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Seasonal Forestry Reminders


Each season presents the best time to conduct different stewardship activities. Timing your forest management for the ideal season will help you achieve success and avoid setbacks. This page provides tips for each season to help you make the most of winter, spring, summer, and fall out in the woods.

  • Install nesting boxes
  • Clean existing nesting boxes to improve the health of the birds
  • Make habitat piles
  • Avoid major management activities like timber harvesting when the nesting season starts, around March 15, until chicks have left their nests around June 15.
  • Consider adding logs and root wads to streams that lack the woody debris salmon need. Young fry like to feed and grow in the pools and riffles created by this debris. Can you spot any baby salmon in your stream?


  • Clear winter debris from roads and trails for recreation and forest maintenance access.
  • Conduct pre-commercial and commercial thinning.
    • Be sure to wait until mid-June when the sap flow slows down as the bark on your trees is more vulnerable to damage until that time.
    • Birds tend to fledge through July, so forests with songbirds should schedule harvests for August and September.
    • Try to wrap up any logging before October while the soil is still dry to minimize compaction.
  • Look along streams for canopy gaps that expose stream reaches, and plan to plant these areas to restore shade. It is critical to keep streams shaded – salmon and other wildlife depend on cold water.
  • Do any necessary road maintenance before the wet season.
  • Prunings are the least likely to get invaded by bark beetles. There is no real danger from small down material unless there is an outbreak in the immediate vicinity.
  • Reduce fuel loads and minimize fire hazard
    • Pull slash along roads and around buildings.
    • Slash should be chipped or piled and burned.
  • Cut firewood early, so it has remainder of season to dry

  • Double check cages around planted trees. Straighten cages and reset stakes.
  • Check newly planted seedlings for drought stress. Water stressed plants.
  • If you planted trees, early summer is the best time to cut back competing vegetation.
    • Visual clue: once sword fern has completing unfurled, most spring growth is over with. Don’t cut things back to early or they will regrow and compete with your seedling again.
  • Check for noxious weeds like tansy, scotch broom, and holly and pull them before they flower or seed.
    • If necessary, apply herbicide to knotweed, purple loosestrife, and other resilient weeds later summer when plants have the most leaf area and it is driest outside.
  • Enjoy the bounty of edible plants like salmonberries, salal, oxalis, and Oregon grape.

  • The ideal season to plant and transplant starts when soils are saturated from the first rains and last until the end of the March. If seedlings are available, it is ideal to transplant in the fall because the plants have all winter to get rooted.
  • When you walk your woods, you can often find natural seedling nurseries along roads or gravel, these are great to transplant. It is ideal to transplant species from your own land because they are ideally suited to thrive.
  • Late fall is a great time to prepare live plant stakes and help them start root in pots or the ground. Willow, cottonwood, ash and currants are all great plants to propagate.

  • During the first rain events of the season, get out and look at the drainage of your roads. Make sure water is shedding off one side or the other, not running down the road surface.
  • Make sure roadside ditches are clear to allow water to flow smoothly. Make sure other drainage systems like water bars are still functioning and haven’t worn down. Make sure cross drains have not gotten clogged – beavers have been known to plug up culverts.
  • If you identify any road or culvert issues, apply for EQIP funding to complete the necessary repairs if they are too large to be solved with a DIY fix.
  • If you have a stream in your forest, monitor stream bank integrity and be on the lookout for any needed restoration like streamside planting.
    • Look out for possible upstream issues – channel downcutting, channel insizing, or movement of wood can indicate an upstream issue that’s increasing peak flow and water velocity.
    • If this is the case you may need to add wood and rocks back into the streams to restore habitat and slow flows. Agencies like WDFW can provide guidance on properly placing wood in stream.

  • As trees start going into dormancy, fall is a great time to prune and conduct precommercial thinning. It’s easier to move in the forest in fall and winter. After thinning, there are many ways to manage the resulting slash:
    • Branches can be left, dropped as they fall, as long as there is not a significant pile around the base/bowl of the tree.
    • Branches can also be collected and piled in a place that’s a gap, not adjacent to a tree.
    • Poles can be cut and dropped. Make sure to limb them and cut them into 10-15’ sections so the pole is in contact with the ground to increase habitat value.
    • Use poles to make habitat piles, with larger diameter wood on the bottom, stacked perpendicularly, and smaller slash on top to make a pile about 10’ in diameter and 6’ tall.
    • Make constructed habitat logs by piling poles parallel to one another to make a “log” about 20” in diameter and 20’ long.
    • Consider an alternate use of woody debris like firewood and manufacturing biochar.
    • Make sure to always clear slash 25-50’ from roads to maintain fuelbreaks.

Cover Photo: Matt Freeman-Gleason

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