Summer greetings from your Extension Forester. As I learned early in my career, major disturbances such as fire and extreme weather events are the main drivers for forest regeneration and succession in the Pacific Northwest. While I have seen this demonstrated in my various locations over the last 40 years, nothing compares to the series of fire, ice, and heat events over the last year here in the north Willamette region. Effects of the extreme heat in the latest event may become apparent over time in the form of regeneration failure, and perhaps another wave of marginal trees dying from complications of heat and drought.
Like many landowners in the area, we have patches of major ice damage at Hopkins Demonstration Forest. We are considering our management options in several young stand management units that were damaged (read treatment options for young stands). After the combination of warm dry weather in April and the intense heat of June, we also have about 7 acres of newly planted trees that are mostly dead. As usual, we plan to share our experience and provide opportunities for woodland owners to learn with us as we try to manage the situation at Hopkins. Likewise, if you are working to manage forest recovery in your neck of the woods, please consider sharing your experience with us so that others can learn from it as well.
Wildfire concerns and preparedness continue to top the list of priorities for OSU Extension education. With all that tree debris from the ice storm, fuels reduction service providers are pretty well booked and you need to be persistent to find one. We are working with partners to offer two upcoming local programs to help put residents in touch with sources of assistance to enable action towards your debris management and other fire preparedness goals (information for Clackamas County and Marion County meetings).
Looking on the bright side at Hopkins Demonstration Forest, our Pole Management Stand that has been in preparation for over 25 years came through the ice very well and we are told by one who knows that we succeeded in growing some high-quality poles. If we can only fell and haul them out without “shortening” them too much. If you want to learn about managing, harvesting, transporting, and selling Douglas-fir for utility poles, join us at Hopkins on July 7 for marking trees and comparing options, with help from knowledgeable foresters and log buyers (learn more and register).
While we are experiencing some difficult times, we can look forward to the regrowth and forest recovery that will happen (in some fashion), with or without our intervention. It is always good to take a break from our labors and walk in the woods, just to see how things are growing and recovering this season. Emphasize the positive and enjoy the wildflowers, even if they are weeds, they are also good for the beneficial insects out there.
Best wishes to you and your trees for a safe and healthy summer.
OSU Extension Forester, Clackamas, Marion, and Hood River Counties
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Drought status update
Portland's new record high of 116°F on June 28 marks an unprecedented heatwave. Currently, 84.5% of the Pacific Northwest DEWS region is in drought, with 29.3% experiencing Extreme or Exceptional Drought conditions. Conditions like this truly test our woodlands.