OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

COF News & Events

Flight over Eagle Creek fire reveals scorched swaths and seas of green

So much of the burned areas were a patchwork black, brown, tan and green -- a mosaic, John Bailey called it -- that is typical of a wildfire. John is a professor in OSU's College of Forestry.

When it comes to the threat of extinction, size matters

"Knowing how animal body size correlates with the likelihood of a species being threatened provides us with a tool to assess extinction risk for the many species we know very little about," said William Ripple, a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study.

This Season, Western Wildfires Are Close By and Running Free

“There’s just a lot of stuff to burn,” said Janean Creighton, an associate professor of forest ecosystems and society at Oregon State University. The devastation at places like the Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon, which is a treasured hiking spot for Pacific Northwest residents, has also created a deeper emotional impact, Professor Creighton said, especially coming as the nation has been slammed with hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida.

Use of structural wood in commercial buildings reduces greenhouse gas emissions

“The study is just the first step leading to a sustainability metric for use of wood in code-compliant commercial buildings,” said Ari Sinha, professor of renewable materials in forestry and a co-author on the paper. “Generally, we know wood is renewable, resulting in lower environmental impacts in many cases than other building materials. What was lacking was confirmation and quantification of these benefits.”

College Research forests continue mission of teaching, learning and supporting habitat

RESEARCH

The research forests regularly host visiting researchers from around the globe, and is a resource for Oregon State faculty to conduct their own research programs.

A team of college researchers began a study of pollinators in 2014. Jim Rivers, an assistant professor of forest, wildlife and landscape ecology who is leading the study, said his goal was to shine light on this under-researched topic and begin a dialogue about the importance of pollinators in forests growing back after a disturbance and the importance of early-seral forest conditions.

TEACHING

Recognized as a world leader in forestry and natural resources research and education, students from OSU have the opportunity to complete labs in the forests, located just minutes from campus. Assistant professor of forest engineering Catalina Segura says her students light up when they are able to work in a hands-on environment.

“The reaction I see from them is a real understanding,” she says. “They will be able to replicate that in their real jobs.”

Danica Ruud, who studies forest engineering, agrees.

“My friends in other majors always complain about their labs because they are long and involve a lot of standing in one place for hours on end,” she says. “In the forest engineering program, labs are something I look forward to. They usually involve driving out to Peavy Arboretum at the College Research Forests, hiking around and learning about the forest, its resources and how to use tools and instruments. Being outside makes me excited to learn.”

OUTREACH

Throughout the year, the research forests host important community events including STEM Academy, a program which engages high-level high school students in forest and forest ecology to further their understanding of how forest ecosystems work and what is involved in their management. The research forests also host Get Outdoors Day, which introduces first-time visitors and underserved communities to public lands and connects local youth to the great outdoors.

TIMBER HARVESTING

Teaching proper timber harvesting and land management techniques is one of the primary goals of the college research forests. Sales from each year’s timber harvest are the forests’ main source of revenue.

During calendar year 2015, the research forests harvested 8.4 million board feet of timber, including 4.89 million board feet salvaged from the November 2014 ice storm, generating $5.0 million in total timber revenues and $1.29 million in net revenues to the college to support research and teaching initiatives

“Being part of an actual logging crew gives me the skillset of the whole logging operation, which I can apply and use throughout my career,” says forestry student Bradley Pfeifer. “It’s a great opportunity to work in the woods and apply what you learn in the classroom. We get to do every single skill involved in logging, and we get to learn how to do it efficiently and effectively because we’re doing it instead of just reading about it.”

WILDLIFE HABITAT

While most visitors will never run across these elusive animals on a visit to one of the research forests, Fitzgerald says they are home to populations of cougars, bears and bobcats. More commonly sighted species include deer, elk and turkey. The forest provides a habitat for these animals as well as a variety of other birds and fish.

Extension program makes a difference for women forest managers

In 2015, the Oregon Women Owning Woodlands Network (WOWnet) celebrated ten years of being a resource for women who are the primary managers and owners of woodland property.

WOWnet is an Oregon State University and College of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension education program which recognizes the growing number of women taking on a wide range of active woodland management rolls. The program raises basic forestry and decision-making skill levels among women through hands-on opportunities, supports and increases women’s access to forestry-related resources and encourages communication among Oregon’s women woodland managers through the development of statewide and local networks.

WOWnet is an Oregon State University and College of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension education program which recognizes the growing number of women taking on a wide range of active woodland management rolls. WOWnet Coordinator Tiffany Fegel says times are changing for female woodland owners.

“Forestry is a traditionally male-dominated field. Sometimes at mixed-gender industry events, women are afraid to ask questions and interact with male counterparts. At WOWnet events, women can collaborate and learn in a comfortable and uplifting environment.”

Member Wylda Cafferata agrees.

“My friends are not woodlands owners,” she says. “Much of what I do on our forest — site preparation, pruning, planting, tubing, road repair and cruising — is just foreign to them. At WOWnet gatherings, I can talk about forest management issues without getting those odd, glazed stares.”

