Tree Farmer of the Year 2018
Marsha Oakes Carr and Oakes Family Members
By Nancy Hathaway
Benton County tree farmers were treated to a tour of the Oakes Investment LLC property on May 19, 2018. Marsha and her brothers and sister, Duane, Darrell, Dennis and Christine, as well as Marsha’s granddaughter Kayla, all participated in the tour. Their parents, Don and Donna Oakes, former Tree Farmers of the Year, were also present.
In 1999 the LLC was formed by gifting shares to the six siblings. The parents’ goals were to keep the property in the family and keep their children interacting together in the management. This was well demonstrated at the tour. Family members accompanied each tour group sharing their knowledge of aspects of management. The whole family participates in the management of their 600 acre tree farm!
Our tour started at the Homestead Place, which was actually homesteaded in 1883 by Don Oakes’ great-great-grandparents. After much back and forth of ownership over the next century, Don and Donna Oakes were able to buy the property in 1987. Don actually planted many of the Doug fir on the place right after high school. He and his cousin planted 60-80 acres by pulling up seedlings from roadsides. Now these forests are ready to be thinned.
Near the Homestead Place, we visited the pond where granddaughter Kayla Carr, age 13, and Fran Cafferata Coe led a discussion of wildlife, in particular the red-legged frog. Also nearby is a 60-70 year old stand of Doug fir. Since this stand had been lightly thinned over the years, discussion centered on alternative paths going forward.
We stopped at a young stand of fir currently being thinned by Marsha’s son Dan in his “spare” time. Starting at the bottom of a quite steep incline, he thins his way up.
On our drive through the property we noticed several very old open-grown trees; one tree’s circumference was 33 feet and about 250 years old. We also drove through the LLC’s most recent acquisition, a purchase from Weyerhaeuser to fill in some missing age classes. Marsha wanted to make sure that harvesting opportunities would be available for the grandchildren in the future.
The weather was perfect and the tour was interesting and inspirational to the 110 people attending. This four-generation family demonstrated how working together they achieve their goals of managing a fairly large amount of land. Their ultimate goal is to have the 5th and future generations involved!