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Shrubs for wildlife: Snowberry

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 10:11am

By Brandy Saffell and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

Snowberry leaves and fruit in the fall. Photo: Pat Breen, OSU

If one of your land management goals is to provide wildlife habitat, you’ll want to consider keeping a mix of native shrub species on your property. Shrubs provide a host of services to wildlife, including shelter or cover, nesting space, and food from their twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit. With thought given to species selection and location, retaining existing shrubs or planting them can benefit wildlife without compromising timber growth or forest operations. This is the second article in our Shrubs for Wildlife series (first is here). Each article will highlight one species that benefits wildlife in northwest Oregon forests.

Species Name: Common snowberry – Symphoricarpos albus

Description: Snowberry is a medium sized shrub, growing in thickets and up to six feet tall. The leaves are simple, opposite, deciduous, and variable in shape. They are generally oval but can be nearly round (3/4 – 2 1/2” long). The leaf edges vary from entire to shallowly lobed on the same plant and same stem. The flowers are small (1/4”), pink-white, bell-shaped, and found in clusters at the end of the branch. The round, white, waxy berries persist into the winter; they are non-edible to humans and toxic due to the saponin they contain. Twigs are opposite, slender, smooth, and yellow-brown.

Small pink blossoms are present this time of year. Photo: A. Grotta

Wildlife Value: Snowberry is useful to pollinators as a host and food plant. The flowers attract Anna’s and rufous hummingbirds, as well as various insects including bees. Several birds have been observed eating the berries, such as towhees, thrushes, robins, grosbeaks, and waxwings. Birds also use snowberry thickets for cover. In addition, the Vashti sphinx moth (Sphinx vashti) relies on it as a food plant in its larval stage.

Management Considerations: Following harvest, snowberry resprouts readily from belowground.  To ensure optimum survival and growth of planted trees, control snowberry where it is likely to overtop planted seedlings.  Consider retaining snowberry plants on the site where they are not in direct competition with seedlings.  For those who would like to actively enhance wildlife habitat by planting snowberry, it tolerates a variety of environments, and can be planted in coarse sand to fine-textured clay, full sun to dense understory, dry well-drained slops to moist stream banks, and low to high nutrient soils.  It also establishes readily and tolerates general neglect.

Plant habit and fruit in winter. Photos: Pat Breen, OSU

If you are interested in learning more about creating wildlife habitat on your property, check out the Woodland Fish and Wildlife website.



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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Postcard from Scandinavia– Parting shots

Thu, 06/16/2016 - 2:02pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension


Our final days of the tour included meetings with the local landowners’ cooperative in Telemark County and visits to two specialty sawmills.

The Tinnoset sawmill specializes in shaping large logs for traditional style log homes. Most are sold to builders, but they do some custom building on site too.

Nearly completed home on site. Harald explaining the building process.


Getting a closer look at construction details.










The Svenneby family sawmill has been working with leading architects and looking for less traditional uses of wood, including many exotic (USA) species. We lucked into a presentation by nationally acclaimed architect Einar Jarmund who talked about the expanding role and popularity of wood in both commercial and residential buildings in Norway and showed a number of projects done by his firm  ( ) using materials developed and delivered by the Svenneby mill.


Turid Svenneby discusses weathering of oiled oak siding with tour member Claude Rowley. The Svenneby mill and farm is yet another example of a multi generation, multi-enterprise business. Next to Kirk (ID) are Thorvald, Turid and Ole Svenneby.





We could not help but noticing how common and prominently wood was being used in Norway, and particularly as architectural and visual elements around Oslo.  Why does wood seem less used, less celebrated here?


A building on the Oslo waterfront area sided with wood prepared by the Svenneby mill. Another, renovated building on the waterfront.




Large wood laminated structural elements visible in the airport.


Smaller wood furnishing and finish elements abound in the airport














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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

A Postcard from Norway

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 1:35am

Brad Withrow-Robinson. OSU Forestry & Natural Resources agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

In the fjord regions of Norway, both forestry and farming are limited to the area between the rock and the water.   The bottom of the valley is farmed, and the narrow toes of the valley walls are forested. Many communities were not connected by roads until the 1920s.  It is beautiful country, but it strikes me as a beautiful place to starve. It is not hard to see why so many people left for America in the late 19th Century.  Those who stayed looked for alternative sources of income to supplement farm incomes/earnings.

Looking up valley and seeing patches of spruce and pine on lower slopes of valley wall.


Local County Forester Rune K. discussing management of Spruce in the Valley.


Many of the family farm and forest owners in the Andalsness area of Romdal Conty are now “farming tourists” to one degree or another. Farmers in the Innfjorden valley now run a cooperative of about 60 rental cabins in their traditional summer pasture areas near the head of the valley. They are popular destinations in summer and winter for fishing, hiking and skiing.  The vacationers are not limited to the cooperatives land holding, since Scandinavian tradition and law allows open access for such activities across all lands.

