Duo named county farmers of the year

Barsotti tour offers views, advice to tree farmers

By Larry Mauter
LCSWA director
From their ridge-top perch on the north side of McCulley Mountain, Mike and Jo Barsotti have Willamette Valley views stretching to Mary’s Peak.
The couple – Linn County Tree farmers of the year – shared that view, along with their management techniques, with fellow Linn County Small Woodland Association members Saturday, Sept. 25, on their 20-acre property.
The tour attracted about 30 people on a sunny day. It was punctuated with stops where activities like pruning, brush and deer control, and clear-cut replanting steps were explained. Handouts provided detailed growth charts and a narrative of tree-farming activities.
The Barsottis purchased a fully stocked mixed-age farm 20 years ago. Three harvests have netted 362 thousand board feet of timber. The current standing volume is estimated at 415 thousand board feet.
Harvests have come when timber prices have been favorable. Economics aren’t the driving factor, but are a factor in management decisions.
Money from the harvests have been plowed back into the property.  A 2,500-foot looped road was built and rocked, for example.

MIKE BARSOTTI demonstrates how he can trim off small limbs up to 20 feet high with this pruning saw. Hand clippers, loppers and a battery-powered pruning saw are part of his arsenal.

Mike Barsotti was an Oregon Department of Forestry service forester in the 1980s and ’90s, helping family forest landowners convert pastures and brush ground back to trees.
He saw a quality in those landowners, and that pushed the couple into the tree-farm business.
Their farm has been a team effort.
“Jo found the property. It was for sale by the owner,” Mike Barsotti explained during the tour. “It had the three things I was looking for: young trees, good ground and near Stayton.”
At this point, “their primary forest management objective is to have a healthy resilient forest. Wildlife and aesthetics are secondary objectives.”
Deer have been discouraged with bud caps, but critters like gray foxes, song birds and bobcats abound at their 1,600-foot elevation property. Mike Barsotti said he’s seen two fox kits this year with the parents. “I have no idea where their den is,” he said.
Among the lessons he’s learned as a tree farmer are good communication skills. He and a neighbor collaborated on the timing of 2018 clear-cut. Also, staying in touch with contractors, he said, has paid dividends in scheduling timely work.
“Long-term relations with loggers pay off,” he said. “You can’t say too much about good operators.”
Both Jo and Mike are Oregon State University Extension Service master gardeners. Evidence of their success was on display, with tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers and zucchini in lush beds. A greenhouse and a timbered three-year composting system are part of the garden layout.
Following the tour, the Barsottis were presented with their 2021 TFOY sign.
COVID-19 restrictions were followed for the event. Catered sack lunches with sandwiches, salads and other goodies were provided by Trexler Farms in nearby Lyons.
The overall tour was hosted by the Linn County Small Woodlands Association.
Oregon’s tree farmer of the year will be announced next summer.