Newsletter | March 2019  
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Director's Message

I’ve been thinking about how to characterize my strategy for improving wildlife habitat on my family’s 200 acres of woodlands, as well as the tens of thousands of acres of forestland whose management I've helped plan during my career as a consulting forester. If I were to distill this strategy to a single word, it would be heterogeneity. In short, the more structurally and species-complex your forest, the more habitat opportunities there are. 
In practice, this can include: creating gaps that support diverse brush and groundcovers and allow new tree cohorts to become established; conversely, leaving “skips”, or areas of higher tree density that provide shelter and unique thermal environments; retaining snags and downed logs of varying sizes; retaining diverse deciduous trees and shrubs that provide different forms of mast, attract insects and decay more quickly; and growing multiple species and ages of trees that form multi-layered canopies. 
I've noticed in myself and others the urge to create all habitat types in one tract of forest, regardless of its size. That’s not always possible, so I find it instructive to understand the variety of forest types near the subject forest, and then focus on developing underrepresented forest types and/or habitat features. In our work, I most often see a lack of large down wood and large snags. 
Jerry Franklin has remarked that the Northwest suffers from a Douglas-fir epidemic. We’ve converted historically heterogeneous forests into a landscape of single-species plantations in the competitive exclusion phase — the least diverse and least habitat-rich phase, with the highest tree competition. We probably don’t need too much more of it at the regional level. Therefore, extending the age, tree species diversity and presence of dead wood in your forest may be the best thing you can do to create underrepresented habitat, or late seral habitat. 
In these days of late winter, while the leaves are down and it’s easier to see through your forest, I encourage you to walk your roads and trails and make note of what is underrepresented in your forest, be it hardwoods, gaps, dead wood, old legacy trees, etc., then think about what you can do to enhance these conditions. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. Make a plan, a timeline, and proceed with diligence and patience.

Kirk Hanson

Director of Forestry
Northwest Natural Resource Group
(360) 316-9317

P.S. North Cascades Buddhist Priory, a member of NNRG's Group FSC Certificate, shared this neat video of a young bull elk from the wildlife cam in their forest. We'd love to see what you've caught on your wildlife cams! Please email if you have wildlife videos or images to share with us. 

Upcoming Events



Forest Health Seminar - WSU Extension
Camano Island | March 9

Ties to the Land: Succession Planning
Chehalis | March 9

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning
Orcas Island | March 16 - April 13

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning
Olympia | April 1 - May 20

Financial Help for Forest Owners
Online | April 10


Rural Living Day 2019
Harrisburg | March 9 

Basic Woodland Management Shortcourse
St. Helens | March 12-21

EQIP Application Deadline
Oregon | March 15

Effective Forest Roads: Keep legal, reduce costs & protect water quality
Lebanon | March 16

Tree School OSU Extension - Clackamas
Oregon City | March 23
Find more events in WA and OR on our Upcoming Events page.

Updates from NNRG

Featured Member: Still Waters Farm

How Mark & Beth Biser transformed a silent & degraded wetland into a destination for wildlife. 

By the time Beth and Mark Biser bought Still Waters Farm in 1990, the 48-acre property in Mason County, Washington was a shell of its former self. Nearly half of it was covered in wetlands which had suffered two major disturbances.

"Way back in the 1920s or 30s, this property was part of a dairy farm," Mark said. "And the story, though it's uncorroborated, is that the dairy farmer’s kids hand-ditched down through the forest to drain the wetland system so that they could pasture their dairy cattle out on the wetland." Years later in the early 1960s, someone decided to remove the peat layer from about half of the wetland footprint so they could mine for clay. The clay mine left a five-acre hole gouging the middle of the land.

These past uses were bad news for pretty much every plant and animal that considered that wetland its home. The damage was a disservice to the local ecology of the area given the important ecosystem services that wetlands provide.

