Building Stewardship for Our Special Forests
Forest Web of Cottage Grove’s successful nomination of the Cottage Grove
Old-Growth (Boehner Woods) to be designated as an Area of Critical
Environmental Concern (ACEC) was just the beginning of our efforts. We are
working with our local Stakeholder’s group and Al Kennedy High School to develop
a stewardship relationship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), not only
for this rare old-growth forest, but also for another local ACEC, the Cougar
Mountain Yew Grove. Once plans have been developed, these unique habitats
will offer countless educational opportunities to students, the community, and
visiting nature enthusiasts.
Become a Supporter of Our ACEC’s!
Checks should be made out to Forest Web (with “ACEC Project” noted in the memo field) and mailed to: Forest Web, P.O. Box 1026, Cottage Grove, OR 97424. Or, via PayPal, and the donation will be allocated for this project.
Studying the Ecosystems, What We Can Learn - What We Can Teach
Partnering with Al Kennedy High School, Forest Web is excited to see these forests used as classrooms for teaching environmental science as well as variety of other subjects. The school’s forestry and mathematics teachers have already led one student field trip to the Cottage Grove Old-Growth.
Our hope is to gain permission to create low impact trails through both forests with the assistance of Kennedy’s youth forestry crews. We also want to train docents to act as hiking guides who will take small groups to visit these special forests.
Another of our goals is to develop an in-depth catalog of the biodiversity existing in both ecosystems. Not only to enrich our own knowledge, but to use in training and education materials.
Forest Web has already engaged the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team (N.E.S.T.) to conduct a brief survey of the Cottage Grove Old Growth. The results showed the discovery of red-tree voles on site. The red tree vole is on the Federal List of Candidate Species, meaning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may propose to list this population under the Endangered Species Act.
We also plan to organize a second survey with a retired BLM botanist whose expertise in mycology and lichen will help us identify indigenous species. In the future, we plan to invite other specialists to visit both sites to continue the research and further our understanding of these complex biosystems.
In Memory of Paul…
A teacher and conservation advocate, Paul used local Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) forests as outdoor classrooms to teach his students about old growth
ecosystems. Over the years, he was saddened to watch these special forests
disappear one by one. Even after Paul retired from teaching Ecology &
Conservation at Lincoln Junior High School, he worked tirelessly to protect one
remaining haven of old-growth habitat near his home, passionately committed
to its long-term preservation.
Paul was in his late 80’s when Forest Web first contacted him about taking on his
project, after learning he wanted someone to continue his efforts for this forest.
He gave us every note, report, and photo he had accumulated over three decades
of campaigning with the BLM to have this forest designated an Area of Critical
Environmental Concern (ACEC). He generously shared his wisdom, about his
teaching career and about the forest itself, telling us of its history…the year of
the big blowdown…the impacts of logging on neighboring private timber lands…the unique ecosystem with its special importance as the northern-most portion of a corridor connecting the Cascades and the Coast Range spotted owl gene pools.
Forest Web spent over three years talking to BLM officials, preparing the official nomination report, based heavily on Paul’s research, and writing the subsequent appeal when the first request was denied. It was a happy moment for both of us when I called Paul to tell him his forest was safe. The BLM had designated what we lovingly call Boehner Woods, as the “Cottage Grove Old Growth ACEC.”
In his writings on these woods, Paul stated, “Saving old growth has merit in itself; it has special qualities that logged areas and second growth forests do not have, such as its unique bio-ecological diversity, and its ability to maintain high water quality and quantity. But, perhaps the most critical value of old growth in the long term is the innoculative effects of its micro- and macro-organisms to surrounding forests. It is worth noting that this may be the greatest value of this special old growth stand to the surrounding forests.”
Boehner Woods is the only remaining old growth ecosystem of its kind near Cottage Grove. Home to pileated woodpeckers and red tree voles as well as a diverse variety of plants and tree species such as Douglas fir, hemlock, and red cedar, some over 500 years old. Along with its environmental value, Boehner Woods serves a significant educational purpose. We will continue to use it as a classroom just as Paul did, honoring his memory by teaching future generations in the forest Paul saved.