Hundreds of woodland owners expected at OSU's 'Tree Schools'

February 10, 2014
Tree School is set in Oregon City. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)
Participants learn how to safely operate equipment at the OSU Extension Service's Tree School. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Organizers with the Oregon State University Extension Service expect more than 800 woodland owners to attend its three Tree Schools around the state this spring as the forestry sector emerges from a challenging recession.

Woodland owners, arborists, forestry advocates and students will network and gain new skills at Tree School Clackamas on March 22 in Oregon City. Tree School Umpqua will take place March 27 in Roseburg and Tree School East will return to Baker City on April 26.

"Word has gotten out – it’s one of the few opportunities of its kind in the region, and forestry is big in Clackamas County," said Extension forester Glenn Ahrens, who coordinates the event in Oregon City.

Ahrens sent the Tree School Clackamas course catalog to 13,500 private family forest landowners in six counties in the northern Willamette Valley. Those landowners collectively manage more than 400,000 acres of forestland, he said.

The Tree Schools come as the economic outlook has improved for forest products since the industry's low point in 2007, said Michael Bondi, who founded Tree School Clackamas and now directs OSU's North Willamette Research and Extension Center. During 2007 and 2008, attendance hovered around 545. But as the economy slowly turned around, partly thanks to a boost in export markets, more woodland owners returned to the event, he said.

In 2011, harvest volume across all ownerships was 3.65 billion board feet, just 16 percent below pre-recession harvest levels, according to the 2012 Forest Report commissioned by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI). More than 75 percent of this harvest came from private land, according to OFRI's report.

Nearly 60 volunteers and 64 instructors will help organize 70 workshops for Tree School Clackamas, which will be held March 22 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Workshops will include weed management, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, a truffle dog demonstration and chainsaw safety. Registration for Tree School Clackamas closes Feb. 21. A schedule is at the OSU Extension Clackamas County website. You can register online or call the OSU Extension office at 503-655-8631. Registration costs $45 for Clackamas County residents and $60 for others. Youth ages 13-18 pay $25.

For Tree School East, the OSU Extension Service will offer 24 classes taught by 40-50 instructors. It will take place at Baker High School in Baker City. Classes will include management of weeds, diseases and insects; chainsaw operation; wolves in northeast Oregon; pioneer skills such as flint knapping and Dutch oven cooking; Oregon Trail history; and solar energy. Registration opened Feb. 3 and you can register by calling the Extension office at 541-523-6418 and requesting a booklet. Registration costs $50 for adults and $20 for high school students.

Tree School Umpqua will feature 24 classes taught by 20 instructors at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Workshops will include restoring forests for fire resiliency; beekeeping; identifying native Oregon shrubs; commercial truffle production; enhancing wildlife habitat; and using Google Earth to map woodlands. The event averages about 100 attendees each year. Register by calling the OSU Extension office at 541-672-4461 or visiting the website. Registration costs $50 for an individual or $90 per couple.

Author: Denise Ruttan
Source: Glenn Ahrens, Steve Bowers, Robert Parker