Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office

Tami Miketa, manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office, and dog Riley, enjoying the beach in Newport, Oregon.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources and its partners offer a broad array of technical and financial assistance programs for small forest landowners – from grants for fish passage and forest road projects, to help understanding regulations and filing permits, to advice on wildfire preparedness. We often hear from landowners who want to take advantage of our programs, but aren’t sure where to look for information.

As I’ve referenced in past newsletter articles, DNR has created an Integrated Small Forest Landowner Service Program which integrates existing landowner assistance programs to more efficiently and effectively reach the diversity of small forest landowners by:

  • identifying and removing barriers for technical assistance, funding, and forest health management planning;
  • increasing education and outreach to small forest landowners; and
  • distributing funding effectively to move high wildland fire risk areas to lower risk.

This comprehensive program integrates duties, responsibilities, and services of the Forest Stewardship Program, Landowner Assistance Program (Cost Share Program), and the Small Forest Landowner Office (SFLO) to effectively meet the needs of small, non-industrial private forest landowners through technical and financial assistance to help meet their objectives for their lands, which may vary from enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, reducing fuels, increasing recreation opportunities, improving forest health, or producing revenue.

Services provided by the integrated program will include:

  • response to general forestry inquiries,
  • education of landowners on forest health issues (insect and disease consultations, etc.),
  • education of landowners on overall forest land management,
  • supporting partner educational activities and events,
  • determination of forest resource conditions,
  • conducting risk consultations (fire and forest health),
  • guidance on development of land management objectives,
  • assistance and guidance writing forest management plans,
  • guidance on determining appropriate treatment implementation,
  • determination of financial assistance eligibility,
  • identifying triggers for forest practice applications,
  • assistance in developing complex forest practices applications,
  • assistance in evaluating forest roads and stream crossings for compliance with regulatory requirements,
  • assistance for accessing applicable landowner financial assistance programs, and
  • referral to specialized services and subject matter experts.

The larger effort of the Integrated Small Forest Landowner Assistance Program includes an expansion of the Service Forestry Program to Western Washington, an increase in staffing on assistance programs, and cross-training to help our foresters better serve landowners across the state.

The Small Forest Landowner Office Is Still Growing

That’s right, as of last year, the SFLO maintained a staffing level of six staff. Today, we have grown to 17.  This is due, in large part, to the expansion of the Regulation Assistance Program, which now has a position in all west side DNR regions and maintains an eastside regulation assistance forester. Our newest regulation assistance forester is Hollis Crapo, who covers the northwest area of the state. We also added a new position of a fish and wildlife biologist, Brent Haverkamp, who works statewide. Additionally, with the retirement of our longtime Family Forest Fish Passage Program manager, we recently hired a new manager, Chris Dwight. Learn more about, Chris, Hollis and Brent in this edition of the Small Forest Landowner News.

This year’s state supplemental budget was very good to the Forestry Riparian Easement Program providing an additional $5 million. With this increase in the FREP budget we’re hiring three additional staff to process easements. Up to now, the FREP waiting list was so long that some landowners had to wait years to be compensated. This large increase in funding should allow the Program to compensate all of the small forest landowners on the waiting list in a much shorter period of time.

Get to Know Some More New Faces at SFLO

The Small Forest Landowner Office is continuing to grow – allow us to introduce Chris Dwight, our new Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP) manager; Hollis Crapo, new regulation assistance forester for the northwest Washington; and Brent Haverkamp our new statewide fish and wildlife biologist.

Chris Dwight
Chris Dwight

Chris Dwight, Family Forest Fish Passage Program Manager

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio playing in the creeks and exploring the forests of our fifth-generation family farm.  I have been heading west ever since, starting with an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master’s degree from Eastern Washington University.  After graduation, I started working for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 2012 as a fish passage and habitat restoration biologist assisting private landowners with grant-funded restoration projects. This May, I joined the Department of Natural Resources as the Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP) manager.  This work builds upon my many years working with private landowners to meet their management objectives of the land and help them improve their stream crossings and fish passage.  I am passionate about protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat on private working lands.

Describe your job.

As the new manager for the DNR’s FFFPP, I work closely with small forest landowners to determine if they are eligible for the program, and to rank fish passage projects across this statewide grant program.  This allows me to work with diverse landscapes and landowners.  It is very rewarding work providing technical and financial assistance to forest landowners.

Why do you think our work is important?

This work is very important, as small forest landowners own thousands of stream crossings that play a key role to protect and enhance salmon and native fish populations.  This program helps reduce the burden on landowners by providing funding to manage, permit, and construct the replacement of stream crossings with new appropriately sized culverts and bridges.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I strive to build a large body of work through positive landowner interactions, restoration partnerships, and restoration projects across Washington.  This gives me the opportunity to share individual interactions with others in nature and explore the beauty and complexity of our Pacific Northwest streams and forests.

What is your favorite kind of tree and why?

I love all trees that make you pause and think about time differently.  From a newly planted sampling to a mighty old growth.  Giving trees are all around us and full of wonderful gifts and life.

Hollis Crapo
Hollis Crapo

Hollis Crapo, Regulation Assistance Forester, Northwest Washington

Tell us a little about yourself.

A proud husband and father of four, I enjoy backpacking, woodworking, and ultimate frisbee.

Describe your job.

I am a regulation assistance forester. I help small forest landowners understand and navigate the timber harvest permit process, particularly in regards to complex situations like alternate plans, long-term applications, and resource delineation.

Why do you think our work is important?

The burden of public resource protection can be particularly heavy for small forest landowners who may have a disproportionately large impact on their management from the forest practices rules. We can help lift that burden to lower the barrier to entry for forest management which promotes keeping land in forestry.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want to leave a legacy of service to those in need, integrity in my stewardship, and a pride and ownership in the work I have accomplished.

What is your favorite kind of tree and why?

