Bogs and Outwash - reflections from a Guild Gathering

The Guild's Pacific North region hosted three Guild Gatherings in 2018, thanks to the hosting and help of Guild members and partners. The results are new connections, new ideas shared and deliberated, and increased energy toward the future. The most recent gathering, in Washington, had a unique format and garnered valuable insights in its evaluation.

Bogs and Outwash: Growing Uneven Aged Douglas Fir in the Puget Sound Area was the name of the autumn 2018 Guild Gathering in Shelton, Washington. Located in Mason County near the South Puget Sound, Cranberry Lake is the headwaters of a salmon stream called Cranberry Creek, which meanders approximately 4.5 miles before flowing into Oakland Bay of the Puget Sound. The Cranberry Lake Foundation manages a 720-acre property and hosts a research program and an education program, mainly for area scouts and youth. This property was the site of our gathering.

The Guild Gathering focused on a management plan in stages. A tour visited sites within the property that had a harvest as recently as the week before, to as far back as 7 years. Participants had the opportunity to walk around, explore the sites on their own and make observations, develop questions, and reflect on the results they were seeing, before gathering at each of four sites. Once together, the group discussed the management history, specific activities, and resulting current state of sites harvested 1 week, 4 years and 7 years ago.

Thank you to all who provided feedback after attending this event. The time and thoughts you share truly do help us improve for the future, enhance what is already great about these events, and continue the discussions and reflections beyond the field. 

For example, some new facts and concepts that participants learned included:

1. Looking and thinking about the regeneration that is creating the next cohort and how to actively encourage that. 

2. Spacing is most important management factor for resiliency to drought.

3. I was surprised about the lack of favor for western white pine due to it's low commercial value, which seemed to outweigh considerations of biological diversity.

And favorite highlights from the gathering:

1. Talking with others one on one and seeing management in action. 

2. Great conversations with ideas and contributions from a variety of people. 

3. ...the egalitarian nature of Guild gatherings.

4. Seeing multiple stand with commercial thinning operations. 

5. Opportunity to wander through each stop before group discussion.

And areas for improvement:

1. Maps/graphics that show stand histories and goals. 

2. A little more detail on past plans, site history, prescriptions, although I understand it was lacking due to application of "intuitive forestry," which I happen to favor. 

3. Needed better directions for getting there.

Another key component is hearing about where you would like to see a Guild Gathering happen, or what topics you'd like to see covered. Participants following up from the Bogs and Outwash event shared these possibilities:

1. Transformation from even-aged stands to multi-aged stands. 

2. A tour of the forests of Joint Base Lewis-McChord between Olympia and Tacoma, WA. 

3. See locations covered by "working forest" conservation easements. And hear the experiences of anyone who has - in actual practice, for a specific piece of ground and client - thrashed through what to say in the easement language (which lives forever), compared to what to say in the forest plan (which may be modified every few years). 

4. Managing for diversity (both at the forest stand and the landscape level). 

You can always send ideas for Guild Gathering topics and locations. Please do! Guild members and partners are the inspiration for these events and what makes them possible. Just email membership@forestguild.org.

Thanks to Shane Hetzler and Gregor Yanega for the photos in this article.