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Forestry E-Letter
March 2011 - Issue 2

Oregon's New State Forester
This is a photo of Doug Decker, newly-appointed Oregon State Forester.
Doug Decker, Oregon State Forester
On Wednesday, January 26, the Oregon Board of Forestry selected Doug Decker, an Oregon Department of Forestry executive and leader of several major agency initiatives in recent years, as Oregon’s next state forester.
 
Decker assumed his duties on February 1, succeeding Marvin Brown, who resigned effective last December 31.
 
“Doug is an excellent communicator and understands the challenges facing the Oregon Department of Forestry,” said Oregon Board of Forestry Chair John Blackwell. “He has the skills to bring ODF into better alignment with a multitude of stakeholders, and to keep the Department focused on its mission.
 
“Doug understands the leadership role required of the state forester, and is deeply committed to building on the agency’s 100-year legacy of forest protection and management,” he added.
 
Decker began with the agency in 1987 as a public affairs specialist, and served as public affairs director from 1990 to 1996. Most recently, Decker has been acting chief of the department’s state forests division.
 
He led development of the Tillamook Forest Center, an interpretive facility in the Tillamook State Forest, from 1996 to 2006. He recently oversaw acquisition in Central Oregon of the Gilchrist State Forest, Oregon’s first new state forest in more than 60 years.
 
He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana.
 
“I am deeply honored to be selected for this job and look forward to working with the board, the Governor and our many stakeholders and partners to shape the conversation about forests and forestry,” Decker said.
 
Decker was selected from a field of 12 candidates who met qualifications for the position. The agency has about 650 employees and a two-year budget of about $303 million.
 
On Wednesday, the board chose Decker from among three finalists. Although the vote was 4-2, all members expressed support for Decker, and said all three finalists were well qualified. The others were Paul Bell, associate state forester at the department and chief of its fire protection division, and Jim Paul, an assistant director at the Oregon Department of State Lands and former Oregon Department of Forestry executive.
 
Oregon’s state forester carries out the board’s overarching policies through leadership of the Oregon Department of Forestry. The state forester serves as director of the department, which provides services including preventing and fighting wildfires, managing state-owned forests, enforcing natural resource protection laws on private forestlands, advising landowners, and providing urban forestry assistance.
 


Tree care reminder
This is a photo of a young deciduous tree that has been properly pruned to encourage a symetrical crown and healthy branching structure.
A properly pruned young tree
A reminder: if your trees are in need of pruning, now is a great time to tackle the job
 
Late winter is one of the best times of the year to prune your trees, but take heed. If performed correctly, pruning can lengthen a tree's life, increase its value to the landscape, and minimize safety problems. If improperly done, however — especially if trees are over-pruned or “topped” — pruning causes a host of structural and biological problems that lead to pests, decay, liability issues, and ultimately, a shortened lifespan for the tree.
 
Timing
Avoid pruning trees once their buds first start to expand. Pruning during this period can stress trees badly, and disrupt their growth. The best time to prune most trees, especially deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the fall), is late in the winter before their leaves form.
 
Young trees
By lightly pruning a tree while it's still young, you can take measures now to insure your tree won't become a hazard later on.  Trees with a main stem or trunk that branches into a narrow fork often form a "v-crotch" with "included" (embedded) bark in it, a structurally weak part of the tree. Remove one of the branches or stems to create a strong control leader. You can do this by retaining the stronger, more vigorous, larger crowned side, and removing the less desirable limb.
 
Mature trees
In older trees, one of the primary objectives of pruning is to reduce potential hazards by removing the deadwood, or weakly attached limbs, and broken branches. Just remember, removing live foliage from a mature tree should only be done for good reason. Even 25 percent of live foliage removed on mature trees is too much in many circumstances.
 
Don’t “top” your tree
Tree topping is the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to stubs. Many people mistakenly “top” trees because they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or sunlight, or simply grow so large that they worry the property owner. Without its protective “crown” of leaves and branches, a tree cannot feed itself or protect its sensitive bark from damaging sun and heat. Topping weakens trees, leaves them vulnerable to insects and disease, and shortens their life span. Don’t do it.
 
Four simple steps to proper tree pruning
 

  
/ODF/e_letter/images/March_2011/pruning_graphic_step_2.jpg  /ODF/e_letter/images/March_2011/pruning_graphic_step_2.jpg 
 
More tree care information
Some types of pruning should only be performed by a professional arborist. Pruning trees near or in contact with utility wires is one example, large branch removal and pruning jobs that require climbing the tree are others.
 