Western Red Cedar because it smells amazing, looks beautiful, and resists bugs and rot.

Brent Haverkamp
Brent Haverkamp

Brent Haverkamp, Fish & Wildlife Biologist, statewide

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi I’m Brent Haverkamp, I grew up in Kansas spending a lot of time around ponds, lakes, creeks and farms. After graduating college, I took a job with Idaho Fish and Game and fell in love with the west and all the beautiful places and outdoor activities there are to do. Recently my wife, our black lab Eddy, and I made the move to Twisp and have been enjoying hiking the many trails in the Methow Valley.

Describe your job.

The primary duties of the fish and wildlife biologist are to provide guidance to small forest landowners related to the effects of forestland management activities on fish and wildlife habitat. This position provides technical assistance to help small forest landowners with preparing forest practice activities on their forestland.

Why do you think our work is important?

The work we do here in the Small Forest Landowner Office is important because we are helping landowners help the land by planning forest practices using the best science practices to date, keeping riparian areas healthy — as they are a crucial habitat for fish and wildlife, and providing a resource all of us need.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I would like to leave a legacy for providing people with credible knowledge that leads to good management practices on their land while continuing to learn as much as possible about the natural world and the best ways we can utilize resources without causing harm to our ecosystems.

What is your favorite kind of tree and why?

My favorite kind of tree might be a little different than most in Washington as I’m not sure if you can find many of them out here but from growing up in the Midwest and enjoying wildlife I fell in love with the black walnut tree. They can grow quite large, support an abundance of wildlife and the wood is excellent for woodworking.

April Showers Bring Spring Flowers … and Foliar Diseases

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Powdery mildew on bigleaf maple. (Rachel Brooks, DNR)

By Rachel Brooks, Forest Pathologist, Washington Department of Natural Resources (rachel.brooks@dnr.wa.gov).

I think we can all agree, whether we enjoyed it or not, that it was an especially wet spring. In fact, drought conditions in Washington have considerably improved recently, and as I write this, no parts of Washington are in severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions.

So now, after this wet cool spring, we should all be on the lookout for foliar diseases — a disease that initiates on the foliage of a plant, whether it be on an evergreen needle or deciduous broadleaf. After a pathogen infects a leaf, discrete and discolored spots and blotches usually appear, which are often very noticeable and eye catching. Here in our Pacific Northwest forests, foliar diseases are most often caused by fungi, though they can also be caused by bacteria, nematodes, and possibly viruses.

So what does this wet weather have to do with foliar diseases? Well, in the life cycle of a foliar disease, the ability of a pathogen to penetrate foliage is a big driver for how much foliar disease will be present in the upcoming season or seasons, and the success of a fungus to penetrate a leaf typically increases in moist conditions, as dry conditions are usually unfavorable to fungal growth.  But it’s not just wet conditions in general, it’s wet weather in the spring and early summer that is important, because newly produced foliage hasn’t finished developing and hardening completely, so it doesn’t have all of its physical barriers and protections in place, and is therefore more susceptible to penetration.

Foliage diseases decrease the overall photosynthetic and respiration area available to a tree, which can lead to decreased growth rates and lower levels of resistance to other stressors. Luckily, trees tend to produce more foliage than needed in addition to producing new foliage every year, so foliar diseases tend to have minimal effects on trees compared to other types of diseases such as root rots or stem cankers. Instead, they tend to cause mainly aesthetic impacts, which often become less obvious within a year once new foliage is produced.

Of course the impact of a foliar disease can be severe in the right circumstance: if the impact occurs many years in a row, if the tree refoliates at a vulnerable time (such as right before a frost), if the tree is stressed by other reasons, or if the foliar pathogen can move from the leaf into the stem of a tree. Therefore, foliar diseases are worth our attention and awareness.

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Sycamore anthracnose. (Joseph O’Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)

What have we seen so far this year?

One of the most obvious foliar diseases visible in Washington State right now is larch needle cast. Caused by the fungus Rhabdocline laricis (formerly Meria laricis), this disease results in the discoloration and then premature needle loss in larch trees (Larix spp.) in the spring and early summer, or even longer if moist conditions persist. In a forest, there are rarely any long-term impacts caused by this disease, so management for this disease is uncommon. Since natural variation in larch tree susceptibility exists, you could decide to remove trees that were more significantly impacted during your next pre-commercial or commercial thin.

Another foliar disease that was easily seen this year is dogwood anthracnose, caused by the fungus Discula destructiva. This fungus is non-native, and was first found in the United States the 1980s. It not only can cause leaf spots, but its infection can spread from the foliage into stems and cause stem and trunk cankers that can lead to significant dieback and tree mortality. This pathogen has caused high levels of mortality in native dogwoods throughout the U.S. In Asia, where the pathogen is assumed to be native, dogwoods are resistant. Asian dogwoods are often planted here ornamentally over our susceptible native Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii). Management of this disease is limited in forest settings, but in landscapes planting resistant dogwood species, pruning dead or dying stems and suckers, raking up and removing leaves in the fall, increasing air flow by removing competing vegetation, and applying appropriate fungicides can help.

For those of you that have sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) on your land, you may have noticed sycamore anthracnose this year. This disease is caused by the fungus Apiognormonia veneta, which is favored in cool wet springs. Foliar infections can spread from the leaf to stems causing stem cankers, however, unlike dogwood anthracnose on our native dogwood trees, sycamore anthracnose is native to areas with sycamores and has evolved with the tree. Therefore, it rarely causes long-term damage, as sycamore trees can completely refoliate after being affected. This is actually one of my favorite diseases, because the stem infections give sycamore trees their typical growth form, as branches rarely grow straight when terminal buds are killed. Management is impractical and unnecessary, though improving air circulation (and therefore drying out leaves quicker) can help. If concerned, consider planting a London plane tree instead (Platanus x acerifolia, a hybrid species which looks almost identical to a sycamore but is less impacted by this disease).

