November December 2005




Magness Memorial Tree Farm demonstrates to public that forest management
and habitat preservation can co-exist

By Jeff Mullens

A midst extreme stereotypes of raging environmentalists and ravaging loggers, the Magness Memorial Tree Farm raises a calm objective voice for education as “living exhibit” to demonstrate that forest management, wildlife habitat preservation, water quality and recreation can all be achieved in a harmonious fashion. Only 20 miles south of Portland, Ore., the tree farm is easily accessible to any who live in, or visit, the Pacific Northwest.

The ASV HD 4520 is utilized for some of the jobs on the Magness Memorial Tree Farm.

The 80 acre private tree farm, donated by Howard and Panzy Magness in 1977, is operated by the non-profit World Forestry Center (WFC) along with a museum and an institute to promote international education regarding the importance of a balanced and sustainable forest for all life. While the Discovery Museum focuses on the present and future conditions of the world’s forest, the Magness Tree Farm shows forest management practices midstream.

The trees, trails and streams present a park like oasis in the midst of urbanization, but many of the 17,000 annual visitors are surprised to learn its purpose is to show a variety of ways to grow trees for commercial harvests. Rick Zenn explains “the farm is divided into up to twenty distinct units including a natural area, a variety of selective cutting practices, over-story and under planting, clear cuts, reforestation and others.” Detailed strategies and goals for managing each unit of the farm are adopted by a WFC local governing board with a wide variety of input.

The tree farm is divided into 20 units, including a natural area, selective logging practices, clear cuts and over-story, among others.

In the “clear cut unit,” the requirement for leaving trees was met by selecting strategically located trees which would not only aid in natural reseeding, but would provide high visibility perches for birds of prey. Rick explains the hope was to minimize the vole population damage to seedlings. The clear cut was replanted with cedar in the lower and wet areas, Douglas fir and a few Grand fir. The choice was purposefully made not to broadcast spray with herbicide but to demonstrate the management of this even aged forest with hand spraying and mechanically slashing. Some Big Leaf Maple and elderberry trees have also been purposefully left to demonstrate their effects on the other trees.

Rick considers the tree farm especially valuable to small landowners who see first hand a multiplicity of management techniques and philosophies. Rick gets some people’s attention when he says, “the tree farm can help the small land owner to increase the value of his property and generate capital.”

Magness helps reconnect children with the forest and the need for management.

Mike Barnes consulting forester for Magness arranges for contractors to provide needed services. Traditional “Cat logging” has predominated until recently when an ASV HD 4520 processor has been utilized for some jobs. Although jobs are professionally bid, most work is donated to the tree farm and contractors work them into their busy schedules. Rick acknowledges that this arrangement, although financially advantageous to the farm, has made it difficult to schedule operations to optimize educational opportunities.

To effectively compare management outcomes, individual tree height and diameter have been measured using lasers and their location mapped with GPS technology. Future measurements will quantify how the different management practices impacted growth. Partnering with Oregon State University forestry department and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, WFC provides extensive educational resources.

Another benefited group that Rick specifically identifies is those who have concern for forest preservation yet spend little time there. “Today people and the land may be disconnected, unlike previous generations who ‘lived off the land,’” says Rick. He also relates that in other countries, such as Norway, small children are taught to enjoy the recreational value of the forest first and then acquainted with stewardship issues as they mature. "In America though, we teach little kids to 'save the rainforest' when they have no idea what it is and they have no personal connection with any forest at all." It is a goal of Magness Memorial Tree Farm to provide the type of connection that leads to a balanced perspective.

Visitors are educated on various ways to maintain a balanced and sustainable forest.

He explains that there are four foundational management precepts communicated to all visitors. “First is protection; everyone wants to protect the forests, whether for aesthetic, environmental or economic reasons. Second is connection; we are all connected to the forest through use of wood products, wildlife and water quality. Third is cycles; people need to understand the basic natural cycles of trees, wildlife and water. The fourth principle is that a variety of good choices are available.”

In a world where the gulf between those who want to“use the forest” and those who want to “save the forest” frequently looms large, Magness Memorial Tree Farm helps all people understand that saving and using the forest are compatible goals. Everyone who visits is assured not only of an enjoyable experience, but will gain knowledge and appreciation of harmonious forest management.

The Magness Memorial Tree farm is open daily from 9-5 during the winter, and 9-7 during the summer, offering both self-guided and professionally lead tours.



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