Member Spotlight: Turning nothing into something

  • 0
  • December 29, 2015

In our Member Spotlight series, we highlight Northwest Certified Forestry (NCF) members who have used forest products for unique and entrepreneurial purposes on their land and within their communities. Often these projects help members earn supplemental income. For the third installment in the series, we introduce you to Oak Basin Tree Farma Forest Stewardship Council® certified member of our group certificate, who has sourced non-timber forest products from their woods to local markets.

Oak Basin Tree Farm

Through much hard work and creative ideas, brothers Jim and Ed Merzenich have the seemingly magical ability to turn nothing into something. Their skills in alchemy are abundantly evident throughout the restoration work and the non-timber forest products they sell as a by-product. They harvest tree boughs from pruning projects to improve wood quality and collect the needles to distill them into essential oils. While treating overstocked stands they remove small trees and shrubs, and turn the slender limbs into specialty broom handles.

The brothers, and Jim’s wife, Karen Wilson, steward nearly 1,000 acres in the Coburg Hills outside of Brownsville, Oregon at the south end of the Willamette Valley. Over the past 20 years, they’ve dedicated time and effort to restore the ecosystems found from valley floor to ridge-top that were historically present on Oak Basin, but weren’t thriving when they purchased the land. They’ve replanted the clear-cut areas, removed individual trees in stands where the goal is to restore Oregon white oak woodlands, and even ran cattle to reduce brush in areas overrun with blackberries.

Oak Basin Tree Farm is Forest Stewardship Council® certified through NNRG’s group certificate. The showcase forest is managed for multiple conservation objectives: increasing meadow habitat for for endangered Fender’s blue butterflies, restoring oak woodlands and savannas, providing wildlife habitat, and providing a sustained economic return from timber harvests. Much of Jim and Ed’s work has focused on removing dense patches of invasive species (Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberries, non-native thistles) to restore habitat for oaks, grasses and flowers, and insects, thinning overstocked stands, and restoring meadows. Restoration and stewardship at Oak Basin has been a partnership with state and local agencies and they’ve accessed USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service programs such as WHIP and EQIP to help do this work.

 

Oak Basin Tree Farm has earned recognition for excellent stewardship.

Oak Basin Tree Farm has earned recognition for excellent stewardship and they are active in the small woodland owner community. In 2012 they were awarded the the Linn County Tree Farm of the Year award, they are FSC certified, and they are members of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association.

 

Jim looks over Oak Basin Tree Farm, its restored meadows, and the Coburg Hills that flank the Willamette Valley.

Jim looks over Oak Basin Tree Farm, its hilltop meadows, and the Coburg Hills that flank the Willamette Valley.

 

Jim Merzenich hikes up through the meadow restoration area.

Jim hikes up through the meadow restoration area.

 

Kincaid's lupine is the host plant for Fender's blue butterfly.

Kincaid’s lupine (Lupinus sulphureus kincaidii) grows in the meadows of Oak Basin Tree Farm. Kincaid’s lupine is the host plant for Fender’s blue butterfly.

 

Jim and his colleague collect Ponderosa pine boughs from a pruning project. The boughs will be distilled into essential oil. Photo courtesy of Oregon Woodland Cooperative.

Jim and his colleague collect Ponderosa pine boughs that are a by-product from a pruning project. The boughs will be distilled into essential oil. Photo courtesy of Oregon Woodland Cooperative.

 

Oak Basin essential oils sold at New Seasons.

Essential oils from Oak Basin trees are sold under the Oregon Woodland Cooperative product line Canopy Essential Oils.

 

Learn more about Oak Basin Tree Farm:

Leave a Reply