Oak Basin named Tree Farm of the Year

By Joe Holmberg

TFOY Selection Chairman

The 956-acre Oak Basin Tree Farm, a family enterprise located south of Brownsville in the Coburg Hills, has been chosen as Linn County’s Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year for 2022.

The annual Linn County Small Woodlands Association honor recognizes achievements and activities relating to forestry.

The families of brothers Ed and Jim Merzenich have collaborated in Oak Basin’s management for more than a quarter-century. (They, along with Jim’s wife, Karen, also received the distinction in 2012.)

“The primary purpose of the tree farm competition is to promote responsible forest management,” said Jim Merzenich, a retired forester. “We are honored to be nominated as the Linn County tree farmers of the year. We plan to commercially thin our young Douglas fir stands this summer and this logging should be active at the time of the tour.”

Oak Basin and other chapters were honored June 24 during the annual OSWA and Oregon Tree Farm System weekend gathering in Corvallis.

Objectives at Oak Basin are to provide a sustainable flow of harvestable timber while protecting water, range and wildlife resources; to restore and maintain natural oak and meadow areas and other areas of unique interest or value; to provide quality secure habitat for game species including deer, elk, bear, cougar, wild turkeys and waterfowl; to provide recreational use for the family including nature study, hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, fishing and hunting; and to use the tree farm as a laboratory to demonstrate that commercial timber management is compatible with conservation and endangered species protection.

The Merzeniches are pioneers in collaborating with NRCS in restoration of Oregon white oak habitat and developing wetlands. They are frequently cited as examples for using agroforestry in concert with habitat restoration.

The brothers have extensive experience in establishing and managing the Willamette Valley strain of ponderosa pine, cultivating markets for non-timber forest products and restoring native habitats. They are ardent proselytizers for active and sustainable forest management.

A tour of Oak Basin is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.