Lastly, we’ve also been seeing large amounts of powdery mildew on bigleaf maple trees (Acer macrophyllum). This foliar disease can be caused by a few similar fungi including Phyllactina marissallii, and can be found on a variety of broadleaf plants besides bigleaf maple as well. These pathogens produce a thick white layer of growth on the surface of broadleaves which limits photosynthesis and extracts nutrients. This can be visually startling, but usually causes little long-term damage. Interestingly enough, it may not be the wet spring driving the prevalence of this disease, as some research indicates it is actually drought stress that makes maple trees more susceptible. Therefore, we may be seeing a delayed impact from last summer’s drought.

And speaking of delayed impacts, it is quite possible that more foliar diseases from this wet spring will become apparent as time progresses. This is because there is a delay between penetration and disease development. This can be especially true for our evergreen trees which hold onto their needles for more than one season, so some diseases don’t show up on the infected foliage until the following year or years. This delayed impact is typical of weather events, as only a few weather impacts (such as hail damage, foliar scorch, or windthrow) are immediately apparent. In most cases, weather events have delayed impact to our trees: we see foliar diseases after the spring rains have stopped, we see dieback in trees after the drought has resolved, and we notice dead trees after the floods have retreated. So, as you walk your forests, don’t forget to consider past weather events and how they might be creating what you are seeing today.

It is important to note that spots and blotches on foliage can also be caused by other problems, such as frost damage, heat scorch, and chemical spray burns. A good site history can help you determine if this was the cause. In contrast, insect feeding rarely causes discrete leaf spots and other damage to lower parts of a tree (such as damage caused by root rots, mechanical damage, or canker diseases). Insects typically cause entire sections of foliage to be impacted (dieback, flagging, etc.) not discrete spots and blotches. Spots and blotches are harder to distinguish on needles, but can still be identified when looking closer.

Additional reading on:

Hummingbirds – Colorful Miracles

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A male Anna’s hummingbird. (Gregg Thompson.)

By Ken Bevis, Stewardship Wildlife Biologist, DNR, Ken.Bevis@dnr.wa.gov

“Humm, Humm, Hummingbird Humm

Humm, Hummm Humingbird Humm.

Iridescent sparks of life

Fly backwards to and fro

Tiny hearts race twelve hundred times

Miracles flying

Hot sparks of life”

From the song, Hummingbird Humm, by Ken Bevis. Guitar and vocals, Ken Bevis. Vocals, Julie Dubois, flute, Wayne Mendro. Copyright 2019.

Let’s get down to some serious wildlife wow. Hummingbirds are just way beyond amazing. We have all seen them zipping about, sipping flowers and feeders, shining in the sun with red, orange and green iridescent feathers. Beautiful. But how can such a creature exist?

They are the tiniest birds. They hover. Their active hearts race at up to 1,200 beats per minute, or 20 beats per second. They go into torpor at night and their body temperature plummets to 50 degrees (down from 107) and heart rates go down to one per second. They drink flower nectar and eat insects. They build tiny intricate nests of mosses, lichens, hair, fine grass and spider webs. Most migrate thousands of miles south to Central or even South America in the winter! What?

They are so unlikely, it was once believed that they went underground to hibernate in the winter (they don’t). But now we know different.

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A Calliope hummingbird. (Joanie Christian)

I had the chance to help on a calliope hummingbird research project where we captured them using a net trap wrapped around a feeder. When several were there, a string was pulled and the net closed on the tiny birds. We reached in and gently wrapped our hands around them, placing them in small cloth bags for the bird banders to handle. I remember they fit in the palm of my hand and were incredibly flexible. Their wings went in all sorts of directions in the bags. It makes sense, as their wings travel in a rotating pattern (no, not going round and round!), that enables them to do incredible maneuvers, and even fly backwards, or upside down! The study determined that most of them migrated to a specific region in the mountains of central Mexico each winter! They somehow measured water isotopes found in the bodies of the little birds by way of taking one tiny feather from the tail, and comparing this to water from different regions. This is a distance of at least 3,000 miles, one way, from my home near Winthrop. Wow!

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A male Rufous hummingbird. (Joanie Christian)

We have four hummingbird species in Washington; two on the west side, and two on the east.

First, the feisty rufous hummingbirds are the most widespread, occurring statewide, with an orangey cast to their feathers. The males sport a flashing orange throat patch as they zoom high in the air to impress the females, and swoop after anyone who dares come into his territory.

Second, calliope hummingbirds are the smallest bird in North America, weighing about the same as a penny (or a ping pong ball) and zip between flowers and feeders in Eastern Washington.

Third, the black chinned hummingbird also occurs in Eastern Washington, with a gorgeous purple throat patch on the males. They are the least common.

All three of these species migrate to Central America in the winter. They eat flower nectar and insects, so the northern migration route is generally up the coast or the lowlands east of the mountains, and the southward trek takes them down the crest of the mountain ranges where the flowers are in the late summer/early fall!

Fourth, Anna’s hummingbirds are the most common species in Western Washington and have in recent decades spread their range north as far as southeast Alaska. These beautiful little birds will use feeders all year and have created a dilemma for hummingbird lovers as to whether, or how, to maintain feeders full of sugar water all winter. (I won’t weigh in with my opinion – google that one up!). Anna’s hummingbirds don’t truly migrate, but will move to better feeding areas. A recent survey done in winter showed a few Anna’s hummingbirds wintering as far north as Juneau, Alaska! They also occur in much of Eastern Washington, and into southern British Columbia. Up until the late 1940s they had never been documented north of California. Since then, they have done a steady range expansion northwards, probably due to human plantings and feeding, and possibly a warming climate. This is an interesting story of an animal adjusting to our human presence.

