I work as a forester for the Stimson Lumber company and my hope in writing this is to provide information concerning our management and to foster constructive conversations about the projects we have for this upcoming year. Perhaps this way, there can be a clear understanding of our management as well as the concerns of our neighbors.
Before I get started, a little background on who I am. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Tillamook Community for 7 years now. Since I have moved here and started work as a forester, I have bought a house, met and married the love of my life, made many friends, volunteered in the community, and most recently became a father to a beautiful baby girl. This is relevant because the Tillamook Coast is my home, I love it here, I drink the water and breath the air here, I’m raising my family here, and I’m part of the community here. I am personally vested to ensure my practices as a professional forester are safe and sustainable for my community and the environment. This is part of the creed that I, and all those who work with the land share. The current rhetoric is that forests are managed by faceless corporations. I can assure you, I am not a corporate forester whose actions are dictated by Wall Street. Instead, we make our management decisions based on our education and experience, with the goal of maintaining productive forests, while protecting the other forest resources such as clean air and water. I know this for not just me and the company I work for, but for all my professional forester colleagues in the area. The company I work for is 7th generation family owned and has managed forest land in Tillamook county since 1890. We sustainably manage forest land to produce timber that is milled right here in Tillamook that goes to build homes across the country. If you don’t trust my word that Stimson practices sustainable forestry, we are 3rd party audited and certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (www.sfiprogram.org) SFI-00014
The work I primarily do for Stimson is ensuring the next generations of forest is successfully grown after harvest to continue the cycle of sustainable forestry. The benefits from the work I do today will not be realized until 45 years from now. An important tool to ensure the next generation of trees survives is herbicides to control weed species. While I understand that some have concerns over the use of herbicides, others freely use them around their homes. As well as in forestry, herbicides are used in agriculture to grow our food and along roadsides and utility lines to maintain our infrastructure. Herbicides are a category of pesticides that specifically target plants, their use is highly regulated and when used properly are safe. Currently, I am working to evaluate which harvests will need vegetation control with herbicides to ensure young trees survival, and which can go without. I make this decision on a unit by unit basis, evaluating a variety of economic, environmental, and social factors.
There is a recent harvest east of Wheeler that activists have targeted in their misinformation campaign, called Blackbird. The timber harvested from the site averaged 46 years old. One important note - this was the third harvest of this site and we are currently developing a reforestation plan to establish the 4th generation of trees. If you are lucky enough to be around 40 or 50 years from now, you might be able to see the fourth harvest of this area.
As we evaluate this area for our reforestation plan, we know that due to the dense vegetation that will compete with the seedlings, the use of herbicides will likely be needed on at least part of the area. The site ranges from 900 feet to a half mile from the city limits of Wheeler with a heavily timbered buffer in between. While I believe the herbicide application could be safely done aerially with a helicopter, because of the location somewhat near residences, and as well as knowing that there are some neighbors in the area that are uncomfortable with aerial applications, we’ve elected to do a ground backpack application. As part of Stimson’s company policy, I will soon send out letters to neighbors within 1,000’ feet of the application area to notify them of the project and begin a dialogue to address any concerns. The application will be conducted over the summer by licensed professionals who will adhere to laws set at the state and federal level to ensure the health and safety of both the public and the environment. I will personally be present to ensure this.
For more information on herbicides, The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website has a lot of information on the use and safety. The EPA approves herbicide use on forestland. If you have questions regarding laws that protect the public and the environment during herbicide applications, you can contact the Oregon Department of Forestry and/or the Oregon Department of Agricultural. If you have questions about forest operations related to reforestation on Stimson lands in Tillamook County, please feel free to give me a call, 503-842-4056. Forests provide a variety of services, from lumber and jobs that support the local economy, to recreation, wildlife, and carbon storage. With careful planning based on experience and supported by science, we as a community can enjoy all these.