‘Tree Farmer of the Year’ to be celebrated Sept. 24

Rescheduled from August, the Linn County Small Woodlands Association “tree farmer of the year” walking tour will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, on Northernwood Drive south of Brownsville.

Hosting will be the families of Ed and Jim Merzenich at their Oak Basin Tree Farm.

The “Howdy Neighbor” tour, sponsored by Oregon Small Woodlands Association, will include a catered lunch, snacks and refreshments. It starts at 9:30 a.m. Registration is required by Wednesday, Sept. 21. To register, email [email protected] with name, contact phone, number attending, and any dietary restrictions, or call (541) 713-5000.

Prospective OSWA members who attend this tour will be offered free membership for the remainder of the year.

Tour topics will include thinning, reforestation, oak restoration, and noxious weed control. Emphasis will be placed on maintaining native flora for wildlife under changing climatic conditions.

Reducing drought stress and managing fuels to reduce wildfire risks by using cattle grazing will also be discussed. Oak Basin contains significant oak and native prairie and is home to the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly.

While serving in 2017, Jim Merzenich, LCSWA president, summed up the meaning behind the “tree farmer of the year” competition.

“It is the responsibility of us as tree farmers to restore our land and show our neighbors that rehabilitation of even the smallest acreages is significant,” he wrote.

The Merzenich family is demonstrating that a viable flow of harvestable timber can be produced from a property, managed for native species protection.

Shane Hetzler of Trout Mountain Forestry will discuss objectives for commercial thinning to be started this fall. Advanced Land Management (ALM Sweet Home) staff will demonstrate masticating brush and small trees in a pre-commercial thinning operation. Tour participants will also view pine stands thinned, masticated, and pruned last year.

This will primarily be a walking tour on established roads. A wagon with benches will be available for individuals with mobility issues. Stunning views of the South Willamette Valley await you on the tour.

To get to the Merzeniches’ farm, travel south on Washburn Street (aka Gap Road) from Brownsville for five miles, then turn east onto Northernwood Drive. Oak Basin is at the end of the road. Yellow OSWA tour signs will lead the way.