NNRG Newsletter January 2021



Happy New Year from all of us at NNRG! A new year brings the promise of new beginnings, new adventures, and new opportunities. I always feel a little giddy with anticipation at this time of year for NNRG’s new projects and the opportunity to work with more woodland owners — both old friends and new.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately reviewing the 17 acres we planted on my family’s Bucoda forest this time last year. Fortunately the majority of the seedlings made it through their first summer and appear to be thriving. Since we are committed to avoiding herbicides, we had a hand crew come in this past summer and cut back the competing vegetation that regrew around the tree seedlings. Although they did a great job, the brush is once again poised to overtake our seedlings and we’ll need to repeat the process again this year, and again next year... and likely again the following year. I estimate it will take 3 to 4 years for the seedlings to reach a free-to-grow height of five feet when the leaders of the individual trees get above the brush. 

The process of freeing young trees from competing vegetation is commonly referred to as seedling release. As a young stand continues to grow, depending on its density, it may require stand release, whereby a certain number of trees are pre-commercially thinned to benefit the growth of the remaining trees. We also have about 15 acres of 20-year-old naturally-regenerated alder we’re currently thinning to improve growth, and another 10 acres of young Douglas-fir where we’re cutting back maple that sprouted following the harvest of the prior stand and are now competing with the fir. 

NNRG is documenting these projects — and several by other small woodland owners — through a grant from the USDA. Check out this ever-evolving webpage to learn more about the strategies and costs involved, and eventually the results.

Kirk Hanson
Director of Forestry
(360) 316-9317


Wind, Rain, and Dead Tanoak: Sudden Oak Death in Oregon
January 19 | Online

Pruning Series: Tree Pruning I
January 21 | Online

Biochar for Small Woodland Owners
January 21 | Online

Pacific Madrone: Sacred, Emergent, Adaptive
January 28 | Online

Landowner Incentives and Resources
February 2 | Online

Basic Woodland Management Course
February 11 - March 18 | Online

Planting Forest Tree Seedlings
February 13 | Hopkins Demonstration Forest

2021 Washington Forest Owners' Online Winter School
February 27 | Online

Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit
March 30 - April 1 | Online


O'Neill Pine Company Begins Second Year of Stand and Seedling Release Research Projects!

As a young stand matures, thinning some of the young trees can free up water, light, and nutrients to the benefit of those that remain. This technique is called stand release or pre-commercial thinning, and it isn't a practice O'Neill Pine Company, a family-owned timber company and NNRG member, has typically employed prior to a commercial harvest. "It's just not something we've done," says OPC leader Richard Pine. "But we're definitely curious about it."

Well, curiosity is the seed of all research! Last year O'Neill Pine Company (OPC) joined three other landowners participating in NNRG’s research project, Increasing Forest Health Through Thinning and Seedling Release. OPC is hosting two projects around stand release and seedling release – freeing up seedlings from competing vegetation – to try to understand how these techniques can address forest management challenges.

Their stand release research is responding to the particular challenge of several overstocked 15-year-old Douglas-fir stands. Their seedling release research is being conducted on several seedling plantations that are becoming overgrown with competing vegetation (Scotch broom in particular). NNRG will monitor and analyze these projects, and most data related to the project is available at the link below!

Read more about O'Neill Pine Company's two research projects, and stay tuned in the coming months for preliminary results!

Hindsight Into 2020

In a year full of unprecedented events, one thing remained constant: NNRG's commitment to spreading the word and practice of ecological forestry!

We are so inspired by the landowners and managers in our community who worked to enhance habitat for threatened and endangered species, removed invasive species, planted a diverse array of native seedlings and shrubs, and pursued new markets for local wood products. Many thanks to this dedicated community of ecologically-minded forest owners, land managers and NNRG’s partners who steward biodiverse forests and contribute to the regional economy.

Here are some highlights of 2020.

NNRG Adds Spencer Vieira to the Forestry Team

Please help us give a warm welcome to Spencer Vieira, who joined NNRG's forestry team in November as a Forestry Technician!

Spencer took a circuitous path to forestry, which brings a unique outlook and skillset to his position. After spending years working simultaneously as a stonemason, backcountry guide, and environmental educator, he went on to pursue a BSc in Forest Ecology and Management from The Evergreen State College. 

Hear from Spencer on the NNRG blog, and find out what his hidden talent is. Spoiler: it involves alpine llama packing.

2021 Winter & Spring Native Plant Sales

The winter wet season in the Pacific Northwest is an ideal time to plant young trees and native shrubs! Planting native trees and shrubs enhances forest biodiversity by providing habitat for wildlife and forage for pollinators. 

Right now is the time to put in your native plant orders. Though a few of the usual sales have been cancelled due to Covid-19, we counted at least 22 still happening in western Oregon and Washington. Order soon, as stock tends to sell out quickly!

See the full list and links to all plant sales on NNRG's blog here. 

Did we miss one? Let us know at


For tribes, climate change fight is about saving culture. What does a decline in salmon populations mean for a Native culture based on a plentiful salmon supply? That question is one that drives the Tulalip Tribes’ intense interest in adapting to and slowing climate change.
Family forest owners could champion carbon drawdown. Sightline reports, "Family forest owners steward nearly 6 million acres of forestland across Oregon and Washington. Together, these landowners control one of the country’s biggest opportunities for carbon drawdown."
Want to save B.C. salmon? Bring back Indigenous fishing systems, study says. "Traditional technologies, harvesting practices and management systems could bring endangered populations back from the brink, but government buy-in is needed," reports The Narwahl. 
Barred owls: complex creatures with an aggressive twist. WA DNR's Stewardship Wildlife Biologist Ken Bevis digs into these interesting newcomers from the east. Turns out, if you're swooped by an owl in Oregon or Washington it might be a frustrated young barred owl who's just been kicked out of the nest by his parents!


When attempting to establish a new generation of trees, forest owners face two fundamental tasks that are crucial for setting up the stand for success: seedling release and pre-commercial thinning.

Seedlings planted after harvest face steep competition for light, nutrients, water, and space from each other, from native understory plants, and from invasive species. As a young stand ages, the trees can begin to compete with one another for the same limited resources. Landowners have a number of options for reducing competition for resources: stand release, when the plantation is young, or pre-commercial thinning, as the plantation ages.

Browse the resource links below to learn more about stand release and seedling release.
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