Starker Forests is excited to announce a funding opportunity for 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations that invest in arts and culture, youth, basic needs, science, education and the environment. We invite organizations within Benton, Lincoln, Polk and Linn counties to apply for a grant by Dec. 11, 2020. The application is available for download: 2020 Starker Grant Form. Feel free to share this opportunity with organizations that may wish to apply! Contact Rebecca Aranda at 541-929-2477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
More than 70,000 acres of Starker Forests’ land are available for hunting and recreation in Linn, Benton, Polk, Lane and Lincoln counties. Our lands are great for hiking, hunting, fishing, cycling and nature lovers. We issue access permits for all our property open to the public. In return, we ask that you respect the land and follow our regulations. No ATVs or motorcycles are allowed in our tree farms. Please drive only on logging roads.
Five weeks after the Labor Day Fires and things are getting quiet around the Starker office. The focus has wholly returned to our more regular sequences of forest management: cruising timber, building roads, laying out upcoming harvest units and replanting old ones. All this is happening without the regular help of our 10 summer interns.
September started out very exciting with the Labor Day east wind event and the subsequent fires. As most of you know, Starker properties were largely spared except for a few acres on a small powerline fire outside Alsea. SFI staff and the summer crew assisted ODF in constructing fire line and mopping up the local fire in Alsea before we were sent up to Dallas to help on a 5-acre fire on Weyerhaeuser land.
First, we lost two of our crew as they returned to their families to help battle area fires and clean up. One member’s family lost their home.
“I was very proud of the work of the summer crew,” Tyler said. “Both ODF and Weyerhaeuser expressed their gratitude as both organizations were able to commit folks to more complex incidents near Lincoln City and Molalla. If the recent fires have done anything, I hope they help to convince more of the public about proper fuels management and the need for effective prescribed burning sans prohibitory regulations.”
With the fire season ending this week, woods folk of Western Oregon can look forward to new foliage color pallets, the fall rains, big game hunting and for those attending the College of Forestry – a return to school, albeit virtually. Traditionally, our summer interns are students at Oregon State University, although there have been students from elsewhere, including from the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin.
This time of year always reminds me of arguably the most famous forester from Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold. A student of the grandfather of forestry, Gifford Pinchot, Leopold graduated from the Yale School of Forestry and began working immediately for the U.S. Forest Service on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. Leopold would go on to lay the foundations of wilderness management in the United States as well as to describe the tenants of the land ethic in his seminal piece, A Sand County Almanac. The book is a quick read describing the changes in the land at different time scales from the annual succession of seasons to the long-term history of conservation in the United States. Leopold describes the timeline of environmental history in the United States relating specific events to the rings of a Wisconsin white oak he’s falling on his farm in rural Southern Wisconsin.
Given the economic and political turmoil facing our country today, I think it is pertinent to look back on the ideas of conservation outlined by figures such as Leopold. Conservation is neither rigid environmentalism and preservation nor the unadulterated pillaging of the landscape, be it through mining, commercial agriculture or logging. Rather, conservation requires the use of a critical lens and realism to understand the landscape and make informed decisions on which components of ecological and cultural systems warrant preserving and which provide surplus from which humans can responsibly extract necessary resources. Leopold’s land ethic challenges human beings with welcoming ecological communities into our own. Using this approach, we humans should view members of ecological communities in a similar way to members of our own community. Just as the diversity of plants and animals use a variety of items from the natural world within which they live, so too should humans. We are an intrinsic part of natural communities, despite our attempts to believe otherwise. Moreover, Native American tribes have included themselves as parts of these communities for time immemorial.
We should remember that the world provides a plethora of natural resources for us and every other member of the community to use. It is our job as foresters and students, whether formally or informally, to recognize the ebb and flow of the landscape and to understand what is truly a sustainable take.
Anthropologists and citizens alike will tell you that to be strong members of any community requires give and take. You, nor your human neighbors would likely think nothing of borrowing or lending a cup of sugar should there be a need and a surplus, but if your neighbor was running low, you might look elsewhere to find that sugar for your pumpkin bread. This logic is extended in sound strategies for forest and wildlife management. True, understanding whether or not a surplus exists in these resources requires a bit more study than texting your neighbor if they have any extra sugar, but like being a good neighbor, understanding the ability of a natural resource to give without harm requires honest communion.
This communion comes from a continuous study of the woods, be it at Oregon State, Wisconsin, Yale or in the pickup truck with your 30-30 across your lap looking for that ghostly blacktail. So happy studying and happy hunting to all and best of luck to our summer interns in school and beyond!
Tyler Peterka, Forester, Starker Forests
Gary Blanchard of Starker Forests has been presented the Oregon Society of American Foresters’ Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to persons to recognize their lifetime contribution to SAF and lifetime achievement in the forestry profession by an OSAF member.
Blanchard has worked for Starker Forests for nearly 59 years. Although semi-retired, he still comes into the office an hour or so every day as he works on two projects: 1) a book to document the history of the company’s lands, and 2) conducting video interviews of people who have been integral to the growth and success of the company.
