Nearly a dozen tree nurseries across the state are receiving over $4.4 million this year to help them increase their ability to produce badly needed seedlings. The seedlings are needed to help reforest millions of acres deforested in recent years by wildfire, disease and pests.
The money was given to ODF after passage by the Oregon Legislature in 2021 of House Bill 5006. The bill was a response to the devastating 2020 wildfires which burned a million acres of forest. In the wake of those fires, there were many barriers to reforesting, including shortages of money, labor, and for some smaller landowners appropriate tree seedlings.
ODF Small Forestland Owner Assistance Unit Manager Nate Agalzoff said, “These grants are helping nurseries make strategic investments to increase their ability to grow more seedlings, which will enable them to better support reforestation needs in the future.”
Nurseries are using the funds to invest in everything from adding irrigation to building new greenhouses and seedbed space as well as storage facilities for storing seedling trees. Funds can also go toward:
- the cost of collecting or purchasing tree seeds,
- buying land on which to expand nursery facilities.
“These grants are increasing overall capacity across the state for whenever seedling demand rises,” said ODF Reforestation Program Project Coordinator Astrea Strawn. “In the case of nurseries in Union and Hood River counties, the grants also ensure there will be capacity to provide geographically appropriate seedlings for those areas.”
Strawn said funds must be spent before the end of this summer.
“This makes us optimistic that landowners, especially smaller ones, will have better access to seedlings. When they do, they can promptly reforest after future tree losses to keep Oregon’s working forests working for Oregonians,” she said.
“The funding will allow Lava Nursery, Inc. to increase seedling production for the small woodland owners, helping them to meet their reforestation needs after forest fires and/or harvest operations,” said Lava’s Assistant Nursery Manager Jeff Snyder. “These funds will also allow for additional freezer storage capability for long-term storage of seedlings to ensure the best quality seedlings are available at the time of planting.”
To qualify for a grant, a nursery had to have experience growing high-quality commercial conifer trees for reforestation in Oregon, including Douglas-fir, grand fir, noble fir, western redcedar, ponderosa pine and others.
“The awards were targeted to nurseries which showed interest in helping with future reforestation needs, whether from wildfires or climate change losses,” said Strawn.