Workshop: Hands-On Forest Health Strategies for San Juan Forest Owners – Orcas Island

New workshop on Orcas Island!

Many forest owners across San Juan County are interested in taking a hands-on approach to improving the health, resilience and productivity of their forests, but lack the information, skills and resources to do so. At this workshop, local and regional experts will introduce forest owners to simple, do-it-yourself strategies for thinning their forests, mitigating slash and creating value-added products.

Participants will develop a deeper understanding of the ecological risks facing Orcas Island forests due to wildfire, drought, disease, and insect infestation. Participants will learn how to evaluate forest conditions, select trees for harvesting, and utilize woody biomass for forest health and biochar production.

The workshop will be held outside in an island forest, and all instruction will be socially-distanced. Participants will be required to follow state masking guidelines.

See events on other islands

Register for the workshop here!


DATE: May 15, 2021

TIME: 9:30am-3:30pm

LOCATION: Camp Orkila, Orcas Island

Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch and water for the day. More information about workshop activities will be provided closer to the workshop.


Instruction will be a combination of lecture, demonstration, and hands-on activities, including:

  • Stand Assessment 101: How to “read” and understand what is happening in your forest from an ecological perspective. Topics include species competition, tree canopy classes, and timber quality.
  • Forest Management Goals & Options: Discuss strategies for reducing fire risk, improving timber growth and quality, and increasing resilience to climate change.
  • Tree Selection for Thinning: The rhyme and reason for thinning from below, thinning across diameters, tree spacing, and species selection.
  • Tree Marking Exercise: Practice marking trees for thinning.
  • Tree Felling 101: Participants observe basic tree felling techniques. Open face & boring cut for larger diameter trees. Felling small diameter trees. Dealing with a “hang-up”. Limbing & bucking.
  • Utilizing Cut Material: Strategies include lop & scatter, habitat piles, habitat logs, firewood, chipping, etc.
  • Making Biochar: Why biochar can be a valuable soil amendment in your forest. Demonstration of a conservation burn (if conditions allow).
  • Funding Forest Stewardship: How to fund your forest health work through cost-share programs.
  • Forestry contractors: Who to work with, and how.


Participants can sign up for a limited number of free two-hour site visits with a forester. During the site visit, the forester will help landowners refine plans for managing their forest and answer site specific questions. To register for a free site visit, please email


Kirk Hanson | Northwest Natural Resource Group

Carson Sprenger | Rain Shadow Consulting

Lindsay Watkins | Rain Shadow Consulting

Kai Hoffman-Krull | Forage

Register for the workshop here!

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28587.

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