"This is what I know about the history of my property."

One of the special things about woodland ownership is the connection to place it creates for people.  That connection is commonly seen in the pride of ownership, the passion and the energy that people put into their property creating wildlife habitat, growing timber or building recreation opportunities.

Less obvious but often very strong is the connection to the history of that place, however long someone’s own connection has been.  Besides the context it provides for management, many people really enjoy exploring and recording their property’s history, which is one reason it is included as a section in your forest management plan.

What you choose to include in the history section of your management plan is up to you and can vary widely in both the timeframe and scope.  It can be quite simple such as who you bought if from, when.  Or you may want to reach back beyond your family’s direct connection to the property to uncover its more distant past.  These discoveries often become some of the favorite stories people tell about the property.

As a first step, describe what you know about the history of your property in your Woodland Discovery Plan.  Note such things as past owners, its condition when you bought it along with any timber harvests, tree planting projects, conservation activities or road building you have done since.  You could also note farming practices, fencing, and major disturbances such as wildfires, storms or insect attacks.  This information has both interest and practical value to current and future owners.

Digging deeper, you may want to talk to older family members or neighbors who are familiar with the property and learn what you can from them.  Record this information digitally or on paper, not just to memory.  Memories fade.  Remember that pictures make any good story better.   Make those discoveries part of the property’s plan or records, whether you have “finished” or not.

A more extensive history still can be developed by searching a variety of public records and historical documents.  These can be traced back decades to discover such things as land claims and pioneer settlement history.

Property history examples

As you get started, you might want to look at another property history for ideas.  OSU has several demonstration forests around the state, some of which have management plans that can provide useful examples.

The Elizabeth Starker Cameron Demonstration Forest, commonly called the “Cameron Tract”, is a 260-acre property on the western edge of the Soap Creek Valley, north of Corvallis.  Elizabeth Starker Cameron gave the property to the Oregon State University College of Forestry in 1995 to help achieve three purposes:  Demonstrate good private forest stewardship; Experiment with management alternatives for private forest owners and; Provide periodic income to support a continuing program in private and family forestry at OSU. History of the Cameron Tract

The Rubie P. Matteson Demonstration Forest is a 180-acre property near Hagg Lake, in Washington County.  Marion Matteson bequeathed the property to the Oregon State University College of Forestry upon his death in 2013. The Matteson Forest is managed to provide income and demonstrate forest stewardship to the public. History of the Matteson Forest

Developing your own Property History

After you have captured what you already know, you may want go on to develop a more extensive early history for your property as illustrated in these examples of the Cameron and Matteson Tracts.   The document “Exploring Your Property’s Past: Questions and Resources” provides suggestions of where to start many links to online sources of data.

Finished? Now move on to Description of Property.