How can small forest landowners help hummingbirds? Provide habitat! Maintain a diversity of habitats and plant species. Since hummers feed on flowering plants, focus on nectar bearing shrubs, such as elderberry, salmonberry or flowering currant (the same ones to benefit many other species!). Many other plants provide nectar and can be selected for tubular red flowers. Since they nest and rest in dense vegetation, providing patches of shrubs will definitely help hummingbirds.

Feeders are fun, but they must be kept clean and filled in a rather involved project.

Hummingbirds. Yet another benefit from small forest ownerships!

Send me your hummingbird stories and photos!

A great source of bird information is found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Here’s another one loaded with hummingbird information (read about their tongues!).

Carnation Forest Becomes a Classroom for Coached Planning Students

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Wendy, left, and Ben Davis are two of the members of the Davis family who welcomed DNR, WSU Extension Forestry and participants in the Extension’s Stewardship Coached Planning course to their forest land near Carnation. (Natalie Johnson/DNR)

By Natalie Johnson, communications manager, DNR, Natalie.johnson@dnr.wa.gov

After several weeks of virtual classes, squinting at their computer screens to learn about tree health, forest practice rules and writing stewardship plans, students in the Washington State University Extension Stewardship Coached Planning courses for northwest Washington got out in the woods to practice their new skills.

About 50 people from the two groups gathered for a field trip June 11 on forested land just outside of Carnation, in rural King County, owned by the Davis family, several of whom were also students in the class.

“It’s amazing what you don’t know,” said landowner Ben Davis, about the coached planning classes.

Davis said much of the land had been logged at one point – before his family acquired it – then was “left to its own devices.”

That means the forest is densely packed with trees of a similar age and height, and predominantly Douglas firs, although a few cedars have made it to maturity. The underbrush is thick and many stands are still in need of pruning after years of help from organizations like Washington State University Extension and King Conservation District.

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DNR forest pathologist Rachel Brooks shows participants in the June 11 Stewardship Coached Planning field trip what to look for when identifying root rot. (Natalie Johnson/DNR)

One stand in particular has been treated for root rot – in this case by removing affected trees – giving Department of Natural Resources forest pathologist Rachel Brooks a perfect setting to talk about the disease. She noted that both root rot and the trees it infects are native to Washington and part of the forest’s natural process.

“A healthy forest has dead trees in it – we all need to remember that,” she said, while passing around examples of root rot – various types of fungus that attack trees through their roots — on bark and a young seedlings.

Brooks joined foresters from WSU Extension and other organizations to lead hour-long classes on topics including diseases, pruning and planting, measuring trees and thinning.

“It’s incredibly helpful,” Wendy Davis said of the coached planning course. “The best resource is just the access to the people and information.”

The forest is in need of some TLC, but it is already much loved by the Davis family as a getaway from city life. Ben Davis said they want to keep the forest health for future generations, and for now don’t plan on harvesting any timber.

“I won’t, but the grandkids might,” he said.

This spring, the WSU Extension forestry program, in partnership with DNR and other organizations, scheduled three versions of its Forest Stewardship Coached Planning for northeast, northwest, and southwest region forest landowners.

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Kevin Zobrist, of WSU Extension Forestry, taught participants at the June 11 Stewardship Coached Planning field trip how to plant seeding trees. (Natalie Johnson/DNR)

The courses cover topics including tree health and identification, wildlife on private property, noxious weeds, soil, forest practice rules, cultural resources, and wildfire risk. Participants will also receive coaching on writing their own forest stewardship plan, which may also provide relevant information on county designated forestland tax classification requirements or conservation cost-share grants.

Northeast Washington landowners got the chance to take the course in person this year, based in Colville, but the Western Washington groups only met virtually until getting together for their field trips.

Some of the landowners at the field trip had just a few acres, while others had 60, 80 or more. Many came with family members, including more than a few parents and their either young or adult children.

Deborah Mendenhall, who owns land in the Seattle area, took the course with her adult son Dylan.

“I really like the legacy aspect of it — establishing a plan that’s going to live on past me,” she said.

 For information on upcoming courses, go to forestry.wsu.edu. Another round of coached planning classes will be offered this fall.

Seeing Forests With New Eyes

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DNR Small Forest Landowner Office outreach education staff Holly Haley doing her first outreach table at WSU forest and range owners field day in Chewelah. (Chris Dwight, DNR)

By Holly Haley, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, Washington Department of Natural Resources, holly.haley@dnr.wa.gov.

As some of you may have read in our spring newsletter edition, I was recently hired into this education outreach position.  I have come to it with a broad knowledge of Washington’s flora and fauna, but have spent the last several years focused on teaching others about marine ecosystem conservation. It has been six months now since I have had the pleasure of connecting with the people involved in managing forest ecosystems across our state and it has been tremendously rewarding.

I decided to approach this new job in a learning mode, to be the student, observer, and listener, so I can absorb everything about what others are willing to share in their connection to forests. I began my journey by asking lots of questions and putting on my boots to join DNR foresters on landowner service visits. I have enjoyed helping mark riparian buffers, surveying trees that make good wildlife habitat, and learning from landowners their unique management objectives. I’ve attended a myriad of online forestry conferences, webinars, and WSU Forestry Extension Forest Stewardship Coached Planning classes.  When in-person learning opportunities started again this spring, exploring with others out in the woods, at workshops, tree farm tours, and field events has been especially wonderful for hands-on learning.

And just like many of you have probably experienced in life, the more you know, the more you see. In fact, I hear the same observation from many small forest landowners attending these learning opportunities alongside me; that even with years’ experience in their own forests, they see the forest differently; observing more, with a deepening of their forest knowledge and understanding.

