Valley Pine Management Guide Completed

Rick Fletcher

After more than 2 years in preparation, a guide for establishing and managing ponderosa pine in the Willamette Valley is now complete. The management guide describes what is known about this unique race of ponderosa pine, and how to establish, manage, protect, harvest, and market it on rural and urban sites in the Willamette Valley. The final text of the guide went to the editor in early January, and printing is expected sometime in February. The completed guide will be available through the Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine Conservation Association and the OSU Extension Service. Copies are planned for distribution to all Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine Conservation Association Members as soon as they are available. Funding for the publication has come from OSU Extension Service, U.S.D.A. State and Private Forestry Division and individuals. All told there are 9 authors that have contributed to the 40-page manual.

Here are a few excerpts from the text of the new guide:

“The year was 1852, and white settlement of the Willamette Valley was well underway. The town of Monroe was just getting its start with a new water-powered sawmill. The mill’s records indicate that it cut ponderosa pine exclusively for several years until the supply ran out. Other reports and studies of ponderosa pine in the Willamette Valley paint a picture of ponderosa in scattered pure stands or mixed in groves with Douglas-fir, ash, and oak. Two studies using pollen counts in deep cores from Willamette Valley bogs track pines’ presence for the last 7,000 to 10,000 years. The hypothesis is that lodge pole was the dominant pine until about 7,000 years ago when a major climate shift removed lodge pole and brought in ponderosa pine. Pollen counts covering these 7,000 years indicate that ponderosa pine, while widespread across the valley, has never been the dominant vegetation type.”

“Surveyors, botanists, and historians in the 1850s recorded yellow pines in oak woodlands, on areas subject to flooding, and on foothill slopes and ridges where they were widely spaced and mixed with oak and Douglas-fir. These open stands have been called savannahs.”

Bob Mealey with Valley Ponderosa at the Kintigh forest seedling nursery
Photo by R L McNitt

Bob Mealey with Valley ponderosa 
at the Kintigh forest seedling nursery

Concern about the dwindling supply of native Willamette Valley ponderosa pines, and the realization that the local source could not be replaced with eastside sources, led to the formation of the Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine Conservation Association, in 1996. A group of local foresters, landowners, and scientists had been studying the local pines for 15 years and had begun propagating local parent sources. The association seeks to further this work in restoring ponderosa pine to the Willamette Valley through research, education, and increased availability of seed from the local race of pines. To date, more than 950 native stands have been mapped, and about 160 parents have been grafted into a seed orchard near St. Paul, Oregon. The association’s work will be complete when landowners can purchase native planting stock readily and when research has shown how best to plant and grow this tree.”

“A recently completed study by Max Bennett of 16 native Willamette Valley ponderosa stands on 12 different soil types found a wide variety of growth rates, depending on soil type. Site indexes (estimates of site productivity based on how tall a tree of a given species will grow on a site in a given number of years) for each site were extrapolated from existing site index curves from ponderosa pine in southwest Oregon, based on expected total height at 50 years. On most sites, the ponderosas are expected to grow nearly 100 feet in the first 50 years. Exceptions were on very severe sites where the high water table and shallow soils converged. When these trees will slow down or stop growing taller is not known and undoubtedly will vary widely by soil type, but large specimen trees on suitable soils have grown up to 150 feet high.”

“The California fivespined ips (Ips) is potentially a threat to managed stands of Willamette Valley ponderosa pine. At present, documented Ips infestations in the Valley are confined to scattered attacks on saplings and larger pine. In California and southwest Oregon, populations of this beetle build up in slash and emerge to attack leave trees. This species of Ips is very aggressive during drought years and often kills the tops of mature trees or clumps of overstocked pole-size pine. As more acreage in the Willamette Valley is planted to ponderosa pine, this beetle is likely to become a significant pest.”


Last Updated 02/24/08