From the Desk of Our President
Some Thoughts As My Term Begins
As 2019 is now a couple of months old and chapter annual meetings have concluded or are taking place, it's time for a change of the guard, so to speak. Bylaws differ from chapter to chapter, but the most fundamental of those bylaws deal with the change of leadership; such as when and how the retiring president steps back from the podium and a new candidate steps up to carry the torch for their chapter. Bill Bowling, the retiring president for the Linn County chapter has served his time and has presented the 'gavel' to me. (There's an inside joke about the gavel, but that's for another time.)
I never thought I'd be the incoming president for the Linn County Small Woodlands Association; I never thought I'd be a "tree-guy" in Linn County either, but people rarely make big changes until events force them to and life has a way of presenting one with opportunities that cannot be ignored. Bogwood, the 80 acre property I am lucky enough to be co-owner of, has been the very embodiment of the big change in my life and the purchase of it has most certainly been the point at which my learning curve about white oak and wetland prairie restoration and all things forest and tree(s) went from zero to stratospheric.
It was a simple postcard sent by an entity called OSWA which touched off the ignition of the rocket that began my interest in acquiring more forest knowledge; that postcard was an invitation to attend a "Howdy-Neighbor" woods tour on the Avery family property with lunch and a walk through the old-growth western hemlocks. This association, OSWA, turned out to be a group of like-minded folks who have a wealth of knowledge in both the academic and practical kind. I saw the value of joining on that first tour and still firmly do and while never having thought of myself as a tree-guy, I knew that this group of tree folks, former foresters and small land-owners could help novices like me.
Volunteering to help with chapter events was easy and natural after military service and the board members at the time sensed an easy mark and made their pitch: would I consider joining the board as a junior member-at-large? Not sensing the trap and not being able to say no, I stepped up as asked. In far too short a time I found myself agreeing, reluctantly, to becoming the chapter vice-president and events-coordinator; little knowing of the aforementioned by-laws which limited the tenure of the president and forced the automatic progression of the vice-president to president. So now, a mere five years after joining OSWA, I have been presented with a new situation I could not avoid, namely stepping up and taking up the torch, or in this case, gavel, for the Chapter.
Which, after all this meandering, leads to the point of this President's Message:
Word of the Moment Activism
1. the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.
As the incoming president, I am asking for members to show up and get active in chapter activities. There are challenges facing the Linn chapter; I'm not talking politics; future social events are being planned and require more folks to show up and help. Assisting in the sales of OSWA items at Tree School in March and at the Annual meeting in Corvallis in June are two examples. I call on the members of the Chapter to join me and the Board by stepping up and volunteering to arrive early and asking how to help out, as well as staying a bit after to assist in cleaning up following the conclusion of an event. One does not have to become a Board member, just be there and be active. Chapter members, by engaging, help their Board do more, which in turn brings greater success to the chapter. It's a win-win, the Board doesn't burn-out pulling all the weight and the members have the sense of camaraderie by belonging to a winning team.
One might perhaps consider taking the bigger step and attend board meetings, which are open to members, or even consider joining the Board !
The word activism has some negative connotations in these politically charged times, however, it need not be thought of as a bad word. The antonym of activism is moderation and I think, therein lies the key: activism for the chapter is important; moderation, or status quo, is the norm. I make an appeal: Step up, do something a bit outside your comfort zone, help out your Chapter and we all win.
A parting thought:
The best friend on Earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth.
– Frank Lloyd Wright
From the Desk of Our Past President
Some Thanks and Accomplishments at Term’s End
It has been an honor to be your representative at OSWA board meetings and presiding at Linn County Small Woodlands Association quarterly board meetings. I have enjoyed the past two years as president and will be helping your new president Lee Peterman get acquainted with his new duties.
We have accomplished a lot in the past two years with the leadership of your board members. Bonnie Marshal and husband Lance have done an amazing job organizing and overseeing the annual seedling sale. Jim Merzenich has taken the chairmanship of the membership committee — a huge task and vital to our chapter’s future. Due to the efforts of that committee our chapter has added new and retained existing members.
The Robert Mealey endowment committee is working with the city of Sweet Home to name a park in his honor. The area east of the new city hall would be planted with native Oregon plants and — of course —Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine. The board reviewed our investment position in the Mealey fund this year and determined that diversifying our position in the market was prudent.
We also have developed a Linn County website as another method to keep all our members informed about what the board is doing. The site includes educational presentations, events and stories from the tree farm. Lee Peterman has organized a group of members to take over the OSWA products sales adding revenue to our general fund.
