From RIdgeback Tree Farm
About 10 years ago, we purchased a small tract of 25-year old Douglas-fir from the neighbor. The stand was about 25 years old at the time and many of the trees were tall, spindly and stressed as a result of being crowded too close together. The understory was pretty barren since little light penetrated to the forest floor, It was self-mulched with needles and twigs. We knew something needed to be done to improve the health of the forest stand.
With help from the forester at our local soil and water conservation district, we made some simple measurements of the stand. He prescribed thinning the stand to reduce crowding, improve the health of the remaining trees, and encourage more plant diversity for wildlife. That summer we starting thinning our the poorest trees with the help of a fellow OWC member. All the wood harvested eventually ended up packaged in the bundled firewood that the Co-op sells. And we did a second, lighter thinning a few years later that also produced firewood for OWC.
It’s now four years after the last harvest, and we are starting to see the positive effects it had on the stand. Just in terms of biodiversity, there’s been a big increase in the number and variety of understory plants. This spring, we’re seeing seedlings of many native shrubs such as blue elderberry, snowberry, dwarf Oregon grape, vine maple, etc., plus lots of swordfern and wildflowers. All have naturally seeded-in, and will provide food and cover for wildlife. Plus the remaining Doug-fir trees are doing well now they have more room to grow.
From Ridgeback Tree Farm:
The cycle of renewal on our tree farm begins early, in February when it's still cold and wet in western Oregon. It's the time of year when we plant out tree seedlings to create new, or supplement existing, forests.
This year we bought a mix of both hardwood and conifer seedlings: Bigleaf Maple, Doug-fir, Western Hemlock, Red Alder and Incense Cedar; about 200 in all. We got good seedlings through the Washington Co. Small Woodlands Association and Brooks Tree Farm.
We're creating a new, mixed-species stand on ground formerly in Christmas trees. There are groups of conifers, including the species above plus Western red cedar and Ponderosa pine, with maple and red alder planted around the edges. The conifers will someday be harvested for timber and the hardwoods thinned to for firewood, while the diverse stand provides habitat for wildlife.