Family Forest Field Day Coming to South Sound

Come join other landowners for a day of learning in the woods!

Whether you own a “home in the woods” or many acres of land, this “out in the woods” educational event is packed with practical “how-to” information that you need to know.

Stewarding land is both rewarding and challenging. Successful management is due to the decisions you make and the actions you take. Attending the Family Forest Field Day will prepare you to plan and execute sound practices, enabling you to accomplish your management objectives, reduce risks, and protect your financial investment.

Don’t own land but are still interested in learning more about forests? Maybe you’re thinking about buying some forestland but want to see what you’re getting into?  All are welcome!

Check out the full class schedule!

When:                  Saturday, August 24, 2019

9 a.m-4 p.m. (gates open at 8 a.m.)

Where:                Wildcat Creek Tree Farm

72 Tornquist Rd. McCleary, WA 98557

Cost:                     $30 per individual or $40 for a family

One lunch included with each registration; additional lunches purchased for $10

Register online at Eventbrite or via mail.  Learn more about the class and mail-in registration options at the Field Day website.


Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact Patrick Shults at 360-740-1213 or at least two weeks prior to the event.


There are other events available to small forest landowners across Washington state, too:

Forest Health and Wildfire Seminars

What’s happening to our forests?

Increasing tree mortality and fire risk are serious threats to health and safety, water quality, and quality of life in Snohomish County. Dead and dying trees have proliferated throughout the county, especially with cedars, hemlocks, and maples. Wildfire and smoke are growing concerns. Could what happened in California happen here? Join local forest experts from the University of Washington and Washington State University at a free seminar to learn about what’s happening, why it’s happening, what it means for your property and your watershed, and what you should and should not be doing.

Upcoming offerings

Darrington – September 4

The Darrington seminar will be Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Darrington Community Center, 570 Sauk Ave., Darrington, WA 98241. Admission is free, and no pre-registration is necessary.

Shelton – September 4

The Shelton seminar will be Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 6-8 p.m. at the Mason County Auditorium, 2621 E. Johns Prairie Rd., Shelton, WA 98584. Admission is free; please pre-register so that staff can get an accurate head count. Contact WSU extension forester Patrick Shults at or 360-740-1213.

Monroe – October 3

The Monroe seminar will be Thursday, Oct. 3, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Monroe Library, 1070 Village Way, Monroe, WA 98272. Admission is free, and no pre-registration is necessary.

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

A forestry course for landowners

Our flagship course will teach you how to assess your trees, avoid insect and disease problems, attract wildlife, and take practical steps to keep your forest on track to provide enjoyment and even income for years to come. In this course, you will develop your own Forest Stewardship Plan, which brings state recognition as a Stewardship Forest and eligibility for cost-share assistance, and may also qualify you for significant property tax reductions.

Upcoming Offerings:


Sitka Spruce Can Shepherd Your Cedars Toward Maturity

By Steve Townsend, tree farmer near Kapowsin

Editor’s note: Many small forest landowners in Washington attempt to plant Western red cedar, only to be thwarted by browse by animals, particularly deer and elk. Steve Townsend has used some unique strategies, and has written up his well-documented efforts here.

Starting with one Western red cedar and one Sitka spruce P+1 seedling per hole, we planted the plantation near Kapowsin in Pierced County in 2014.

The holes were spaced 12 feet apart, giving about 600 trees in 300 holes per acre. After allowing for roads, trails, slash piles, a building, and some other areas that could not be planted, the 17-acre plantation was stocked with 4,000 cedars.

The expectation was that the spruce, with their sharp needles, would deter the deer and elk from eating the cedar.

Generally speaking, the combination is working.

Cedar&Net.Spruce copy
Cedar treelings can also be planted adjacent to older spruce trees to protect them from browsing, as long as they are also protected by hard netting. (Steve Townsend)

There was some browsing the first year, but by year two the branches of the trees had become intermingled and the spruce were protecting the cedar as planned. Probably the most telling sign of success is in those pairs where the cedar has grown taller than the spruce; in many of these cases, the cedar has been browsed down to the height of the spruce, but no further.

About 95 percent of the spruce and 80 percent of the cedar survived the first summer in 2014. This led to some serious inter-planting in the years to follow.  In February 2015, 300 cedars were crowded in beside a spruce in places where the accompanying cedar had died.

Starting in 2016, and subsequently in 2017 and 2018, the surviving spruce were too well-developed to accommodate a new partner planted just inches away. As a consequence, the current method of replacement planting has been to place the cedar a foot or two away from the base of a protective spruce, and then to place a vexar net (aka rigid tubing) around the cedar to protect it from the animals until the branches of the spruce grow out to encompass it. In those areas where a cedar is desired and no spruce exists, the cedar is planted and netted on its own, much the same as one would protect the trees in a plantation of Douglas-fir.