Read on to find out what Mark & Beth did to restore their land

Keeping Dead Wood and Creating Wildlife Habitat Piles: Guidance for Forest Owners

One of the most important decisions you can make to promote wildlife habitat is to keep snags and down wood in your forest.​

Snags, large down logs, and big decadent trees provide food and shelter to more than 40 percent of wildlife species in Pacific Northwest forests. This coarse woody debris provides important structures for cavity-dependent birds and small mammals, food sources for woodpeckers and other foragers, and slowly release nutrients into the ecosystem with the help of decomposers. 

Forests naturally include some trees that have succumbed to diseases, pests, storm events, or old age – some disease, decay, and tree death is normal in a healthy forest. Damaged, dead, deformed, and dying trees are hotspots of biodiversity and biological legacies. Second- and third-growth forests often lack sufficient snags and down logs because these materials were removed during previous intensive forest management; or the few remaining are in advanced stages of decay.
Header image of habitat pile by Matt Freeman-Gleason.

Read on to learn how habitat piles and constructed logs can make up for the missing woody debris 

Forest Restoration with Birds in Mind

Time your stewardship activities to minimize stress to breeding birds.

When it comes to to removing invasive species, caring for vegetation, and creating habitat features to grow ecologically-complex and productive forests, the timing of that work makes all the difference to the survival of our feathered friends.

Last August, I had the opportunity to join several Forest Stewards for a bird habitat consultation at Lewis Park Natural Area in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. This 5-acre forest is situated close to the interstate crossroads of I-5 and I-90 on the outskirts of downtown skyscrapers and the industrial hub. Lewis Park is most certainly an urban forest. 

Ed Dominguez, Lead Naturalist with Seward Park Audubon Center and local rockstar of Northwest natural history, provided the bird habitat insights. We walked the woods to get a sense of habitat features that appeal to birds and how birds use them, looked for signs of nesting activity, and generally admired the forest. Ed also provided some recommendations about how to do restoration work in ways that are less disruptive to birds.

Read for some restoration best practices that you can apply when doing work in your own forest



Learning about forests and native bees

Many of Oregon’s ~800 species of native bees live in forests. Amy Grotta of OSU Extension Service shares insights she learned during the PNW Pollinator Summit in Corvallis this February. More on bees and forests.

Forest owners: Take part in NNRG and OSU's new survey

We are recruiting Oregon and Washington forest owners who harvested timber from their forest in the last 5 years, particularly those who did a commercial thinning, to take part in a study. Learn more and participate.

EQIP application deadline nears

Application deadlines for applying for EQIP funding are coming up soon!
Oregon: March 15th & May 17th
Washington: April 19th
Check out NNRG's resources on the EQIP program and apply for funding. 
Photo by Matt Freeman-Gleason

Return of the wolves: Deer escape tactics help save their lives

UW researchers monitored the behavior and activity of wolves and deer to see how deer are adpating to the return of this important predator. See what they found.

A plan to curb wildfires, create jobs and build affordable housing

Washington DNR's strategy for preventing forest wildfires involves thinning stands in decline and using the resulting small-diameter wood to create mass timber products. Read more from Crosscut.

Bigleaf maple decline, more insights

Forest pathologists at Washington DNR have been investigating the increase in mortality and symptoms in bigleaf maples since 2011. Their updated findings on what's harming these beautiful trees are shared here

Resources on Managing Your Forest for Wildlife

For many forest owners, creating and enhancing the habitat value of their woods is a top priority. Many stewardship actions can make your forest a better home for native Northwest critters, from creating snags and down logs to installing nest boxes and pollinator-supporting hedgerows. Identifying your resident species and optimizing habitat for them can be one of the most compelling rewards of forest stewardship. Find resources on these activities and more below. 

General Information on Wildlife

Managing for Wildlife

Managing for Birds & Bees


Habitat Piles, Snags, and Logs

Designs for Bird, Bat, and other Critter Houses
Our newsletter header image was taken by Matt Freeman-Gleason. We apologize for not including this credit in the February newsletter! 
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Our mailing address is:
Northwest Natural Resource Group
2701 1st Avenue, Suite 240
Seattle, WA 98121

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