Oak woodland takes up a little over thirteen acres of a 60 acre organic farm on the edge of our District where Multnomah and Washington County meet. While assisting the farm owner with land management issues, District Senior Conservationist Kammy Kern-Korot noticed that valuable Oregon white oak trees were being slowly taken over by Douglas fir. Landowner Greg Malinowski and his siblings, who grew up on the land, were receptive to trying to save the oak, especially since old-growth Oregon oak next door in Washington County had been cut for development.
Oregon oak woodlands are in drastic decline — they represent only 15% of their historic range. The trees are magnificent and support wildlife such as the acorn woodpecker and the Western gray squirrel, as well as hundreds of species of insects, which provide food for birds and wildlife. Oregon oak and associated habitats are part of a diminishing ecosystem that was managed by Native Americans in our region for thousands of years.
The first step in the plan to protect native oaks on Malinowski Farm was to kill or remove the Douglas fir that were shading and suppressing the oaks. The District and landowner decided to thin the areas of Douglas fir and sell it to pay for the project. A professional forester obtained permits, helped set up a purchase agreement with a local sawmill and hire a private contractor to do the logging by hand. The logger worked at an hourly rate and trees were carefully selected to meet the project’s objectives. Trees were felled one-by-one to gauge the effect on the surrounding oaks. Some of the logs were cut, de-limbed and sent to the Banks Lumber mill; others with rot or large knots were left for use as firewood. Seven loads of Douglas fir were taken to the mill. The remaining debris will be left as wildlife piles or burned if the piles become overgrown with invasive species. Grasses will likely be seeded in the understory to stabilize areas of fine-silt soil disturbed during the logging process.
The future care and nature of the oak woodland understory will depend on the grazing needs of the farm’s organic cattle. Goats may also be used to manage invasive weeds. Areas not needed for grazing may be planted with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers or grasses — to further enhance the wildlife habitat quality and historic nature of the woodland. For more information on oak restoration, contact Kammy Kern-Korot; email@example.com, or 503.238.4775, ext. 108.