As I wrote last month, today was the Ecological Forestry Seminar sponsored by Kirk and the other helpful folks at Northwest Natural Resource Group. It was held at Northwest Trek, an unusual 723 park south of Seattle that combines public park ownership with a theme park-like safari ride atmosphere.

Northwest Trek realized it needed to thin its second growth forest and properly manage it for forest health. So they are nearing completion of their steps in evaluating and surveying a forested section of the park with a trail system through it, then defining a plan, logging as carefully as possible, and yarding out usable logs (only a secondary goal) to sell as Forest Stewardship Council certified wood on the open market.

The seminar began with a presentation by one of the most knowledgeable foresters I have yet met. Truly a treasure trove of information, and he could address just about every one of the numerous questions from the audience with a relevant and solid answer. We then walked out behind the park’s temporary fences to get into the logging area and see the results of their thinning operation. It’s always good to see an example in the real world instead of just as a picture in a presentation. There were many people available to speak and provide perspective: the main speaker, NNRG, logger, forester, equipment operator, and Northwest Trek representatives.

A lot of good info, and a couple action items for me:

  • Plant madrone. It has by far the highest levels of associated fungi for diverse forest health, plus the fruits are highly prized by native birds. This is my favorite tree, so that’s an easy one as far as my preferences, although it’s a hard one since madrone is one of the most difficult trees to plant manually (and have them live). It’s apparently best to start as seed or a very small shoot, or else take an entire dirt wad from around a small rooted shoot in the forest.
  • Plant cedar to give structural and mid-story biodiversity to the forest, and also to provide a follow-on tree for areas of Douglas fir that might get hit with laminated root rot. Laminated root rot does exist on the property in a couple places, though that’s a normal part of forests and succession. Nonetheless, I want my trees and forest structure to be set up for long term health, from the perspective of working toward old growth biodiversity over the long term.
  • Contact the forester at Conservation Northwest, who is supposed to be both helpful and knowledgeable. The group works to protect old growth and other wild areas, and is located in Bellingham.

An overview and presentation materials were posted after the seminar at the NNRG site.

Northwest Natural Resource Group NNRG logo

  • January 2009