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A black bear den in an old tree stump seen in winter 2022. (Holly Haley, DNR)

A fun example for me was on my first small forest landowner service visit with DNR Wildlife Biologist, Ken Bevis, in late winter with generous and kind small forest landowners, the Ranney Family, who invited us to check up on some recent forest harvest treatments and wildlife enhancement efforts.  As we traipsed all over their extensive tree farm, I heard the family’s story of seeing a black bear and discovering the bear’s den inside an old tree stump. I couldn’t believe such a large mammal would be content there and sure enough on another service call to a different small forest landowning family, they also showed us a similarly sized tree stump, known bear den. Now, as I hike in my nearby neighborhood forests, for one, I see the old stumps in the dense overgrowth that I didn’t always notice before and I am more bear aware!

I especially want to take this moment to thank the incredible people I have met and learned from like the small forest landowners, tree farmers, and dedicated staff and foresters that help facilitate these learning exchange experiences. It isn’t just about facts and figures and the how-to skills, but also the passion and modeling of enthusiasm for stewarding and managing forestlands. This translates to inspiring all of us to want to learn and care, and do the work.

I look forward to continuing to learn and making new friends along the way and bring new eyes and energy to share what I know in outreach to others as well. With that outreach role in mind, I want to encourage everyone to explore the menu of learning and engagement activities listed in this newsletter’s Upcoming Events, Classes, and Workshop section. Whether you are new to forestry or an old pro, I guarantee you too will experience your forestlands with a renewed vision, plus meet some great people along the way!

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WFFA Chapter and Washington Tree Farm Tour, summer 2022. (Holly Haley, DNR)

Upcoming Events, Classes, and Workshops

Chewelah Field Day
The Forest & Range Owners Field Day took place June 11 in Chewelah. (Holly Haley, DNR)

Forest Field Days

In May, DNR and WSU Extension Forestry held their first in-person field day in two years in Eastern Washington.

Now Western Washington landowners will have two chances in August to get out in the woods and learn about a wide variety of topics related to forest stewardship, including forest health, chainsaw safety and maintenance, forestland taxes, wildlife habitat, non-timber forest products, thinning and pruning, and wildfire resilience. These field days also a great opportunity to network with other landowners and connect with foresters and other professionals that can assist you on your property.

Southwest Washington Family Forest Field Day

Saturday, Aug. 13, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Steve Stinson Legacy Family Forest Field Day will be held at L & H Tree Farm in Winlock. Sessions will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a break for lunch. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. for time to engage with vendors and booths before classes start. Pre-registration is required. Cost is $30 for an individual or $40 for a family of two or more. Register before August 5 and save $10. Youth under 18 are welcome and may attend at no additional cost.

Puget Sound Forest Owners Field Day – Vashon

Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This Vashon field day will take place at Island Center Forest, 188th Trailhead on Vashon Island. Field Day tickets at the gate will be $30/individual and $40/couple (same household or ownership). Participants who register ahead of time will save $10 on admission. The field day will be followed by a bring-your-own-picnic-dinner, and a Twilight Forest Tour on a nearby Vashon resident’s forested property from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Youth under 18 are welcome and may attend at no additional cost.

Other Events

Twilight Tour at Pacific Rim Institute – Coupeville

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Join WSU Extension Forestry for a twilight tour through the forests and restored prairies of the Pacific Rim Institute. Hear from PRI land managers about the work they’re doing as well as future plans for the forest. This is an opportunity to ask questions, see another landscape that may be similar to your own, and meet fellow forest owners in a relaxed and casual manner. This in-person event is free, but pre-registration is required.

Workshops

2022 Bigleaf Maple Syrup Workshop – Olympia

Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tapping bigleaf maples is an exciting way to engage with your forest, spend time with family and friends, and create a unique and delicious syrup for personal use or even commercial sale. At this hands-on workshop you’ll learn about the essential tools needed for tapping, how and when to tap trees, and how to process sap. Join for a fun day in the woods and get prepared for the next sap season! Located at WSU Meyer’s Point Environmental Field Station in Olympia. Pre-registration is required. Cost for this event is $30 per family or household (four people maximum). Online registration closes on Tuesday, September 6th. Not in the Olympia area?  Keep an eye out a companion workshop in northwest Washington at forestry.wsu.edu.

What to expect workshop – Eastern Washington

Save the date! Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. A two-day workshop is in the works all about what to expect when working with contractors, loggers, mills, consulting foresters, DNR Forest Practices, and state and federal assistance programs. Keep an eye out for more information about this in-person event in Eastern Washington at forestry.wsu.edu.

Classes

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning is the flagship course for small landowners and is put on in partnership by WSU Extension Forestry and DNR.  Topics covered include silviculture, ecology, harvesting, thinning, wildlife, special forest products, mapping, soils, and more.  Through this series of classes, landowners are coached through the process of writing a forest management plan for their property based on their own management objectives. Recently, these classes have only been offered online but are now returning with in-person options. Eastern Washington had its first in-person course in late spring and now there will be two in-person courses for Western Washington forest landowners starting this September.

Lake Alice
Lake Alice near Preston. (Holly Haley, DNR).

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning – Preston

Nine-week course, starting Sept. 6, 2022.

Tuesday evening sessions will be held at the Preston Community Center, Sept. 6 – Nov. 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., except for the first day, when class will start at 5:30 p.m. A Saturday field trip is scheduled for Oct. 15. The registration fee is $160. Registration covers up to two adults from the same household/ownership. Youth under 18 are welcome and may attend at no additional cost.

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning – Mount Vernon

Nine-week course, starting Sept. 8, 2022.

Thursday evening sessions will be held at the Conway School, Sept. 8 – Nov. 3, 2022 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., except for the first day, when class will start at 5:30 p.m. A Saturday field trip is scheduled for October 15. The registration fee is $160. Registration covers up to two adults from the same household/ownership. Youth under 18 are welcome and may attend at no additional cost.

Webinars

The webinars are free, but pre-registration is required. Can’t make it at that time? Register anyway, as registrants will receive a link to the recording afterward.

