by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Clackamas County residents learn about composting at the annual Clackamas Tree School, next taking place on Saturday, March 23, in Oregon City.Green and growing, the forested areas in the north Willamette Valley offer not only beauty through nature, but opportunity as well.

What many don’t know is that the woodlands in Clackamas and Marion counties are primarily owned by families, not the government. And those folks want to make something happen with that property.

“A pretty significant part of these forests are owned by families — a pretty big population, actually,” said Glenn Ahrens, extension forestry agent for Clackamas and Marion counties. “Those are the forests we see around the edges of our cities. They provide a lot of value.”

To help forest owners learn how to take care of that value, or simply capitalize a little on it, the Oregon State University Extension Service, Clackamas Community College and a host of forest-related agencies will hold the 23rd annual Clackamas Tree School Saturday, March 23, at the Oregon City campus.

Registration has begun at the Oregon State University Extension office in Oregon City. Contact the Extension office, 503-655-8631, to receive a registration catalog of classes or to sign up. 

“But, hurry,” said Ahrens, “Tree School registrations have been very brisk the first two weeks since our registration catalogue hit the streets. By the end of last week, we had registered nearly 400 landowners for Tree School and have about 200 spaces available.”

Tree School began 23 years ago when OSU Extension Service head Mike Bondi came up with the concept of a one-day, multiple-topic “school.”

“It was something that responded to a need,” Ahrens said. “How could we best deliver educational opportunities to these folks. We have some year-round classes, and we certainly do some one-on-one stuff, but the Tree School kind of evolved out of that.

“We help the forest owners learn what they might need to succeed,” Ahrens added. “We cover a pretty broad spectrum of things.”

From the equipment to water to pests, more than 70 classes will be attended by roughly 625 students to learn better ways to keep their forest land healthy. With registration under way, spaces are filling up.

According to Ahrens, the Clackamas Tree School has many classes still to choose from. Examples include operating chainsaws safely for women only; swine; working safely in the woods; after Christmas trees — what next?; how fire fighting agencies work together; farm employment issues for 2013; are permits for logging roads coming?; woodland product marketing; mosquito control on woodlands; and writing forest management plans.

Ahrens added that there will be some storytellers on hand as well, land owners sharing with those who are interested in the ways in which they are trying to preserve their forest land for their family — or simply make a small income from what they have.

“Sustaining forest for their families is a top priority,” Ahrens said. “Other topics that are big this year are looking at forestry as an investment, alternative ways to make a living or generate an income and fungi — besides the edible, we’ll look at its ecological connection.”

Tree School is an annual forestry and natural resource education event designed for those who own private forest land, Christmas tree growers, rural farm and country dwellers— and anyone interested in trees, the benefits they provide and the stewardship of our natural resources. 

“In all, we’ll have more than 750 people, 40 to 50 vendors, we’ll bring some professors down from OSU to talk to people on the ground, presentations, announcements, raffles and all kinds of things,” Ahrens said. “It’s a very busy day of learning. It’s pretty exciting.”

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