Blanchard grew up in the small town of Mosier, Oregon, at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge. He went to college at Oregon State University, graduating in 1961 with a BS degree in Forest Management.
Blanchard worked for Starker Forests while in college. Upon his graduation, and with his wife pregnant with their first child, Blanchard was given a permanent position by TJ Starker and Bruce Starker, the first two generations of Starker Forests’ owners. He was the first non-family employee of Starker Forests. When Bruce died in an airplane accident in 1975, Blanchard became the company’s chief forester, a position he held until he “retired” at the age of 70 in 2009. Until 1972, he was the company’s only employee. Since then, another dozen or so foresters have come on board.
For all new Starker foresters, Blanchard has been a mentor. When Bruce Starker died, TJ Starker had given up his active role in the management of the company. The leadership of the company fell to Bond and Barte Starker, the third generation of Starker Forests’ owners – both still in their 20s. Blanchard’s leadership at the time was crucial in helping Bond and Barte successfully take on their roles as the company’s owners and managers.
Under Blanchard’s guidance, thousands of acres of Coast Range forests have been converted from underproductive brush lands into highly productive conifer forests. Many of those forests have now reached the age where they are being commercially thinned for the first time.
Blanchard was especially valuable to the company when it came to neighbor relations. He frequently stopped for lunch at small, rural cafes where he became acquainted with a lot of neighbors. In addition, he served on watershed councils. These outreach efforts created good will with neighbors that continues to this day.
Blanchard has been a strong supporter of the Oregon Tree Farm System. For many years, he worked with a tree farm committee to choose the recipient of the state’s Tree Farmer of the Year. He also inspected and certified/re-certified several tree farms.
A mentor to every one of the company’s foresters, Blanchard encouraged them all to become active members of SAF.
To that end:
- Gary (2003), Mark Gourley, Marc Vomocil, and Jennifer Beathe have all received SAF’s Presidential Field Forester Award
- Gary (1988), Dick Powell, Marc Vomocil, and Gary Springer have been honored as SAF Fellows
- Gary (1987), Bond Starker, Barte Starker, and Dick Powell were selected as OSAF Forester of the Year
- Gary (1981), Marc Vomocil, and Dick Powell were elected as OSAF chairs
- Gary (late 1970s), Randy Hereford, Marc Vomocil, Dick Powell, and Jennifer Beathe served as Mary’s Peak Chapter chairs
- Dick Powell was given SAF’s Outstanding Communicator Award
- Gary Springer and Mark Gourley (twice) were selected as recipients of OSAF’s Tough Tree Award
These awards and service to SAF culminated in Starker Forests receiving OSAF’s inaugural Heritage Award in 2016 and earned the company the national SAF Employer Support Award later that same year.
In addition to SAF leadership roles mentioned above, Blanchard served as the general chair when the Mary’s Peak Chapter hosted OSAF’s annual meeting in 2010. In 1992, he helped develop the OR Forest Industries Council’s Stream Classification and Protection System proposal. Then, in 2004, the dean asked him to serve on the OSU College of Forestry’s McDonald-Dunn Planning Team and where he helped develop the long-term management plan for the University’s forests.
Bob Alverts, Jim Rombach, and George Brown each submitted letters of support for Gary.
Although last week was a four-day week, I made up for lost hours by working on fires.
On Tuesday, a few of us from Starker helped on a fire started by a fallen power line on the side of the road. The fire had been put out by the time we had arrived, but we spent the day mopping up the area. Luckily two streams were near the burned area and they were able to pump plenty of water to help the mop up process.
At first, we spent our time looking at hoses and winding some up. We also found hotspots near the edge of the road. I found a deer shed while doing this. This shed was my largest yet, and my fourth of the summer.
This mop up experience was much different from my later ones working with the rest of the remaining crew. This first experience was filled with a lot more learning than doing, but it was extremely helpful for later days.
Justin and I put water on flames on Wednesday when we were with the Dallas ODF office. Thursday and Friday were spent mopping up the Mill Creek fire that Justin and I had helped on the day prior.
This week is fairly empty because many of the interns have left for the summer. We are down to four because Andrew was working on a fire. The smoke and ash aren’t horrible, but it still makes cruising a tad uncomfortable.
We remaining interns went with Lys to a pre-harvest cruise. The ash was the worst walking through ferns, but otherwise it wasn’t too bothersome. Later in the day, the smoke came back a touch thicker than the morning because the winds switched again.
Today in the morning looking back over the shop there were some blue skies and clouds. I am looking forward to blue skies consistently again, or at least true clouds and not the residue of lingering smoke.
This is my final week on the Starker 2020 intern team and I am at a loss for words for how amazing this summer has been!
I have learned more than I could have imagined and am extremely grateful to Starker Forests for adding me to the team. Working at Starker this summer has affirmed that I want to work in the woods and am eager to continue my career as a forester.
There has been a growing number of large forest fires on the West Coast so Starker has been assisting ODF and other forestry companies with the fires in the surrounding area. Some of the other intern teams got sent out earlier in the week but we all got the opportunity to go out on Thursday and Friday to help mop up a smaller 5-acre fire in the Mill Creek area.
