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,