NNRG Newsletter | November 2020 



From my early days in the Northwest, my family and I have come to rely on our forests for many common needs in our lives. Our forests provide the fuel to heat our home; we harvest numerous berries, mushrooms, and leaves for food; we make medicinal teas from needles, leaves, and roots; and we now are preparing to tap maple trees for their sweet sap-turned-syrup. Our forests are our larder, our apothecary, our lumber yard, and our department store. 

When I learned a couple years ago that the federally funded Conservation Stewardship Program provided funding to rural landowners to establish “Cultural Plantings” I thought this a perfect opportunity to deliberately design and plant an “ethnobotanical agroforestry plantation” on my land. I had an acre of open field that I was only mowing for grass hay, so I delighted in the prospect of growing edible and medicinal plants that have been used for many years, including by native peoples of the Northwest. 

When I began my research anew into the many ethnobotanical uses of native plants, I quickly realized there hardly was a plant that native peoples did not use for some part of their livelihood. This revelation didn’t help to narrow down the options for my cultural agroforestry plantation - would I simply be planting a forest that bore little distinction from the adjacent native forest? I have, however, settled on a smaller palette of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers, each of which I will plant in groupings of like species to aid in efficient harvesting as they begin to mature. 

The plantation will go in this winter, and I will chronicle the process in future newsletters and blog postings. In the meantime, if you’re not already familiar with the panoply of ethnobotanical plants in your forest, I highly encourage you to obtain a copy of Pojar and McKinnon’s Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. It’s a rich resource for identifying native plants in general, but also provides fascinating descriptions of their uses by native peoples.

Kirk Hanson
Director of Forestry
(360) 316-9317


Carbon Friendly Forestry Conference
November 17 | Washington Environmental Council | Online

Diamonds Under the Douglas-fir - Intro to Truffles
November 17 | OSU Extension Service | Online

WOWNet Chat: History and Lessons Learned
November 19 | Women Owning Woodlands | Online

Replanting Your Forest After Timber Harvest or Wildfire
December 1 | OSU Extension Service | Online

Managing Your Forest with Fire in Mind
December 15 | OSU Extension Service | Online


Revisiting the Skokomish Tribe’s FSC®-Certified Harvest

Skokomish Park is a scenic, 500-acre forest and campground on Lake Cushman in the Olympic Peninsula. Every year hundreds of campers visit the park to swim and fish on nearly 8 miles of freshwater shoreline and to hike and bike over 9 miles of trails.

The first certified harvest of Skokomish Park happened in 2019. Joseph Pavel, Director of Natural Resources for the Tribe, says the previous owners hadn’t been actively engaging in forest stewardship, and the neglect was visible on the forest floor. “It looked dark and gloomy. There wasn’t a lot of healthy understory vegetation, and the stand was too dense. We wanted it to look more open and park-like, with more species diversity. We also wanted to encourage more browsers and grazers.”
Read more on the NNRG blog & check out a video of the harvest!

Meet Teo Rautu, NNRG Forester

When forest owners reach out to NNRG for help writing a Forest Management Plan, they're taking an important step in improving the long-term health of their forest. NNRG's latest addition to our Forestry Team, Teo Rautu, is just the person to help forest owners take that step.

We first met Teo Rautu in 2019 when she joined NNRG as a seasonal Forest Technician. Luckily for us, this year Teo moved into the position of full-time Forester. 

We asked Teo to tell us a little bit about her background, what she does in the day-to-day for NNRG, and secret talents (hint: if you enjoy birdwatching, Eastern European cuisine, or avoiding murder hornets, Teo's the right forester for you!). 

Meet Teo Rautu, NNRG forester, on the NNRG blog.

Preliminary Results from Economics of Thinning Study 

In early 2019, NNRG, OSU, and Ecotrust launched a research study on the economic outcomes of a variety of harvesting techniques. The purpose of the study is to help landowners who are considering timber harvest to learn from the experiences of other forest owners with similar forests and similar goals for their land. 

We asked for data from forest owners in Washington and Oregon who'd recently harvested — many thanks to the more than 70 landowners who completed the survey!

Hear preliminary results from the study in this webinar with NNRG's Rowan Braybrook and Seth Zuckerman, Ecotrust's Sara Loreno, Sustainable Northwest, and OSU's Klaus Puettmann, presented at the Northwest Community Forest Forum last month. The webinar offers a sneak peek at the study results; more results and analysis will be released over the next few months.
Watch the webinar

Best of the Ecological Forestry Message Board

Last month NNRG launched the Pacific Northwest Ecological Forestry message board — a space for landowners, professionals, and other stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest to discuss ecological forestry topics. 

This month's most-popular conversation followed a question about whether treatments to protect home and property west of the Cascades from wildfire are useful, given what we know about how west-side fires spread. 

In response, a contributor shared this recording of a 2020 webinar from WSU Extension Forestry, which discusses the unique nature of wildfire west of the Cascades. 

NNRG Executive Director Seth Zuckerman described the two "flavors" of westside fires as, "Moderate ones where Firewise principles such as fuel treatments around homes and roads can make a difference, vs. extreme events that you can prepare for only by making homes less combustible and having good evacuation routes."

Kirk Hanson shared the key elements of a firebreak: 
  1. 100' wide along public roads and habitable structures
  2. Trees should be thinned to leave a minimum of 10' between crowns
  3. Trees should be limbed to 3x the height of the shrub layer
  4. The shrub layer should be thinned to reduce continuity.
  5. Fine woody material should be removed from fuel break
Click here to join the conversation!


Restoring Farmland Could Drastically Slow Extinctions, Fight Climate Change
Returning 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature could help mitigate both climate change and biodiversity loss, according to a new study published in Nature. 
Calling on Small Forest Owners to be ‘First Detectors’ of Invasive Species
Small forest landowners discover 36% of all insect pests found in Washington! That's according to Washington Invasive Species Council member Todd Murray, who explains why that's the case in this article.
San Juan County a Priority in State’s Forest Plan. Washington DNR has identified the San Juan Islands as one of 16 locations in Western Washington to focus on in their 2020 Forest Action Plan. NNRG workshop co-host Carson Sprenger of Rain Shadow Consulting describes why San Juan forests now require active management to regain their health.
The West: Familiar and Phenomenal
Scroll through the winners of High Country News' annual photo contest for some gorgeous shots of the American West. "For this year’s photo contest, we asked readers to share notable nearby sights, perhaps glimpsed in their backyards or on a hike in the back hills."


Winter is a wonderful time to be out in your woods!

While trees are bare, you'll be able to see summer’s successes as well as potential issues for the coming dry season. By walking your woods and planning for spring, winter can be restorative and productive for you and your forest.

Walk your Woods

  • Straighten up tree cages
  • Check for how planted seedlings are doing – learn more 
  • Monitor stream health
    • First steps for your stream
      • Check bank stability
      • Look for erosion, vegetation along bank
      • Check water clarity
    • Continuing steps
    • Look for potential hazard trees
    • Be on the look out for new invasive plants listed by Washington and Oregon
    • Look for stormwater issues, especially roads needing maintenance
    • Look back on 2020 management activities, revise 2021 plans

Plan for Spring


Just in time for holiday gift-giving, NNRG will soon be releasing branded merchandise so you can show off your support for ecological forestry! 

Keep an eye out for next month's release of a range of exciting products!

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