CedarwithSpruceSkirt copy
The spruce trees can be topped at 4 feet high, so that they stop competing with the cedars for light but still protect their bases from rutting deer and elk. (Steve Townsend)

By fall 2017, many of the cedar were tall enough so that the spruce could be trimmed back to allow the cedar to be the dominant tree of the pair. Typically, while working with a pair of trees with the hand pruners, all double tops or suckers on the cedars were removed, and the tops of the spruce were cut off at a height of four feet.

The hope is that the spruce will live long enough to continue to provide some protection for the cedar against antler rub. This will be an ongoing process for the next several years as the plantation continues to develop.

This report would not be complete without mentioning the smaller browsers. Whereas the spruce does an effective job of protecting the trees from the deer and elk, they do not protect the cedar from the mice, voles, rabbits, aplodontia (mountain beaver), and other small tree-predators that attack from below. In the areas where these animals are prevalent, the tried-and-true vexar nets are usually effective.

CedarwithSpruce weevil
The spruce weevil damaged the top of this spruce tree. Many nursery spruces are susceptible to infestation, but that is OK in this setting because they still live long enough to protect the young cedar trees. (Steve Townsend)

It is also important to note that nursery-grown spruce tends to be very susceptible to the spruce weevil. Sooner or later, most of them become infected. This is of little concern if the spruce is ultimately scheduled to be eliminated, but it removes the option of allowing the spruce to grow to maturity on those micro-sites where a cedar does not seem to be viable.

CedarwithSpruce after
After five growing seasons, this part of the Kapowsin plantation shows all of the planting approaches mentioned in the article above. (Steve Townsend)


Helping Landowners Learn From Their Peers About Harvest Options

Northwest Natural Resource Group and Oregon State University are reaching out to forest owners for a voluntary study about timber harvesting methods to understand how they affect both financial and forest health outcomes.

The goal of this research project is to help landowners who are considering a timber harvest to learn from the experiences of others. There is limited information about the economics of commercial timber harvests that use thinning or uneven-aged management, and how those results compare with other harvest methods.

The researchers are looking to survey Oregon and Washington forest owners who harvested timber from their forest in the past five years (since 2014) and are willing to share information about the silvicultural methods and financial outcomes from these recent timber harvests. The survey asks detailed questions about the harvest techniques and equipment used, the volume of timber harvested, cost of the harvest work, and the harvest revenues.

The results of this study will be shared with forest owners through a variety of methods including articles, papers, and classes taught by NNRG, OSU, and partner organizations. Data in the study will remain confidential within the research team. Information will be aggregated so it cannot be traced to any individual ownership. Data will be collected from through June 2019.

If you are willing to share recent harvest information with NNRG and OSU, contact Lindsay Malone, one of the project researchers, at Lindsay can provide you with a copy of the survey.

Learn more about this research project at

Lindsay Malone, Director of Programs, Northwest Natural Resource Group,

Voluntary Agreements Protect Fishers, Forest Owners

Our friends with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sincerely value and appreciate partnering with landowners to conserve native species. Enrolling non-federal lands in the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) program for the fisher (Pekania pennanti) is an important contribution towards fisher recovery in Washington.

Fishers are the native weasel of low to mid-elevation forests. They are a medium-sized weasel, about the size of a house cat, a rich chocolate-dark brown in color and live in complex forest habitats full of down wood, snags and large trees. (Body length, about 36” with tail, and weight, 8-10 pounds). They are slightly larger than marten, who tend to live at higher elevations.

The program also benefits enrollees by granting them regulatory assurances in the event that the fisher becomes listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If you’re not already enrolled, it’s not too late to enter your lands into this vital program.

In September 2018, the Northern District Court for California overturned the 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to withdraw their proposed rule to list fishers under the ESA. The result is that the fisher is once again a candidate for listing. USFWS is required to re-review the proposed listing rule and publish findings by September 21, 2019. In the event that fishers in Washington become listed under the ESA, no additional measures will be required for enrollees beyond what is agreed to in a CCAA. This court ruling re-emphasizes the advantage to landowners of enrolling in the CCAA.