Current Use Tax Options for King County Forest Owners

Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, from 7- 8 p.m.

Current use taxation allows land to be taxed based on its current use for growing trees instead of its full market value, which may be based on using the property for development. At this webinar you’ll learn about Designated Forest Land (DFL) and the Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS), which are the two options available to people with forested property in King County. Topics covered include program requirements, tax benefits, application procedures, and more. Hosted by WSU Extension Forestry/Puget Sound Region.

WA Tree Farm Program Westside Fall Forestry Seminar – Vegetation Management

Friday Sept. 16, 2022, noon to 2 p.m.

Dr. Rob Slesak from the U.S. Forest Service will present on potential benefits of slash retention following harvesting in the Pacific Northwest. Slash is commonly removed from a site for various reasons following harvesting, but recent research has shown that slash retention can have immediate and longer-term benefits to stand development and soils. This talk will demonstrate the benefits of slash retention that may be useful to consider when developing a slash management strategy for your forest.

Slesak will be followed by Joseph Shea from the Skagit County Noxious Weed Board. This presentation will cover the variety of tools at a landowner’s disposal for week control, highlighting how different plants and landscapes require different strategies to ensure the best integrated pest management.

The Westside Fall Forestry Seminar will offer a choice of two tree farm tours on Saturday, Sept. 17. For the south Sound area, a tree farm tour will start at 10 a.m. at Cranberry Lake Foundation in Shelton with a break for lunch (bring your own) and afternoon stop at Meyer’s Point in Olympia. For the north Sound, tours will start at 9 a.m. with two stops at tree farms around Big Lake, in Skagit County, a break for lunch (bring your own) and two afternoon stops just outside Sedro-Woolley. Additional tour details and zoom links for the Sept. 16 webinar presentations will be provided the week before the event.

Washington Forest Owners’ Online Field Day

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022.

Save the date! For those of you who can’t join field day events in the woods this year, there will be an online “field day.” More information will soon be available at forestry.wsu.edu.

Message from Tami Miketa, Manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office

Tami Miketa
Tami Miketa, manager of the Small Forest Landowner Office.

Spring is just around the corner! And just like spring is the season of growth, the Small Forest Landowner Office is growing as well.

In this edition, we are introducing new staff to the Small Forest Landowner Office. The Legislature was extremely favorable to the office this biennium, allotting an additional $2 million to the SFLO and providing substantial funding increases to the Forestry Riparian Easement Program and the Family Forest Fish Passage Program.

The SFLO is expanding its Small Forest Landowner Regulation Assistance Program by bringing on five additional regulation assistance foresters. These foresters will be located throughout the state and will help small forest landowners understand and apply the forest practices rules, including small forest landowner alternate plans, long-term applications, forest road assessments and construction techniques, timber harvest techniques, and other forest practices rules-related issues. Currently three of the five foresters are on board and are ready to provide you their assistance. The SFLO will be hiring an Olympic Region regulation assistance forester, and a Northwest Region regulation assistance forester in the upcoming months.

In the near future, the SFLO will also add a fish and wildlife biologist to the team. This position will work statewide and will help small forest landowners with their water typing, riparian buffering and fish presence surveys where appropriate. This biologist will also help in completing water type modification forms for landowners.

In this issue you will also meet Holly Haley, our new environmental education and community outreach specialist. Holly provides educational outreach to promote public involvement in our many incentive programs and works with internal and external partners like Washington State University Extension on educational presentations, classes, and field visits engaging thousands of small forest landowners throughout Washington.

The SFLO is also welcoming Conservation Easement Program Manager KelliAnne Ricks in this issue. Ricks started on our team last October as our new Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program manager. She is also in charge of the conservation easement timber cruise program. KelliAnne comes to us from the state lands side of the agency.

The Forestry Riparian Easement Program (FREP) is now staffed up and ready to purchase a large number of conservation easements. In this issue you will meet FREP Conservation Easement Foresters Leah Harper, Eric McDougal, and McKenzie Miller. All three are outstanding staff who are new to DNR and will work hard to purchase down the FREP waiting list.

And finally, we said goodbye to Laurie Cox, who after 43 years with DNR recently retired from the Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP). Laurie was an exceptional team leader who was extremely dedicated to the FFFPP and set high standards for herself and encouraged others to work with her to achieve these goals. She single-handedly made the Family Forest Fish Passage Program run smoother and more efficiently and is the reason it is such a successful program today.

Laurie was also a pioneer in her career in firefighting. In 1979, she was one of the first women to be hired to work on a DNR fire crew. She certainly paved the way for other women to get involved in the wildfire program. Laurie has been a true asset to the SFLO team, the FFFPP program, and the wildfire program. We will certainly miss her.

I am truly excited about the expansion of the Small Forest Landowner Office. My team and I  look forward to better serving the small forest landowner community across the state.

Announcements, events and more:

Workshops

Variable Density Thinning Workshops

Variable density thinning is “a silvicultural strategy designed to accelerate development of late-successional habitat by applying a variety of harvest intensities within a stand” (USFS, 2018).  This practice dovetails with common small forest landowner management objectives like developing wildlife habitat and enhancing recreation and aesthetic value of a forest.  It can also be a low-impact form of harvest that landowners can utilize to meet tax-based county harvest requirements. These workshops will be held in-person at two locations in southwest Washington.

Seaquest State Park – April 26 from 6 p.m. -8 p.m.

Nisqually State Park – April 28 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Field Days

Check Extension Forestry | Washington State University (wsu.edu) for upcoming details and links for registration

May 20, Managing Forest Health Workshop and Field Day, Blue Mountains, Southeast Washington

June 11, Forest and Range Owners Field Day, Stevens County, Northeast Washington.

