News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Students learn planting lessons for Santiam State Forest

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Approximately 70 Salem-area technical education students received a lesson in tree planting Feb. 10 in the Santiam State Forest.

The students, all from the Career Education Technical Center in Salem, received instruction from Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) officials and then worked the Fern Ridge area of the Santiam State Forest.

“It’s important to get the trees planted at the correct depth and make sure the soil is compacted around them,” said John Walter, ODF silviculturist, to the group of four students he was leading. “If you plant them too shallow the roots will dry out and the seedling will die.”

The ODF worked with the State Forest Trust of Oregon on the project, which works on continuing reforestation and recovery efforts in the Santiam State Forest post-2020 wildfires. The State Forest Trust, founded in 1999, has established a fund to restore recreation areas and promote education about wildfires. The Trust also played a key role in the development of forest education in the Tillamook State Forest, which burned in several iterations from 1933 to 1951.

“This type of practical awareness and education is what the Trust is all about,” said Lorie Wigle, who organized the tree planting. Wigle previously served as the Trust’s executive director and now is a volunteer.  “This is a long-term effort, but I’m hoping we can raise awareness and bring together all Oregonians for the Santiam the same way they pulled together to restore the Tillamook State Forest.

“We are in the early stages of creating a vision for the education, recreation, and stewardship opportunities for the Santiam State Forest,“ she said.

The Santiam State Forest Wildfire Restoration Fund is taking donations to help bring back the forest.  Trust officials are hopeful this private/public partnership will have the same impact as it had with the Tillamook.

To donate, volunteer or learn more about Oregon forest restoration go to the Trust website,  .

The Fern Ridge plantings are part of an ongoing ODF effort that will have replanted more than 3.2 million trees by the end of 2024.

“This event is about establishing a hands-on connection to all the benefits of our state forests,” said Kelly Lau, executive director of the Trust.   “These students come from diverse backgrounds and some have no or very little experience in the forest.  We want them to see, feel, and experience firsthand the social, economic and ecological benefits and encourage them to be the future stewards of our sustainable state forests.”

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