It is important to note that if the fisher does become listed under ESA, enrollment in the CCAA will no longer be available to landowners. Here are the compelling benefits of enrollment in the CCAA:

  • Regulatory assurances are granted to enrollees should USFWS decide to list the species under the ESA. Experience with other species shows that federal regulators may decide to list the species upon re-evaluation of existing threats, or if recovery efforts do not meet expectations. In Washington, expectations for successful fisher recovery partly hinge on the success of the CCAA program.
  • Enrollment in the CCAA provides a conservation benefit to Washington’s growing fisher population and will contribute significantly to recovering the species in our State.
  • If a CCAA participant ever decides to sell enrolled lands, potential buyers have the option to keep the land enrolled, should they choose. This option could be a selling point, especially if fishers are ESA-listed when the property goes up for sale.
  • Some landowners sign up for programs like this because of additional benefits. For instance, certain grants and cost-share programs award preference points to landowners that take part in agreements that benefit wildlife. Enrollment in a CCAA can also be used in marketing strategies, because some buyers of wood products prefer to deal with sellers that are in programs to conserve wildlife.
  • In general, the CCAA requires landowners to follow conservation measures that have minimal to no effect on the way they can use and manage their lands. Realistically, there isn’t much of a downside of being enrolled in the program.

If you have had any questions about enrolling your land into the CCAA, or are reconsidering an existing enrollment, we hope these points are helpful as you make a decision.  If you have further questions, please contact WDFW’s Gary Bell at 360-902-2412 or

‘The River’ – The Story of our Tree Farm on Pilchuck Creek

By Dave New, American (Washington) Tree Farm System, 2018 Tree Farmer of the Year

My wife Dar and I, our daughter Jennifer Parker, and her husband, Jeff Parker, are equal partners in a place we call “The River” on Pilchuck Creek in northern Snohomish County, Washington. Dar’s grandfather, Leroy Nourse, purchased this 160 acres of property in the early 1940s for family recreation.

I work for a private civil engineering firm in Bellingham, dealing primarily with land development, Dar is a retired teacher, Jenn is a licensed engineering geologist working for the DNR in Sedro-Woolley, and Jeff is a licensed geologist working for a private geohydrology firm. Jenn and Jeff have two boys, ages 4 and 6. We all live in Bellingham, 40 miles to the north.

The New family: From left, daughter, Jenn Parker, grandson Tyler, Dave New, Dar New, Jeff Parker and grandson Alex Parker, by ATF and Stewardship signs. The New family was awarded the Tree Farmer of the Year award in 2018. (Photo by Tami Perrault)
The New family: From left, daughter, Jenn Parker, grandson Tyler, Dave New, Dar New, Jeff Parker and grandson Alex Parker, by ATF and Stewardship signs. The New family was awarded the Tree Farmer of the Year award in 2018. (Photo by Tami Perrault)

Dar’s uncle, Bob Nourse, owned the property for about 50 years. He always shared it with the extended family. As Dar was growing up in Seattle, her family went nearly every weekend to The River to tend the garden and camp out on the river. She has fond memories of this big part of her childhood.

When Dar and I first met as students at Western Washington University in Bellingham in the early ’70s, her mother, Nina Hoyt, would bring her a big box of vegetables from the garden on most weekends in the summer and fall. She continued doing this after we were married.

When Uncle Bob died in 2004, he had 10 heirs to whom he left two pieces of property, a 40-acre farm and a 160-acre plot, and a grand total of about $300 cash. As it turned out, all of the heirs except Dar and Nina wanted cash and not property. We did not see how we could keep but a small portion of the property. We took the property out of the open space classification and put it up for sale.

After selling the 40-acre farm near Lake Stevens, we entered a sales contract with a reputable local developer for the 160-acre River property. He submitted an application to Snohomish County to subdivide it into about 60 single-family lots. The county accepted the application and they were proceeding towards preliminary plat approval and ultimately, development as a subdivision.

Then, in 2007 three things happened: 1) the price of gas went over $4 per gallon, 2) Boeing was poised to leave Everett, and 3) the Navy was evaluating the future of their Everett base. These things lead to a complete halt of residential property sales in northern Snohomish County. The developer was holding his own and making all of his payments to his bank, but then the recession hit and his bank began to fail. They called in all of their commercial loans, and the developer liquidated all of his assets at a time when there was no market for them. He lost everything and went out of business.

Dar and Nina then made an offer that was acceptable to the other heirs that saved The River from development. However, to be able to afford the taxes, we needed to get the property back into open space. As most of the property was forest, it made sense to put it in forested open space. Because of changes in the open space laws since the 1970s, we now needed to prepare a forest management plan. This is good public policy, and I now support it.

At the time, none of us knew anything about forestry. We hired Pete Blansett, a consulting forester with S. A. Newman out of Everett, to do this work. After walking the property, he told us that we had an over-mature stand of mostly red alder that either needed to be logged soon or it would go to waste, making reforestation much more difficult.

