I love planting trees...almost as much as I love cutting them down. The latter is a thrill - a test of skill, mettle, and art. The former is an exercise in gratitude and an opportunity to give back to a world that gives so much to us. There’s something deeply humbling about the experience of planting a tree that will not only outlive me, but may grow for hundreds of years. When my kids help me plant trees I always tell them, “That tree may live for centuries, you can take 15 minutes to plant it well.”

I grew up planting white pine beneath the oaks of my family’s forest in Minnesota. We were restoring a species that once comprised the original old growth of the Midwest before a small, family-run timber company out of Wisconsin named Weyerhaeuser harvested most of it as they gradually gnawed their way towards the old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. 

This winter I bought a small quantity of white pine seedlings to plant on my family’s new land near Bucoda, Washington in honor of our Midwest silvicultural heritage. As my dad, who is now 95, stooped over to tie a ribbon on a stake that marked the location of one of the seedlings, I was reminded of a quote my mother gave me a few years ago: A society grows great when old men plant trees beneath the shade of which they will not sit. I would amend that quote to read “old humans,” as my mother is a force of nature unto herself and has surely planted enough trees in her lifetime to offset the carbon footprint of our entire family.

There’s still time this winter to plant trees, if you haven’t already. It doesn’t matter if it's just one, or one thousand. Make time for it. In a world that can feel so uncertain at times, it’s very grounding to tuck a little seedling into the moist earth and watch it flourish.

Kirk Hanson
Director of Forestry
(360) 316-9317


Wildfire Recovery Public Hearings (Oregon)
February 15 & 17 | Online

Biology & Management of Oregon White Oak
February 16 | Online

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

Choosing the Right Forestry Professionals
March 2 | Online
Northwest Innovative Forestry Summit
Registration now live!
March 30 - April 1 | Online

Planting Forest Tree Seedlings
March 13 | Hopkins Demonstration Forest

The Douglas-fir Webinar
March 16 | Online

Mushroom Forest Farming Webinar
Pre-recorded | Online


Seedling Check In: Stossel Creek, One Year Later

Even with the ongoing pandemic, 2020 was a busy year at Stossel Creek! 

In early 2020, just before we realized that a bottle of hand sanitizer wasn’t going to be enough to save us from the news, NNRG and partners hosted a workshop and field tour at Stossel Creek. The Stossel Creek restoration project aims to restore a site in the Tolt River watershed while also evaluating the viability of different species and provenances of seedlings. 

In late February 2020, contracted crews installed 14,130 trees across 54 acres of Seattle City Light’s Stossel Creek property. Find more details about the initial phase of the project in our previous coverage here

One year later, we checked in with the restoration crew to see what they’ve been up to and how the seedlings are faring.

NNRG Offering Free Consultations for Forest Landowners

Get your forest management questions answered! Would you like to know when to thin and whether it's economically viable? Determine which species to plant in your forest? Consider how climate change might impact your forest and how to address it? NNRG foresters are ready to help. 

NNRG is currently scheduling a limited number of consultations with our foresters - in person or as tele-health visits - from now through June. Forests beyond a one-hour drive of Olympia or Tacoma will most likely be served through videoconference or phone call.

Learn more and request a visit or call from one of our foresters here. 

NNRG Releases New Video on Thinning a 30-year-old Stand

Ever wondered what a forest thinning actually looks like?

Our new video explains the 'why' and shows the 'how' of thinning a 30-year-old stand of Douglas-fir near Mount Rainier. Hear from NNRG forester Rick Helman, Executive Director Seth Zuckerman, and logger JD Boehme, get a feel for what a harvest operation entails, and find out why thinning this forest puts it on track to be more resilient in a warmer and drier future. 

Visit NNRG's YouTube channel to view the video now!

Eye To The Future: Adaptation Survey Results

The Forest Adaptation Network (FAN) was established to share information on climate adaptation for Northwest forests. FAN members include land managers, forest ecologists, and restoration practitioners tasked with managing Pacific Northwest forests in both urban and rural communities. Members of the FAN share resources, discuss issues, and collaborate on projects to help our forests adapt to the expected impacts of climate change. 

Before the holidays, NNRG and FAN conducted an initial survey to inform some of the work done by the Network, which is focused around the Puget Sound. Overall the data confirmed many of the anecdotal experiences of the many projects our members are involved in.

