What's happening in the forest sector?

Oregon's forest health

Forest health has always been an important topic, but today it’s even more so. Climate change, drought, insect epidemics, invasive species invasions and catastrophic wildfires are all taking their toll on our forests. Forest managers and forest landowners need to keep abreast of the latest on forest health to protect their investments and future timber harvests. 

Lucky for us, every two years a conference called Forest Health in Oregon: State of the State is held at Oregon State University. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 26-27 at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus in Corvallis.

The conference will include sessions on:

-tree mortality, drought, weather and climate change

-insects and disease

-biodiversity and forest health

-collaborative groups and forest health in Oregon

-silviculture, forest health and operations

-fire in Oregon

Speakers include researchers, educators, specialists and practitioners from:

-OSU College of Forestry

-OSU Extension Service

-U.S. Forest Service

-Oregon Department of Forestry

-Environmental Protection Agency

-U.S. Geological Survey

-Sustainable Northwest

-Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative

OFRI is a sponsor of this conference, along with the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, the Oregon Tree Farm System, the Northwest Fire Science Consortium and, of course OSU’s College of Forestry and Extension Service.

Please consider joining us for Forest Health in Oregon: State of the State 2020. This will be the third State of the State conference OFRI has been a sponsor of, and I’ve been part of each one. The previous conferences in 2016 and 2018 did a great job of summarizing where we were in various forest health issues. This year’s conference appears poised to continue the trend.

More information and registration here

For the forest,

Mike Cloughesy

Director of Forestry


Forester Friday: Jennifer Beathe

Forester Friday features an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique contribution to the forestry field. This series is meant to highlight and recognize these stories. 

“Most foresters wanted to become professional foresters because they enjoy being outside and being physically active. In the practice of forestry, most foresters would agree that no two days are the same.  I like the balance of working in solitude in the forest and working with my forestry colleagues,” says Jennifer Beathe, a forester with Starker Forests Inc.

Jennifer, who designs and supervises the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure necessary for logging on Starker Forests’ timberland, is this week’s Forester Friday profile. 

She was recently involved in a watershed restoration project at South Fork Pedee Creek in southern Polk County. This ongoing restoration project includes placing log structures in the stream to restore the creek to a sustainable habitat for salmon and trout. The project also includes replacing two culverts that were too small and therefore blocking fish. Specifically, a lower culvert was replaced in September, and an upper culvert will be replaced later this year. All this work is ultimately helping create a better habitat for fish.

Logs in the creek.

The project is a collaboration led by the Luckiamute Watershed Council, Starker Forests, Hancock Timber Resource Group, Forests Forever, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and a private landowner. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board awarded the Luckiamute Watershed Council a $121,684 grant to pay for what wasn’t covered by the partners. 

Repairing the culvert at Pedee Creek.

Jennifer answered the following questions about the project via email.

Describe your experience working on the restoration project at South Fork Pedee Creek.

Having worked with the Luckiamute Watershed Council (LWC) on other projects, we knew they would be a good partner. They’re open to suggestions and ideas, and understood that the entire project would take several years to plan and implement. We share the same goal of making improvements to our watershed when the opportunity presents itself. Starker Forests likes to plan and pay for projects on our own lands, and in doing this, groups like the LWC can leverage our efforts for additional grant funding for their portion of the project. The South Fork Pedee Creek project included several landowners, including Hancock Forest Management and BLM.

How did you feel after the project was completed? Were you proud of the work that was done?

I’m always proud to complete a project that involves fish passage and habitat improvement. It’s human nature to feel good about doing things that help wildlife species. I’m pleased that the bridge Starker and Hancock installed will last for 50 years or more and will need minimal maintenance. I’m thankful for the expertise of the hydrologist with BLM, who directed the log placement portion of this project. He is knowledgeable and easy to work with. I’m also proud of our contractor, Mike Adams Construction, out of Stayton. When they do a construction project for us, they also take pride in the work they do. They will do whatever we ask so that we’re satisfied with the project. They also did the log placement work for the Pedee Project, and were excited to do that part of the project too. We’ve worked with them for nearly 20 years, and these long relationships establish trust and understanding so we can accomplish our goals with confidence.

What does this project and others like it do to improve and protect fish habitat? 

While culverts are significantly less expensive than bridges, and an excellent option for stream crossings under roads, bridges can have a longer life span, have less maintenance issues over time, and do better at passing large wood downstream. The log placement portion of the project increases stream complexity, which is great for fish. Increasing stream complexity means that the large logs and wood in the stream divert water flow, which creates pools and provides cover for fish. When you combine that with our riparian buffers for shade and cold water flowing off managed forests, this is great habitat for fish species. 

Why is it important to improve and protect these habitats?