Over my career in land development, I have seen land owners get into trouble when they tried to do things where they did not have expertise. I was not going to attempt to manage the logging myself. We hired Pete to obtain the forest practices permit, write a timber sale prospectus, put the sale out for bid, and manage the timber harvest and subsequent replanting for us. We harvested 62 acres in late summer of 2013. The site was prepared for planting in September 2014 and replanted in early 2015.

In the meantime, we have continued the 60-year tradition of planting a garden at The River and spending most weekends there. We have added a small orchard with apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, figs, raspberries and blueberries. We spend a great deal of time there tending the dahlias, weeding the vegetables, throwing sticks and balls for the dogs, or walking down to the river with our two grandsons to soak our feet in the water. We press apple cider two or three times in the late summer and early fall with a group of friends. We walk down to the river to watch the salmon return in the fall. Every year, we plant a large pumpkin patch, and late every October we host a pumpkin party where the grand kids, about 80 others of all ages come enjoy The River, have a treasure hunt and carve pumpkins to take back to the city.

In years gone by, the Conservation District assisted farmers in moving streams out of their fields. This place was no exception. Grandpa Nourse ditched a tributary stream to Pilchuck Creek, moving it to the edge of two fields to create about 15 acres of pasture. He and Uncle Bob used the fields to run cattle and grow hay. However, the lower section of this diked stream silted in over time, causing the stream to spill over the dike and splay out in the lower field. The stream lost all definition in reed canary grass.

One weekend in December 2012 after a big rainstorm, we walked down to the lower field to discover that a run of coho salmon had stranded themselves in the field, having been unable to find a channel. The fish were easy pickings for the eagles and ravens waiting in the trees.

In April 2013, as a part of the forest practices permit process, Pete Blansett and I met Wayne Watne of the Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife on site for the hydraulic project approval that was a necessary part of the state Department of Natural Resources’ forest practices application.

We needed to build a bridge across the stream to access the timber sale site. Wayne pointed out some young Coho near the bridge site. I mentioned to him stranding we had observed the previous year, and expressed a desire to fix the stream. He suggested contacting the Snohomish County Conservation District (SCCD). I did, and since then we have been working with Christen Marshall, Ryan Williams and Carson Moscoso of the SCCD staff to perfect a conservation reserve enhancement program easement.

Using my civil engineering background, field survey information provided by the District, stream flow tools available online from the United States Geological Survey, and WDFW stream channel guidelines, I designed a channel through the field. This new channel was permitted and constructed by the SCCD.

Subsequently, we planted about 30 acres of stream buffer with Washington Conservation Corps crews, volunteers and school groups. We constructed the channel in 2016, and began stream buffer planting the following winter. Maintenance and replanting has been ongoing since then. SCCD awarded us a Conservation Leadership Award in the fall of 2016 for this effort.

Dar and I joined the Washington Farm Forestry Association so that we could better know about forestry and how to deal with our property. Because we live in Bellingham, our most active affiliation has been with the Whatcom County chapter. I have attended almost every evening and weekend forest visits sites sponsored by the Whatcom Chapter. Tom Westergreen is has been the facilitator on these visits.  I have learned a lot from him and from his coaching of the owners on these site visits.

Through WFFA, I learned about WSU Extension Forestry, and the many courses they offer.  I took the WSU Forestry Extension coached planning class and was able to rewrite our forest management plan with the assistance of Kevin Zobrist, Lauren Grand of WSU Extension, and Boyd Norton of DNR. Boyd was the inspector who ultimately certified our tree farm.

When I was writing the management plan, the conservation reserve program easement was still in the planning stages. Part of our new forest management plan included planting of areas along Pilchuck Creek and the adjacent floodplain. The August 2015 windstorm hit us hard, knocking over a number of large trees. The thought of cleaning up after the downed wood (mostly cottonwood) and replanting a large area was very daunting. We ultimately included these areas in the CRP easement, and the SCCD crews planted red cedars and hemlocks in the understory along the streams. We are truly grateful to have acquired the continuing assistance of the SCCD in this non-commercial part of our property.

I also took the WSU Extension “Ties to the Land” class, where I learned about succession planning. This led to us creating a limited liability company through which we now share the ownership and will pass it on to our grandkids. It gives us peace of mind to know that they will not have go through what we did when Uncle Bob died.

We have hosted WSU Extension events, including one on forest practice and hydraulics permitting, and one on noxious weed control. (How else could you get people to pay money to come and remove weeds from your property!?)

