Friday, August 24, 2018

West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District

Date of Visit: August 23, 2018
Type of event: Study tour
Topic: Habitat restoration and conservation on local public lands
Location: Wilcox Estates Homeowner Association, Portland, Oregon; Oak Island and Sturgeon Lake, Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, Oregon
Tour Guides: West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District staff- Jim Cathcart / District Manager, Michael Ahr / Forest Conservationist, Mary Logalbo / Urban Conservationist, Scott Gall/ Rural Conservationist, Michelle Delepine / Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Laura Taylor / Conservation Technician and Education Coordinator, Randi Razalenti / Office Manager, Ari Demarco / Seasonal Conservation Technician
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

Map of WMSWCD project sites visited on study tour
Staff from the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (WMSWCD) led the World Forest Institute (WFI) International Fellows on a day-long study tour to see habitat restoration and conservation in action at several project sites within the Portland Metro area.

Forest and stream restoration project site
at Wilcox Estates Homeowner Association
The first project site we visited was the Wilcox Estates Homeowner Association (WEHOA) forest and stream restoration site in the West Hills of Portland. The project covers 7.2 acres of a forested ravine and is led by Margaret and Mike Schonhofen, John Long, Victoria Vining-Gillman, and Karen Suher. The work is actively supported by the WEHOA Board, an HOA comprised of 152 homes. The land being restored is an important drainage in the area and part of the larger headwater system draining to the Tualatin River. The native shrubs and trees that have been planted support wildlife, absorb and slow stormwater runoff, and provide natural filtration which enhances the local waterways. Restoration planning began in September 2012 and gained momentum with a $10,000 grant from WMSWCD for contractor services to eliminate invasive species and plant native shrubs and trees. in January 2013. Mary Logalbo, Urban Conservationist for WMSWCD developed the Conservation Plan for the project, and the grant was increased to $18,000 as the project expanded to include most of the bordering properties. WMSWCD annually monitors the site and provides maintenance recommendations.

Oak savannah habitat at Sauvie Island Wildlife Area
Afterwards, WMSWCD staff took the WFI Fellows to Sauvie Island Wildlife Area (SIWA), a wildlife area established north of Portland at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in 1947 with the primary objectives of protecting and improving waterfowl habitat and providing a public hunting area. Over time the management challenges of SIWA have become more complex as ODFW balances traditional waterfowl habitat needs and waterfowl hunting with an increase in wintering geese populations, increased demands for public use, habitat needs for federal and state-listed species, and the need to integrate SIWA with the statewide Oregon Conservation Strategy (OCS). SIWA staff have identified four primary management foci:

1) Providing habitat for ducks and other waterbirds,
2) Providing habitat for wintering Canada geese,
3) Helping achieve OCS objectives, and;
4) Providing recreational opportunities for hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers.

Sturgeon Lake
We met with Kasey Scrivens from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to learn about efforts to restore oak savannah habitat, of which 99% of the historic range has been lost. We also met Pat Welle from Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, who gave us an overview on Conservation Opportunity Areas and the "Sauvie Island Plan."

Addition of logjams (lower left) to create habitat features
 for salmon and other wildlife at the mouth of Dairy Creek
Finally, we visited the Sturgeon Lake/Dairy Creek Restoration Project site, where Scott Gall, Rural Conservationist with WMSWCD, explained to us the project's benefits to salmon and waterfowl. Sturgeon Lake is approximately 3,000 acres of open water and wetland habitat that is critical to the production and protection of waterfowl and other wildlife species, including migratory salmonids, many of which are listed under the state and federal Endangered Species Act. Due to levee construction which has altered the natural hydrology, Sturegon Lake is silting in. There has been an ongoing effort to restore water movement and reduce sedimentation in Sturgeon Lake. WMSWCD is helping to develop a plan to monitor future sediment build-up, unwanted debris accumulation, water flow, water temperature, and presence of  invasive species. WMSWCD will take ownership and maintenance responsibility of an irrigation pipe that passes through the Multnomah County road right-of-way and also take ownership of the project's debris boom at Dairy Creek's confluence with the Columbia River. WMSWCD is also responsible for maintaining a project Stewardship Fund for the purpose of funding any specialized maintenance activity, including repair and replacement of the debris boom.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Eagle Fern Park

Date of Visit: August 9, 2018
Type of event: Study tour
Topic: Old-growth forest ecology
Location: Eagle Fern Park, Estacada, Oregon
Tour Guide: Bruce G. Marcot, Ph.D. / Research Wildlife Biologist, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

This study tour showcased a small patch of old-growth Douglas fir-sword fern forest on the outskirts of Portland. Eagle Fern Park is a county park in Clackamas County, Oregon.

Five percent of old-growth forests, defined as forests at least 120 years old, in the Pacific Northwest have been preserved thanks to the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). The NWFP has five major goals:
  1. Never forget human and economic dimensions of the issues;
  2. Protect the long-term health of forests, wildlife, and waterways;
  3. Focus on scientifically sound, ecologically credible, and legally responsible strategies and implementation;
  4. Produce a predictable and sustainable level of timber sales and nontimber resources; and
  5. Ensure that federal agencies work together. 

Topics we discussed included:

  • How to manage second-growth forests to become old-growth, including thinning practices to create a multilayered canopy, longer rotation periods, and the retention of snags for wildlife habitat and nutrient cycling
  • The role of salmon as indicator species of water quality and prey availability in streams and rivers
  • Climate change and a changing fire regime, specifically the shift from intermittent, moderate-intensity fires to frequent, high-intensity, stand-replacing fires
  • The importance of nurse stumps and logs in nutrient cycling and the formation of new forest soil

Finally, we identified plants typical of an old-growth forest ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, such as:

Monday, July 30, 2018

WFI International Fellows Explore Forest Restoration Projects in Redwood National Park

Dates of Visit: July 24 - 27, 2018
Type of event: Study tour
Topic: Forest restoration in national and state parks
Location: Redwood National and State Parks, California
Tour Guide: 
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)

WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Rick Zenn / Senior Fellow

In July, World Forest Institute Fellows and staff traveled to the north coast of California to join foresters, scientists, and historians from the US National Park Service for a day of international exchange and tour of active forest management projects in the park. The group was joined by graduate students from Humboldt State University (HSU) and summer apprentices from the non-profit Save the Redwoods League.

Based in Trinidad for three foggy, chilly nights, the WFI group explored the big tree trails in Prairie Creek and Jedidiah Smith State Parks near Klamath and Crescent City. They also enjoyed a massive logger’s supper at the historic Samoa Cookhouse in Arcata. Shout out to Harry Merlo, Jr. for the recommendation.

Since 2016, the WFI fellows have been invited to Redwood National Park headquarters in Orick to give a morning seminar about their countries and forestry projects. The Park Superintendent Steve Mietz welcomed the group and more than 30 employees and guests attended, including former Director of California Department of Forestry Andrea Tuttle.

Protection of small redwood groves in picnic areas and state parks that now comprise Redwood National and State Parks was established in 1968 along Redwood Creek, and consisted at the time of a narrow strip (aka “the worm”) of tall trees along Redwood creek. The national park was expanded in 1978 to include much of the Redwood Creek drainage which previously had been in private ownership, logged, treated, and re-seeded. Early watershed restoration work in the park focused on removing logging roads and planting trees to reduce erosion.

Following the WFI seminar, the group set out to inspect several projects. National park geologist Neal Youngblood shared historic maps and information about old road-building methods and the importance of upland restoration to future water quality and improvement of aquatic habitat in the lowland areas of the park. Decades of flooding have flushed “big pulses” of soil, rock, and old logging debris into coastal streams. The group inspected successful projects in the lower Lost Man Creek drainage near Elk Prairie.

National Park Service Forester Jason Teraoka conducted a tour of the Lost Man Creek forestry projects, including meeting with contractors actively working on site. Many of the areas now inside the park were harvested in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and regenerated with a heavy mix of Douglas-fir. A small thinning project in second growth on the park’s eastern boundary occurred in 1979 but was discontinued.

Research and demonstration projects conducted in the second growth forest off the Bald Hills Road tested various spacing and density prescriptions over several years in conjunction with faculty and students at HSU. After a lengthy review, forest restoration projects proposed by the National Park Service were approved and commenced in 2009 above the South Fork of Lost Man Creek.

Check out these video to learn more about the forest restoration projects:

Careful monitoring of the project and early results from established plots were encouraging. A second phase of the project was proposed by the Park Service and variable density thinning continued north along the Holter Ridge Road north into the Middle Fork of Lost Man Creek. Planning is underway to conduct additional projects in previously logged sections on the national park south of Prairie Creek State Park.

Plan your visit to the Redwood National and State Parks here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bull Run Watershed

Date of Visit: July 11, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Watershed Management
Organization: Portland Water Bureau
Location: Bull Run, Oregon
Host: Tama Martellucci / Environmental Educator, Resource Protection & Planning
International Fellows: Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

It's difficult to think of something more important in our daily lives than clean water, so it only makes sense that the WFI International Fellows' latest study tour was to the Bull Run watershed, the source of municipal drinking water for roughly a million people in the Portland Metro area, including the cities of Portland, Sandy, Gresham, and Tualatin. This region's daily water consumption in the winter is roughly 80 million gallons; in the summer, that number can double to 120 - 160 gallons. We took part in a guided tour that is open to the general public and led by the Portland Water Bureau to raise awareness about our public drinking water. It was a full day of learning and beautiful scenery as we wound through a network of forest roads and along watershed infrastructure, including dams, reservoirs, and groundwater pumps.

Bull Run Lake
 The Bull Run watershed, a 147 square-mile watershed that is jointly owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Portland Water Bureau, is perfectly positioned to serve as Portland's water source. Located only 26 miles from the city of Portland, where the average annual rainfall is 36 - 40" per year, the Bull Run watershed receives over three times as much rain (roughly 135" per year). The area was formed by a landslide between 7,000 - 8,000 years ago; talus slopes and signs of ancestral flows from the Columbia River can still be seen from the roads. Bull Run Lake is separated from nearby Mount Hood by a ridge, which plays an important role in preventing glacial till (consisting of fine particles that are difficult to filter out) from reaching the watershed. In fact, drinking water from the Bull Run is generally clean enough to serve to the public unfiltered, due to the forest's natural filtration system and the local basalt-dominant geologic makeup (basalt is very heavy and does not break into fine particles when in contact with water).

Bull Run Springs, ground zero for Portland's drinking water
The idea for the creation and management of the Bull Run watershed as a source of drinking water for the Portland area began in 1885, when the city's water committee hired Colonel Isaac Smith to survey the watershed. By this time, the Willamette River suffered high contamination levels due to heavy industrial use, leading the water committee to come to a decision to search for an alternative source of drinking water. Construction on the Bull Run water system began in 1892 but official management of the watershed did not begin until 1895 due to multiple vetoes by then-Governor Sylvester Pennoyer, who expressed concerns that water "from Mount Hood would cause goiter in the fair sex" (despite the fact that water from the Bull Run does not originate from Mount Hood; see preceding paragraph). Upon being served the first glass of water from the Bull Run, Governor Pennoyer spat out the water because it "lacked the body that water from the Willamette River has." By "body," Governor Pennoyer must have meant "contamination!" Fortunately for the rest of us, water from the Bull Run gradually gained public approval.

Aptly-named Reservoir 1
The use of the Bull Run watershed as a source of drinking water has necessitated its preservation since the watershed's inception. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison created the 222 square-mile Bull Run Reserve via presidential decree. This decree led Colonel Isaac Smith to buy back some of the private land claims throughout the watershed for the sake of expanding the reserve. The last private landowner to own property in the Bull Run was Charlie Larsen, whose property was sold to the local government by his children after his passing in the 1970s. In 1904, President Teddy Roosevelt implemented the Trespass Act, which designated the maintenance of water quality as the management priority for the Bull Run, thereby limiting access to people and domesticated animals. However, in the post-World War II era, industrial logging activity increased in the region, resulting in 300 miles of logging roads being built and roughly 22% of the watershed being clearcut. These activities alarmed Dr. Joseph Miller, a surgeon from Portland, who partnered with the Sierra Club in the 1960s to spread public awareness through the distribution of informational pamphlets. In 1972, Dr. Miller successfully sued the Portland Water Bureau for violating the Trespass Act. This court decision stopped logging activity in the Bull Run watershed until Public Law 95-200 established the Bull Run management unit as it is today. This continued until the 1990s, when a late-succession forest reserve was set aside for the federally endangered Northern Spotted Owl, which ended all logging in the Bull Run watershed except for the removal of windfall or hazard trees. Finally, in 2001, the Little Sandy Protection Act added a buffer zone around the watershed where logging is prohibited. Due to these environmental protections, 53% of the Bull Run watershed remains old-growth forest.

What's next for the Bull Run watershed? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently ruled that Portland Water Bureau has 10 years to implement a water filtration system in the Bull Run. This is due to low but infrequently present levels of Cryptosporidium that have been detected in the watershed starting in January 2017. Cryptosporidium is a genus of protozoa genus that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in humans, is spread by mammals, and possesses a hard shell that is resistant to chlorine treatment. Up until recently, Portland was the only city in the country to be granted a variance from the EPA's LT2 rule, which states that every water supplier is required to treat for Cryptosporidium, due to its absence in the Portland area. Despite the still-low levels of Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run watershed, the decision to begin filtering water from the Bull Run was made in August 2017 due to the filtration system's ability to filter out not only Cryptosporidium but also airborne particles resulting from nearby wildfires, the frequency of which is increasing with climate change.

Dam 1 (creative naming, no?)

Interested in learning more about the Portland Water Bureau? Click here!
Want to take advantage of their free lead-in-water testing? Then click HERE.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Five Days at MC Ranch

Date of Visit: June 18 - 25, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Forest Practices in Eastern Oregon
Organizations: Merlo Corporation, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University, Boise Cascade
Location: La Grande, Oregon
Hosts: Rex Christiansen / MC Ranch Manager, Jana Peterson / ODF Stewardship Forester, Francisca Belart / OSU Extension Harvesting Specialist, Tony McKague / Boise Cascade Log Buyer, Kaden Titus / Boise Cascade Log Buyer
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Rick Zenn / Senior Fellow, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

(Left to right) Front: Xuejiao Li, Cathy Christiansen, Vivian Bui, Meei-ru Jeng, Rex Christiansen
Back: Kyle Porter, Thammarat Mettanurak, Heather Hoeft, Jeen Bunnik, Tuan Phan

The World Forest Institute International (WFI) Fellows have recently returned from an action-packed, five-day adventure at the Merlo Corporation (MC) Ranch located just southwest of La Grande in northeast Oregon. Each year, WFI Fellows are invited to MC Ranch to learn about forestry issues and practices on the "dry side" of the state (i.e. east of the Cascade Range). Rex Christiansen (MC ranch manager) and his family, staff, and associates welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home during our stay. Read below for a summary of our grand ol' time in La Grande:

Rex Christiansen grew up on a ranch in Pilot Rock, south of Pendleton. Out of eight siblings, he is the only one working in the timber industry. He has been a ranch manager for over 30 years and during his first year working at MC Ranch, Harry A. Merlo (the ranch's late owner) turned over timber management to him. Rex is a firm believer in the "school of hard knocks" or "learning by doing." As he says, "I don't manage land, I manage resources. Managing for resources helps to avoid issues down the road."

At the log deck
Rex taught us about forestry practices at MC Ranch. The ranch harvests approximately 1 to 1.5 million board feet over 8,000 acres of timberland annually. No clearcutting occurs at MC Ranch, only selective harvest. In fact, when harvest time comes, Rex prefers to not hire high-production loggers, as he is concerned with looking at post-harvest natural regeneration. Additionally, no tree marking or aerial spraying of herbicides takes place on the ranch. Only pine species are planted here, with larch and fir regeneration occurring naturally. Multispecies forests are maintained to increase resilience against pests and disease. Tree stands are regularly thinned to increase long-term growth rate. MC Ranch produces timber for multiple sorts of pine logs, fir logs, firewood, pulp, and biomass (which is sold to nearby Eastern Oregon University for heating).

Improvements in forestry practice are continuously made at MC Ranch. For example, seedling survival was low (~30%) one year. It was a WFI Fellow who discovered that the seedlings had been poorly planted, with seedling roots having been cut too short or planted too shallowly. This discovery was taken into account the following year, resulting in a 90% seedling survival rate. Another highly successful improvement on the ranch has been the purchase of a mulcher to process brush piles and to grind up post-harvest stumps. The resulting mulch reduces soil erosion and the spreading of weeds and increases soil moisture retention and nutrient content, thereby reducing the need for herbicides and eliminating the need for fertilizer. MC Ranch was the first ranch in Oregon to own this type of equipment.

Enjoying Anthony Lakes
When asked about wildlife conservation efforts at MC Ranch, Rex states that sustained active management is necessary because the landscape is past the point of maintaining its "natural" state on its own. A 20'-wide buffer zone is maintained on both sides of fish-bearing streams to minimize sediment runoff during logging. Additionally, logging operations are restricted around sensitive wildlife areas, such as those used for elk calving, deer fawning, and sage-grouse breeding. Logging is also limited on steep slopes due to the rough terrain, leaving these areas for wildlife. Only very selective logging is allowed in wetland habitat. In areas where logging does occur, there have been times when harvested logs have been brought back post-harvest to serve as wildlife habitat. One out of ten slash piles formed as by-products of logging operations are also left behind for wildlife. Much of the fencing on the ranch allows for wildlife movement, meaning it is constructed at a height of 18 - 40", which allows for deer and elk young to crawl under the fence while adult animals are able to jump over. MC Ranch welcomes the elk herds, as their presence provides a prey base for predators, such as mountain lions and wolves, and thus distracts the predators from preying on cattle. Likewise, in March and April, Rex and his staff provide supplemental food sources for elk and other wildlife so as to distract them from browsing on newly planted tree seedlings.

Over the week, we also had the opportunity to speak to professionals from Boise Cascade, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Oregon State University Extension. Each of them shared some of their expertise with us:

Things are getting a little toasty!
Boise Cascade operates multiple mills in northeast Oregon: a pine mill in Pilot Rock that employs 100 people, a smaller pine mill La Grande with a staff of 70, and a stud mill in Elgin with a crew of 130-140 people that is now being converted into a plywood plant. The company purchases approximately 100 million board feet of Northwest softwoods annually, including larch, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and white fir. They also create and sell particle board from sawdust shavings and glue.

Stewardship foresters from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) provide general technical assistance to landowners to ensure that they are following the Oregon Forest Practices Act.  The department provides cost-share programs to assist landowners in reducing the fuel load on their properties, an increasingly important endeavor as housing development continues upslope towards the Elkhorn mountains. In this region, ODF is engaged with the U.S. Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in a cooperative effort known as the East Face of Elkhorns Project, whereby the three agencies work together to enact a Cohesive Wildfire Strategy that will make communities fire-resistant across private and public lands. Over two and a half years, the project has successfully applied the Cohesive Wildfire Strategy across 5,600 acres, with 900 acres remaining.

The overall purpose of the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service is to educate the public, mainly small woodland owners, on forest practices through outreach efforts, including various workshops and courses. The goal is to make forest practice policies easy for landowners to understand. Through OSU Extension, private landowners can receive expert advise on topics such as harvesting, road management, and watershed management.

On the last day of our stay, Rex left us with some parting lessons that he's learned over the years. "Live life. Respect the land. Respect people. The world is smaller than we think."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Senior Fellow, Rick Zenn Keynotes National Conference in Australia, Meets with Alums, and is Guest Instructor at National Arboretum

Senior Fellow, Rick Zenn Keynotes National Conference in Australia, Meets with Alums, and is Guest Instructor at National Arboretum

Zenn addressing the national STEM Conference
A round trip across the international dateline and back that included thirty-eight hours in the air allowed for Senior Fellow, Rick Zenn time to catch up on reading, movies, and brush up on his eucalypts.

Zenn was invited by Forest Learning Australia and the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) to address the national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) conference in the city of Canberra, sponsored by the Australian government and PIEFA. Zenn promoted the Oregon Forest Literacy Plan and urged participants to “see forests in three dimensions” when looking at career opportunities for students in the forest sector.

Rick in the Snowy River National Park,
 located in the alpine and East
Gippsland regions of Victoria, Australia.
“PIEFA is doing important work and Ben Stockwin and his board are taking a leadership role. Lots of good things are happening in Australia in food and fibre education.” Zenn said.

Zenn was also a guest instructor at the National Arboretum Canberra at a two-day workshop led by the director of Forest Learning Australia, Beth Welden. Several leadership exercises from the World Forestry Center International Educators Institute (IEI) program were combined with lively hands-on learning activities from the Forest Education Foundation team from Tasmania.
Forty professionals from business, government, associations, higher education, and local schools participated. World Forestry Center program alums Phil Lacy of PF Olsen Australia, Liz Langford of VicForests, and Darcy Vickers of the Forest Education Foundation in Tasmania, also served as instructors. The Fenner School of Forestry at the Australian National University hosted an evening lecture and BBQ dinner on campus.

(Left to right) WFI alumus, Tony Scherl, Dr. Cris Brack, and Rick Zenn at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia 
“The beautiful hilltop location above the city,” Zenn said, “was the perfect setting for the workshop. We were surrounded by smart, passionate people who are working hard to protect Australia’s forests and all want to share their knowledge and experience. Beth organized a super event to help everyone improve their skills, share resources, and think more creatively when helping students, stakeholders, and the public understand and value sustainable forestry.”

Liz and Peter Langford arranged for Zenn to join them on a three-day field study tour to visit the mountain and coastal forests of Victoria and East Gippsland. He also met with our alums working in Melbourne and Canberra. “It was wonderful to see everyone again and catch up on news about their families and careers” Zenn said. “There is a strong connection in Australia to the World Forestry Center and the World Forest Institute.”

(Left to right) WFI and IEI alumni, friends, and family in Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia:
 Mick Hodder, Danielle and Blair Freeman, Krystina Kny with baby Erik, Lee Meizies,
Phil and Janice Lacy, Kathy Overton, Rick Zenn, and Liz Langford. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Vanport International, Inc.

Date of Visit: June 8, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: International Wood Products
Organization: Vanport International, Inc.
Location: Boring, Oregon
Hosts: Adolf Hertrich / Chairman, Martin Hertrich / Vice President
International Fellows: Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

Recently, Adolf Hertrich, Chairman of Vanport International, Inc., graciously hosted the WFI International Fellows at his office in Boring, Oregon to share the history of his company. Born in Germany, Adolf Hertrich immigrated to the United States to study forestry at the University of Michigan. After finishing his studies and serving in the military during the Korean War, Adolf spent 7 years working for the U.S. Forest Service in Mount Hood National Forest in watershed management and recreational services. In 1967, Adolf decided to leave the U.S. Forest Service and start his own forest products business. He had noticed the frequency with which Japanese trading companies came to the Pacific Northwest to purchase logs, so he began to purchase timber sales, sometimes through auction bids, from the U.S. Forest Service. Adolf would then hire a logger to harvest the timber, then sell the highest grade timber to Japan, lower grades to local mills, and 8"-diameter or smaller for pulp. He eventually purchased a mill in Boring, Oregon that had gone unused for 2 years and, by installing new machinery, was able to produce 140' of lumber per minute, roughly 20 times the amount produced by his top competitors.

At first, Vanport exported round logs to Japan but, following the implementation of regulations banning the export of round logs sourced from national forests,  the company was forced to adapt their methods. They learned how to cut logs to lumber in a way that was suitable for the Japanese market, including converting to the metric system and becoming well-versed in the Japanese grading system for lumber strength and appearance. Eventually, Vanport became the first company outside of Japan to receive a grade stamp from the Japanese government, after Japanese mills sent graders to Vanport to verify lumber and mill accuracy. Around this time, Adolf noticed that Japan was ramping up the export of goods to the United States in shipping containers, and that, oftentimes, these containers would return to Japan empty. He seized this golden opportunity to ship lumber to Japan at extremely low transportation costs. Vanport also opened a bank account in Japan, allowing the company to sell directly to Japanese clients while avoiding currency exchange costs.

(Left to right) Tuan Manh Phan, Xuejiao Li, Martin Hertrich, Shadia Duery, Adolf Hertrich, Meei-ru Jeng,
and Thammarat Mettanurak in front of the Japanese-style teahouse that was custom-built for Vanport
by the company's highly skilled carpenter, Matsushito-san

Today, Martin Hertrich, Adolf's son who is trained in marketing and wood science technology, serves as the Vice President of Vanport. After the closure of the Boring mill in 1999 due to a ban on old-growth logging in Mount Hood National Forest, Vanport no longer owned any local manufacturing facilities yet the company continues to export $100-150 million in lumber annually. Nowadays, their main lumber sources are found in Russia, Germany, Canada, and Uruguay, and they mainly export to Japan and China, with Vietnam serving as a growing market.

Read more about Vanport International, Inc.!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mount St. Helens: Weyerhauser Company

Date of Visit: May 31, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Industrial Forest Management
Organization: Weyerhauser Company
Location: Mount St. Helens, Washington
Hosts: Mark Sheldahl / Forester, Molly Rasor / Inventory Forester
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik ( The Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator
Special Guests: Jes Munk Hansen (WFI Fellowship alumni) and sons, Andreas and Nicolas Munk Hansen

On this day we visited Weyerhauser Company's 440,000-acre tree farm near Mount St. Helens in Washington. Weyerhauser Company is the largest landowner in the world and one of the last vertically integrated timber companies, owning both timberlands and manufacturing facilities. It is a publicly traded, Fortune 500 company whose investors are interested in institutional, long-term investments. The company's southwestern Washington location is unique, as the mild climate allows timber products to be produced and delivered to clients year-round. Weyerhauser produces 50-70% of its own lumber consumption, roughly 24 Mbf per acre. The company produces 22 different log sorts, with smaller-dimension logs staying in the domestic market due to local sawmill capacity. Despite its high production rate, Weyerhauser harvests only 2-3% of its Northwest timberland each year. This low percentage ensures that the company will maintain a sustainable harvest over the long term. Weyerhauser adheres to state "green-up" regulations which takes into account the aesthetics of timber harvest and limits contiguous clearcut sites to less than 240 acres. Additionally, the company is required to maintain a 128 feet wide fish buffer on each side of every fish-bearing stream, thus leaving about 15% of the area non-loggable. After harvest, Weyerhauser leaves at least 5 trees remaining per acre with a maximum spacing of 800 feet for wildlife habitat. These environmental practices allows Weyerhauser to maintain ecological sustainability in combination with commercial needs.

(Left to right) Thammarat Mettanurak, Shadia Duery, Jes Munk Hansen, Andreas Munk Hansen, Nicolas Munk Hansen,
Jeen Bunnik, Meei-ru Jeng, Xuejiao Li, Mark Sheldahl, Molly Rasor, Tuan Manh Phan

Click here for more information about Weyerhauser Company.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hampton Lumber

Date of Visit: May 23, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Family-Owned Forest Products
Organization: Hampton Lumber
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Host: David Hampton / Co-Owner
International Fellows: Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager

Another week, another fascinating study tour for the World Forest Institute (WFI) International Fellows! In late May, the Fellows visited Hampton Lumber in Willamina, Oregon and were given a guided tour by David Hampton, co-owner (along with his two siblings, Elizabeth and Jamey) and board member. Hampton Lumber is a third-generation, family-owned company and currently has 300 employees. The company was started by David’s grandfather, Bud Hampton, in 1935 and now includes nine sawmills in the U.S. and two in Canada. The sawmill facility in Willamina was purchased in 1942 and currently includes two sawmills: a quad mill built in 1970 designed for 34”-diameter logs and a curved-saw mill from 1997 designed for 18”-diameter logs. Over the years, the Willamina sawmill has changed greatly in terms of safety. The facility has shifted away from production to recovery, and the company has shifted from awarding production bonuses to safety bonuses. This facility is now the top-producing sawmill in the U.S. and ranks 8th globally, with roughly 20% of production used for export to Taiwan and China. Very impressive!

Of course, such high production levels require large amounts of raw materials, along the order of 150 log trucks daily. Hampton Lumber owns over 140,000 acres of forest, but this produces only 10% of the company’s consumption. To fill in the gap, Hampton Lumber purchases timber from the Oregon Department of Forestry, various timber investment management organizations (TIMOs), and small woodlands, engaging in sealed-bid sales when competition for logs is high. Three weeks’ worth of inventory is kept on-hand at the sawmill.

Many thanks to Hampton Lumber for your hospitality and for sharing your knowledge!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Freres Lumber Co., Inc.

Date of Visit: May 10, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Veneer and Mass Plywood Panel Production
Organization: Freres Lumber Co., Inc. 
Location: Lyons, Oregon
Host: Tyler Freres / Vice President of Sales
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

On May 10th, the World Forest Institute (WFI) International Fellows were given the amazing opportunity to take an in-depth tour of Freres Lumber Company, Inc., a family-owned and operated business specializing in advanced wood products located just a stone’s throw away from Portland in Lyons, Oregon. Tyler Freres, Vice President of Sales, generously spent a half-day with the Fellows, teaching them about the company’s history and leading them through various on-site production processes, including veneer, plywood, co-generation, and one-of-a-kind mass plywood panel.
Freres Lumber Company, Inc. was founded in 1922 by Tyler’s grandfather, T.G. Freres, and is now the largest independent veneer producer on the West Coast. The company has steadily grown since its establishment and currently employs 480 workers. Eighty truckloads of 10” and 16” diameter logs cut to 8’, 9’, and 10’ lengths are needed per day to keep Freres’ veneer plant running at full capacity, though the company keeps a three-week inventory on-hand as a cushion. 90% of these logs comes from land under federal ownership, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Freres’ veneer plant produces 150 truckloads of veneer weekly with their peak operating season being from June through September. Only 10% of the veneer produced is used in the company’s plywood plant; the other 90% is sold in the open market, both domestic and export. Products must be heat-treated before they are cleared for export.

Veneer production from whole logs allows for 90% log recovery, meaning very little wood waste is produced. What little wood waste is produced is fed into the on-site co-generation plant. This efficient use of wood waste produces enough energy to meet the electrical needs of Freres’ veneer, plywood, and mass plywood panel plants as well as that of 5,000 local homes.
The highlight of the tour was a walkthrough of Freres’ brand-new mass plywood panel (MPP) plant. Freres broke ground on this plant just last March, and it was already producing its first panel by December 2017. The MPP plant currently has 8 employees, is highly automated, runs one shift daily, and uses about 30% of the plywood produced by Freres’ plywood plant. MPP consists of numerous layers of plywood glued together with cold-pressed melamine adhesive. Because of this layered composition, MPP is dense and considerably fire-resistant, making it suitable for use in tall wood structures. Sheets of plywood are conjoined end-to-end via structural scarf joints that are nearly undetectable visibly. Depending on the end purpose of an MPP product, the plywood layers can be configured in various ways so that the final product achieves certain span and shear strength capabilities. Freres is currently working on obtaining APA and ICC certifications for their MPP products so that they can be used for structural purposes; meanwhile, the company is marketing their MPP for non-structural construction uses.

The Fellows were greatly impressed by the degree of innovation and efficiency on display at Freres. Many thanks to Tyler and his team at Freres for sharing their knowledge and expertise with the WFI Fellows!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Port Blakely

Date of Visit: May 1, 2018
Type of Event: Study Tour
Topic: Family-Owned, Medium-Sized Forest Ownership
Organization: Port Blakely
Location: Mollala, Oregon
Host: Bonnie Glendenning / Environmental Educator
International Fellows: Jeen Bunnik (Netherlands), Meei-ru Jeng (Taiwan), Xuejiao Li (China), Thammarat Mettanurak (Thailand), Tuan Manh Phan (Vietnam)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

The World Forest Institute (WFI) International Fellows’ schedule has been jam-packed with interesting and educational activities since arriving in early April, including weekly tours to local forestry-related businesses and sites of interest. One of the Fellows’ first tours was to Port Blakely’s tree farm located in Mollala, Oregon. Port Blakely is a fifth-generation, family-owned, Sustainable Forestry Initiative®- certified company that provides log products to mills and log brokers throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the Pacific Rim. They manage the ecosystems in which their products grow with respect to provide renewable forest products around the world.

By far, the highlight of the Fellows’ visit to Port Blakely was getting the opportunity to see Port Blakely’s Environmental Education Program in action. More than 87,000 Washington and Oregon schoolchildren have participated in this program through classroom study and field trips to discover firsthand the benefits of a working forest in a fun, safe environment. Port Blakely provides grants to local schools to cover transportation costs to their tree farm. On their tour, the Fellows accompanied Bonny Glendenning, Port Blakely’s Environmental Educator, as she led a classroom of fourth-graders through the forest, teaching them about tree identification, forest stewardship, and carbon sequestration.

WFI International Fellows and Vivian Bui, Professional Programs Coordinator, holding an example of Port Blakely’s custom-designed “carbon capture” tape, an educational tool used to teach students how much carbon can be captured in trees depending on their diameter.

Thank you, Port Blakely, not just for the tour, but for all that you do in educating future generations about forest stewardship!

Interested in setting up a school tour to Port Blakely? Click here!