Webinars

Forest Stewardship in a Changing Climate

Between heat domes and record droughts, trees in the area are struggling, especially the hemlocks and cedars. Learn how to help your trees be more resilient to climate change at this virtual symposium virtual symposium. The sessions will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 21, April 28, and May 5. Different topics will be covered each evening. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is required.

Riparian Habitat and Invasive Species Control Webinar

Riparian habitat, the area surrounding streams and other bodies of water, is a common habitat type found in forests all across Washington. These areas are often hard to manage and easily overrun with invasive species. What can you do with that strip of trees along your stream? Learn about how you can improve your riparian habitat for wildlife and water quality and manage invasive species infestations. Participants will receive a Zoom link after registering and filling out a very short pre-webinar survey. The webinar is scheduled for April 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Oak Prairie Restoration in the San Juan Islands Webinar

Historically prevalent in the San Juan Islands but now considered one of the region’s most threatened and rare natural habitats, Garry oak (also known as Oregon white oak) prairie systems support a wide range of specialized species including migrating neotropical birds and species found nowhere else in Washington. WSU Extension and the San Juan Islands Conservation District will host a free webinar on April 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on how to create or restore this habitat on your property. This webinar will be followed by a field trip in June.

Carbon Opportunities for Forest Owners Virtual Symposium

Carbon credit markets have been around for years, but there have been few opportunities small forest landowners to participate. New market opportunities are emerging which may finally make forest carbon payments for local small forest landowners a reality. The virtual symposium will also talk about management strategies for carbon sequestration both in the forest and through generating long-lived wood products. While part of the focus of the symposium will be King County, much of the content of this symposium will be applicable region-wide. This virtual symposium comprises three Thursday evening sessions. The sessions will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 9, 16, and 23. Different topics will be covered each evening. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is required.

Classes

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning is the flagship course for small landowners and is put on in partnership by WSU Forestry Extension and DNR.  Topics covered include silviculture, ecology, harvesting, thinning, wildilfe, special forest products mapping, soils, and more.  Through this series of classes, landowners are “coached” through the process of writing a forest management plan for their property based on their own management objectives.

Online Forest Stewardship Coached Planning – SW WA

Two options:  Tuesdays mornings (May 3 – June 21) or Wednesday evenings (May 4 to June 22)

Online Forest Stewardship Coached Planning – NW WA

Two options:  Tuesdays mornings (May 3 – June 21) or Wednesday evenings (May 4 to June 22)

In-person Forest Stewardship Coached Planning – NE WA

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., May 7 – June 11 at Spokane Community College – Colville Branch, with two field trips.

Meetings

2022 Annual Meeting Washington State Society of American Foresters

April 11–15, 2022 • virtual Hosted by South Puget Sound SAF WA

Aerial Survey: Coastal Areas Hit Hardest by 2021 ‘Heat Dome’

Heat Damage
A mature Douglas fir impacted by heat/sun scorch near Glenoma, in Lewis County, photographed in July 2021. (Rachel Brooks / DNR)

By Glenn Kohler, Forest Entomologist (glenn.kohler@dnr.wa.gov), Rachel Brooks, Forest Pathologist (rachel.brooks@dnr.wa.gov), and Matt Provencher, Service Forestry Program Manager (matt.provencher@dnr.wa.gov), Washington Department of Natural Resources

In summer 2021, from June 26 to 28, an extreme heat wave hit the Pacific Northwest. Known as a “heat dome,” it caused damage to new foliage and buds of several conifer species across at least 84,000 acres in western Washington. This heat wave was unprecedented in our region’s history. Temperatures steadily built up to extraordinary all-time high records: 108 degrees Fahrenheit in Seattle, 116 degrees in Portland/Vancouver, 108 degrees in Arlington, and an unbelievable 110 degrees in Quillayute on the western Olympic Peninsula – smashing its previous all-time high by 11 degrees. Ongoing research is connecting the event to human-caused climate change (https://esd.copernicus.org/preprints/esd-2021-90/ ).

During this event, darker-colored foliage in direct sunlight reached even higher temperatures than the air around it, causing desiccation, or loss of moisture, of foliage exposed to the afternoon sun. Starting almost immediately in early July, branch tips turned red/brown, in some cases looking as if they had been scorched by fire. This heat/sun scorch, also known as needle desiccation in conifers, was especially notable on the southwest and western sides of tree canopies, on south- and west-facing slopes, on younger trees, on trees with more sky exposure, and on trees closer to the coast. Many different tree species were impacted, with damage most visible on conifers including Douglas fir, western hemlock, western redcedar, and Pacific silver fir. Needles appeared brown or red, and in places branch tips and buds were killed. Damage to hardwoods, mostly appearing as dried leaf edges, was also widespread but less noticeable.

Matt Provencher’s August 2021 Forest Stewardship Notes article, “Is It Getting Hot In Here? Heat and Drought Stress Effects on Northwest Trees” is a great resource for further details and background of damage from this event and recent droughts. Readers were asked to stay tuned for an update on the extent of damage following annual aerial survey flights. Wait no longer:

Heat Damage
Heat related desiccation damage in western Washington recorded in 2021 aerial detection survey. (DNR, USFS)

Extent of damage mapped by 2021 aerial survey

Approximately 84,000 acres with this type of damage was recorded by the 2021 aerial survey, primarily in western Washington (see map). The highest concentrations were on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, in the Cascade foothills areas of Snohomish, King, and Lewis counties, western Pacific County, Wahkiakum County, and southern Clark and Skamania counties. The extent of damage was likely underestimated by aerial survey because crown discoloration was difficult to see by observers looking to the west and south. Observers flew the survey throughout eastern Washington as well, but the heat scorch signature was not noticeable in most areas. The most likely explanation is that conifers growing in eastern Washington are better adapted to cope with such high temperatures during early summer. But unfortunately, ongoing drought impacts and crowded stand conditions east of the Cascades are still contributing to increases in tree mortality from certain insects and diseases.

