The term "leafy neighborhood" came into common use a couple of years ago.  It signifies what a lot of people want: some cool shady trees to blunt the harsh urban/suburban experience. 

Well, there's a problem there: research indicates that urban tree cover is diminishing, just as the planet is getting warmer. 

David J. Nowak studies this and other trends for the U.S. Forest Service. 

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

"Highly modified by human influence."  That's the U.S. Forest Service's brief description of the condition of the Upper Briggs Creek watershed west of Grants Pass. 

So it's time for a bit of restoration work, that will, it is hoped, enhance the forest while still allowing for many human activities as well as comforts for non-human creatures. 

A comment period on the project closes later this week (May 31). 


The focus in wildfires tends to fall upon the damage: the trees lost, the homes destroyed. 

But ecologists often remind us that fire is part of the forest ecosystem, ultimately necessary for a forest to remain healthy. 

And fires also save water, if that makes any sense.  Think about it: dead trees do not pull water out of the ground and lose it through evaporation.  Which adds up to a lot of water saved in the last three decades. 

National Park Service hydrologist Jim Roche studies the phenomenon. 

Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service, Public Domain,

Crater Lake would just not be the same without that big blue lake. 

Would it be very different without the big whitebark pine trees?  There's a chance we could find out, because the trees appear to be under great stress, from insect infestation, tree diseases, and climate change. 

Sean Smith at the Klamath Inventory and Monitoring Network has been keeping an eye on the fate of the trees for several years now. 

Hemhem20X6, Public Domain,

Dead trees happen.  But a LOT of dead trees happening all at once is a cause for concern, and it led to the creation of a Sudden Oak Death Syndrome Task Force in Oregon. 

Public officials at several levels of government took part, producing a report on impacts of SODS on oaks and other trees. 

The report is finished, and a set of recommendations is part of it. 

Oregon Department of Forestry

Lone Rock Timber and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians were ready to take over part of the state-owned Elliott State Forest, but Oregon leaders had other ideas. 

The forest is supposed to generate money for schools through timber sales, but has lost money in recent years. 

That's what prompted the move to sell part of it, a move canceled by the governor and state treasurer, two of the three members of the State Land Board. 

Tuxyso, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It's easy to stand near California's giant sequoia trees with your jaw hanging open. 

It's less easy to understand how they could possibly get enough nutrition to grow so big.  One recent study shows that dust blowing from far away adds to the nutrition. 

The dust blows all the way from China's Gobi Desert, says Emma Aronson at the University of California-Riverside. 

Hemhem20X6, Public Domain,

Sudden Oak Death is becoming a big enough concern that even Congress is paying attention. 

Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley recently joined with a state legislator, Rep. David Brock Smith, to create a task force on the tree disease. 

So far, it is contained to Curry County on Oregon's South Coast, but it has killed large numbers of oak trees in coastal California as well, and defoliated conifers, too. 

Photo: Ben DeJarnette

Just because people want to live in the country does not mean you know anything about caring for the land. 

Which is why the Oregon State University Extension Service offers programs in land stewardship.  Those include an annual offering called Tree School Rogue, coming to Rogue Community College in April. 

Max Bennett is one of the instructors, helping forest landowners know more about the care and feeding of the forest. 

North Coast Rises Up Against The English Ivy

Feb 22, 2017
chery, Public Domain,

It looks really pretty on exterior walls--think universities and Wrigley Field--but English ivy is a pest. 

It is not a plant indigenous to our region, and ivy causes problems for native plants, including trees in the forest. 

It's a greater problem in the moister forests of the North Coast, where the No Ivy League has worked to eradicate it for several years. 

Land Board Meets On Elliott State Forest

Dec 12, 2016

It's not every day a state sells its own forest.  But that could happen today (December 13th) when the Oregon State Land Board meets. 

On the table: the proposed sale of the Elliott State Forest to bring in revenue for the Common School Fund. 

Lone Rock Timber and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians joined forces to put in the only bid. 

Jes Burns of our Earthfix unit has covered the story for a long time now. 

Elliott State Forest's Would-Be Owners Speak

Nov 29, 2016
Tony Anderson/Oregon Department of Forestry/Flickr

The State of Oregon had trouble making money off the Elliott State Forest, because timber sales lagged. 

So now the state stands to make a whole bunch of money at once, by selling the forest. 

Lone Rock Timber Management Company put in the only bid, as a partner with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians

Other tribes plan to work with The Conservation Fund to monitor practices on the forest.  But the deal is not quite done; state decisions lie ahead. 

Why Tasty Mushrooms Seem To Like Fires

Oct 31, 2016

Wild mushrooms are mysterious lifeforms. 

For instance: we still don't know WHY morel mushrooms bloom after a wildfire. What we do know is that morels pack a delicious punch.

They're a distinctive species, popular with foragers, foodies, and with Dr. C. Alina Cansler, a research ecologist at The University of Washington.

Dr. Cansler co-authored a study of morels published last month in Forest Ecology and Managment.

Trees At The Tipping Point

Jul 20, 2016
Public Domain/Wikimedia

If the Earth's problem is too much carbon in the atmosphere and trees soak up carbon, will more trees head off climate change?  Maybe not, according to recently published research

Noah Charney at the University of Arizona and his team find trees all over North America stressed by higher-than-normal temperatures, and stressed trees grow more slowly. 

Get To Know Your Forest Floor

Jul 13, 2016
Michael Richardson/Wikimedia

  It's time to get to know our lichens better. 

Naturalist Kem Luther can help in that department.  He's written a book about lichens, mosses, fungi, and the other things that grow on the forest floor in his book Boundary Layer from Oregon State University Press. 

Luther makes the comparison between the importance of plankton in the oceans and the importance of the plant layer in the forest. 

Why Whitebark Pines Are So Important

Sep 16, 2015

Maybe you can't tell a pine from a fir from a spruce, but the people of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation can, and they're concerned. 

The pines, generally found in higher elevations, are important species in mountain ecosystems. 

And they faces challenges from a number of quarters, climate change among them. 

WPEF holds its annual meeting in Ashland this week. 

Forest Restoration Project Teaches, Too

Jul 23, 2015
Lomakatsi Restoration Project

Forest restoration can be a learning experience as well as a benefit for the environment.

And it IS, in the Ashland Watershed Summer youth Training and Employment Program. 

Lomakatski Restoration Project is one of the partners in the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project, and Lomatski adds high school juniors and seniors to its workforce in the summer, both for learning and for pay. 

Get to Know The Many Kinds Of Manzanitas

Jul 16, 2015
Backcountry Press

Newcomers to the State of Jefferson often ask about the plant with the green leaves and orange or purple branches, the one that seems to have lost its bark.

Old-timers ask back: “the tree or the bush?” The tree is the madrone, the bush is manzanita.

And the bush is the star of a new book, Field Guide to Manzanitas, the work of Michael Kauffmann, Tom Parker, and Michael Vasey.

Cascadia Wildlands

Oregon's Elliott State Forest is almost at the point of producing more arguments than trees.

The forest is supposed to supplies trees for timber companies, in order to provide income for Oregon's Common School Fund. 

But environmental protections reduced the harvest.  So in some years, the forest loses money, rather than making it. 

The State Land Board is looking at options, including a possible sale of at least a portion of the forest. 

Rob Manning/OPB

Northwest  forest policy is once again heating up.  Last week, federal officials presented their latest assessment of the Northwest Forest Plan, which covers more than 2 million acres of federal land in Washington, Oregon and California.  Jes Burns from our EarthFix team gets together with JPR’s Liam Moriarty to break it all down.