Stan Mueller. Mueller-Sack Tree Farm

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1 Stan Mueller Co-Owner of the Mueller-Sack Tree Farm Washington Applicant for 2010 Western Regional Tree Farmer of the Year January 2010

2 The Mueller-Sack Tree Farm had its origin in 1976 when John Sack found a 168 acre parcel of forest land for sale. He and Stan Mueller purchased the parcel together. Later additions of 30 acres in 1978 and 5 acres in 1980 brought the total to 203 acres. Both men had ties to the land in their pasts. Although John grew up in Pennsylvania, his maternal grandfather was involved in land transactions in the Tacoma, Washington, area in the early 1900 s. In addition to the Lewis County land, John owns parcels in Grays Harbor, Thurston, and Pierce Counties. Stan Mueller lived his early years in St. Maries, Idaho, as his father was the office manager for the Rogers Lumber Co. in St. Maries. Stan spent a lot of time playing in the woods there. After a move to California in the 1940 s, Stan s last three summers before going to graduate school were spent in the Mt. Lassen area, working for the USDA Blister Rust control project. Stan and John are both orthopedic surgeons, but John is younger and still working and Stan retired in In the early years, Stan s wife Julia and his 4 daughters Erica, Kirstin, Julia, and Brita, often joined him on the tree farm. They live 85 miles from the property, so Sunday was designated as the day to travel to Lewis County to work. Since Stan retired and the family has grown up, Monday is now his regular day to work on the tree farm. The parcel has been cut over several times since Some scattered fir was present in 1976, but the rest was alder, vine maple, cascara and bitter cherry. A small area, about 5 acres, in the southwest part of the property had been used as a USDA test plot to determine crop feasibility before they purchased the property. Several other small fields were created for cattle use by pushing up walls of slash. In 1977, John and Stan, along with various family members, hand scalped some of the 30-year-old sod and planted 500 plug seedlings. It took them over 10 hours. After that stint, they bought a used tractor and used it to plow up the rest of the sod. 1

3 In the early years, planting was a family project, with John and Stan s wives and children participating. Over the years, only one child was lost in the woods and that was only temporary! In 1979, they had the old USDA fields planted at 8 x 8 spacing. The land was somewhat nutrient depleted, so seven years after planting, the Douglas-fir were fertilized with urea. Douglas-fir seedlings in a former field Daughter Julia by 7-year-old Douglas-fir By 1982, they had paid the various notes down enough to cut 44 acres of mostly alder and replant Douglas-fir at foot spacing. In 1983 and 1984, 56 acres were cut and replanted. Instead of piling and burning the slash, it was windrowed at about 150 foot intervals, a fad at that time. It provided excellent habitat for the arctic hare that feasted on the seedlings. 23 acres had to be re-piled, burned and replanted in 1988 because of losses from hares, using up most of the profit from the 56 acre clearcut. It was a lesson learned! 2

4 Small Alder Harvested in 1982 The land was paid off by 1986, and the next project was to clearcut the last 90 acres. The cut was mostly alder, with more fir than the previous harvests. They cut in 1992 and replanted in The markets were good and the last sale put them solidly in the black. From 1997 to 2000, they pruned selected trees to 18 feet and hand slashed about 50 acres of Douglas-fir plantings. Although the significant harvests have been done by contractors, Stan and his daughters worked together to remove alder from the Douglas-fir stands. Some was loaded onto their 1-ton flatbed and sold to a mill, and some was converted to firewood. The daughters didn t mind helping with the firewood because Stan allowed them to have whatever income they could bring in by selling it. Gathering Firewood 3

5 In 2000, the old USDA field and other areas of planting were thinned as well as some of the residual year-old trees. The next major thinning took place in 2007, with about 100 acres machine thinned with a cut-to-length processor. After the 2000 thinning, lodgepole pine was planted in a cold pocket. The soil was very fertile and the trees grew per year after they escaped the deer browse. However, a heavy wet snow in December 2008 bent about 90% of them to the ground. Snow damage to Lodgepole Pine Logging History: 1982 Clearcut 44 acres 563,750 board feet Clearcut 56 acres 442,200 board feet 1992 Clearcut 70 acres 1,076,000 board feet 2000 Thinned 25 acres 102,710 board feet 2007 Thinned 100 acres 265,825 board feet Total Harvest 2,450,485 board feet Roads on the property mostly follow the old railroad logging grades. Putting down rock and gravel in areas that get soft is an ongoing process. Since the inception of the tree farm, Lusignan Forestry, Inc. has been instrumental in helping formulate and carry out the management plans of the land. Washington State has 4

6 very rigid rules about logging along streams. In 2008 the riparian zones were marked as a first step towards obtaining a 15-year Forest Practices permit that is now available for small forest land owners in Washington. The property is primarily stocked with Douglas-fir, but for variety they have planted some exotics such as sequoia, red oak, beech and lodgepole pine. All but the lodgepole pine are doing well. Reforestation History: Small open areas planted with Douglas-fir by Mueller family, John Sack and Lusignan Forestry 1983 Planted Douglas-fir on 44 acres 1985 Planted Douglas-fir on 56 acres 1988 Replanted 23 acres after an invasion of rabbits 1993 Planted Douglas-fir, sequoia and red oak in small patches Planted Douglas-fir on 9 acres 2001 Planted lodgepole pine in a cold pocket, and Douglas-fir and hemlock on about 4 acres Grandson Andrew by Sequoia 5

7 A stream passes through the property, but no pond existed when they purchased the property. But in 1986 beaver discovered that they could plug the culvert and create a pond. The neighbors enjoy hunting ducks on the pond, but Stan and John have struggled to keep the pond at a level that does not flood too much forest land. Beaver have been trapped from the area but others return to re-plug the culvert and maintain the pond. Stan (left) and John (right) by the pond As John is still working full time, Stan goes to the property weekly to keep the grades rocked and open, and to cut competing cherry, cascara and other brush. Stan is active in the Lewis County Farm Forestry Association (LCFFA). In 2003 he was recognized by LCFFA with an award for Forest Stewardship. In 2007, a LCFFA summer tour was held on the property. In 2008 he was named Lewis County Tree Farmer of the Year and in 2009 he became the Washington State Tree Farmer of the Year. John and Stan s goal is to keep the property in timber and owned by family members. The property was placed in an LLC in 1991 and most of the LLC units have been disbursed to various children. The documents state that John and Stan will oversee the management of the land for the foreseeable future. 6

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