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 email@example.com. Lindsay can provide you with a copy of the survey.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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!
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
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 email@example.com
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.