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News Release
Grand fir trunk
Grand fir trunk
Oregon Heritage Tree to be dedicated in Clatsop County (Photo) - 04/02/24

(Clatskanie, Oregon) The Travel Information Council and its volunteer Oregon Heritage Tree Committee, along with the Oregon Department of Forestry, invite the public to participate in the induction of the Northrup Creek Horse Camp Big Tree Trail into the Oregon Heritage Tree Program. The event will take place on Friday, April 12 at 11 a.m. at the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Northrup Creek Horse Camp, address: 87644 Northrup Creek Road, Clatskanie, Oregon, 97016. 

The Northrup Creek Horse Camp Big Tree Trail and its centerpiece Grand fir, scientific name Abies grandis, is the 84th Oregon Heritage Tree, a designation that recognizes trees with statewide or national significance. The giant grand fir is 19.8 feet in circumference, 208 feet tall, and approximately 200 years old. 

Speakers at the event include an ODF forester and the chair of the Oregon Heritage Tree Committee. 

The Northrup Creek Horse Camp Big Tree Trail is located inside what used to be The Northrup Creek Grazing Experiment. The Experiment started in 1936 to study the seeding, fertilizing, grazing, and management of logged-off and burned-over timberlands and the effects of grazing on reforestation. The goal was to make burnt-up land profitable again. The project was overseen by the John Jacob Astor Experiment Station outside of Astoria and continued until the early 1950s. 

The Experiment ultimately “failed” as it determined grazing was not the solution for burned over timber lands. However, in 1939 Governor Charles Sprague notably gave a stump speech in the area while he was actively promoting the State Forest Acquisition Act. The legislation included conservation requirements for loggers to re-seed the forest by leaving seed trees and reforestation efforts for burned areas, particularly those affected by the repeated Tillamook burns of 1933, 1939, and 1945.

Former Clatsop County Judge Guy Boyington, one of the original framers of the state forest arrangement, envisioned that the foreclosed lands could be made productive if forest land management was available. Clatsop County became the first county to participate. 

Oregon Heritage Tree Committee Chair Craig Leech encourages the public to visit the Big Tree Trail. “Visiting an Oregon Heritage Tree is a chance to learn localized Oregon history and honor the vital role Oregon’s forests play in our lives. In addition to viewing a sample of exceptional trees, The Big Tree Trail’s connection to the creation of Oregon’s modern forestry program makes it particularly notable.”

Brad Catton, the Astoria District Operations Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Forestry adds, “The Department of Forestry created the Big Tree Trail in 2012 when they identified numerous large conifer and deciduous trees in close proximity to one another. Inducting the Big Tree Trail as an Oregon Heritage Tree helps honor this special trail of trees that are believed to be among the top five largest in the state. The public can also learn about Governor Sprague’s legacy regarding the state’s forestry rules.”

You can visit the Big Tree Trail inside the Northrup Creek Horse Camp, located between Jewell and Birkenfeld four miles north of Hwy 202. The trail is just under one mile and is open year-round for hiking. Hikers must start at the gate during the seasonal closure of the camp, which adds two miles. 

The Oregon Heritage Tree Program is the first state-sponsored heritage tree program in the country. It was established in 1995 to increase public awareness of the important contribution of trees to Oregon’s history and the significant role they play in the quality of our daily life. The program is administered by the Oregon Travel Information Council and a committee of dedicated volunteers from across the state. For more information regarding the Heritage Tree program visit www.oregontic.com/oregon-heritage-trees

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