Scio family wins tree farm award

Tree farms owned by families produce more than just trees.

This is no more evident than on the Blue Den Tree Farm owned by Ron and Barbara Bentz.

Located near Scio, this family forest has such a variety of natural resources, the family needs travel no place else to enjoy a forest.

The Bentz family owns 600 acres of forestland that was previously cut-over land of brush and grass. After investing many hours and considerable money in replanting the land and maintaining the trees, the landscape has been transformed into a beautiful forest. Just in the last 10 years, they have planted more than 80,000 seedlings on more than 200 acres.

However what is unique about this family forest are the improvements they have made in the other natural resources that a forest provides. The Bentz family has developed a five-acre lake and three smaller ponds on the property. These ponds not only improve the water resources on the property but also have added benefits for fish, wildlife and recreation. They raise their own trout to stock the lake and ponds for fishing. Many people pay a fee to fish these waters in mostly secluded surroundings.

The recreational use of the Bentz property by people other than family and friends is something that is not always encouraged by family forest owners. Too often the public abuses their privilege of visiting the forest by littering, vandalism and starting wildfires. The Bentz family has accepted these risks and gets good cooperation from guests. In the big picture, by opening their land to recreational use, there is less pressure on state and federal forests.

Because of their long-term efforts on their family forest, the Bentzes have been selected as Linn County’s Tree Farmer of the Year by local professional foresters. A tour of the forest is planned for 10 a.m. Oct. 6.

To reach their forest, go six miles east of Scio on Highway 226, turn right on Camp Morrison Drive going over Hannah Covered Bridge. Follow the yellow and green “Tree Far” tour signs and go a quarter mile turning right on Lulay Road. The Bentz farm is located a quarter mile down the road.

Drinks will be provided, but persons should bring their own lunch.