Jacob Hagen explains the conversion of the traditional common summer grazing areas to cooperative recreation rentals. Traditional rustic cabins like this are mixed in with newer rustic cabins.




It is not an easy or lucrative place to grow and especially harvest and sell logs.


Watching a gravity (down hill) logging operation near Byrkjelo Norway A turn of small spruce logs arriving at the landing



County Forester Torkel (wearing Sgakit logging tower T-shirt) talks harvesting equipment with Columbia county landowner/logger KC Van Natta.


Wish you were here.






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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Postcard from Scandinavia– Parting shots from Sweden

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 9:35am

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural resources Extension.


One of our visits was to a cooperative forest jointly owned by about a dozen families from Bengtshedens village. The Mellanskog landowner cooperative also has a significant share of ownership.

We were greeted on arrival by two of the family owners with coffee and cinnamon rolls before touring the forest.


Mellanskog Forester Lars Eric explaining management practices such as regeneration, thinning and fertilization in a 100-year-old stand of Scotts pine.




We visited the Log Max factory in Grangarde, innovative producers of logging processing heads. Our group observing Log Max and Eco Log equipment in their native habitat of central Sweden.










Regeneration of pine with seed tree cuts is common in Sweden and Norway.



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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Postcard from Dalarna County, no. 2

Sat, 06/04/2016 - 1:39pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry and Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Dalarna County was the seat of a very old and important copper and iron mining industry, an early source of wealth and power for Sweden.  We visted the Falun copper mine, active since the 10th century and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Preparing to head down into the Falun Copper mine.

Why is that part of our forestry tour?

Forest products were a critical part of early mining industry, which needed massive amounts of charcoal and round wood to extract and process the metals. Forestlands near the mine were hard pressed to provide these products.  The mine is also the birthplace of world’s oldest stock company, which eventually became large forest and paper corporation Stora Enso.

Over-exploitation of forest resources by the mid-16th century led to a series of perhaps the world’s oldest forest protection rules.  In 1607 King Charles IX issued a ban on logging and charcoal production within a one-mile radius of the Falun mine (using the old Swedish mile, about 7 English miles). It was named the “Peace Mile” in hopes it would reduce disputes over unregulated charcoal production.

However it was not until 1754 that the surveyor Johan Brandberg finished measuring 112 points around the circumference of a the circle, marking each with stones.

from: Marker stone number 112 in the Peace mile ring, marked with an arrow.

See old and new maps of the circle drawn by Brandberg at:







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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Postcard from Sweden – Dalarna County

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 1:56pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties


A New Approach

Dalagård farm & forest retreat is a large working forest owned by Cecilia and Leif Öster. These first -generation landowners are developing an active silvo-trouism enterprise to diversify the farm’s income and promote its sustainability. Forest products and hunting leases are other significant income streams.

We enjoyed a wonderful Swedish Mid-Summer style lunch while enjoying the beautiful setting.


Leif explains alternative forest management practices used near the guest complex. This is aimed at balancing the guests aesthetic expectations of forests with broader forest production objectives.

Local trees on display in a small educational arboretum are described for visitors.















A Very Long Tradition

Just down the road from Dalagård, we were welcomed into the home of Karen Perers, an eleventh generation landowner of a small forest & farm property in Dalarna County.


Karin shared insights into how her family and farm has contributed to the community over the centuries delivering first charcoal and firewood and later pulpwood and sawlogs “The family and farm have been producing those wooden things  that the times ask for” across several centuries, she said. A recognized leader, Karin is director of the Board for Melanskog, the large regional landowner cooperative hosting many of our visits in the area.


Karin shows and discusses the first map of the property, along with a modern one, each containing very similar information.


Note year on map heading: 1749.





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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Postcard from Scandinavia – Stockholm

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 9:23pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources agent

Our group of 26 family woodland owners arrived in Sweden this week at the start of the Scandinavia Forestry Tour.

The tour is organized by the Oregon Woodlands Coop along with Washington County Woodlands Association and OSU Forestry &

Woodland owners visiting the Skansen historic museum in Stockholm Sweden

Natural Resources Extension.

The purpose of the tour is to look at forestry practices in this part of the world, meet fellow family forest landowners and focus particularly on the strong role of landowner cooperatives in both Sweden and Norway.

Most of our group is from Oregon, but we have people from four other US states, as well as South Africa rounding out the group.

This is my first electronic post card from the tour, where I will try to share some of the things we are seeing and learning here.


Old traditional buildings at Skansen Museum


View of Stockholm




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Categories: OSU Extension Blogs