Monday, May 18, 2015

OSU College of Forestry Starker Lecture

Date of Visit: May 14, 2015 
Type of event: Lecture series
Topic: Douglas-fir: The Legacy and Future of the Pacific Northwest’s Most Iconic Tree
Organization: College of Forestry/ 2015 Starker Lecture 
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
Host: Brad Withrow-Robinson & Scott Leavengood, OSU Extension
International Fellows: Stuty Maskey (Nepal), Sarita Lama (Nepal), Miguel Sanchez (Bolivia)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, and Rick Zenn / Senior Fellow

This year's Starker Lecture Series showcased one of the most iconic tree species in the Pacific Northwest: the Douglas-fir. The tour helped participants to better understand the life cycle of Douglas-fir, how the species is actively managed in a native forest plantation for timber (Starker Forest), provides a wide range of environmental services (US Forest Service Siuslaw National Forest), how is it processed in a local mill (Georgia Pacific, Philomath), how it is tested when designing new products like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) (OSU College of Forestry Wood Science and Engineering Lab), and how it's finished lumber was used  for "green building" on the OSU campus. (Hallie Ford Center).

Starker Forest
The Starker Forests is a privately owned, 86-thousand acre assembly of various coast range forest properties owned and managed by four generations of the Starker family. Near Blodget, Oregon the Starker's established a demonstration and education site to compare different management systems for Douglas-fir (i.e. thinning vs non thinning). During the tour participants were able to see educational displays and 30, 60, and 100 year Douglas-fir old stands.

USFS - Siuslaw National Forest
Douglas-fir plantations can also be managed to provide environmental services like clean air and water, habitat, and recreation. This Douglas-fir dominated forest is managed differently than adjacent private lands. Creating habitat for listed bird species, for example, would require early thinning to promote growth of large tree branches suitable for nesting sites.

Georgia Pacific Mill at Philomath
This GP facility is considered a middle size mill capable of producing 400 board feet per day with 150 employees working two 8 to 10 hour shifts depending on the market. Logs are sourced from an 80 mile radius. Log-scan technology is used to obtain the most optimal size pieces per log. This mill can process logs with a diameter of 6 to 28 inches.

OSU College of Forestry Wood Science and Engineering Lab
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) may be the missing link to construct tall buildings of the future with wood as the primary structural material. At the lab, a new plank of CLT was put under 11,000 pounds of pressure to test its strength.

Hallie Ford Center at OSU campus.
Two architects who led design and construction of the building shared their perspectives about the process of selecting and using wood as a building material. Previously wood was used as the "work horse" for buildings in Oregon because it was cheap and easy to find. Currently, quality wood is viewed as a "precious" material to build with, and is often reclaimed and reused in new construction. Wood can be more expensive to build with than concrete or steel, but when taking into account the natural warmth and "feel" that it brings to buildings -- and the potential addition to enhancing employee productivity -- wood becomes a more competitive and desirable building material.

International Fellows' Reflections:

Sarita Lama from Nepal - Project / Understanding Forest Management Practices in the Pacific NW
This field trip allowed me to understand the importance of having deep knowledge about the biology, nature, and life-cycle of the trees and their best use for the humankind.
Lessons that I can bring to my work are:
  • Some of the blocks of the community forests’ can be managed for sustainable timber production. The small scale operations might allow easy implementation of silvicultural practices to produce better timber quality.
  • Community forest managers can be more aware of all the intangible products that they produce in their forests, i.e. ecosystem services.  
  • Though in a small scale, cross laminated timber can be used along with bamboo wood for building currently earthquake damaged houses.
Stuty Maskey from Nepal - Project / Use of Collaborative Governance to Manage Natural Resources
At ‘Hallie Ford Center’ at the Oregon State University it was fascinating to see that the modern hi-tech building used ‘reclaimed wood’ for important sections such as ‘The steps’ in the foyer. The building also used some cross laminated timber (CLT) and we got lucky to visit the OSU wood products research and testing lab to see a demonstration of weight-test on CLT.

Our next stop was at a commercial processing softwood saw-mill. The facility is a highly mechanized (computer led razors to cut logs) milling operations, minimizing waste during production. The state-of-the-art facility was impressive but validated the fact that as enterprises get more and more computerized to stay in business, many low-skilled jobs would die in the process.

Starker forests, a fourth generation family owned forests are managed –not just for trees but also for multiple values and uses of the forest. The educational trail had information boards such as – when the forest was thinned, demonstration of how thinned and un-thinned sides varied, plantations sites with dates, birth-date of several trees with information on height, diameter, volume and its value if converted into a toilet roll or a house. In the van, Randy, an old timer in the enterprise told me that an ice storm in November 2014 destroyed a big chunk of the forest-land causing up to 70% loss in some stands. That’s sad!

The Siuslaw National Forest visit gave a good overview and comparison on forest management in private and federal land. My take home message from this tour was that for a ‘Plantation stand’ (note: not natural growth) in the public forest; a heavier harvesting is required for healthy forests compared to a timber stand in private forest. This actually helps to revive a forest-land to its natural condition quicker. Point noted!

Miguel Sanchez from Bolivia - Project /  Forest Nurseries
This field trip helped me appreciate the technology used to process timber. At The Georgia Pacific mill I was able to witness for the first time a high precision wood sawing machine. The process of timber measuring, cutting, and transporting, made me realize how humans have invented machinery to create efficiencies in production processes.

At the Wood Science and Engineering Lab I learned about how CLT is built, how wood strength is tested to survive even an earthquake.

In summary, during this field trip I learned from the management in the field of Douglas Fir to the final uses of it in construction.

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