When people say they can’t see the forest for the trees, they might mean they get so focused on details that they miss the big picture.
Ruth and I have crossed Oregon on I-84 too many times. Traveling a familiar road, especially an Interstate, can become a bit mind-numbing; and I stay alert by looking for familiar or unusual landmarks. My favorite along 84 is GreenWood, an offbeat attraction in the form of a farm. Actually, this is a big picture farm with a single crop–trees. While passing it near the town of Boardman recently, I noticed a sign for the 1st time. It told me the farm’s owner, GreenWood Resources. I looked this up on my phone, learned a lot of rather fascinating stuff, and while returning home we stopped and I took pictures.
What I never realized while passing this odd distraction was its actual size. The neat rows of identical trees for 6 miles along I-84 is deceiving. The entire 25,000 acre farm extends 13 miles south and contains 7.5 million trees! I learned this from Mitch Lies of Capital Press.
GreenWood Resources, its 3rd owner, bought an existing tree farm in 2007. Boise Cascade and Potlatch Corp. preceded it. Founded in 1998, this weirdly symmetrical forest is the United States’ largest irrigated tree farm. The trees are almost all hybrid poplars, a type known as the Pacific Albus. They reach their harvest height of 110 feet in 12 years. Since this is a real farm, trees are harvested by grid and more are quickly planted. The wood is used for a variety of purposes. Some of it becomes furniture frames. Industrial crates, lumber, pulp, and biofuels result from this massive project. A bioenergy plant is planned.
Of course, 600 evenly spaced trees per acre is an animal magnet. Facing reality, Greenwood Resources has dedicated 10% of its farm to native habitat, so its business is home to 600 deer and resident coyotes. Operating an ongoing wildlife project with the Nature Conservancy, Greenwood has installed 150 nest boxes for local saw whet owls.
Portland-based Greenwood not only does good wood work, it also provides a welcomed distraction for travelers like me.
ps. In July, 2016, it was announced that the Upper Columbia Mill in Boardman will close because the tree farm was sold months ago to create room for a dairy and crops. It sounds like the tree farm, a landmark sight along I-84, is history.