Announcements, Events and Other News

(If you are reading a paper copy of this newsletter, links for these events can be found at the WSU Extension Forestry Website: )


Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

If you own wooded property, our flagship course will teach you how to assess your trees, avoid insect and disease problems, and attract wildlife. State experts will help you develop your own Forest Stewardship Plan to keep your woods on track to provide enjoyment and income for years to come.

Coming in Fall 2017


Firewise Workshop

Learn the basics of how to create defensible space around your home at these evening workshops in Ferry County.


​After the Storm: Forest Health Issues for Natural Resource Professionals

  • Vancouver (Clark County), May 12, 2017. Contact Todd Murray at for more information

Registration information will be posted at:


Forest and Range Owners Field Days are back in 2017

These all-day, out-in-the-woods, family-friendly events allow you to attend five or six different outdoor classes and workshops on topics like tree planting, weed control, thinning, tree diseases, mushroom-growing, and much more. Watch for registration information at

  • Eastside Field Day at Dayton, Wash., on June 24, 2017
  • Idaho-Washington Field Day at Athol, Idaho, on July 15, 2017
  • Westside Field day at Oakville, Wash.,  on August 19, 2017


Ties to the Land: A Facilitated Workshop on Succession Planning for Keeping Family Forests, Farms, and Ranches in the Family

Note: Dates and locations for these workshops will be determined by community interest. Contact Andy Perleberg at WSU Extension, 509-667-6540, or email for more information and to request a class in your area.

Many small landowners want to preserve their family lands but don’t know how to involve family members in ownership and operation of their small land-based businesses. This facilitated workshop focuses on ways to maintain family ties to the land from generation to generation, and is a mix of presentations and practical exercises to help families address tough issues. Each family attending will receive a copy of the Ties to the Land, a workbook designed to help families continue to improve and direct their communications at home. Topics covered also will be relevant to professionals who work with landowner families. More information is available on the Ties to the Land website.

Announcements, Events and Other News

(If you are reading a paper copy of this newsletter, links for these events can be found at the WSU Extension Forestry Website: )


Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

If you own wooded property, our flagship course will teach you how to assess your trees, avoid insect and disease problems and attract wildlife.  State experts will help you develop your own Forest Stewardship Plan to keep your woods on track to provide enjoyment and income for years to come.

  • Newport (Pend Oreille County) Tuesdays, Jan. 10 – Feb. 28, 2017 (also available via computer streaming for snowbirds, absentee landowners and other NE WA forest owners not able to drive to Newport.)  Click here for more information


Twenty-fifth Annual Family Foresters Workshop, January 20, Spokane

This annual workshop strengthens the skills of natural resource professionals who work with family forest owners, and serves as a forum to provide updates on emerging technology and knowledge applicable to family forestry. Click here for more information.

Staunching a Wound, Starting a Fire

Tinder conk
Tinder conk (Fomes fomentarius) is found mainly on birch trees in the northern boreal forest. Photo: Alaska Dept of Natural Resources.

Anyone who wanders in the woods has seen bracket fungi, those odd banded shelves that grow in arcs from standing snags and deadfall trunks. Most of them belong to the family of Polypores, whose members are composed of thousands of tiny tubes growing tight together on a vertical plane. The fungi hang on to dead or dying wood through a network of parasitic, thread-like roots called rhizomes that slowly work to decompose their host. Like any mushroom, the brackets emerge as soft, spongy masses. Many are edible, and they shed millions of microscopic spores during their fruiting time. But usually by the time people notice polypores they are tough and woody, often harder than the log they are attached to.

In the forests of Pend Oreille County, by far the best host for bracket fungi are birch trees. Birches grow around the edges of many wetlands, from low to medium elevations, but also sprout in patches on hillsides with an extra hint of moisture. They are a short-lived tree, prone to the diseases that make them easy fodder for the life-sucking rhizomes of the fungus. The curly, peelable birch bark outlasts the sapwood, so that after a tree crashes down bracket fungi often multiply up and down its length.