One Christmas, Dar gave me a wildlife camera. We now have three we regularly place on various parts of our property just to see what or who comes by. The “Desperately Seeking Goldilocks” picture of three bears is one of the best shot to have come from this.

Tom Westergreen and Boyd Norton both asked if we have had any damage from the bears. I can’t say that we have. Our bears don’t seem to have learned that behavior. Our biggest problem is with deer browsing and rubbing their antlers on the young trees.

Three bears go through Dave New's Snohomish County property. He calls the photo "Desperately Seeking Goldilocks."
Three bears go through Dave New’s Snohomish County property, as captured on a trail camera. He calls the photo “Desperately Seeking Goldilocks.” (Photo by Dave New)

When we received the 2018 Washington State Tree Farmer of the Year Award this past May, I recognized by name all of the people and entities mentioned above. If the contribution of even one of them had been missing, we would not have received the award.

It was in honor of their assistance that I held an open house on July 21 to showcase not just a tree farm and its benefits the environment and society, but also the types of assistance that are available to private forest landowners. To their credit, the WFFA Whatcom Chapter, Upper Puget Sound Chapter and state organization; Washington Tree Farm Program; WSU Forestry Extension; Snohomish County Conservation District; Washington Association of Conservation Districts Plant Materials Center; and DNR Small Forest Landowners Office all jumped in to help. We had great publicity, material assistance, and representatives to share what each organization does. There was a good turnout, and visitors were genuinely interested and asked good questions.

One of my favorite Yogi Berra saying is, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Ten years ago, I knew nothing about forestry or forest management. Whenever I have been given an opportunity to learn more, or to get help to better manage our property, I have taken it.

I do not consider myself a forestry expert by any means, but I have at least learned to ask the right questions of people who are in the know.

It is our goal to keep and pass The River on to future generations so that this one small stretch of woods and stream can be managed in an environmentally friendly way into the future, and to provide the family with a modest amount of income at various times along the way.

Dave New (right), son-in-law Jeff, and grandsons Alex and Tyler. Photo taken in 2016 as annual event photo taken by the planted Douglas-fir. (Photo by the New family)
Dave New (right), son-in-law Jeff, and grandsons Alex and Tyler. Photo taken in 2016 as annual event photo taken by the planted Douglas-fir. (Photo by the New family)

Restoring Forest Health, One Neighbor at a Time

Forest health conditions in Washington state have been in decline for decades, contributing to catastrophic and uncharacteristically severe wildfires – and the state’s Department of Natural Resources is reaching out to partners, including small private forest landowners, to work toward a solution.

Insect pests, disease, invasive plants and animals, human development, climate change, past forest management practices, and a lack of adequate active management have, in combination, created a perfect storm for poor forest health and wildfire risk.

Healthy forests are vital to clean water and air, the economy, carbon sequestration, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. But without significant intervention, the problems our forests face will continue to compound. To restore health to our forests, DNR has developed a 20-year Strategic Forest Health Plan committed to treating 1.25 million acres of unhealthy forestland in Central and Eastern Washington by 2037.

forest health strategic plan coverThe plan is unprecedented in its scope and application. It embraces an all-lands, all-hands approach, recognizing that solutions for improving forest health must span property lines and government jurisdictions. Coordinating forest health treatment efforts with all willing forest landowners in high-priority watersheds is a key part of the forest health plan. DNR worked on the plan with more than 30 agencies, interest groups and organizations, representing private, state and federal forest landowners, state agencies, tribes, the forest industry, universities and conservation groups.

One of DNR’s key landowner groups is you, the small private forest landowner. Our agency has foresters on staff to provide you with forest health evaluations, technical assistance and cost-share programs to help offset the expense of forest health treatments.

We are eager to connect with you, so please call us at 509-925-8510 if you own forestland in Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima counties; or 509-684-7474 if your forestland is in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Spokane counties, or the northern portion of Lincoln County. When you call, ask to speak to someone from the Landowner Assistance Program.

For more information on the 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan, visit

By Julie Sackett, Forest Health Division,

Get to Know a Forester: Boyd Norton

We recently sat down with Boyd Norton, a Washington native and longtime forester who was named the 2017 Tree Farm Inspector of the Year. Norton works as a stewardship forester in the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Northwest Region office in Sedro-Woolley. He discussed why he got involved in forestry, what he tells small landowners he works with and his stance on garden gnomes, among other things.

Picture of Boyd Norton
Boyd Norton

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you become interested in forestry?

