Last week, I had the pleasure of a pleasant walk through a forest area which had been almost completely clear cut by loggers about 80-90 years ago. Because of great foresight by people back then who replanted trees, and then worked tirelessly to protect the area, the Silver Falls State Park was established, east of Silverton, Oregon, and today provides a place of incredible beauty.
Nine spectacular waterfalls are surrounded by majestic stands of Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar, having already reached to 150 feet and more in height, and 2-4 feet in diameter. The spectacular recovery of this landscape in less than a hundred years is all the more remarkable when you view the photos of stumps and desolation soon after the logging took place.
Today, thick emerald green moss clings to the trunks and branches of the trees and shrubs in the understory, creating a primeval and timeless atmosphere where shafts of light penetrate the canopy, illuminating a million water droplets like sparkling jewels. The temperate rainforest enables the recovering forest to have plenty of water and nutrients for speedy growth.
At times I felt as if I was in a virgin forest, even though the rotting remains of giant stumps left by logging crews told a tale of tumultuous activity in a pioneer settlement. Fortunes were made and lost, hills laid bare, and in a few decades, the logging village began to die. During the Great Depression a CCC camp was established and the present State Park lodge was built along with several other buildings and extensive trails. World War II brought an end to the CCC as men went off to war, but the trees that had been replanted continued to grow rapidly, so much so, that it’s hard to tell that the area was once devastated.
The foresight of those who plant trees gives a great gift to those generations that follow regardless of the part of the world where reforestation takes place. In some places the climate and soils mean slower growth, but the most important thing is to get trees planted, and let time and Mother Nature bring forth all the benefits of healthy trees.
Whether we help restore a clear cut from timber harvest, selectively add trees to our urban forests, or establish farm country windbreaks or reforest marginal farmlands that are no longer used for pastures or row crops, the planting of trees leaves an incredibly valuable legacy for future generations.
I have also shared this post with the Northfield News.