The fire was out by the time we got there and it was our job to locate any hotspots left in the ground, stumps and foliage that remained and put them out.
Although the fire was out, it was very surprising to feel the amount of heat that remains in the ground days after the fire is put out.
We used our hand tools to dig into the ground and chop at wood that was still hot, and water to reduce the heat, and put out any sparks or embers that were left. This is an important part of the job as the hotspots may grow if left and any embers can spark up in the wind and start another fire nearby.
It was a lot of work and very long days but knowing that we were able to help made it all worth it.
I really enjoyed getting the fire experience, even if it was just a few days. I am excited to learn more and possibly continue working in wildfire!
Although last week was extremely hot, a lot of work was completed.
One day, Justin and I completed three stocking surveys. I decided to opt for a tank top and discovered later in the day that I should have put more sunscreen on. The bucket hat protected my face and ears well, but my neck was exposed and became even darker than it already was compared to the rest of my body. The cruising tan lines are coming slowly but surely.
One stocking survey we did contained a tree that looked somewhat like a western hemlock, but was still clearly not. Later we asked Stephen if the trees were redwoods and he confirmed they were.
Lys and I cruised together late in the week. The ground was relatively flat and the trees were moderately uniform making cruising easy.
We completed 31 plots with plenty of time to spare. I had never completed 31 plots before in a day, and especially with time to spare.
I learned quickly that Lys is quite fast, so I kicked my pace up several notches. It felt good to be highly productive. The truck’s AC also felt good coming out of the woods on a 90+ day.
Today we learned about herbicide spraying to target specific vegetation in younger tree stands.
The trees in these units are no more than about 2 years old so they need some extra help when it comes to resource competition. This is not needed in older trees as they are large enough to fight the other vegetation themselves.
The herbicides we used have very low toxicity, which allows for little to no risk to ourselves and the environment. To be on the safe side we spray at least 10 feet away from all riparian areas to reduce the risk of run off.
We mainly targeted vine maple, which grows very quickly and easily steals nutrients and water from the younger trees making it harder for them to survive.
Spraying can be effective in different seasons depending on the vegetation and herbicide type and what the desired outcome is. For the spraying we did last week we used specific chemicals that will help to cut back on the vegetation already there. Another example is using other chemicals in the spring to target other vegetation such as grasses and. The other spray has a different composition that allows it to sit in the soil and not be washed away by the precipitation.
Starker also uses broadcast spraying from helicopters, which allows for larger amount of land to be covered while smaller teams on the ground help to focus the spraying on unwanted vegetation in units that already have trees growing in them.
In this picture to the left, you can see shields we used made of orange buckets with handles, these are put over young trees that are near unwanted vegetation to prevent any spray from landing on the trees.
Last week at work came with a whole new set of experiences once again.
To begin the week, my partner and I, along with another intern group, went to layout stream buffers in an area that will be harvested soon. It is important to leave plenty of trees along the stream in the forest, especially if they pass fish at times of the year. For the larger part, we left 70 feet of trees on both sides of the creek, and the smaller part with less water only required 50 feet on each side.
After we laid out the stream buffers, we cruised the unit in order to get an estimate of the value of the timber in the area.
On Thursday, we were given another unique experience involving more forest engineering. We went out to look at a new bridge that Starker is having installed on one of their properties. The previous bridge at the site was an old railcar bridge, and the call was made to replace it because of its age and to improve the fish passage in the area.
While we were there, we watched a contractor build the roadbed all the way up to the bridge. One thing unique about this bridge is that the top is not concrete, like many forest bridges. Instead, it was riveted steel was covered in gravel. This allows trucks to drive easier without having to transition on and off of concrete, as well as preventing water from building up on top of the bridge. We got to watch the first truckload of gravel get dumped on the bridge and spread.
We also got to deliver some 6-foot diameter culvert pipe for another project just down the road. These pipes are going to be replacing some old concrete culverts in order to improve water flow capacity and fish passage in the creek.
We spent some time looking over the engineering plans the project manager had on hand for both the bridge and culvert projects.
Being able to see more forest engineering work this week was great and has once again allowed me to see more of what my future will hold.
Earlier in the week Justin and I found almost an entire cow skeleton. In the week prior, I saw part of a different cow skeleton in the same area. Additionally, on the road to the area we were brushing, a dry coyote carcass was on the edge of the road. The first day it was noticed, I peered at the jawbone of the coyote and saw how large the canines were compared to the rest of the body.
On Thursday, Justin and I went electro-fishing as part of a study for NCASI. It was interesting to learn how they collected fish, and the kinds of data they collected. During the first part of the day, we helped collect macro-invertebrates, and observed how they tested for salinity, oxygen concentration, and depths at intervals within the stream. Later, we helped collect the fish in nets and buckets after two machines shocked the water. After collecting fish from one section three different times, we watched as the species was named, and its weight and length was collected.
Two notable things we collected were a large rainbow trout (for a small stream) and a Pacific giant salamander. The salamander was around the size of my hand and was honestly quite cute. We also caught lots of coho, and lamprey. I was hoping to catch a Pacific lamprey, but instead we caught many more interesting fish.