Healthy populations of fish in our rivers and streams is important. The highest-quality water in Oregon comes from forests, including private managed forests. Private forests can and do provide abundant wildlife habitat in Oregon. In particular, private forests can provide habitat for deer and elk, pollinators and songbirds, which nest in our young forests. 

What other projects has Starker worked on to improve fish habitat?

Since the mid-1990s Starker Forests has replaced nearly 100 stream crossings for fish passage as part of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. All this work is voluntary, and the majority of the work we’ve done on our lands we’ve paid for. We’re only involved in grant work when doing larger, cooperative projects with other organizations, like the Pedee Creek project. 

Why does Starker take on these kinds of projects, and why are they important to the company? 

We’ve been in business since 1936, and the Starker family has always believed that the responsibility of owning forestland also includes being a good steward to the land. Being a good steward to our forestlands includes providing habitat for the fish and wildlife species that call our forests home. 

For more information about the South Fork Pedee Creek enhancement project, visit this website

If you know an Oregon forester with an interesting or unique story we should share, email OFRI Social Media Intern Autumn Barber at barber@ofri.org.  

The forecast calls for trees

January in western Oregon is known for its cold temperatures, rainfall and short days. Sometimes we even see snow on the valley floor. While the kids look forward to a potential “snow day” in January, in the forest sector January is known as the start of replanting season.

Seedlings are typically planted from winter into early spring by crews of reforestation workers who plant each new tree by hand. Seedlings are planted while they’re dormant, to take advantage of cool, wet weather conditions that promote good root development.

With the help of training offered by Oregon State University Extension, many small woodland owners do the hard work of replanting on their own. The process starts with sourcing seedlings from nurseries, and includes site preparation, seedling care and handling, planting and maintenance after planting.

Oregon law requires that forest landowners successfully reforest land after harvest. The Oregon Forest Practices Act requires that landowners start preparing the site within a year of harvest and finish replanting within two years. Depending on the site, anywhere from 100 to 200 seedlings must be planted per acre, but foresters typically plant 400 seedlings per acre. In fact, more than 40 million seedlings are planted annually in Oregon.

Reforestation is the cornerstone of Oregon’s forest practices rules. Requiring landowners to promptly replant trees after a timber harvest means future Oregonians will enjoy the same forest resources we do today, including wood products, healthy watersheds, recreational opportunities, and thriving fish and wildlife habitat.

So while cold and rainy conditions may not inspire you to think of Oregon’s forests, these conditions are crucial to the success of the cycle of sustainable forestry, from harvest through reforestation.

For the forest,

Erin Isselmann

Executive Director 

Upside-down logging

One of the most amazing things I saw on a trip to Tasmania to speak at a forest education conference was underwater logging – an idea so foreign to me that when our hosts talked about it, I thought it was another Tasmanian slang term I didn’t understand.

Given my complete cluelessness about what underwater logging was, I had no idea what to expect when we traveled to Lake Pieman on the west coast of Tasmania to visit the Hydrowood logging operation.

We arrived at an area that reminded me of British Columbia. There were large stacks of logs on the ground. The Hydrowood employees told us the history of the area: Plans were made to dam the Pieman River to provide hydroelectricity in 1971, and the area where Lake Pieman would sit was opened up to logging to avoid wasting the timber. The region’s dense forests and inaccessibility made operations slow and difficult, so that by the time the dam was ready to be filled only a small portion of the area had been logged. The Reece Dam’s water filled up Lake Pieman in 1986, and the remaining forest was covered over by water.

Fast-forward to 2012, when a feasibility study was done. A dive team that was sent in found large quantities of rare Tasmanian timber, including Huon pine, sassafras and Tasmanian myrtle. In 2015 Hydrowood began using a custom-built barge fitted with a waterproof harvester designed to go down into the depths instead of up into the canopy, becoming one of the world’s first underwater forestry operations.

Logs in the river.

We were able to go out on the barge and watch the harvester up close, to get a taste of what it would be like to spend a shift “harvesting” underwater trees. The operator of an underwater harvester must have marine experience as well as machine-operator skills.

Hydrowood is harvesting trees that are more than 88 feet down and have been there for over 30 years. The company says logging is the same underwater as on dry land, except upside-down. They’re salvaging logs that would otherwise be left to decay. The harvested timber surfaces are in pristine condition, and the wood is desired by architects, craftsmen and builders to make boats, furniture and custom home features.

Hydrowood logging in the river.

There are many underwater forests in Tasmania, and there are plans to use the technology and experience from Lake Pieman to harvest more. It was fascinating to observe such a unique form of logging and learn about how forestry is practiced in another part of the world. 

Norie Dimeo-Ediger
Director of K-12 Education Programs

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