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During a professional forestry career that has spanned more than 72 years, William David “W.D.” Hagenstein helped grow enough tree seedlings in Oregon and Washington nurseries to reforest more than 2 million acres in the two states.

In a career filled with highlights from work around the world, it is an accomplishment in which Hagenstein takes great pride.

Hagenstein — whom many consider the dean of Pacific Northwest foresters — recently published “Corks and Suspenders, Memoirs of an Early Forester.” He autographed copies Thursday during the annual meeting of the Society of American Foresters held at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. More than 200 foresters from Oregon and Washington participated in the three-day event.

“Live without wood or wood fiber in your life for a year and then come talk to me,” the University of Washington and Duke University graduate notes in his book. “Talk is cheap. Life isn’t.”

Hagenstein worked for the U.S. Forest Service until 1940 and then for the West Coast Lumberman’s Association until he semi-retired 30 years ago. He operated his own private consulting business until 2008.

“We don’t cut trees for the fun of it,” Hagenstein wrote. “We cut them because people want to build and live with wood ... wood furniture, floors, windows, walls.”

State Sen. Chris Edward (D-Eugene) was the keynote speaker Thursday.

Edwards advised the foresters that they must “build a basis of trust” with legislators, if they expect to create change. 

“The legislators are not the experts,” Edwards said. “They rely on experts like the foresters, adviser groups and their constituents.”

Edwards is a sixth-generation Oregonian whose family owned Western Wood Products in Goshen. The Oregon State University business graduate spent eight years working in that industry after college and says he hopes to be able to help educate other legislators about wood products and forestry issues.

“There are 6.8 billion people in the world and by 2050, that number is expected to grow to 9 billion,” Edwards said. “We’re going to increase the world’s population by 40 percent and at the same time, try to improve our standard of living. We must utilize our renewable resources through sustainable forestry to do that.”

Edwards said foresters must spend “more face time” with their elected officials.

“I’m a Democrat and I believe in the wise use of our forest lands,” Edwards said. “I’m in a unique position to talk to my fellow legislators. Nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s population has shifted from rural to urban settings. Understanding the industry has been replaced with finger pointing and name calling. I’m in a good position to help bridge that void.”

In addition to two days of presentations on topics including advances in reforestation, technological innovations, new ideas for riparian and stream management, improved silviculture and managing roads, tours of mid-valley forest operations were held today.

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