Long-term damage and recovery

The long-term impact of needle desiccation is not well studied, and it is assumed that larger well-established and otherwise healthy trees will be able to recover from this desiccation event. Department of Natural Resources personnel visited sites known to be impacted by desiccation damage in Olympia and the Maple Valley area east of Seattle in March 2022.

Over the winter, foliage of impacted western redcedar still remained brown on branch tips. It will be difficult to know whether or not damaged branch tips have died back until the flush of new growth appears in spring. In many of the impacted areas, some western redcedar have already been experiencing top-kill, branch dieback, and foliage loss in recent years, primarily due to ongoing drought impacts. The desiccation damage may contribute to ongoing decline at some of these sites.

Damaged branch tips on Douglas fir and western hemlock were noticeably missing foliage and the majority of buds examined on these branches were killed. The heat was so severe that many new cones were damaged and even thin twigs at branch tips were wilted by desiccation. Health of buds can be assessed by breaking them open and looking for tiny green developing needles inside. Recovery of branches that lost needles but still have healthy buds will be obvious once new foliage expands in spring.

In mature and pole-sized trees, this type of damage is unlikely to lead to whole tree mortality, especially since north and east sides of crowns were mostly undamaged. Any branch tip and top dieback will likely be noticeable for several years until adventitious buds and twig growth from inner branches obscures damage in a few years. In some cases, it’s possible the added stress from this event and recent severe drought years could lead to an increase in attacks by opportunistic insects and pathogens. For young seedlings and saplings, especially in sun exposed plantation sites, the likelihood of mortality from desiccation damage is much higher.

It can be challenging to identify damage from abiotic impacts such as weather events. Without some local knowledge of when and where the event occurred, symptoms can look very similar to foliar disease, defoliating insects, or bark beetles if symptoms are severe enough. The biological pests can usually be ruled out by looking closely for signs of the insects or pathogens themselves, such as fungal fruiting bodies (tiny dark spots on needles), chewing marks, exit holes, webbing, and tunnels or galleries under the bark. Even when you find clear evidence of insects or fungi, it’s always wise to ask why they are attacking the tree. It’s certainly possible that damage from abiotic events like desiccation or drought predisposed the tree to attack, and the two events are linked.

If you have questions about unusual tree damage you’ve observed, feel free to contact your local DNR service forester, extension forester, or forest health specialists at dnr.wa.gov/foresthealth.

Spring Cleaning, for the Birds

Author Ken Bevis is pictured with a new batch of boxes a few years ago. All are still functioning, with the help of a painted roof to help longevity. (Teri Pieper)

By Ken Bevis, Stewardship Wildlife Biologist, Washington State Department of Natural Resources ken.bevis@dnr.wa.gov

Spring Cleaning
This box needs a new roof! (Ken Bevis, DNR)

Ah spring! The days get longer, the sun comes back, the birds begin singing and flying about, looking for love, and places to nest – like those beautiful nest boxes you put up!

Do you ever go back and check them? Maybe clean out the old nest materials?

How about last fall? Or earlier this spring?

And what about that cracked roof?

Until birds actually start building new nests or laying eggs, there is still time to go in there and remove any old nesting materials and provide a nice, clean cavity.

Larger boxes, like for kestrels or small owls, or even wood duck boxes, are less urgent than the smaller boxes for songbirds. They don’t fill up with material brought in by the residents. However, they can become full of poop and possibly dead things that are good to clean out. Some people will annually look in even their bigger boxes, remove the worst of it and put a new touch of wood shavings or chips in there.

 I always wonder about natural cavities; no one cleans them out. (Maybe that’s why woody makes new ones?). I once saw a big cavity in a felled, hollow silver maple that had generations of barn owl use. The layer of pellets, bones, poop and sawdust was probably 16 inches deep! And the owls were still using it. Hmm.

It was suggested to me by my friend (and ace tree-farmer) Scott Ranney, that cedar chips are not optimal for bedding in boxes as some species react negatively to them. Anyone else hear this? Makes sense, however, as cedar is indeed quite volatile in fresh chips and may dissuade some nesters. Old weathered cedar (like in a natural log) is a preferred substrate as testified by generations of pileated woodpeckers and various squirrels.

Spring Cleaning
Swallows love to line their nests with feathers. (Ken Bevis, DNR)

I clean out my nest boxes in late winter, just before the first migrants arrive. I live in open forest edge country, in the northern mountains. My hypothesis is that sometimes wintering birds (or even squirrels) will roost overnight in the boxes during cold spells, and the old nesting material could provide some insulation (even if poopy) for these hunkered down critters. Hence, remove the old nests just before nesting begins again.

Most importantly is to check them every year, preferably to monitor use, and for maintenance. I did maintenance on my boxes the first week of March. I replaced a broken box, replaced two roofs, remounted one (the tree had fallen over), and scraped poop, feathers and grass out of most.

I keep a journal record of nests in boxes (hard to determine success) mostly for interest, but to remind myself of why I do this. For example, in 2020 we had nests of some kind in 32 out of 34 boxes on our property near Winthrop. The two without birds had wasps! That was a good year. In 2021, we had the heat dome in June, right when many baby birds were in the nest and very vulnerable. Most boxes had nesting attempts (26/34), but several appeared to be only starts (i.e. no eggshells, poop, feathers). There were 13 swallow nests, but seven had dead baby birds in them… dang it! Others in our area reported similar outcomes from the brutal heat. But still, there were six broods of tree and/or violet green swallows that successfully nested in the boxes I provided, and produced young birds that migrated away last fall. Some will undoubtedly return. That feels good.

This year, the bluebirds and swallows are already back. They are flying around checking out my boxes as I write.

Send me a description of your box project and any outcomes you have had at Ken.Bevis@dnr.wa.gov. It’s fun to provide habitat!