Operation Appleseed restores forest
Last updated 5/18/2021 at Noon
Worthy Brewing Company in Bend seeks to maintain sustainable brewing practices — and enhance the planet.
The Worthy Garden Club, a nonprofit organization and philanthropic arm of the Worthy Brewing Company, recently extended their ongoing philanthropy project Operation Appleseed to the Whychus Creek area west of Sisters.
Kody Osborne, executive director of the Worthy Garden Club, spoke with The Nugget about the project and the nonprofit.
“The work has really picked up in the last two years,” he said. “We originally had the greenhouse and hop education as well as working with Grant Tandy at the Hopservatory.”
The club’s mission is to teach the community to respect and protect the beauty of our planet. The largest addition to the garden club is their new operation, Operation Appleseed, which was conceived by Worthy Brewing owner and founder, Roger Worthington. He pledged $1 million to plant one million trees across the state of Oregon. The genesis of the project for Worthington happened while he was riding his bike up Highway 242 west of Sisters riding through the burn-scar areas along that highway. He wanted to jump in and help.
“In a meeting, he said he wanted to plant one million trees and decided to name it Operation Appleseed,” said Osborne.
Osborne is a lead on the project and operation in overseeing the volunteers that assist in the planting of the trees across the state.
“We work with the National Forest Service, and mainly with two volunteer groups, Discover Your Forest and Cascade Volunteers, to plant trees in different parts of the forests in Oregon,” he said.
They work with several other partners across Oregon, all focused on restoring forests and improving planet health.
They focus on planting trees in parts of the forest that have been heavily logged in the past or have been devastated by wildfire. They are working on planting across Central Oregon and all the way to the coastal region of the state. One of the main goals is to get the forest back to looking like its most natural state.
The Whychus Creek is unique because, not only are they planting more trees, but the group is also working on decommissioning an old logging road.
“We are working to eliminate old forest service roads that are no longer in use, and decompaction of the soil, planting different kinds of trees and integrating woody parts to restore habitat that will benefit wildlife and fish and water health,” said Osborne. “The goal is to get it back to its most natural state out there and plant more trees after that area had been logged and get rid of roads that are no longer in use.
“We want to get it back for the wildlife to use, not humans,” he said.
Operation Appleseed is working with Mike Riehle of the Deschutes National Forest as the coordinator for the Whychus project, in partnership with Discover Your Forest, and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) to implement this phase. Riehle is also managing the Whychus Creek watershed restoration program for the Sisters Ranger District.
“This project will reduce runoff and sedimentation from the road network that resulted after the Pole Creek Fire. Fine sediment reduces the productivity of the stream and reduces trout-spawning habitat quality. There will be less motorized vehicle use in these areas, which will benefit wildlife,” Riehle told The Nugget.
The team is also working with Brian Tandy, who has served as an advisor to the project, as well as a representative of the Sisters Ranger District, helping them identify areas of need.
When approached by volunteer organizations, the club works hand in hand with the Forest Service on figuring out where replanting would benefit the forest.
There are eight metrics they look at to approve the funds and seedlings of trees to plant. Those include:
• Will the trees remain safe from being harvested; will they stay safe from logging practices in the future?
• Level of connection to the home base of the club. They want to make sure the location is relevant in connection to their base in Bend.
• Maximizing the diversity of trees in an area. They only ever plant native seedlings, so they look at how more native trees can benefit diversity in an area of the forest.
• Are the sites that they are planting visible to the public? They want people to know where the trees in a forested area might have come from and get more of an idea of citizens being involved in this project.
• Overall forest health. How severe is the impact of fire? Can things regenerate on their own? If so, they won’t touch it.
• The site is somewhere that volunteers can get into and get hands-on with.
• Scalability — how much can they plant at a given site, and is there a need to get further outside resources for further planting?
• Finally, they look at the connection between the organization and the donor, making sure that they are working with whatever organization came to them in a close manner, to maintain the relationship.
These metrics were met to partner with the Sisters Ranger District on the Whychus project.
The planting programs source the seedling trees from Forest Service-owned nurseries. They grow exclusively native trees directly from the source of a cone or seed — no genetically engineered seedlings, said Osborne.
The Whychus Creek project is ongoing, and they are continuing to bring volunteers and the Forest Service consultants in to help restore that area to its most natural state.
Another part of the ongoing project has been planting 204,390 trees in the Deschutes National Forest after the Milli Fire to restore growth to burned areas and restore habitat health by the Whychus Creek for wildlife and watershed health.
“On May 7, 2021 we completed the road decommissioning in the Whychus Creek watershed. In this phase, we completed 14 miles of road decommissioning using two excavators decompacting the roadbed and out sloping the road. Logs were dragged across the road and boulders were placed at the entrances,” said Riehle on the progression of the project.
Looking forward, “at the end of this season, COIC will have planted 3,900 ponderosa pine trees as part of the Whychus Road Decommissioning portion of Operation Appleseed. This fall, COIC crews will plant white bark pine trees at high elevation on a decommissioned ditch. In spring 2022, COIC will complete the tree planting on these decommissioned roads with another 4,300 trees. They will complete this phase of tree planting on decommissioned roads in the fall of 2022 with another 2,200 pine trees.”
The Worthy Garden Club and Operation Appleseed are working on a future planting project along Highway 242. They will be working primarily with Brian Tandy on that project next spring and summer.