Logged park trees were in poor shape – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Logged park trees were in poor shape

Written September 24th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Adam Stebbins points out the fungus inside a Douglas fir felled at North Albany County Park.

Even though some of the trees felled at North Albany County Park looked healthy, they weren’t. I learned this when I visited today with Adam Stebbins, Benton County’s natural resources coordinator.

Stebbins was leading the cleanup after last week’s logging. Men and women in a Linn County work crew were feeding branches into chippers. Stebbins said without the help of the Linn County sheriff and the Albany Parks Deparment the work would take weeks. As it is, it should be finished Thursday, with the grinding of stumps.

Fifty-five Douglas firs in the park were cut down as “hazard trees,” weakened to the point they might break and fall. The logging prompted complaints from neighbors that it also took down healthy trees, but Stebbins says the trees were not in good shape. With previous experience in other forestry jobs, he’s worked for the county in forestry management for 10 years.

The firs were planted more than 50 years ago in what was a Christmas tree farm before it became a county park. With the soil conditions there, Douglas firs have a life expectancy of 35 years. Summertime heat and drought plus too much moisture in the winters added to the stress on these trees.

While some still had plenty of greenery, they also showed needle die-off, and on some the crowns had begun to wither, a sure sign on a Douglas fir that the tree is doomed. Some of the stumps showed black areas, which Stebbins described as a fungus, an infection that rots the trunk from within.

Benton County paid a contractor, Timber Services of Philomath, about $24,000 to fell the trees and haul the logs to mills in Philomath and Eugene. Revenue from the sale amounted to about $10,000.

The county will plant Willamette Valley pines, better suited to conditions, to replace the firs. (hh)

A pile of Douglas fir branches ready for the chipper at North Albany County Park today.

6 responses to “Logged park trees were in poor shape”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    Hasso writes, perhaps as foreshadow: “…they showed needle die-off, … crowns had begun to wither, a sure sign.. the tree is doomed.”

    Turn the Natural Resources Coordinator into a Geriatrics Practitioner, then twist sickly pines into fermenting Baby-boomers and voila”… Hasso’s metaphor is complete, and unsettling. Very Bard-like, eh what?

  2. Mitchell Elstad says:

    Not firs. Douglas-firs. Two completely different species.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    Having worked for both cities Albany and Corvallis, I am assured that the Parks & Rec Departments do diligence in maintaining, or removing trees in the parks when necessary. They have great affinity for the trees they plant and care for. They are not out to clear cut parks to increase budgetary funds by logging. There is a lot of knowledge and skills they adhere to. They make sound decisions and they keep us, not only safe, but also provide us with wonderful green spaces for us to enjoy safely.

  4. Robin Corcoran says:

    Hasso Hering’s editorial is one-sided and uniformed! He didn’t bother to get the point of view of a single neighbor! He didn’t have any first-hand information about the trees in question! He just based his opinion solely on the information fed to him by Benton County’s Adam Stebbins, who is NOT a forester.

    The fact of the matter is that the county had informed the community that the UNHEALTHY trees would have to be removed. These trees were marked with blue paint and everyone could see they were unhealthy. No one would be complaining if they had stuck to this plan, but they did not! They went in and logged trees that were NOT marked for removal and were clearly quite healthy. And to claim that ALL of them were rotted based on evidence of rot in specific trees is preposterous!.

    One of the healthy trees that was felled that day was actually our Gathering Tree, a place where neighbors could visit while their dogs mingled and played. Despite the fact that it lacked blue paint, this was the first tree to be toppled that morning. It was as if they wanted to cut it before anyone could point out that what they were doing was wrong. This tree was green to the crown, with impressive side branches that were solid and loaded with green needles. I was distraught to see it lying on the ground and confronted Adam, who tried to claim the tree had mold in the trunk. Upon closer inspection, it was clear this “rot” was actually just chainsaw grease! The trunk was as solid as could be! The vigorous growth rings showed it was 65 years old and thriving! Now the Gathering Tree has been chipped, making hard to establish it’s health. But those of us who gathered round that tree know the truth.

    What have they done to our park? How can we trust Benton County to tell us the truth after this? And how are we to utilize this wide open space lacking in both shade and beauty? It feels more like a baseball field than our beloved park. The logging of the park robbed us all of a tremendous community resource! Now this editorial has robbed us of the right to have our voices heard!


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