Published on Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gordon Culbertson of Springfield, Oregon has been involved in forestry since he was 12 years old. Although he’s retired from his full-time career, he still has a couple of tree farms and generously shares his expertise with friends and family.
His parents weren’t involved in the industry, but Gordon developed a love for the land working with extended family on their farm in Kansas. “I learned to drive trucks and tractors and ride horses. Sometimes I think it probably took more effort to keep me rounded up than it was worth, but it made me feel good.” Gordon laughs. “And it sure gave me an appreciation for farming.”
Now, even in retirement, the tree farms keep Gordon busy. “It keeps me young. I really enjoy it and I really like the people. I hope to do this as long as I can.” He smiles.
Between different parts of the farm, there are trees varying in maturity. Like most timber farms, the initial planting of trees is thinned regularly and systematically to allow the trees more space to grow as they get larger. “We can cut timber on our property about once every ten years. We've got the proper age distribution.” Gordon explains. “That works pretty well.”
But tree farming isn’t just planting and cutting trees. The habitat the dense timber creates welcomes wildlife that love to eat the saplings. It takes careful weeding and management to protect the trees until they’re out of browser’s reach.
“Our two tree farms are certified under the American Tree Farm System. To get that certification, you have to fulfill pretty stringent requirements for sustainability and for how you operate your business. That's something I'm really quite proud of. It requires a management plan and a lot of different things.” Gordon continues, walking among the rows of towering trees.
Although it’s an investment, it’s clear that the timber is about more than just a harvest for Gordon. He’s marked out walking trails, built bridges over the creek, and studied the natural plant species. The family has even built a picnic area where they celebrate holidays and take in the scenery.
"It makes me feel good to be out in the woods. I really feel like I have accomplished a special thing when you can find something that has economic value, that makes a valuable product, and improves the environment. That's a pretty neat combination."
That’s why Gordon Culbertson farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Gordon Culbertson, Oregon, timber, trees, forest, wood