The College of Forestry stewards 10 research and demonstration forests across the state, comprising 15,000 combined acres of living laboratories. These outdoor classrooms are where students, faculty and staff learn, study and work, and where Extension faculty teach forest owners and managers. The McDonald and Dunn are the largest forest tracts managed by the College of Forestry and are where the majority of active management, education and research take place.
Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, is located within the traditional homelands of the Marys River or Ampinefu Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855, Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are part of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. Indigenous people are valued and respected contributing members of the Oregon State community and represent multiple Sovereign Tribes among students, faculty, staff and alumni. Oregon State University accepts its responsibility for understanding the continuing impact of that history on these communities.
OSU acknowledges that these forests are located on the traditional homelands of a diversity of Indigenous Peoples who were forcibly removed from their lands. As such, we not only strive to protect and maintain the cultural heritage sites that are present on the research forests, but are actively engaged with Tribal Nations to better understand their interests in how these forests are managed moving forward. The College of Forestry is committed to taking people and the institutions with whom it works beyond the land acknowledgement to find ways to support and empower Native Americans and their communities. The college honors and respects Tribal Sovereignty and Self Determination Rights as it works to partner with, support and build capacity within Tribal Nations in Oregon and beyond.
Given their varying size, terrain and location, the College of Forestry does not provide public access to all its research and demonstration forests. The McDonald-Dunn forests, however, are open to the public, welcoming more than 155,000 recreational users each year. Research activity is not always visible to recreational users, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. This is intentional, with staff thoughtfully balancing research, demonstration, harvest, aesthetics and recreation as part of the college’s carefully managed sustainable working forest model.
Peavy Arboretum and the McDonald-Dunn forests provide safe, diverse and inclusive recreation opportunities that build forest connections and contribute to community well-being, including:
Vision: The OSU Research Forests aspire to be globally recognized as a model for an actively and sustainably managed forest system that supports the College’s desire to advance forestry through scientific inquiry, education, and the application of new knowledge to inform best practices of forest management.
- To create opportunities for education, research and outreach to address the economic, social and environmental values of current and future generations of Oregonians and beyond.
- To demonstrate how an actively and sustainably managed forest fosters economic prosperity, biodiversity conservation and resilience amidst disturbances and global change.
- To support social and cultural values of forests, enhancing the wellbeing of local communities, Tribal communities and society.
Learn more about our goals!
Since 1926, hundreds of research studies have been conducted across the College of Forestry’s 15,000 acres of research and demonstration forests. Researchers and educators from the College of Forestry, other colleges within OSU, other universities, agencies, non-profits and local schools use the OSU Research Forests as a living laboratory and classroom.
Students receive hands-on experience in everything from taking forest measurements, to studying aquatic plants and wildlife. The research and learning that takes place in the forests has contributed impactful solutions to everyday and real-world challenges.
A foundational College of Forestry principle is that the research forests must be self-sustaining. Funds required for management of the forests are not provided by the College of Forestry, Oregon State University, the State of Oregon or by taxpayers.
Revenue must be generated through sustainable timber harvests and reinvested in the forests. Virtually all expenses underpin research opportunities, as harvest expenses, staff salaries and forest regeneration activities all contribute to the conditions required for research to occur. Other minor sources of revenue include natural gas royalties and lease income from communication towers located within some research forest tracts.
Maintaining 15,000+ acres of research and demonstration forests is a significant operational undertaking with many moving parts. This work is managed by 6.25 FTE employees, according to a forest management plan approved by the dean. Funds generated from sustainable timber harvests are reinvested in:
- Research Forest Staffing, Equipment and Supplies - Salaries and benefits; research equipment and supplies.
- Forest Regeneration, Restoration and Conservation - Seed acquisition; growing and planting seedlings; site prep; browse protection; regeneration surveys; owl, stream and fish surveys; project treatments; fire suppression and mastication.
- Harvest Operations - Logging and transportation costs; unit layout; tree marking and cruising.
- Recreation, Outreach and Cultural Resources - Volunteer program; supplies and equipment; trail and facility maintenance; building rental/leases; outreach and public information; surveys of cultural sites and resources.
- Forest Maintenance, Infrastructure and Administration - Roads and facilities building and maintenance; vehicles; office equipment and business services.
Each year, 10-15 student workers are employed by the research and demonstration forests. They participate in harvest and the associated road building, maintenance and replanting activities to gain experience and learn forest management best practices. Volunteers also contribute an average of 3,600+ hours annually, a critical piece in keeping the forests open to the public for recreation and outreach activities.
After forest operating expenses are covered, any remaining revenue is first contributed to the forest financial reserves, and then to research, teaching and advising. Reserves are required to cover forest operation and staffing costs for a minimum of three years, should timber harvests temporarily decrease or economic conditions result in lower revenue from timber sales. For more information, read the summary of OSU Research & Demonstration Forest net revenue for the past 10 years.
*From 2018-2020, the College of Forestry temporarily increased timber harvest in the Blodgett Research Forest to contribute to construction costs of the Oregon Forest Science Complex.
The College of Forestry aspires for its research forests to be globally recognized as models for actively and sustainably managed forest systems. Timber harvest is one component of active forest management.
Harvest operations serve as learning and research opportunities for foresters, civil engineers, wildlife biologists, ecologists, silviculturists, social scientists, small woodland owners, community members and others. Timber harvests also are a tool for creating forest landscapes with certain characteristics (even-aged, two-aged, multi-aged) that maintain or improve forest health, such as limiting insect and disease outbreaks and reducing risk of wildfires, while creating habitat for pollinators and a variety of wildlife species that thrive in forest openings.
All harvested stands are replanted as reforestation is an essential component of sustainable forest management. Operations on all research forests comply with reforestation guidelines stipulated by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. On average, 5-10% of revenue generated through timber harvest each year is used to plant 75,000- 125,000 seedlings within the research forests.
With some exceptions due to economic factors, such as the Great Recession, and weather events, such as ice and windstorms, harvest volumes have remained consistent on the McDonald-Dunn over time, below the 6 million board feet/year target outlined in the 2005 McDonald-Dunn Forest Plan.
From 2018-2020, timber harvest in the Blodgett Research Forest was increased to contribute to construction costs of the Oregon Forest Science Complex.
Oregon State University is a land grant institution committed to teaching, research and outreach and engagement, with a vision to promote economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being for the people of Oregon, the nation and the world.
Providing forest access to many types of organizations for the purpose of training and education is one of many ways the College of Forestry helps achieve that mission. Many OSU groups — the Adventure Leadership Institute, Army ROTC and Navy ROTC — use the forests, as do many outside public safety agencies and organizations, including Benton County Search and Rescue, Corvallis Fire Department and Corvallis Mountain Rescue Unit.
The forests also serve as an educational backdrop for local schools, non-profits and other educational organizations that host camps, field trips and more for local youth. These organizations include: Corvallis Environmental Center, Corvallis Parks and Recreation, Corvallis and Albany-area schools, Outdoor Service Guides, Environmental Youth Leadership Institute, Youth Corvallis Composite Mountain Bike Team and countless others.
Learn more about the forests and explore frequently asked questions: