Thursday, April 25, 2019

Urban Forestry: Forest Park

Date of Visit: April 18, 2019
Type of event:
Study tour
Topic: Urban Forestry
Organization: Portland Parks & Recreation

Location: Forest Park, Portland, Oregon
Hosts: Marshall Johnson / Forest Park Natural Resource Ecologist, Becca Shively / Renew Forest Park Program Specialist
International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Program Manager

The International Fellows’ most recent study tour was a visit to Portland’s Forest Park, a 5,100-acre expanse of urban forest on the outskirts of Portland. Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the US, so what better place to look at the issues presented in managing urban trees? The site is currently predominantly second-growth Douglas fir and bigleaf maple, as timber production only ceased in 1948 following the park’s creation. The park is funded at a city level but also raises additional capital by bidding for government grants. Managers work in close cooperation with the Forest Park Conservancy Trust, a partnership which allows a greater amount of habitat restoration to take place. The Fellows were met by Marshall Johnson from the Portland Parks & Recreation Department, who led them on an insightful hike to explain the management of the site and show areas where habitat conservation work is occurring. Marshall explained that the site is chiefly managed for ecology, aiming to restore the site to a more natural condition. This is being achieved through the 20-year Renew Forest Park initiative, which aims to restore habitat, rebuild infrastructure, and reconnect local stakeholders through improved access.

Marshall from Portland Parks & Recreation explaining
site management to the International Fellows

Much of the habitat restoration work in Forest Park
is carried out by volunteer groups
Lessons Learned 

Of chief concern is the effort to control the spread of invasive, shade-tolerant species, such as English ivy (Hedera helix) and holly (Ilex aquifolium). These are garden escapees and outcompete the natural vegetation, resulting in lower levels of biodiversity within the urban forest. Herbicide application has been chosen as the most practical form of management, and large areas of treated vegetation were visible within the forest. Portland Parks & Recreation has worked to inform and educate park users by providing interpretation boards and distributing leaflets to local residents.

A key aim in the park’s management is not to exceed carrying capacity of the site. Portland’s population is continuing to grow, meaning park use is predicted to increase. Portland Parks & Recreation are exploring options to increase revenue generation and increase education to prevent damage occurring to the forest ecology. This is no easy task considering the multiple access points and size of Forest Park.

An International Fellow’s Thoughts and Perspectives
Will Maiden, International Fellow
from the United Kingdom

The location of Forest Park next to a large urban population reflects much of my work back in my home country, the United Kingdom. It was interesting to hear how a municipal agency works in partnership with conservation agencies to achieve ecological aims. This is an area where I see potential lessons to take back to the UK, where government funding cuts are resulting in cuts to the management of parks and green spaces.

Seeing British native species acting as invasive weeds was interesting. Holly and ivy provide beneficial additions to the British environment. However, when moved into a new habitat, these non-native species outcompete native flora and have a detrimental effect on biodiversity. As my research in the US focuses on the management of pests and disease, it was good to hear that a robust monitoring and eradication of pest species is in place in Forest Park. This has resulted in the successful eradication of a Gypsy Moth outbreak within the forest. The UK would benefit from Oregon’s approach regarding pest monitoring and raising awareness of the issues that pests and disease pose to the forest ecosystem.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Small Forest Land Ownership: Little Beaver Creek Tree Farm

Date of Visit: April 11, 2019  
Type of event: Study tour
Topic: Small Forest Land Ownership
Organization: Doneen Inc.
Location: Forest Grove, Oregon
Hosts: Anne and Richard Hanschu
International Fellows: Richard Banda (Malawi), Fen-hui Chen (Taiwan), Temitope Dauda (Nigeria), Zhongyuan Ding (China), Ana Kanoppa (Brazil), Will Maiden (United Kingdom), Romain Matile (France), Rodolfo Vieto (Costa Rica)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Vivian Bui / Professional Programs Coordinator

The International Fellows' latest study tour was to Little Beaver Creek Tree Farm, owned and operated by second-generation owners Anne and Richard Hanschu. The tree farm was established in 1956 when Anne's father purchase 212 acres. When it became time for Anne and Richard to take over the property, they retired from their previous careers as a schoolteacher and veterinarian, respectively, and relocated from Oklahoma to Oregon. According to Richard, "forestry is the best way to retire." Not having had any formal training in forestry, the Hanschus completed Oregon State University's master woodland manager extension program, which the couple credits with providing practical meaning and application to information and ideas. The Hanschus now own a total of roughly 500 acres divided across three properties, which they actively manage for"economically-minded sustainable production." In addition, Anne and Richard host group tours on their property to share with others the forest management lessons they have learned during their tenure. During our visit, the Hanschus walked us through their operations, talked about what it’s like to be a family-run and operated tree farm, and showed us the work they’ve been doing on their property.

Anne and Richard Hanschu (center), owners and operators of Little Beaver Creek Tree Farm.
Or, as Richard likes to say, "Anne is the owner and I'm her only employee."

Richard Hanschu explains the logging practice known as
a "reverse Humboldt cut" to WFI Fellows
The harvest from Little Beaver Creek is both exported internationally to Japan and China and sold domestically as construction materials, utility poles, and pulp fiber. After a clearcutting operation is completed, the Hanschus bulldoze the remaining slash, scarify the soil to increase mineral accessibility, spray herbicide to control invasive plant species, and finally plant bareroot seedlings by hand. The seedlings are free to grow on their own for the first six years, and the first thinning might occur when the trees are 25 to 30 years old. Replanting is begun within 12 months of harvest, completed within 24 months of harvest, and at a density of approximately 400 seedlings per acre. In recent years, Anne and Richard have expanded to non-timber forest products, mainly in the form of essential oils marked under the Oregon Forest Canopy brand.

Anne and Richard Hanschu describe the age distribution
of the tree stands at Little Beaver Creek Tree Farm
The Hanschus manage their land using the following guidelines:
  • Multiple-aged stands
  • Small-patch clearcuts (6-10 acres)
  • Practice cable logging, land falling, weather logging, and shovel logging
  • FSC and American Tree Farm System-certified
  • Leave snags and heritage frees as wildlife habitat
  • No logging within 100'-wide riparian buffer zone
  • Reinvest in property improvements, including road maintenance/improvement for wildfire protection and year-round accessibility to tree stands

"If your roots are planted in the right place, you will prosper."
-Richard Hanschu