Society of American Foresters

Northwest Regions

Capitol Chapter members use their talents to support Forest History Center

Chapters of the Society of American Forester often have members with wide-ranging skills, talents and resources that may be applied to chapter initiatives and/or continuing support of various forestry related organizations. These initiatives and support opportunities take many forms, such as the following:

  • Day tours for legislators, media and others to showcase various types of forest activities.
  • Annual school tours or field days to demonstrate forestry activities for students.
  • Workshops for foresters and non-foresters.
  • Continuing support for operations of various organizations.

A prime example of a continuing support initiative is that provided by members of the Capitol Chapter to the Oregon Forest History Center and its museum, which is located on the Oregon Department of Forestry Campus in Salem.

The Forest History Center museum, dedicated in May 2008, is unique in that it encompasses and displays the history and development of all types of forest activities throughout Oregon. This also includes development and activities of organizations such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, Keep Oregon Green, government agencies and private operations.

The center has a mission “To preserve and make available to the public the history of forestry in Oregon, and to provide a place and opportunity to research and publish information related to Oregon’s forest history.” Its primary goal is “To have an informed public that understands the history, people and development over time of Oregon’s forestry legacy.”

The center is staffed and operated volunteers. Key sources of funding are grants and donations with many of its display items also obtained by donations. The volunteer operation, coupled with its mission, goal and wide-ranging museum exhibits makes it an ideal venue for the continuing support initiative of the Capitol Chapter.

Capitol Chapter members have been using their talents to support the Forest History Center operations over the past several years. Their support has included everything from providing administrative support, museum guide, constructing displays, art and photography support, and providing direction and concepts. Some specific examples of support provided by chapter members include the following.

  • Clark Seely is chair of the Forest History Center board of directors and provides direction and concepts for the museum’s operations.
  • Alan Maul is the museum coordinator and works on administration, display development and construction, publicity, fund raising, archiving and tour guide.
  • Robert Madsen, along with his wife Grace, act as museum guides and actively pursue forestry and logging items to donate to the museum.
  • Al Tocchini utilizes his artistic talents to create drawings of forestry tools and scenes showing how the tools are used.
  • Al Cronk works on fund raising concepts for the museum.
  • Members have also donated historical items and made monetary donations to the museum.

A very important role SAF members provide is that of museum guide during visitor hours. The museum attracts visitors with a wide range of forestry knowledge, some of which is accurate and some not so accurate. In addition to explaining the displays and the use of various forestry and logging tools, the forestry knowledge SAF members have is used to answer myriad forestry-related questions that are not always related to the displays. An example of this involved two visitors in one week asking questions about reforestation, with one person being concerned about reforesting with nothing but Douglas-fir. The answers to both visitors involved 20 minute explanations about the Oregon Forest Practices Act, seed zones, elevations, planting species to fit the local areas and regions, and the problems seedlings face once they are in the ground. Hopefully these visitors went away with a better understanding of the complexities of reforestation and seedling survival.

The time, items and funds donated to the center by SAF members have been instrumental in maintaining museum operations and keeping it open to the public. In 2009, this support involved over 1,000 hours of time along with donations of money and historical items.

Support of organizations such as the Forest History Center is extremely important. In this case, the center provides the following:

  • It looks at and preserves the history of all aspects of the forestry profession and forest industry.
  • It provides a place to preserve the items and memories of forestry.
  • It is a place for the public to view the history of forestry. Since its dedication, the center has been attracting many individuals, families, senior groups and schools.

The support and involvement of SAF members from the Capitol Chapter has been critical to the early success of the center and we look forward to continuing SAF involvement in the years to come.

Alan Maul is an SAF member and coordinator for the Forest History Center located on the Oregon Department of Forestry Campus in Salem. He can be reached at 503-945-7208 or Clark Seely, CF, is chair of the Forest History Center’s Board of Directors and is SAF District 2 Council representative. He can be reached at 503-999-3475 or .