Of trees, fire and shade: Oregon’s Class of 2015 Heritage Trees to be honored
Oregon Travel Experience and its volunteer Oregon Heritage Tree Committee invite the public to participate in the 2015 Statewide Heritage Tree Dedication and the Maynard Drawson Memorial Award ceremony. The free event will be held on April 10, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. at the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Salem headquarters at 2600 State St., Building C.
This year, the Class of 2015 Heritage Trees holds a tree-lover’s surprise—bonus trees. Groves (or groups of trees) are eligible to achieve heritage status as are individual trees. The latest inductees—the Coquille Myrtle Grove and the T. J. Howell Brewer Spruce—are fine examples of how trees are connected to Oregon history, culture, events and people.
Speakers at the event will include OTE Executive Director Nancy DeSouza, Oregon State University’s College of Forestry/Urban Forestry Paul Ries, Chair of the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee Roger Brandt, and Oregon Garden Club’s Marcia Whitelock. Students of all ages are encouraged to attend.
Highly prized—the honorees
The Coquille Myrtle Grove possesses strong ties to Oregon’s Coos County and its early pioneer families. The grove sits on a preserved section of an 1859 Donation Land Claim that belonged to Dr. Henry Hermann. The homestead was sold in 1925 to the Leroy Strong family, whose son Reese studied horticulture at Oregon State University and stayed on to manage the land. Early in the 1940s the Oregon chapter of the National Council of State Garden Clubs undertook a much publicized endeavor to “Save the Myrtlewoods.” The club’s goal was to collect enough donations to preserve a large section of the homestead’s myrtlewood trees for public enjoyment. The chapter ultimately raised enough money to purchase seven acres, and the tract was donated to the State of Oregon for a new state park. Without the intervention of the women of the Oregon Garden Club, it is unlikely that this enchanting wayside park and its shady grove of myrtle trees would exist today. Coquille Myrtle Grove State Park and its 2015 honored trees are located on Hwy 242, near Powers.
The T.J. Howell Brewer Spruce Tree represents a small population of Brewer spruce that survived the 2002 Biscuit Fire in the Siskiyou National Forest. The species was discovered by one of our state’s earliest pioneer botanists, Thomas Jefferson Howell, and was the last tree species to be discovered in America. Howell first recorded finding and collecting Brewer spruce specimens in 1884 while navigating Happy Camp Trail. Howell was famous for self-publishing a seven-volume journal on Pacific Northwest botany—a remarkable feat considering that he was semi-illiterate, and had only a three month primary school education. Howell’s 1880s era books remained the definitive authority on PNW botany until 1955. Babyfoot Lake Botanical Area was created in 1966 to protect one of the last remaining stands of Brewer spruce and other rare plants in southern Oregon. The botanical area (and access to the 2015 honoree) is near historic Hwy 199 and Cave Junction.
Significant achievement award to be presented at the Statewide Dedication
A special award designed for people who champion Oregon’s significant trees will be presented for the first time at the OTE event. The Maynard Drawson Award was created following the passage of Maynard “The Tree Man” Drawson, the founder of OTE’s Oregon Heritage Tree Program.
Arborist Brian French will receive the 2015 honor at the Statewide Heritage Tree Dedication and is scheduled to speak about his organization “Ascending the Giants.” When the Oregon Department of Forestry suffered budget cuts to its Big Tree Registry, French and his partner Will Koomjian established the non-profit association to maintain the original registry database. Many of the trees listed in the registry were discovered by Drawson on his famous treks through Oregon’s forests.
French is a certified arborist and is the regional education coordinator for the International Society of Aboriculture. He has worked tirelessly as one of Oregon’s most inspiring tree advocates and is a board member of Oregon Community Trees, as well as the chair of Portland’s Urban Forestry Commission’s Heritage Tree Program. French and business partner Koomjian created the visually stunning documentary “Treeverse” to introduce the concept of “expedition-style climbing” to a broader audience and to educate the public about tree preservation.
More information on this event
Thinking about attending the dedication ceremony but need more facts or directions to the site? Contact us via email or telephone 503-373-0864.