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State of Lousignont Creek – Catlin Gabel School Report 2017

Posted by on Dec 16, 2017 in Blog |

Editor’s Note – Due to challenges posting this important eco-narrative report, we need to ask for your help in viewing it. If you double click on each of the five panels below, they should blow up into a legible for you. Sorry for the trouble and thanks for your interest.  1,000 cheers to the Catlin 7th graders and their teachers for their excellent and important work!      ...

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Who Knows – Where the Wood Goes? And How the Boat Rows?!

Posted by on Nov 25, 2017 in Blog |

Every year since we added a sawmill and dry kiln to our operation fifteen years ago, we have enjoyed watching the list of cool projects made from the forests’ wood grow longer.  Over the years we’ve followed with excitement as our wood was transformed into the body of new boats – but this latest is the most exciting and impressive. Last winter we reported that our new friends at the Wind & Oar Boat School had come to the forest and made off with several slabs of fine oak. Roughly a year later it is terrific to see what they and the students at Merlo Station Community High School’s Boat Geometry Class have done with that wood. Responding to a commission generously made by Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, the class worked long and hard to create this beautiful Herreshoff designed Columbia Dingy. It is heartening to know that this oak, which died a natural death after a long life, has been given a second life in this fine boat.  We invite the boat builders and its new owner to come “meet the stump” and know the forest in which their oak grew. Knowing that “way leads on to way”, we ask our Wind & Oar friends “what’s next in this tree to sea adventure?”. Congratulations to all....

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A Mystery, Dilemma, and a……… Bathroom

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 in Blog |

The Mystery – (and it is a sad one) – As shared in earlier posts, the Hyla Woods forests are experiencing a much accelerated rate of trees dying.  Dead trees are an important part of a healthy forest, and we sometimes help things along by girdling trees to create snags.  But in the past two years things have changed; once healthy and vibrant trees are dying – old ones, middle aged ones, and young ones.  We’re not alone, and it seems that our mixed aged, mixed species forests are having less problems than the more monocultural forests nearby.  When we ask the knowledgeable “..ologists” for their thoughts on the causes, we are given a one word answer – drought.  Our Hyla Woods team thinks that the situation may be more complex than that; are we certain that the cause is drought?  If it is drought, is there a chance that drought is the trigger, but that the causes might be more complex – soils, seed, disease, insects….? While we can rise above the discovery that more 30 year old fir have died in some area of the forest, we experienced serious sadness when we discovered that a number of large, old, beautiful cedars in the wildest corner of Mt. Richmond Forest had no remaining green.  The Red cedar on our “avenue of the giants” are taking on a new kind of red. The Dilemma – How should we respond to these dead cedars?  They have beautiful wood in them which we could put to good use.  On the other hand, our forests are short on large, dead, downed wood that supports more life than the living tree ever did.  Do the right thing?  But what is  the “right thing”? A Decision – Team Hyla convened around the table and wrestled with the options.  Our decision is that the best approach for us is to avoid the simplistic, “either-or” constraints and to instead try a compromise.  Some of the dead cedar has been left on the forest floor where it is adding to the forest’s health.  The rest of the wood from these recent casualties has been felled, bucked, and...

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From Bolivia With Love……..

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Blog |

“What’s the big deal about an Olive Sided Flycatcher?” That’s a reasonable question. It was answered in the course of this morning’s third and final annual bird count in our Mt. Richmond Forest. Here are a few of the reasons why we are excited to hear and see them: Inspiring Globe Crossers – Their long annual migrations – from as far south as Bolivia and on up to the arctic – are yet another reminder of how remarkable birds, and all of nature, are. They’re in Trouble – Of the birds that depend on Oregon’s Coast Range forests, they’re one of the four species that are in steepest decline.  Much of this decline is driven by habitat loss.  They’re Here – We’re pleased that the Hyla Woods forests provide reliable safe haven for these remarkable and stressed birds. They’re Increasing – In Our Forests – Reviewing data from our more than 15 years of careful, annual counts, we can see that that we’re successfully bucking the trend; while they decline in our region, they are on the increase in our forests.  Who knows why?  Our habitat is improving?  Habitat in surrounding forest in other forests in the regions deteriorating?  Perhaps both?  We all benefit when steps to arrest their decline are successful.  Their presence and increase validate that we may be working in the right direction. We Need and Value Then – Flycatchers, as their name reflects, depend on eating insects – lots of them!  Insects help keep forests healthy, but, when out of balance, they can become a threat to forest health.  These winged insect eaters help maintain necessary balance.  We work for them – they work for us. As we hang up the binos, clipboards, and stop watch at the end of yet another yearly round of bird counts, we enthusiastically raise a glass to thank and toast these remarkable birds. Thanks also go to our remarkable, reliable, and long suffering expert birders  – Char Corkran and Lori...

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Learning About Plantations

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Blog |

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 these thoughts just now because of two research publications that we’ve run into in recent months.  Both appear to shine light on the risks and down sides of the plantation approach that dominates our landscape in western Oregon.  Though we are told that plantation silvaculture is what the prudent investor does, we question whether that conclusion is a valid one. The first piece of research, done by scientists at Oregon State University, explores the negative impact of plantation forestry on summer stream flows.  We encourage you to check it out and are happy to provide copies of the paper.   Unfortunately it does not appear to be available online. The second paper suggests that, in some circumstance trees, grow better in mixed species stands rather than in single species stands.  This link provides a newspaper style report: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4227347-why-forests-more-tree-types-grow-better-faster. Here is a link to the paper:  http://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-016-0063. Because we find both of these studies to be helpful and interesting, even if not definitive, we think you may as well. The learning continues – and that is one of the rewards of...

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