For more information about trees and proper pruning: www.treesaregood.com/treecare/treecareinfo.aspx 
 
To find a certified arborist:
Check out the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) web site, at www.isa-arbor.com 
 


Protect your home from wildfire
This is a photo of a wildland-urban interface residential area.
A typical wildland-urban interface residential area
Hurricanes and wildfires may appear to have little in common, but the aftermath of these forces of nature can be similar: homes razed and property destroyed. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 taught homeowners in the Gulf States the value of wind-resistant siding and roofing to protect their investment. Likewise, many Oregonians who’ve endured major wildfires in the past apply their new-found understanding by modifying their houses and property to survive in a fire environment.
 
However, a large number of the people setting up housekeeping in or near the forest each year hail from metropolitan areas. They may be pros at safeguarding their property against burglars, but they haven’t a clue how to defend against a wildfire sweeping through the neighborhood. The challenge to fire prevention specialists is to identify and educate these newcomers before they suffer major property loss. 
 
“We have found through experience that people learn best when we show them what distances their defensible space needs to be around their homes, which trees need to be pruned, which bushes need to be removed or trimmed, the types of fire-resistive plants they can use in place of those that are more flammable, and whether or not their roof or siding needs to be replaced,” said Mary Ellen Holly of the Keep Oregon Green Association.
 
Many communities at risk
Although the economic recession has slowed population expansion into the wildland-urban interface, Oregon’s wildfire prevention educators have their hands full. Currently, 595 Oregon communities are at risk from wildfire, with 159 of those classified at “high risk.”
 
More information on how to protect one’s home and property from wildfire is available on the web from the Keep Oregon Green AssociationOregon Department of ForestryFirewise Communities, and local fire departments.
 


Thousand Cankers disease threatens nation’s walnut trees
This is a photo of a walnut tree that is dying from Thousand Cankers disease.
A walnut tree destroyed by Thousand Cankers disease
Two years ago researchers discovered that the sudden decline in black walnut (Juglans nigra) in Colorado was caused by a combination of Walnut Twig Beetle, and a previously unknown fungus, Thousand Cankers Disease. This disease causes cankers, cuts off the flow of nutrients, and has a mortality rate near 100 percent.
   The beetles are very small, about 1/16 of an inch, and are hard to see without a magnifying lens. After the first year of infection, some of the foliage in the upper branches turns yellow at the tips and thins out. By the time the symptoms are noticeable, the disease has progressed to the point where the tree cannot be saved.
Walnut trees and their nuts play an important role in the ecology of many of our forests. Many livelihoods depend on walnut trees - woodworkers, loggers, log buyers, sawmillers, and the edible nut industry, to name a few. The president of the Missouri Walnut Council, Harlan Palm, estimates that the loss of walnut trees in Missouri alone would amount to roughly half a billion dollars.
 
What you can do
 
You can help by letting buyers and sellers know that walnut logs or lumber containing walnut bark should not be shipped east from infested areas. If you have walnut trees, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture for assistance with diagnosing any tree problem.
 

 


Governor releases proposed budget
Governor Kitzhaber has released his proposed budget for the 2011-2013 biennium, which begins next July 1. It’s an important first step in the budget-building process that will unfold in the legislature over the next four months.
 
As the Governor made clear, this budget reflects the need to streamline government, use proven strategies for revitalizing our struggling economy, and focus on priorities during these difficult times. It proposes no reductions to the agency beyond those already made. Indeed, it would allow us to regain some ground we have lost in our capacity to implement the Forest Practices Act.
 
The budget does propose a departure from the current 50-50 split, between landowners and the state General Fund, in the cost of basic fire protection. The new ratio would increase the landowners’ share to 55 percent; however, the Governor expressed his desire to offer a supplemental budget request in the near future that would restore the 50-50 balance.
 
As we’ve seen in recent years, budget uncertainty is always with us. For now, we are still analyzing the Governor’s proposal to more precisely determine the effects on the services we provide. And we won’t have an official budget for 2011-2013 until the legislature completes its work – balancing the state’s many needs – around mid-year.
 
More information about the Governor’s budget proposal is available at http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/budgetdevelopment.shtml.

 


ODF Earns "Gold Star" from State Controller's office
In January ODF received notice it had earned a Gold Star Certificate for Fiscal Year 2010 from the State Controller’s office. The State Controller’s Gold Star Certificate is awarded to state agencies that provide accurate and complete fiscal year-end information in a timely manner. 
 
“We are very happy to recognize your agency with this award. The diligent efforts of your fiscal staff truly make a difference in maintaining the State’s accountability and credibility in financial reporting,” stated the award letter, sent by John Radford, State Controller’s Division, and Kathryn Ross, Statewide Accounting and Reporting Services.
 
ODF’s lead accountant, Diane Smithburg, was specifically acknowledged for her work in fiscal accounting.
 


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Questions or comments
Do you have a question or comment about the Forestry E-Letter or forestry in Oregon?  Contact the department's Agency Affairs Program.
 

In This Issue 

Oregon's New State Forester
Tree Care Reminder
Wildfire Prevention
Thousand Cankers disease
Governor's Budget
Fiscal Services Gold Star Award