The larger Oak Basin block includes small valleys and ridges ranging in elevation from 550 feet to 2160 feet in the foothills of the Cascades. South and west aspects, which occupy half of the total acreage, generally support oak and oak savanna. Many areas have also been planted with native ponderosa pine which grows well on droughty soils. North and east aspects support Douglas fir, grand fir, and big leaf maple. Moist and dry meadows are dispersed throughout the property. Many of the valleys provide secluded areas attractive to deer, elk, and bear. Silver gray squirrels, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and both mountain and valley quail abound on the property.
Prior to our ownership the farm was part of a large cattle operation and was heavily logged. Since our initial purchase in 1994, we have planted more than 350 thousand ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, western red cedar, and incense cedar seedlings to reestablish forest stands. We have also commercially thinned 70 acres of Douglas fir and have removed invasive conifers from over one-hundred acres of oak woodland.
Oregon white oak stands are one of the rarest natural habitats in the Northwest. Less than two percent of the Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) habitat, that once dominated the Willamette valley, remains, and most of this habitat is contained on private land. Oak Basin contains some of the largest intact parcels of oak and oak savanna habitat remaining in the southern Willamette valley with some stands exceeding 150 years of age (presettlement oak). Oak Basin is home to the endangered Fender’s Blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi) and many other rare plant and vertebrate species associated with Oregon white oak woodlands and savanna. We are actively restoring these areas by removing the competing vegetation, mowing the brush, prescribe burning, and reestablishing native grasses and forbs.
Our primary objective is to demonstrate that a sustainable flow of harvestable timber can be produced from a property that is managed for native species protection. We believe that habitat protection can best be achieved by active management. We follow practices which will sustain and improve habitat for threatened and endangered species. This includes the restoration, maintenance, and expansion of existing oak habitat and the responsible management of all forested types. We strive to be an example to others that management can be ecologically sustainable while returning profits and services to the landowner.
Our management is consistent with the goal of ecological sustainability nurtured by the Forest Stewardship Council. We have chosen to join and retain our membership in the Northwest Natural Resource Group (NNRG) to insure that our management continues to meet the highest possible ecological standards. We are working to establish a Conservation Easement on all or a portion of our property and desire that it remains undeveloped in perpetuity. Being an actively managed tree farm, we also sell logs, lumber, and other forest products that are certified as being green and sustainably produced by FSC. The management of Oak Basin tree farm would not be possible without the assistance of many active partners.
Oak Basin tree farm is certified by both the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Ed Merzenich was the western Oregon runner-up in the ATFS competition in the year 2000. We will continue to work closely with both of these associations. We aspire to be Oregon Tree Farmers of the year based on our restoration work.