine 90-minute educational workshops are sprinkled through Friday with a lunch and awards ceremony slated for 11 a.m.

The conference finale is an 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday tour of Oak Basin Tree Farm, hosted by the Jim and Ed Merzenich families — Oregon’s Outstanding tree farmer of the year.

Their 940 acres in the Coburg Hills south of Brownsville contain a mosaic of Douglas-fir, Ponderosa pine, oak, and other hardwood stands interspersed with wet and dry prairie.

There is an “early bird” registration — $69 per person — for the conference, with a May 1 registration deadline. Registration forms have been mailed out to all OSWA members. More details are available at oswa.org.

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