Coached Planning Class Helps Keep Forest Legacy Alive

A forest stewardship plan serves many purposes. One may be to inspire the next generation to become involved in managing the land. This Puget Sound landowner took a coached planning class in her community to better understand her father’s stewardship plan. The experience inspired her to enroll in a college forestry program.

Timber harvest, 1996
Timber harvest at Alexander Ross Tree Farm in 1996. Photo: Carol DeVos

The WSU Extension Coached Forest Stewardship Planning Course I attended turned out to be very interesting, and an inspiring experience. My mom and I took the course after my father passed away. My dad was the manager of our 300-acre Alexander Ross Tree Farm and we needed to learn as much as we could to continue the legacy that had been in our family since 1904. The property was originally a stump farm when it was purchased, and today is managed for marketable timber.

The nine-week class was awesome. I was often envious of the other class members who lived on their timberland and could easily walk through their 20 acres to do class assignments. Our forest land is more than 100 miles away from where we live.

The class lectures and homework assignments were geared toward writing a stewardship plan for our own forestlands. I was lucky to have the plan my father had written when he took the class 20 years ago. Working with Mike Nystrom (recently retired DNR forester) I was able to update our plan by adding information on forest health and a commercial thin-and-harvest schedule. I especially enjoyed learning actual forestry techniques, like how to estimate the number of trees on an acre of forest land without counting every one. Other things we learned in the course were forest health (disease and insect damage), wildlife, tree identification, soils, silviculture (take the class to find out what it is), managing a successful timber sale and much more.

The last day of class was we played an exciting game of ‘Jeopartree’ (Jeopardy) with answers geared to what we had learned during the course. The coveted “Forest Stewardship” sign was awarded to those of us who had our stewardship plan approved. When we were asked to share a little of what we got out of the course, I shared that I was disappointed that the class was over and, because I wanted to learn more, I was going to take forestry classes at Green River Community College.

by Carol DeVos
Alexander Ross Tree Farm