Board to consider forestry area

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Forestry Club adviser Dustin Nichol wants to set up a practice field for his Forestry Club at the high school.

The cost to the district, Nichol said, would be nothing.

The District 55 School Board will decide on his request to do so at its next regular meeting on May 12.

Right now, the group practices for competitions at the rodeo grounds at 4000 Long St.

If the practice area were near the high school, Nichol and his students could quickly switch to and from classrooms for the technical aspects of the club’s activities, he said, and next year, he hopes to host a forestry competition in Sweet Home.

The proposed practice grounds would be placed between the baseball field and bus garage off 18th Avenue, the same area where the district is considering putting some new tennis courts.

His proposal leaves space for the tennis courts, Nichol said. The grounds would run about 200 feet along the back side of the baseball field and would be about 60 feet wide.

“We can have everything a little closer so we don’t have to pack everything up and move it,” Nichol said.

“There’s two parts to competition,” Nichol said. “One is the field events. The other is the classroom events.”

The field events include everything from crosscut saw and ax throwing to choker setting and pole climbing. The classroom events include a variety of skill tests, including job interviews, technical report writing, tool identification, tree identification, first aid and map reading.

“The other thing is I’d really like to have a competition here next year,” Nichol said. The close field would allow the club to host the technical part of the competition in classrooms rather than setting up temporary shelters at the rodeo grounds.

If approved, Nichol and the club would move the club’s logs from the rodeo grounds, where the Logger Olympics are held during Sportsman’s Holiday, he said. Cascade Timber Consulting has generously agreed to let the club use some logs, including two or three spar poles for the climbing event.

The two permanent items on the grounds would be the spar poles and the ax throw target, Nichol said. Everything else can be moved out of the way for different functions.

“It’s not going to cost the district anything,” Nichol said. As soon as he gets the OK, he will get together the people who have agreed to help and set up the new grounds in mid-May or early June.

“I’ve gone around to six other competitions and looked at facilities,” Nichol said. “I’ve taken all of the good from those and put it into our site.”

The biggest problem he has seen at other competitions has been space, Nichol said. The grounds are small, and they get crowded with spectators and participants.

Sweet Home’s site will allow elbow room and provide a safer environment because it won’t be crowded, Nichol said.

Nichol would eventually like to take the club on the road to the district’s elementary schools and provide demonstrations and an educational component to the younger students in the district.

The club started last school year, Kori-Lin Bishop told the School Board last month, when she went to Nichol and asked to start the club, so she could retain her office in the statewide club. She had transferred from Philomath High School.

The club has expanded to about 20 members since then, Bishop said, and she would like to see membership increase to 30 or 40.

The club has a number of goals in place now, she said, including getting an actual high school class, getting more involved in competition and becoming more high-profile in the community.