Steve Bridges and Dave Henneman receive Bill McKenzie awards for distinguished service

The Bill MacKenzie Community Service award recognizes woodland owners, natural resource professionals, and other community members who have provided outstanding service to the woodland owner and/or natural resources communities and the public at large in southern Oregon. The award is named after the late Bill MacKenzie, one-time president of the Jackson Small Woodlands Association who went on to be president of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. The award jury includes Marty Main, Small Woodland Services, Lee Winslow, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bill Collins, Oregon Small Woodlands Association, and Max Bennett, OSU Extension Service.

Steve Bridges
Contributed by Lee Winslow, Oregon Department of Forestry

Some of you may not know Steve, but I guarantee if you have had the privilege to work with him, you know how much of an impact Steve has had across many small woodland properties, and neighboring public lands that there is no doubt he is a very deserving candidate of the Bill MacKenzie – Community Service Award.

Steve has been working in the woods of SW Oregon: 36+ years, and 26 at the Oregon Department of Forestry. Though Steve has worked all over the state and fought fires across the western US his primary area of influence has always been the Greensprings, South Ashland, Dead Indian Plateau, and Cascade Siskiyou National Monument, but very likely fought fire in and around your Jackson and Josephine county properties at some point.

Steve is a small woodland owner, he and his wife Maureen own and actively manage 15 acres on the Green Springs, his children own additional forestland in the area as well.  Steve has worn many hats over the years, which seemed to change according to the season.  He has been a contract tree planter (1 million trees), paper mulcher, tuber, bud capper, gopher trapper, cone collector, mistletoe pruner (climbed over a thousand trees) Pollen collector, seed collector, stocking surveyor, choker setter, timber faller, forest nursery grower (Megastrobili).  All in between fire seasons at ODF.

In 2001, the National Fire Plan created the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Defensible Space grants, Steve wrote hundreds of grants, knocked on doors, and preached fire so much that he felt like a “forestry evangelist.”  In his observation, “Once you got most people started around their homes, it clicked and momentum took over and they were on their way to doing their whole property.”

Shortly after the creation of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument (CSNM), Steve went to work part time for the BLM as the Community Forest Officer, the Green Springs CFO.  He helped in development of the fire response plan for the CSNM and the adjacent communities.  He mapped forest conditions, coordinated strategic fuel reduction projects, and acted as liaison between ODF, BLM, and the Greenpsrings community.  Other projects include coordinating Community Justice crews to establish strategic fuel breaks along TID canals on the Green springs and Tub Springs State Park 40-acre forest restoration project using both ODF crews and Community Justice crews.

Steve retired from ODF in 2009 & has spent his last year and a half creating baseline FireMon plots and laying out pilot forest restoration projects within the different ecotypes of the WUI of the CSNM. These proposed projects aim to tie in strategically into all the work the private woodland owners have done in that area. Additionally he’s been working in conjunction with USFW and land owners on Oak Habitat restoration projects.

It is with that, that I’d like to congratulate Steve Bridges - the 2012 Bill McKenzie Memorial Community Service Award recipient.

Dave Henneman
Contributed by Marty Main

There are those whose efforts are publicly well recognized in the world of forest and resource management, and there are those who quietly go about doing their work, often for years on end, with little public recognition for their efforts.  Small woodland owners have been on the receiving end of assistance from both types of individuals, but this years co-recipient of the Bill Mackenzie Award for service to small woodland owners, Dave Henneman,  is definitely of the second type.

For many years, US Federal agency (US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) interest in and involvement with the small woodland community was cursory at best.  Unlike today where public involvement is more genuinely sought, if not demanded, by the federal agencies, the 1980's and 1990's were often characterized by  few meaningful contacts between agency personnel and those of us who were neighboring private non-industrial forestland owners.   A notable exception during that era was Dave Henneman.  Unlike many in his agency, Dave felt  "that my first calling was helping out the public."  In his quiet and unassuming way, Dave provided assistance to hundreds of local small woodland owners over his long career with the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management. 

In his job as a Natural Resource Specialist for the Medford BLM from 1977-2010, Dave was in charge of seedling growth and procurement, eventually serving as the Reforestation Program Lead for both Oregon and Washington.  During the height of the reforestation program, as many as 23 million seedlings were planted on as many as 37,000 acres in western Oregon on BLM lands.  Dave remembers when over 350,000 seedlings were planted out of the Medford cooler in just one day alone.   In professional circles, Dave was truly known as "the expert" in reforestation, both locally and regionally.  Dave says that one of his great joys these days is to go back to areas that were planted early in his career only to now find a healthy vigorous forest in its place, often already having been thinned to improve stand density.

In the process of growing such large numbers of seedlings for the reforestation industry, every year would result in surplus seedlings that Dave had a hard time just throwing away.  Over time, Dave developed a reputation for having high quality surplus seedlings that could be purchased at the going rate, not only improving economic return for his program, but supplying many private landowners both industrial and non-industrial, with excellent seedlings, often of a better quality than could be obtained elsewhere.  In addition, Dave donated 30-50, 000 seedlings annually to various non-profits, schools and other community service organizations .  Dave's philosophy was that he "wanted to make the best use of the plant material by really working to try to find a home for the surplus seedlings".   Many came back year after year to get seedlings from Dave, from those who wanted a couple dozen to large industrial owners who could rely on a high quality surplus seedling at a fair price.

In that process,  Dave became the face of the BLM- much to the good fortune of both his own agency, as well as the small woodland community.  Dave "always tried to work behind the scene", which for many small woodland owners included not only good seedlings, but endless hours of help and education, as well as the not uncommon visit to their property on his own time. Always, his good nature and sincere willingness to help provided the foundation for many successful reforestation endeavors.  The whole concept of collaboration and working with the public, so commonly accepted today, started locally with a few key people within the agency like Dave Henneman.

In recognition of the fact that many of our local forests, and knowledgeable landowners that care for them, started with Dave Henneman, we present the Bill MacKenzie award to him in deep appreciation for his endless efforts on our behalf, and on behalf of the forests of southern Oregon, both publicly and privately owned.

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