FOrest0710

An instructor talks about forests at a lesson at one of Washington State University’s previous field days.

Washington State University will help local forest owners keep their habitats healthy with the 2019 Puget Sound Forest Owners Field Day on Aug. 10.

“We work with small forest land owners each year,” said Brendan Whyte, Washington State University forest program coordinator.

“We try to promote education to help them forest their small forests,” he said.

The program puts on a multi-week seminar each year, and they also have a field day.

“Every summer we also like to do some kind of a field day where people can pick and choose the things they want to learn about,” said Whyte.

This year’s field day is in Arlington at the Pilchuck Tree Farm. Pre-registration is $25 per person or $35 per couple if you register by July 26.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It will include six one-hour lessons that the participants can pick and choose from.

Those lessons include presentations about forest soil, drought impact, general forest health, how to grow shiitake mushrooms, thinning and pruning and how to manage a timber sale.

The instructors are experts who mostly come from public agencies, said Whyte. “We have a lot of experienced instructors here,” he said.

Whyte said that Washington State University helps put on this program to protect forests that are privately owned.

“Small forest land owners make up between 20 percent to 25 percent of the forested land in this state,” he said.

“That is between 5 million and 7 million acres, depending on who you ask,” he said.

The rate at which that land is being deforested is also much higher than in other places, said Whyte.

Between 1990 and 2000 about 5 percent of that land was deforested, he said.

“If you extrapolate that over the next 100 years that means we’d be losing half of that forest,” said Whyte.

Most of that forest is from land sitting just outside of urban areas.

“A lot of this forest is in the buffer zones between the large federally-owned forests and the population centers, so it is most of what the population will interact with and see most often,” said Whyte.

Programs like this August’s field day are designed to help land owners learn how to take care of their forests.

“After all the harvesting of previous years, many of these forests are becoming overstocked,” said Whyte.

“And with climate change we’re also seeing problems with droughts and different kinds of insects and diseases becoming more of a problem,” he said.

More information about the local field day provided by Washington State University is available at forestry.wsu.edu/nps/events/fieldday/.

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