A thank you to Larry Mauter who stepped in and took on the secretarial duties during Jonathan Christie’s absence. A final thank you to all the members who have contributed time and energy to making our chapter great.
I would like also to thank all the board members and the membership for the support during the past two years and wish that your forests flourish into the future.Bill Bowling, Past President
From Jim Merzenich, Past President28 Aug, 2018
Potential log buyers:
Linn County members report that two relatively new log buyers in our area are buying rough Douglas-fir, oversize whitewood, and Ponderosa pine at reasonable prices for export. They are:
Oregon Forest Grown Products: Albany
Greenhill Reload, LLC
88233 Greenhill Road, Eugene, OR
The effect of potential tariffs on log selling prices is presently unknown and may affect this market.
Many other firms buy logs and other forest products and the following two websites may be useful.
Oregon Forest Directory www.orforestdirectory.com
This interactive site helps you search for products and forestry services (planning, weed control, logging) by region.
Forest Seedling Network http://forestseedlingnetwork.com
This interactive site helps you find seedlings and services too.
From Jim Merzenich, Past President
Philosophy on Tree Farming in Oregon's Willamette Valley
Prior to European settlement, frequent fires burned across the Willamette Valley and surrounding foothills. These fires maintained open stands of oak, ponderosa pine, and Douglas-fir as well as seasonally wet and dry prairies. After a wind, ice storm, or other disturbance events, fire cleared out the debris and undergrowth and provided a seed bed that enabled conifers to regenerate and thrive.
Areas that are logged and not properly reforested, or areas of untended farmland, now suffer a different fate. Following a disturbance, non-native grasses quickly invade the site. These grasses utilize available soil moisture in our dry summers and prevent conifer tree seedlings from becoming established. Exotic invaders such as English hawthorn, Himalayan blackberries, and Scotch broom then move in making these sites unproductive both to society and wildlife for decades. The problem is exacerbated by those who live in the country without understanding that the beautiful blooms of the hawthorn and broom are not natural. Our valley ecosystem is clearly out of sync and is no longer capable of restoring itself. It is the responsibility of us as tree-farmers to restore our land and show our neighbors that rehabilitation of even the smallest acreages is significant.
Despite forest protection laws many areas cleared in the 1960’s or earlier remain brushed over and unproductive. Parcels are still logged with no plans for management and farmland parcels are still being abandoned. To the rescue comes the tree farmer. We typically buy land that has just been logged or has a history of abuse because we cannot afford to buy well-managed land with merchantable saw-timber. First the area must be cleared of brush in a process called site-preparation. While doing this we leave significant snags, downed logs, and riparian corridors for wildlife. After planting the appropriate tree species we control grasses and weeds around each seedling until the trees are “free to grow”, hopefully within five years. Even with our best efforts we are not always successful but try to learn from our mistakes. With deer browsing the leaders and meadow voles girdling the stems we are often happy to meet the “free to grow” requirement in ten years. Then the drought hits and it’s time to thin. Whether our primary interest is timber production or wildlife, our rehabilitated timber stands become our pride and our legacy.
The Holmberg’s, our 2016 tree farmers of the year, exemplify the determination and spirit of tree farmers. Joe and Shirley could easily have spent their retirement years living on a beach. They chose, instead, to buy fifty acres of hard-scrabble brush and hayfields, along with an uninhabitable century-old house. Their managed stands of ponderosa pine and Oregon ash and their restored home are now a jewel in the local landscape and serve as an inspiration to others.
On Nov 21st 2016, my wife and I attended the Oregon Tree Farm System’s award banquet. This event is held each year at the World Forestry Center in Portland on the Monday preceding Thanksgiving. The Holmbergs and tree farmers from five other counties were honored for the care they have taken in managing their forests. Although Joe and Shirley were not selected as the statewide tree farmers of the year, we were honored to have them represent Linn County.
One disturbing trend is the low number of counties now selecting a county winner. Twenty years ago, there were 15 to 20 tree farmers honored each year. In 2015, we had 5 counties participate and only 6 participated in 2016. In the 25 years since I have been tree farming, Linn County has always selected a county winner and has bucked this trend. This has been largely due to the efforts of Joe Holmberg, the 2016 Tree Farmer of the Year winner from Linn County.
The primary purpose of the tree farm competition is to promote responsible forest management across the breath of this nation. To achieve this goal we must honor tree farmers for sound forest management in every possible county so they can then serve as a model for others. Large or small, new to tree farming or not, we have stories to tell and successes and mistakes to relate to others. Please consider being recognized as a future county outstanding tree farmer of the year.Jim Merzenich, Past President