I grew up in Puyallup, Washington, when it was still a small town surrounded by berry and daffodil fields. The area I grew up in was mostly woods, and we had a small property with trees. Dad was from a family of loggers — prior to “power saws” — and he logged and cleared land along with his day job as a boom man (pushing log rafts around in harbor) and longshoreman. I spent time fishing and hunting, so it just seemed like a natural fit.

How long have you been working in forestry? Why did you go into this field?

I graduated in 1975 from college and went to work, so that would be 43 years. When I was young the timber industry and export of old growth Douglas-fir and noble fir was in full throttle, along with growing up surrounded by forest and a family background helped. Also, I knew loggers and foresters would never be rich, but even in the Depression and years past, there was always work in the woods.

What sort of schooling and jobs have you had?
I have an associate’s degree of applied sciences in forest technology. I received the degree through Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington.

Work? Wow, that’s a long list. Cutting and selling firewood, boom man, part-time longshoreman, pre-commercial thinning, tree planting, slash burning, fire suppression. First forest tech with St. Regis Paper, King Creek Tree Farm. DNR. … I was a fire warden, worked on DNR pre-sales crew, as a “tech 2,” served in training as Assistant Unit Forester.

Then, back when we were generalists at DNR in all aspects of forestry, I did road design, silviculture, harvest unit planning, contract administration, worked with farm forestry, worked with landowners as a service forester, and Timber Fish and Wildlife (TFW) Forest Technician when the TFW process was added to the Forest Practices rules in 1987. I was the Forest Practices unit forester in the Nooksack Basin. That job included fire protection, fire crew supervision, service forestry, and eventually stewardship forestry.

I became a Small Forest Landowner Forester when the office was created in 2001. Then I did a stint as the Regional Forest Practices Coordinator for Northwest Washington, and now I am the Stewardship and Forest Practices Technical Assistant Forester for Northwest Washington. I have training in fire as Type 1 State, Type 2 National Logistics Section Chief, where I have instructed and led state fire program training and co-instructor Incident Command System logistics chief, with training at the national level. I have served 16 years on incident management teams. I served with the incident management team assisting with the aftermath of the Thirtymile Incident, where four firefighters tragically died). It was a reminder that all assignments come with risk and hard times.

What do you emphasize when talking to small landowners?

I always start reminding them that we are here to meet their goals and objectives. If we can’t determine that simple concept, we might as well just share a pot of coffee.

Along with that, we need to show them the silvicultural processes that will help them, which includes forest health, the importance of maintaining growing healthy local forests, and leaving the ecological processes of disturbance and regrowth in the national parks, wilderness, and isolated forests where potential damage to infrastructure and human safety is lower.

I also go back to the objectives related to forest production that were included in the original legislation for Farm Forests Program way back in 1959.

Why do you think our work is important?

Because we help people with education and practical forest management, that helps all of us. I think society in general benefits, as we help provide habitats, clean water, future timber base, economic activity, and carbon sequestration in healthy forests, rather than a carbon-neutral situation from old trees slowing in growth and decaying.

What is your favorite kind of tree and why?

Douglas-fir, tall and large diameter, freshly felled and bucked into logs. The smell of chips and pitch, and knowing you had the ability to provide a renewable construction material and the start of the next generation of forest.

What do you think of gnomes as yard art and why?

Many people think I am a gnome (maybe? maybe not?) so, I think we need more gnomes everywhere. They are both compassionate about helping people, fierce in protecting the natural environment and insist on wise use without exploitation. Along with being compassionate with people, we are also passionate about doing the right thing and stand our ground when we must. Gnomes are awesome, and I’m proud to be considered one!

SFLO Manager’s Update: Changes Taking Place in Small Forest Landowner Office

Tami Miketa
Tami Miketa, manager, Small Forest Landowner Office

Greetings to you and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and loved ones!

First of all, as most of you may know, long-time DNR Forest Stewardship Program Manager Steve Gibbs retired in December after more than 28 years with DNR, and over 35 years serving small forest landowners. Steve has been a key player in DNR’s Forest Stewardship Program. A graduate of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Steve worked in Maryland and Idaho before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in Forest and Range Management at WSU. Steve came to DNR in 1989 to lead a restructuring of the department’s Service Forestry Program in southwest Washington. In 1991, he was selected to lead DNR’s newly created Forest Stewardship Program and he continued in that capacity until retirement. Steve’s dedication, great humor, infectious laugh and infinite knowledge of the program is unmatched and will be sorely missed. We wish the very best for Steve as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.

Changes at SFLO

Steve Gibbs,
Long-time Forest Stewardship Program Manager Steve Gibbs, who retired Jan. 1, 2018.

