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
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
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
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
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
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.
service is temporarily unavailable