It takes a lot of seedlings to make a forest

Paul Barnum planting trees

Every tree seedling planted in Oregon is a defining moment. I know because I took a Friday off in February to help my friends Tom Bauman and Lindsay Reaves plant Douglas-fir seedlings on their tree farm.

The Bauman Tree Farm is a 765-acre expanse near Veneta, west of Eugene. The tree farm is special because it is also the site for “Forest Field Days,” an educational event for middle school students run by Forests Today & Forever, a nonprofit in Eugene.

Every spring, Tom and Lindsay host about 1,500 middle school students for a one-day field adventure where they learn what it means to manage a tree farm. The event involves schools from throughout the Willamette Valley and dozens of volunteers. Students role-play four siblings who have inherited “Grandma Petersen’s” tree farm.

The exercise brings home the complexities of contemporary land management. Students gain an understanding of the issues through an in-class presentation prior to the field trip, and then hands-on educational activities led by resource professionals followed by a multi-disciplinary group project.

The Bauman Tree Farm is a working forest that’s been in Tom’s family for three generations. Over the past two years, Tom and Lindsay harvested about 40 acres of mature trees, mostly Douglas-fir, which is the native species for this area. Of course they replanted, which is not only state law but good business – and sustainable forestry.

Across the 40 acres, over the course of two winter planting seasons, they planted 20,000 seedlings. Contracted planting crews did much of the work, but Tom figures he planted about 7,000 seedlings himself. And over his lifetime, he estimates he’s planted some 100,000 trees!

So when Tom invited me to help out, I couldn’t turn him down. Some 40 million seedlings are planted every year in Oregon and here was a chance to be a part of the work. For a deeper dive into the planning and work it takes to produce millions of seeds and seedlings, take a minute to view a recent Oregon Field Guide segment on the Tyrell Seed Orchard, operated by the Bureau of Land Management just outside Eugene. It’s fascinating.

Sustainable forestry, such as what is practiced on the Bauman Tree Farm and throughout the state, provides the timber to produce high-quality yet economical wood products. And that keeps the price of housing, wood products and other forest products – such as newsprint, shipping cartons, writing paper and hygiene products – affordable for all of us.

And to think it all comes from planting a seedling or two – or 40 million!

For the forest,
Paul Barnum


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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