The species of bracket fungus most commonly seen on our local birches is Fomes fomentarius, better known as horse’s hoof fungus or tinder conk. The brackets emerge as a white foamy mass that hardens and expands from a slender top down to a broad, flat growing margin. From both side and bottom views, they really do mirror the form of a horse’s hoof. Like most brackets, these fungi are perennial, continuing to grow as long as the tree can feed them. Each year they add a new dark-colored line to the bottom of the hoof shape. As long as it is alive, the growing margin of each hoof remains velvety soft, and distinctly cool to the touch.

These birch polypores have a circumpolar distribution–they can be found in any northern forest around the globe, across Asia, Europe, and North America. That range connects them through time and place in a way that reflects the movements of a host of different cultures. The common name conk, applied to many species of bracket fungi, compares their shapes and colors to those of the elegantly curved conch seashells. Originally derived from a Greek word associated with ocean shells, many Inland Northwest school kids today still apply the term conk to all hard fungi growing in the woods.

The same tinder conks that we see attached to birch trees have been used to start fires all around the world for untold generations. The Latin genus name, Fomes, means tinder, as in flammable kindling. Long ago people discovered that if you pound on this polypore the tubes separate into fibers that can catch a spark and keep it going. The early fur men who came to our part of the world carried tinder conk in their tobacco pouches, but that did not surprise the local tribes they met–a Salish word for the fungus has been translated as ‘burning coal’ because of the way an ember from a fire, when placed in the center of the growing margin of a freshly plucked tinder conk, will smolder for hours. In a world before flint and steel, this would have been the most effective way to transport your fire from camp to camp.

In the 1970s Martin Louie, an elder of the Colville-Okanagan tribes, described how the tribes used the heat retention properties of tinder conk as a treatment for arthritis. The fungus was picked, pounded until mushy, then applied as a poultice to the affected area. When hot towels were wrapped around the spot, the pounded fibers would absorb their heat and apply it to the affliction. Louie also confirmed earlier ethnographic reports that the tribes would place a small piece of ignited ‘burning coal’ directly on a moistened, aching joint. As the fungus fragment smoldered down to the skin it would ‘pop,’ and the ache was often soothed. Both these methods call to mind the variety of heating pads and liniments so often used today for similar complaints.

The Latin species name for tinder conk, fomentarius, means ‘dressing for wounds,’ a fact reflected in many standard textbooks of European medicine. Their myriad tubes, pounded and separated, have the absorbent qualities of a handy sponge, and the tannic acids present in the woody fibers provide an antiseptic action. More than two thousand years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates described the use of birch polypores as a means to stop bleeding and cauterize infections. In France, dentists still keep a supply of what they call ‘amadou’ on hand for packing in the socket of a freshly pulled tooth. Amadou is nothing more the horse’s hoof fungus we know pounded into fibers, dipped into a solution of saltpeter, and allowed to dry.

But what is two thousand years? The Ice Man who washed out of a glacier in the Italian Alps a few years ago died five thousand years before the present. Beside his famous brass ax, bow and arrow, and remarkable clothing, he carried with him a small leather pouch. Inside the pouch were the ground-up fibers of tinder conk, at the ready for anything from an everyday fire to emergency medical treatment. The little horse hooves, so common a part of our local scene, have been a part of traveler’s kits across the ages.

by Jack Nisbet

Jack Nisbet is a naturalist and writer who lives in Spokane, Washington. This article first appeared in the 2004 Fall issue of Diggings NewsletterNisbet’s most recent book, Ancient Places, is now available in paperback. For more information visit

Announcements, Events and Other News

(If you are reading a paper copy of this newsletter, links for these events can be found at the WSU Extension Forestry website: )

Invasive Weed Control Field Practicum

In this hands-on field practicum, you will learn to identify and control some of the most common invasive weeds that plague forest landowners.

  • Arlington (Snohomish County), NEW DATE: October 8, 2016. More information  or call 425-357-6023


San Juan Islands Forest Owners Field Day

These out-in-the-woods, family-friendly events allow you to attend five or six different outdoor classes and workshops on topics like tree planting, weed control, thinning, tree diseases, mushroom-growing, and much more. 


Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

If you own wooded property, our flagship course will teach you how to assess your trees, avoid insect and disease problems, and attract wildlife. State experts will help you develop your own Forest Stewardship Plan to keep your woods on track to provide enjoyment and income for years to come.

  • Republic (Ferry County) September 14 – November 2, 2016. More information
  • Deming (Whatcom County) September 15 – November 3, 2016. More information
  • Preston (King County) September 20 – November 15, 2016. More information
  • Tumtum (Stevens County) September 22 – November 10, 2016. More information
  • Newport (Pend Oreille County) January 10, 2016 – February 28, 2017 (also available via computer streaming for snowbirds and absentee landowners) More information


Ties to the Land Classes

Your land will outlive you. Who will care for it when you’re gone? Will it be a family legacy or a family squabble? Will it be kept intact and protected, or will it be divided up and sold off in pieces? Will it become a source of conflict between surviving family members? What is the long-term future that you want for your property? These two-part succession planning workshops, held in two locations this fall, explore these questions and others using the award-winning Ties to the Land curriculum.

  • Colville (Stevens County) September 17 and October 15, 2016.  More information


Fall Pizza Seminars  Burlington (Skagit County). More information online or call 425-357-6023

  1. Your Trees and Climate Change – Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

What does climate change mean for your trees? Are the past three years of record heat and drought a trend or an aberration? How do you manage for climate resilience in your forest? Should you be planting different species like redwood or sequoia? What is the actual evidence regarding climate change, how do you separate it from hype? Award-winning US Forest Service scientist, IPCC member, and Skagit County small woodland owner Dave Peterson will explore these questions and explore how forest owners can manage for healthy, resilient forests whatever the future may hold.

  1. Forest Owner Legal Issues – Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Forest owners face unique legal issues, especially when it comes to protection from liability. What if someone gets hurt on your property? Does it make a difference if they are an invited guest vs. trespasser? What if one of your trees falls across the property line and causes injury or damage to a neighbor? What sort of liability insurance should a landowner carry? What if there’s a hazard tree on your neighbor’s property that threatens your house—what can you do? Other issues include property boundaries and how they need to be marked to be able to prosecute for trespassing, how to handle disputes, adverse possession, easements and right-of-ways, getting access to your property if you are landlocked, etc. Spend an evening with land use/real estate/environmental law attorney Leslie Clark from Philips Burgess Law exploring these issues and getting your questions answered.

  1. Forest Safety and Security – Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Maintaining the safety and security of your forest property is important for protecting and enjoying it. Trespassing, dumping, vandalism, timber theft, off-road vehicles, drugs, etc. can cause huge headaches and expenses, as well as threaten the safety of you and your family. Spend the evening with US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Colin Mahoney and his K-9 partner for a discussion of strategies to make it more difficult for the bad guys to cause problems on your land.


Save these 2017 workshop dates (and check for more information about these and other landowner education opportunities coming this winter)

  • 25th Annual Family Foresters Workshop, January 20, 2017, Spokane
  • 2017 Logger’s Workshop, March 22, 2017, Ag and Trade Center, Colville

Logger’s Annual Workshop Returns to Colville

The Logger’s Workshop in Colville is a newly re-established event that promises to play an essential role in ensuring the continued sustainable harvest of trees in northeastern Washington. Following a run of 20 consecutive years, this annual event was on hiatus for three years (2012-2014) while the WSU Extension Northeast Washington Forestry staff position was in transition. But now, after two consecutive years of drawing crowds of more than 120 people to the Stevens County Ag and Trade Center, the annual Logger’s Workshop is back with gusto.

guy cutting woodA primary purpose of the workshop was to bring together experts who can provide current information to loggers on matters that affect their profession with an emphasis on safety, new technology, sustainable forest management and changes in the regulatory environment. The information conveyed to loggers fulfilled this program’s other key function, which was to provide loggers a local and inexpensive forum at which they can earn the Washington Contract Loggers Association (WCLA) certification credits needed to maintain their Qualified Master Logger credentials.

The Qualified Logger credential is important to private industrial forest owners, Washington State Department of Natural Resources and other landowners who manage their lands sustainably following guidelines of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). A key commitment of the SFI rules for landowners is to use only Qualified Loggers when harvesting timber.