See the initial survey results on our blog. 

Planting an Agroforestry Plantation Of Culturally Significant Plants

Kirk Hanson, Director of Forestry for NNRG, has been fascinated by the myriad healing qualities of native plants since his childhood in Minnesota. Over the years, he's familiarized himself with the panoply of ethnobotanically significant plants in his forest.

Kirk's family harvests several of them on a regular basis, including nettles, Douglas-fir tips, mushrooms, and, of course, lots and lots of berries. 

To his delight, Kirk recently learned that the federally funded Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides funding to rural landowners specifically for the purposes of establishing “Cultural Plantings”. So last year Kirk set out to plant a one-acre agroforestry plantation of culturally significant plants on his property near Oakville, Washington.

Read on to learn Kirk's strategy for designing and funding this neat project!


Washington DNR’s 2020 Forest Action Plan calls for increased investments with family forestland owners. Washington State’s 2020 Forest Action Plan, released in October, sets a course for the state to address forest health issues head-on. This overview comes from WSU Extension Forestry's Stewardship Notes. 
Wildfires open forests for wildlife and research. Oregon forests appear devastated by Labor Day wildfires, but scientists have reassuring news. Fire, even at last summer’s historic scale, can be rejuvenating. What’s more, experts say they can help land managers find a better balance between environmental and human needs.
Oregon lawmakers seek to reverse timber tax cuts that cost communities billions. Oregon lawmakers have filed a spate of bills aiming to reverse decades-old timber tax cuts that deprived counties of billions of dollars and to eliminate a quasi-governmental state agency that has acted as a lobbying arm for the industry.
Invasive insects and diseases are killing our forests. New York Times journalist Gabriel Popkin argues that not enough attention "has gone to stemming the expanding tide of plagues that humans, through ballooning global trade, weak regulatory systems and sheer carelessness, have inflicted on trees."


Top 5 tips for planting seedlings

Whether you're planting on 20 square feet or 20 acres, understory shrubs or trees, it's important to understand seedling planting basics.

Georgia Mitchell, Seed and Harvest Coordinator at Bellingham native plant nursery Fourth Corner Nurseries, shared her top tips for planting bare-root natives:

  1. Site Prep Matters: Give your plantings good ground for success. Mowing tall grass, grubbing out roots of invasive species, and planning for supplementary summer water when possible will increase establishment success.
  2. Spread the Roots: Dig a hole large enough so that you can evenly spread plant roots out and down. Ideally the roots will make a conical pyramid. Avoid clustering all the roots on one side of the plant or letting the tips curl up toward the surface, called J-rooting.
  3. Don't Bury the Root Crown: Only the roots of your plants should be belowground. There is often a slight swelling at the junction where roots meet stem. This is called the root crown, and it should be even with the soil surface, especially when planting tree species. Multi-stemmed shrubs may be planted slightly deeper.  
  4. Water in Well: You may not think roots need watering in January or February, but that first watering after planting not only moistens roots, it settles the soil to ensure finer roots aren't surrounded by air pockets. Watering in new plantings regardless of the season will help avoid transplant shock and aid water uptake going forward.
  5. Water until Established: While native plants are adapted to climatic conditions in western Washington, new plantings generally require irrigation through their first summer or two to aid survival. The frequency and volume of supplemental water required will depend upon soil type, rainfall, sun exposure, and water table.

Applying for cost-share funding for your planting project

EQIP is a program that helps pay for stewardship activities in your forest. Cost-share funding through EQIP is available to private forest landowners that harvest less than 2,000 mbf per year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Find more information about other cost-share assistance options.

Ordering seedlings and/or contracting a planting crew

  • Talk to a forester about which seedling species and stock type to plant in your forest.
  • Forest owners typically source seedlings from the same seed zone and elevation as their forest.
  • The Seedlot Selection Tool (SST) is a web-based mapping application designed to help you match seedlots (where seedlings are grown) with planting sites based on climatic information.
  • Order seedlings far in advance of planting! Usually by September, to plant in the winter.
  • Order them directly from a reforestation nursery, or by contracting with a planting company
  • Visit Forest Seedling Network to explore a marketplace that connects seedling buyers and sellers.

More resources 

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