Leadership Notes by Bonnie Shumaker, WCSWA President
When Bob and I, Bonnie, joined WCSWA in 2000, we had recently acquired 40 acres adjoining our original 40. We bought this acreage as a clear-cut and had taken on the responsibility to replant. We certainly needed help in this new endeavor as newbie foresters and were delighted to find WCSWA offered great resources in people, education and agencies to help us learn.
I remember also learning about Oregon Small Woodlands Association and wondered how WCSWA and OSWA were connected. Since then, I’ve heard this question voiced from other new members and explain that WCSWA is a county chapter of OSWA. OSWA is the statewide organization for small woodland owners with Jim James as its Executive Director. He and part-time office staff are the only paid employees in this mostly volunteer organization.
Every year, OSWA has a statewide Annual Meeting which is held in the county that has the designated Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year. It is a time to recognize and celebrate this honor in a field day tour preceded by a full day of educational classes. Last month the Annual Meeting was held in Florence, OR and as WCSWA’s President, I attended the Board of Directors Meeting reinforcing my knowledge of the role of our state organization.
OSWA (which includes its chapters) is the only statewide organization devoted to small woodland owners. When Oregon’s legislature is in session, we count on Jim James and, Roger Beyer, our lobbyist, to follow bills that would impact forestlands. This year, thanks to their diligence and the testimony and correspondence from our members, several bills with negative consequences for small woodland owners did not pass, including elimination of special assessments on forest land, additional harvest tax and estate tax, and a complete rewrite of Oregon’s Forest Practices Act. The strength of OSWA/WCSWA increases as its membership increases. This is an important reason to retain your membership and help acquire new members. Education and sharing ideas and friendship are always important, too.
The highlight of the Annual Meeting was the Rankin Woodlands Tree Farm Tour. I don’t know about you, but I think of woodland owners near the coast as being at least ten miles inland in the mountains. The Rankins’ place is maybe 1.5 miles inland and includes an estuary where tide gates open and close feeding a large estuary - fascinating. The spruce and fir trees and the love and care with which they steward this land are great, too. The Rankins are both retired educators and introduced us to their Four S’s relating to forestry:
- Sustainable Forestry – “The goal is threefold: sustaining the ecological systems and components of our forests; sustaining the economic integrity of our human communities; and sustaining our social fabric, our ‘sense of place,’ that ties Oregonians to our forests.” (Hal Salwassar, former Dean of the College of Forestry at OSU).
- Forestry Silviculture depends on clearly defined management objectives for not only timber production, but also for wildlife, water, recreation, aesthetics, or any combination of these.
- Forestry Succession – As cycles of tree growth, death, and regeneration occur in the forest, species may inhabit or be absent from a given area. Any change in the forest habitat creates “winners and losers.” Some species do best in young, open stands; some in older stands.
- Forestry Stewardship – Forest landowners, operators and foresters are stewards of Oregon’s forests, responsible for sustaining our forests and protecting soil, air, fish, wildlife, water quality and other resources valued by Oregonians. (Paraphrased form Oregon’s Forest Protection Laws).