This year’s program was divided into three topics. The early presentations focused on lands affected by last year’s fires and the post-fire issues that loggers should watch out for in the course of their work. Topics covered included invasive plants, the mortality and recovery of fire-scorched trees, what might go wrong with roads and bridges and what silviculture applications can be used to restore and recover burned-over lands. The presentations provided information on operating safely in a radically changed forest environment, as well as what loggers can do to help forests recover or, at least, not take actions that would make things worse. These issues were considered from the perspective of controlling weeds, promoting forest health, managing roads and silviculture.

Next there was an update on regulatory issues in Washington and Idaho. For Washington residents, there was a presentation on “what makes a complete forest practices proposal.” For those who work or live in Idaho, there was a session on “what you need to know” about that state’s forest practices rules, which included recent changes in that state’s requirements concerning riparian areas.

Informative Afternoon

The afternoon of the conference was devoted to the loggers themselves. We began with a presentation by the son of a logger who became a logger himself, a trade he continues to practice in between the obligations of his new job of serving as a Pend Oreille County Commissioner. Showcasing relics of logging equipment and regaling us with stories of days gone by, the presenter made it clear that logging figures prominently in the history of northeast Washington. The history of this profession includes more than a few colorful characters whose work, collectively, was the backbone and driver for most of the economic development that has occurred in this part of the state. This presentation segued neatly into a talk by an actual, bona-fide, practicing storyteller (and forest landowner, citizen scientist and occasional logger) who encouraged us all to recognize that we are a part of what will be history tomorrow and that our stories will matter to those who follow us as much as the stories we had just heard from previous times mattered to and affected us.

This was followed by information about law enforcement in the woods and the all too common problems seen there—trespassing, poaching, dumping, meth labs and others. Loggers, because they are out in the woods every day, are sometimes the ones who either encounter the individuals who perpetrate these crimes or are first upon the scene of the damage done. Following the theme for the afternoon, this presentation also came with plenty of stories.

Economic Impact of Logging

Last on the agenda was a forest economist with brand new data collected from the Tri-County area (Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties). This data confirmed what many people intuitively knew, that loggers are key to the economy of northeast Washington. The data were a surprise, however, in the extent of that contribution. The number of secondary jobs generated as a result of the work of northeast Washington loggers was significantly greater than had been estimated in previous forecasting exercises that relied on fewer site- and region-specific data.

His data also showed some unexpected results. Many people have made the assumption that forest stewardship work—thinning forests to reduce fire risk, for example—would also benefit the economy. This is true but it is also the case that the economic benefits realized are localized to where the workers live, not where the work is done. Often, restoration work is done by crews from elsewhere who stay for the duration of the project and then leave. When the crews leave, the dollars–-their salaries-–go with them. The result is that dollars invested in remote forests do not necessarily stay in or directly benefit the economies of those remote areas. More than one restoration project has been launched with the idea that the project would benefit a struggling rural economy and this notion will clearly need to be revisited based on these data.

One other key finding of this economic analysis was that loggers are “hidden” people. When these data were collected, researchers pounded the ground to find all of the loggers working in this area. When the researchers compared their numbers against all commonly used economic and employment projection tools, they found many more loggers were working than showed up in previous projections. In this day and age, under-counted means under-represented and under-attended to, and these data provide a basis for more accurately understanding the dynamics of a still largely timber-dependent economy. Without logging, there would be much less economic activity in northeast Washington.

In summary, this year’s program gave loggers key information that will help them do their jobs better and more safely. It also gave them a rare opportunity to reflect on how their profession has changed over the years and they impact their work has on their communities.

WSU Extension is especially grateful for our partners who helped make this program a success: the loggers and landowners who shared their stories; Washington DNR, which helped with planning and contributed five of the workshop’s speakers; and the local timber industry for providing expertise and input to ensure the best, most current information. Industry support also helped to underwrite program costs and make this an affordable event to attend. Contributing to the 2016 workshop were Boise Cascade, Columbia Cedar, Hancock Forest Management, Stimson and Vaagen Brothers.

By Steve McConnell , WSU Extension Forester,