More than 90 students recently competed in a forestry competition inside Satsop's FSC-certified forest.
The juxtaposition might seem a little odd – 1,200 acres of dense forestland alive with black-tailed deer, raptors, rodents, even an occasional lumbering black bear – as part of a business park, especially one with huge cooling towers as a backdrop. But, it’s just another unique feature of Satsop Business Park that CEO Tami Garrow wants to make the best use of environmentally, economically, recreationally and educationally.
Recently, a major milestone was accomplished – the first replanting in this thriving forestland.
But first, the background: In 2008, when the Park completed its first-ever comprehensive master plan, the forestlands were returned to the Park for management. Previously, the lands were held in a “no-touch” status by the State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. The Park’s new master plan included an element specifically focused on managing and enhancing its forests. Working with the Northwest Natural Resources Group (NNRG) out of Olympia, Park staff developed a new forest management plan, which was then certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Trees removed from the Satsop Business Park’s FSC-designated timberlands will end up as a “green” building material or product.
“Our FSC-managed forestlands provide a beautiful, natural buffer around the Park. They also provide learning and recreational opportunities. It is a perfect example of how you can create a healthy economy and a healthy environment at the same time,” said Garrow.
Garrow is not just excited about having an FSC-certified forest as an integral part of the Park, she’s also thrilled with the partnership that has been developed with Grays Harbor College, creating a vibrant forestry program.
“We could have just hired someone to inventory and manage our forestlands, but with the same dollars, we have been able to leverage the development of a brand-new program at the College, which should be of real benefit to our region,” she said.
Enter Todd Bates, who was recruited and hired by the College and the Park.
Through this partnership, he’s been hired to wear two hats – manager of Satsop Business Park’s forest lands, and Grays Harbor College forestry program creator and instructor.
Recently Bates demonstrated various planting and plant protection methods to about 20 students. Six of them were then hired to help him plant 4,400 seedlings over 12 acres where primarily Red Alder had been harvested two years ago.
During those cold December days, the students planted a variety of conifer seedlings – Douglas Fir, Western White Pine, Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine. Bates says he anticipates that nearby Western Hemlock, Red Alder and Big Leaf Maple will also naturally seed in to make a rich, diverse forest.
Bates let students try their hand at planting with a planting shovel and a hoe-dad. They planted container seedlings and two kinds of bare root stock. They used different kinds of plant protection devices. This was all so that the students could become familiar with the variety, options and prices involved in planting a forest in case someday they need to be the one ordering the seedlings and supplies.
“Replanting gives you a good sense of paying back, of giving back the sustainable part of forestry,” said Bates. “We’re starting the cycle over for the rebirth of the forest. We stopped the growth of one set of trees, so we’re starting the growth of the next,” he explained.
Bates says of the 1,350 acres of forestland he manages for the Park, some 200 aren’t harvestable, leaving about 1,150 acres of manageable ground. In 2010, about 20 acres were partially harvested and that will be about what will be cut and planted most years. That’s about 1/50th of the harvestable land each year, which is a little longer than most cutting cycles for such productive land, he noted.
Just as the cycle of growth continues for the trees, Bates sees the same happening with the students in his forestry program – about 10 to 12 will graduate this June with an associate’s degree of applied science and he has many “seedlings” growing up through the program too.
So, will there be jobs for someone who has a forestry degree? Bates says the students who go through his program will have lots of opportunities if they’re willing to be flexible and mobile.
“With this background and this degree, there will be students who will go into timber management, parks and recreation, fire management, watershed restoration, habitat restoration and outdoor education. Some will become fish and game wardens or go into the technical end by becoming civil engineers or surveyors or perhaps a technician for a wildlife biologist.”
Besides, landowners ranging from the Audubon Society to, well, business parks like Satsop, as well as cities, counties and park districts from Florida to Alaska and Hawaii to Maine, need experts to help manage lands based on the landowners’ objectives, Bates said.
In addition to education, another of the objectives for Satsop Business Park is to develop recreational opportunities for the public on its lands. The Park’s master plan identifies a number of possible public access projects throughout the Park. Bates says he’s already begun developing a hiking trail along Fuller Creek and looks forward to working with his students to complete that trail and others on the land to help accomplish that purpose.
“It might seem curious to some folks that the old nuke site has a forest, but this is just a great opportunity,” Bates said. “Life around here is the meshing of all sorts of mediums. It seems unusual than an incubator for businesses and an outdoor education classroom can coexist, but that’s life now – we are utilizing the landscape for a variety of things.”
“This program has been a great success for the Park and the College,“ said Garrow. “We have begun actively managing the lands for improved habitat and forest health. And we are making a modest profit on the thinnings – which w
e then put back into the property. In fact, it helps pay for the College’s services and for development of those recreational opportunities.”
“I love how this forestry program ties so many of our objectives together,” she added. “We continue to reinvent ourselves, recycle and revitalize the regional economy while restoring our forests to optimal health and educating students to help them find meaningful family-wage jobs someday,” Garrow said.
“It’s definitely been a win-win,” Bates agreed.
Satsop Business Park is a 1,800-acre mixed-use business and technology park located in scenic Grays Harbor County in Southwest Washington just 30 minutes from Olympia and the I-5 corridor. It is home to more than 30 businesses, offers 600 acres of developed, pad-ready land and buildings supported by super-sized infrastructure and surrounded by 1,200 acres of sustainable managed forestland.
The Park is managed by the Grays Harbor Public Development Authority, a public corporation whose mission is to create new jobs and investment for the region.
For more information on Satsop Business Park and their FSC Certified Forest, contact Alissa Thurman at 360-482-1651.