Cafferata co-manages four parcels of land in Benton, Lane and Lincoln Counties with her husband.

Cafferata has made a point of learning forest management alongside her husband. However, some women are not as fortunate.

“Sometimes women are left to manage their land due to a number of circumstances. WOWnet is a place where they can turn, not only for help with how to manage their property, but also to find comfort from other woman who have experienced similar tragedies” Fegel says. “Also more women than ever are purchasing land for themselves, and we’re happy to be a resource for them.”

Cafferata says she has a lot to learn from the women who solely manage their land.

“While I don’t dwell on the grim but real possibility of someday being the sole manager of my land, it is comforting to know that WOWnet is there for me, and that gives me confidence.”

Recent WOWNet events included a retreat at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest for about 40 women to attend workshops about the business side of forestry, management planning and chainsaw safety and maintenance. Oregon Products brought a line of new battery-operated chainsaws for the group to test.

The women of WOWnet also host their own events called Walks in the Woods, which are tours of private properties managed by women.

“Those events are a time to ask questions and to see what other land owners are up to. They provide an opportunity for the women to learn from each other,” said Fegel.

Fegel says her current hopes for WOWnet include engaging more women from less active regions of the state and continuing to provide high-quality education events and opportunities for women to get together and share their knowledge and experiences. Fegel says WOWnet events are full of positive energy no matter what the topic or location.

“The women are so excited about what they’re doing and to be working out in their woodlands,” Fegel says. “When they can come together and share that, it’s amazing. It’s not like any other industry event you would go to.

Oregon wildfire fallout a sign of seasons to come

Bottom line, said Meg Krawchuk, an assistant professor of forestry at Oregon State who studies fire, "we're going to see more summers like this, because of the strong march of temperature." She also points to Oregon's growing population, the likelihood that growth will continue, and the growing population in the "wildland urban interface."

Burned areas in Gorge face long recovery

"The forest recovers naturally," said John Bailey, a professor of fire management at Oregon State University. "If it was an area that we didn't go into, that burned severely, every tree is dead, sooner or later it will be a forest again."

OSU & D.R. Johnson work together to produce cross-laminated timber

Thanks to a partnership with the Oregon State University College of Forestry, D.R. Johnson Wood Innovations in Riddle, Oregon, recently became the first U.S. certified manufacturer of cross-laminated timber.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a massive structural composite panel product usually consisting of three to nine layers of dimensional timber arranged perpendicular to each other, much like layers of veneer in plywood and can be used as prefabricated wall, floor and roofing elements in residential, public and commercial structures. It is extremely strong and flexible, making it resilient to seismic activity.

Lech Muszyński, assistant professor of wood science and engineering, first saw CLT in production during his 2009 sabbatical in Austria. He says those facilities were unlike anything he had ever seen.

“I decided to visit as many as I could because the diversity was astounding,” Muszyński says. “I learned that you don’t need to be a big operation to make a difference in the market.”

Once back at OSU, Muszyński began making the rounds to industry partners to gauge their interest in constructing CLT test panels. He had little success until a meeting of the college’s Board of Visitors. Valarie Johnson, president of D.R. Johnson Lumber was in the room.

“The college asked if any of the companies present might be able to make CLT panels because they wanted to do testing,” Johnson says. “Since we’ve produced Glulam since 1967 I thought, ‘How hard could it be?’” Johnson says those words are jokingly repeated to her often by her staff.

Despite challenges, D.R. Johnson formed a partnership with Muszyński’s team. In October 2014, Oregon BEST awarded a $150,000 commercialization grant to D.R. Johnson Lumber for a CLT plant.

“We continue to work together with Oregon State to pursue our CLT production line here as well as expanding the awareness of CLT to a larger audience. Not only in Oregon, but throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

Increased production of CLT would boost the timber industry, create jobs and create structures that could withstand the threat of seismic activity within the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Muszyński says education of the industry and the public about advanced wood products like CLT is his greatest challenge.

“The lumber industry needs to adapt,” he explains. “There will be learning curves along the entire supply chain.”

Oregon State and D.R. Johnson believe the reward of using CLT will be worth the challenges especially in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. When a CLT panel sustains earthquake damage, it can be more easily repaired than steel or concrete. Muszyński’s team is moving forward to test CLT’s resistance to fire and other natural disasters.

In September 2016, the four-story Albina Yard building in Portland became the first building in the United States to be constructed of domestically produced — by D.R. Johnson — CLT.

“If the client is happy with this product, it would mean more commissions,” Muszyński says. “Just think what it could do for the rural Oregon economy. There’s no reason why this technology should not be used in Oregon and throughout the United States.”

Mac Forest improvements OK'd

Covering more than 11,000 acres in the hills north of Corvallis, McDonald-Dunn is used by the OSU College of Forestry as a living laboratory for research projects, an outdoor classroom for forestry students, a demonstration site for timberland owners and a source of revenue from commercial logging operations.

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