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ecologically complex, economically viable, responsibly operated forests

Timber, Mt. Richmond, Manning | Oregon

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Mar06

Learning About Plantations

Posted on Mar 6 by

Visitors to our forests often ask why we work on growing forests that are multiple ages and many species.  “Wouldn’t it be easier and more profitable to just grow single age, single species plantations like nearly all of your neighbors do?”.   While we have many reasons for using the approaches we do – some of them scientifically based and other driven more by gut instinct – the question raised is a good one.  Because of this, it is something that we always work on learning more about.  As people who feel that we have a responsibility to maintain and rebuild the public values of our forests and believe that the long term profitability and health of our forests is more important than the short term, we think that avoiding the risks of the plantation approach makes good, pragmatic business sense.  At the same time, we work to be disciplined in always questioning the assumptions that our approaches are based on   – “what if we’re wrong?”. Which brings us to the value of learning.  We’re prompted to share...

Mar03

A Most Welcome Surprise

Posted on Mar 3 by

I discovered something that was really uplifting and surprising yesterday. At day’s end I traveled back through the Mt. Richmond Forest with a sense of satisfaction – and fatigue – from having planted the last of the 2,200 seedlings that we’ve planted this winter. Pausing by the “Beaver Pond” wetland I reflected on how different it feels to visit the spot since all of the resident beaver mysteriously disappeared from the pond and forest about five years ago.  Though we have hypothesis, the puzzle of the cause remains unsolved.   Reflecting on this sadness I somehow decided to dismount from my “iron pony” and hobble over to where the stream flows out of the pond.  Drawing closer, something caught my eye – “isn’t that a low dam blocking the outlet – with freshly cut, green reeds woven into the sticks?   Could it be…..?” A closer look persuaded me that nothing could have made this – other than a beaver.  Looking further around the wetland my conclusion was verified by finding this…. After five years of lamenting the loss and considering...

Feb11

Taking the Long View

Posted on Feb 11 by

Barak Obama’s forecast that the sun would rise on the day after the election verified, yet on November 9th as I looked east from the top of Mt. Richmond Forest over the folding ridges, valleys, wetlands, and hills of the Tualatin Valley toward the rising sun, I realized that while the familiar landscape looked unchanged – it felt very different. Just as I know and value this place’s ecological diversity, I also appreciate the healthy political diversity of my neighbors.  The success of our forest business and the experiments that we explore depends on many dimensions of this landscape.  Uncertainty goes with the territory – for both better and worse – but the rising sun of November 9th illuminated a place with many new uncertainties and fewer certainties. Culture – Like many businesses, our forests depend on the hard, careful work of recent immigrants; will their new fears be realized or will we find ways to help them feel welcomed, valued and appreciated? Ecology – In this landscape that has been transformed in so many ways to suit the...

Jan10

Catlin Gabel 7th Graders Share Their Results

Posted on Jan 10 by

  (Editor’s Note – The Hyla Woods Team is thrilled to have an ongoing partnership with the 7th grade students and faculty from Catlin Gabel School in Portland.  Each year, with the excellent leadership of their teacher, Jesse Lowes, and other adults, the students do important and useful scientific investigations in the forests.  The report below is just one of the many summary reports that the students have produced.  The class cooperatively made the decision that Hannah’s report would be shared.  We thank all involved for their hard and careful work.) ————————————————————————————————— Into the Woods – A Report on a Scientific Investigation: By Hannah Renee Langer It was drizzling. The skies looked overcast and positively cranky, clouds bumbling about and bumping against each other grumpily. We all stood underneath the awning outside of the gym, bundled up in rain jackets. Though the benefits of tromping in the soggy forest for hours may not have been immediately discernible, we all knew that the environment – and us, to a certain extent – would greatly profit from our hard work and...

Dec09

A Nation Divided Cannot…..

Posted on Dec 9 by

Talk of “divides” is all around us.  Red/Blue, Urban/Rural, Rich/Poor, White/Brown….. Of course it’s not new, but it seems to be more acute than at any other time in my brief sixty years.  There seems to be agreement that is a problem deserving of our attention, which leads to the good question of “how”? The Hyla Woods team thinks and cares about this issue and question.  One answer that we’ve focused on seems simple and manageable – reach across a divide and find some reason to work together.   It’s not rocket science – (or far more complex, ecosystem science) – but many drops of water do turn the mill.  Here are examples of what we’ve done and learned by doing this. We’ve identified products that grow in our forests that urban people need and we have provided them.   Many years ago, thanks to a “block party” organized by our friends at Ecotrust, we met and visited with Christine and Robert.   They’re both retired from interesting lives as members of religious orders, live in SE Portland and – most importantly –...

Dec09

Tipping Point – From Concept to Scary Reality

Posted on Dec 9 by

Do you remember encountering, at some point in your school, a lesson in tipping points?  Phenomena the may change at a slow, regular and predictable point but then cross a threshold, or tipping point, when they can change dramatically and rapidly?  I do.  Images of the concept stick with me; I think of it as I read news of melting ice in the polar regions or the prospect of the Gulf Stream radically shifting.   Those of us owned by forests think about these things in the early morning hours.   Over the past two year’s the concept has been brought home, literally, and made real as we watch the impacts of recent drought on portions of our forests.   In our areas of mid aged Douglas fir, we are accustomed to watching some trees vibrantly thrive while others sputter along with less vigor.  We know that these differences may be caused by many things – soils, available moisture, seed source……. But until recently, experience always taught us that change in the condition of the underdog trees would be gradual and predictable. ...