Forestry in Washington County: A Wealth of Resources
When you think about Washington County, you probably think about the beautiful farm land, wineries, berries, the growing population, Intel, Nike… but did you know the county also includes a wealth of timber resources? Fifty percent of the county is forestland.
Most of the forested land lies in the mountains and foothills of the Coast Range, where the Tualatin River headwaters originate. Some forest remains in the Tualatin Mountains to the east and the Chehalem Mountains to the south. Almost none of the forest in our county is old growth.
Approximately 234,000 acres of Washington County is commercial forestland. Of that, 86,580 acres are in non-industrial private ownership, and 90,147 are owned by private industry. The Bureau of Land Management owns 11,700 acres, and 48,458 are in state ownership (the Tillamook State Forest). Roughly 3,000 acres are held by other public entities like local city or county parks. Some is even owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, such as the land surrounding Hagg Lake.
Forestland is extremely important to the well-being of the county and its residents. It is an important part of the county’s economy, supporting jobs and producing timber products. The forest also provides clean water, wildlife habitat, and aesthetically pleasing views. According to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, the forest sector in Oregon provides for over 76,000 direct jobs that generate over $5 billion dollars in total income. The forest sector has a total industrial output of $12.7 billion. The goods and services purchased by these industries support 37,000 indirect jobs, and payroll spending by the forest sector supports another 43,000 throughout the state’s economy.
Our Fall 2014 newsletter was dedicated to all things forestry. Even if you don’t own a forested property, we hope you enjoy learning about forestry issues in Washington County. If you do own forestland and would like more information on issues such as how to improve production, manage for wildlife, or enhance the value of your land, here are some excellent resources:
Washington County Small Woodlands Association
Oregon Forest Resources Institute
Amy Grotta, OSU Extension Forester for the Columbia, Yamhill and Washington County area, hosts a great blog, Tree Topics, covering a wide array of forestry topic every month, often from guest contributors.
Two recent topics include “Propagating native shrubs from seed or cuttings” by Amy Grotta and “Watching out for the Emerald Ash Borer & other Invasives” by Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension and ODF Invasive Species Specialist.
To read these and other articles, visit the blog at http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/treetopics
Questions? Contact Amy Grotta at email@example.com
Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties have teamed up to provide a new funding opportunity for non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) owners. The goal is to improve forest plant structure and composition on NIPFs by removing invasive species and incorporating native trees and shrubs, as well as hardwood species in targeted areas.
Most species of wildlife benefit from a diversity of plant species. The lower diversity of species on weedy sites does not provide adequate food or shelter for local wildlife and pollinators. Wildlife ranging from insects to large mammals and birds need a diverse mix of native vegetation to thrive because they are not adapted to feed on non-native, invasive plants.
Because dominant weeds halt the progress of succession toward diverse forest cover, these lands lack the diverse canopy that multiple species of wildlife need in our local forests. On these sites, we may see expanses of blackberry and Scotch broom dominating the forest floor but growing no taller than about 10 feet. While these non-native species can supply some food and cover, restoration of native plant species will add canopy that may range up to 250 feet in height.
Healthy forests often have multiple layers of understory, middlestory, and overstory that wildlife use for feeding, nesting and other aspects of their life cycles. Diverse species must be planted to achieve this. Native fruiting shrubs can be planted, as well as large trees such as Douglas fir, western red cedar, red alder, and bigleaf maple.
Some of the activities scheduled in these NIPF projects include:
• Site preparation – clearing of unwanted vegetation from each site.
• Tree and shrub establishment – planting trees and shrubs to improve species diversity.
• Maintenance – removal of weedy vegetation surrounding newly planted trees and shrubs to increase survival and reduce competition.
• Fish and wildlife structure – installing nesting boxes, platforms, brush piles, etc. to create cover for wildlife.
What is Agroforestry?
Agroforestry is the practice of incorporating conservation and agricultural practices at the same time in your forest management.
The USDA and others have written many useful fliers about agroforestry practices you can explore here online. Limited quantities of some of these publications are available in our offices as well.
USDA National Agroforestry Center online: http://nac.unl.edu/
Agroforestry_Principles (ECHO 2007)
Waterbreaks: Managed trees in the floodplain
Profitable Farms and Forests: Practical Guide to Agroforestry
Working Trees for Water Quality
Erosion in the Forest Environment
Although the erosion of soil is a natural process, human activity has made erosion a serious water quality problem in many areas. Flooding, landslides, agricultural practices, road construction practices, and forest practices, all contribute to the problem of erosion. Erosion from poor forest practices and poor design, construction and maintenance of logging roads can degrade water quality and watershed health in the following ways:
- Increases the amount of suspended sediments in the water, impairing aquatic habitat.
- Transports chemicals into waterways
- Degrades near-stream wildlife habitat
- Depletes topsoil needed for productive forest lands
- Depletes vegetation and increases ground disturbance in streamside area
- Increases the volume of stormwater runoff and erodes streambanks
How You Can Help
People can help improve water quality by identifying, reporting, and correcting erosion problems. To identify erosion problems look for the following signs:
- Muddy water runoff from forestry operations
- Formation of rills or gullies on the landscape
- Collapsed streambanks and drainage ways
- Dust clouds
- Poorly constructed and un-maintained roads that may be releasing sediment into stream
- Clogged road culverts and ditches
- Lack of vegetation along streamside
Interested parties can start by contacting the stewardship forester at your local ODF office. They can assist foresters and rural landowners with technical advice and education materials to help implement Best Management Practices (BMPs). Working to prevent erosion can help protect water quality, natural resources, recreational uses, and our livelihoods.
For more information, please contact Nate at the Forest Grove office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in technical assistance or advice about conservation practices for your forested land?
You can visit the Forestry page under Help for Farms, or fill out the contact form below for more information.