I would like to share with you some exciting changes that are taking place in the Small Forest Landowner Office. Since Steve’s retirement, we decided to consolidate the Forest Stewardship Program into the Small Forest Landowner Office. The time was ripe to make these changes designed to continue to provide both service programs while making best use of existing and anticipated funding.

Here are the main changes that are underway:

  • First, we’ll change the supervisory position that Steve has served into a field-based position that will provide both traditional Forest Stewardship Program and SFLO Technical Assistance services. This will provide more “boots on the ground” to help address the needs expressed by small forest landowners for assistance. We hope to get this position in place sometime in early 2018.
  • Second, we’ll move the duty station for this revised position to eastern Washington in order to better serve the concentration of small landowners in that area.
  • Third, we’ll modify the duties of the two existing Forest Stewardship Program positions and the single SFLO technical assistance forester position so that they all deliver both Forest Stewardship Program and SFLO Technical Assistance services.
  • No change is anticipated for the services that our stewardship fish and wildlife biologist provides.

Regarding our state capital budget-funded programs (the Forestry Riparian Easement Program, Family Forest Fish Passage Program, and the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program), much of the change is due to the fact that the legislature has yet to pass a capital budget for the current biennium. The resulting lack of funding (with no change in sight) has necessitated changes that wouldn’t have been made otherwise.  With that said, I am pleased to report that we’ve found good solutions that keep all of the affected “capital” funded staff working in DNR, while maintaining in the three capital programs the “core” people who are so important to our ongoing success.

Although saddened to lose Steve’s extensive expertise and experience (but thrilled for him as he gets ready to begin his next chapter in life), we are excited about the opportunity that these changes represent; we’ll be able to effectively and efficiently provide both Forest Stewardship and SFLO Technical Assistance services to landowners. I am very hopeful that these changes to the Small Forest Landowner Office will provide more opportunities to provide important support and services to the small forest landowner community across the state. If you have any questions about the changes to the Small Forest Landowner Office, please feel free to contact me at (360) 902-1415 or email me at

How To: Create an Editable and Savable Forest Practices Application

Hello good readers of the SFLO Newsletter! As the compiler and publisher of this here newsletter, I’ve been too busy wrangling articles from our foresters, biologists and assorted specialists to write an article of my own. But lately several small forest landowners have made me aware of some of the various technical issues they encounter using our DNR webpage, software and tools related to forest practices. Starting now, I intend to write an intermittent series describing how to best utilize some of the tools found through our DNR webpage. First up is a discussion on creating a Forest Practices Application in PDF format that you can edit and save to your computer.

Many folks have called lately with issues related to adding their information to a Forest Practices Application on our website, saving it but then finding that their edits didn’t actually save. There’s nothing worse than working on something for a few hours, just to find out that it didn’t save properly and you lost everything. Here’s how to get around that issue:

  1. First and most crucial: Ensure you have Adobe Reader, a free downloadable program that allows you to open, read and save PDF (portable document format) files. Note: DNR makes no attestations to the validity of software you download. Make sure you’re getting a legit copy of the software by downloading and don’t download anything suspicious).
  2. Open the FPA/N (we’ve selected the form for Western Washington) by clicking on this link.
  3. DON’T ADD ANY TEXT TO THIS FPA YET! You first need to save the PDF to your computer, and then open it through Adobe Reader.
  4. If you’re using the Google Chrome browser: In the upper right corner of the screen (see image below), there’s a tiny arrow with a line under it. Click that, and a box will open asking you where you want to save the document. Save it to your computer’s desktop or wherever else is most convenient for you.
    Download" control in the Google Chrome browser
    Red arrow (upper right corner) points to the document “Download” control in the Google Chrome browser.


  5. If you’re using the Internet Explorer browser (see below): Look in the upper left corner of the screen for a small button image that looks like a computer floppy disk. Click that, and a box will open asking you where you want to save the document. Save it to your computer’s desktop or wherever else is most convenient for you.
     "Download" control in the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.
    Red arrow (upper left corner) points to the document “Download and Save” control in the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.


  6. Next, look in your computer’s list of programs (the example below shows a Windows 10 display). Find and open the Adobe Reader program that you installed on your computer.

