Oregon forest owner Linda Butts has hosted many tours through her 145-acre tree farm but the best one was the one that celebrated her winning the prestigious 2014 Oregon Tree Farm System Tree Farmer of the Year and runner-up for Western Region National Tree Farmer. The head of the Butts family, commonly known as the family that does things right, Linda’s management style generates desired forest conditions and improves the quality of the wood.
Butts and her sons Thom and Gary, set wildlife objectives that include preserving unique trees as wildlife trees, managing individual stands for longer rotations, and maintaining oak savannas (woodlands).
They recruit and maintain snags to provide habitat for the many species that rely on dead trees for their nesting and feeding and provide longer rotations to provide habitat for a broader list of wildlife species. The very oldest trees are left standing to provide habitat for birds and small mammals.
They mow the oak savanna to minimize invasive species and benefit native species and to encourage reproduction. The mowing is timed to allow native plant seeds to ripen and be dispersed. Oregon State University Forestry Extension and a host of other forest management organizations routinely use their tree farm to demonstrate successful forest management practices.
Linda, who was born and raised in Dickey Prairies, just east of Molalla, Oregon, was raising beef cattle in Oregon City when she and her late husband Lynn bought the tree farm property.
“Lynn and I thought we were going to move our cattle to the new property when we first bought it,” Linda said. “As it turned out, it wasn’t that suitable for livestock. Because of that, we signed up for Publishers Paper’s program for small landowners and started developing a tree farm.
“We started with a small clear cut and began planting trees. The first time we planted by hand but because we didn’t do it right we lost nearly all of them. The second time we made it work by using a Christmas tree planter and spraying for weeds first to eliminate cover for the mice.”
The acreage that became McCully Mountain Tree Farm, 41-years ago, served the Butts family well from the beginning. Between family camp outs, boy scout camps and gathering firewood, the enterprise was a family affair.
“The boys used to love riding their motorcycles through the woods,” Linda said. “It worked well because that was incentive to get the work done quickly. Today, the grandsons are doing the same thing.”
In her spare time, Linda digs truffles and identifies and photographs wild flowers and plants. She allows Heritage Seedings to collect seeds on the property.
“Though we bought the property with the idea of moving, I quite enjoy the one-and-a-half hour 60-mile commute,” she said. “Seeing what started out three-fourths pasture now turned into a beautiful managed forest filled with wildlife gives me a sense of accomplishment.
“We’re developing the oak savannah in memory of Lynn and we continue to share what we know with tour groups from all over the world.”
For more information on managing forestland, contact Oregon Small Woodlands Association, visit www.oswa.org or call 503-588-1813.
Photo: Linda Butts by Jan Jackson