ESTACADA, Ears – David Bugni and his wife, Mary Ann, believe in leaving the forest on their land near Estacada in Clackamas County better than they found it. The Bugnis’ meticulous stewardship earned them the 2022 Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year title.
The award was presented last week by the nonprofit Oregon Tree Farm System (OTFS). Runners-up were Mike and Jo Barsotti, landowners of Linn County.
Steve and Wylda Cafferata are co-chairs of the OTFS board. They said: “The Oregon Tree Farm System’s membership is proud of Mary Ann and David Bugni’s stewardship. We celebrate this both as an excellent example of active management and as representative of the good work that all dedicated small forest landowners are doing to promote forest health and the values of timber, water, wildlife and recreation. Mary Ann and David fulfill the OTFS goal of making Oregon better, one acre at a time.
For more than a decade, the Bugnis has planted about 500 tree seedlings of diverse native species on their property each year. In 2014, the Bugnis thinned out a 20-acre parcel of 60-year-old Douglas fir on their property. The harvest yielded 238,000 plank foot saw sticks along with 258 tons of pulp. They succeeded by planting 2,000 Douglas-fir seedlings as substitutes and 1,000 western redcedar in shady areas. They also work to protect the native ecosystem by keeping out invasive species such as holly, blackberry and reed canary grass.
To benefit game, they gird up seven trees each year to create hooks. Many birds and mammals build nests in the dead trees or use them as hunting grounds. The heels are also food for a variety of insects that are eaten by woodpeckers.
Improving fish habitat is also important for the Bugnis. They are involved in the Clackamas River Basin Council’s Shade Our Streams program. As part of that program, they planted more than 6,000 native deciduous and coniferous trees and shrubs along more than 1,800 feet of Suter Creek, which runs through their land. In 2015, David received a grant from PGE ($ 295,660 plus $ 83,403 from in-kind donations of services and materials) to replace two, 6-foot-diameter twins, fish-blocking divers within Suter Creek with a new, prefabricated concrete bridge. The following year, he received the CRBC Cole Gardiner Stewardship Award for “Outstanding Efforts in Stewardship of the Clackamas River Watershed.”
“The Bugnis model is a responsible, sustainable approach to forest management,” said Cal Mukumoto, Oregon State Forest Ranger. Their work provides good examples for other landowners who want to manage for both timber products and the environmental benefits that forests offer. ”
In 2019, David received a large grant from PGE’s Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project Mitigation and Improvement Fund (more than $ 207,000 plus $ 48,550 in donations in kind). The grant paid for the placement of 95 logs (via helicopter due to lack of road access) along about one mile from Suter Creek. Bugni has obtained agreement from four different property owners for the project. Combined, the two projects restored two miles of Suter Creek and opened more than five miles of the stream for migrating salmon and steelhead.
David shares his knowledge of practical forest management in articles for the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association, whose board of directors he has been since 2019. He also lets students from the Fisheries Technology program at Mt. Hood Community College their term-long keystone conducts research project on its soil, enabling them to collect data on stream and bushveld conditions.
Prior to the pandemic, he presented information on stream crossings for forest landowners at the Tree School held at Clackamas Community College. And he co-hosted in 2020 with Dave Stewart of the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife on restoring fish habitat for forest landowners.
Rick Zenn, Director of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, summed up the Bugnis ‘impact: “The larger community is served very well by the Bugnis’ effort to educate the public and share their work. They are excellent representatives of family forest owners, demonstrating the public benefits that forest stewardship offers. Their continuous efforts yield good results. They are true community leaders. ”
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