    The free Adobe Reader program
    The free Adobe Reader software.
  7. Now that Adobe is open, you need to open your recently saved FPA document. To do this, click “File” in the upper left hand corner of the screen (see below) and then click “Open.” Navigate to where you saved the FPA and click “Open.”
  8. You should now see the blank FPA open in Adobe Reader. Having the document open in the Adobe Reader program instead of your internet browser allows you to edit and save the PDF to your computer.
  9. Give it a try. Type your name into the FPA’s “Landowner” box as a test. Then save the document: in the upper right corner of the screen, click “File” and then “Save As.” Save with a different name than what you called it as a blank document. An example might be “Blank FPA YourLastName.”
  10. Once it saves, close the document, and then reopen it. Your name should still be on the document and you should feel like a huge success for successfully navigating DNR’s online forms! You’re good to continue the rest of the FPA with the knowledge that you won’t lose all of your work.
  11. If this doesn’t work for you and you’re still wildly frustrated, feel free to email me or call at 360-902-1849. Additionally, if you have further ideas for topics of future how-to articles, please let me know. Thanks for reading.

By Josh Meek – Technical Assistance Forester, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office,

GPS Know-How: Tools and Tips for Owners of Forestland

Riparian Easement Forester Whitney Butler
DNR Riparian Easement Forester Whitney Butler using a Garmin 64st. Photo: Chris Briggs/DNR.

Can the GPS (Global Positioning System) be an effective and useful tool for the small forest landowner? At a recent WSU Extension Family Forest Field Day in Sequim, Wash., I had the opportunity to speak with several small forest landowners who are using their smartphones, mapping software and certain GPS devices in a variety of ways on their properties.

The manner in which a GPS device is useful for landowners will depend on the landowner’s goals and needs. Also important is the amount of forestland owned and the individual’s familiarity with their property and its natural resources. During our discussion a few common topics and questions surfaced, including GPS accuracy, locating property lines, anticipating the impacts of stream buffers to proposed timber harvest areas, and identifying resources and recreation opportunities.

Although there are many options to choose from, a prominent example of a user-friendly GPS device is one of the Garmin 64 series models. These units are usually in the $200-$350 range, maintain a relatively simple layout for the casual user and are associated with Basecamp mapping software, a free application for Mac/Windows computers that comes pre-loaded with various basemaps (satellite imagery, topography, etc.). Smartphones also come with built-in GPS receivers and typically have some kind of navigation software preloaded (Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.).

  • Accuracy: Garmin 64 series devices are highly accurate and now utilize both GPS (U.S. based) and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System, Russian based) technology, with many users reporting accuracy down to ten feet. Capable of tapping into over 24 satellites, the devices maintain strong signals even through dense tree canopies, brush and inclement weather. GPS receivers in smartphones also are capable of accurate readings with the help of available cellular networks.
  • markers of existing property lines.
    A GPS device can help you find markers of existing property lines. Photo: Chris Briggs/DNR.

    Property Lines: A Garmin 64 series device can be useful for locating the edge of your property by guiding you to existing marked property lines and corners. Look for blazed or painted trees, old flagging and/or metal posts. I recommend taking a compass with you or using the compass app on your smartphone. This will help to orient yourself with the direction you’re traveling and where you are in relation to your destination (most maps and GPS devices are automatically oriented north). It is important to note that only a formal survey completed by a professional licensed surveyor can be legally used to identify the true location of a property line.

  • Timber Harvest and Stream Buffers: Dropping waypoints every 50 feet along the length of a known fish stream, perennial stream or protected wetland perimeter can help you get a sense of how the applicable no-harvest riparian or wetland buffer will impact the location of your potential forest roads, landings and harvest unit size and shape. Viewing the waypoints on your computer (through Basecamp for example) can help you develop your management and harvest strategy. The complexity of your proposed timber harvest and your level of comfort navigating Washington state’s Forest Practices Rules may lead you to consider hiring a consulting forester to complete your harvest. For a directory list of consultant forestry companies from the WSU Extension Forestry page click here.
  • Unique Features: Perhaps you know of a unique tree or rock formation on your property that you’d like to build a trail to for a memorable picnic spot. Using your Garmin, take a waypoint at the site, or on your smartphone tap and hold your finger once on the screen of your navigation app to drop a pin. This will allow you to easily find or direct others to that spot again and plan your connecting trail and surrounding management plans accordingly.
  • Tracks: Another useful tool on Garmin devices, Tracks, allows you to continuously collect data on your path traveled in the form of a viewable polyline. This can be useful for tracking what and how much ground you’ve covered on your property. Consider using Tracks to map the outer edge of a wetland, calculate acreages, and/or create maps of existing trails or roads by viewing and editing the tracks in Basecamp.

The short- and long-term goals of your property and forestland should dictate whether or not a new GPS device is a practical tool for you. The more diverse your property is, the more likely it is that a device like one of the Garmin 64 series models can help you organize the features of your landscape to further define your forest management goals and priorities.

By Chris Briggs, Riparian Easement Forester, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office,