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Project Updates

  • October 4, 2021

    Now that the fall semester has begun, there are several classes in the Environmental Science/Biology departments that are actively supporting this project.

    Dendrochronology: Prof. Karen Arabas, Environmental Science
    Students are using cookies from Bush Park oaks to learn basic dendrochronology skills such as cross-dating and chronology building. The class will focus on using growth patterns identified in the tree rings to explore how external factors such as climate and local factors such as irrigation and urban development are reflected in tree growth.

    Oak Salvage Oral Histories: Prof. Karen Arabas, Environmental Science
    While the dendrochronology class takes a more analytical perspective on the project, the Oral Histories class is examining the cultural significance of Oregon White Oaks to the people of the Willamette Valley. Students in the class are designing and implementing an Oral History project that will collect and archive the many stories our community members have to tell about oak trees, including their significance and importance.

    Forest Management & Policy: Prof. Joe Bowersox, Environmental Science
    Students are using Oak Salvage project samples from Bush Park and other Willamette Valley sites to study ecosystem services and forest health. They will examine other factors such as carbon sequestration and climate that affected these trees and may have caused them to be more vulnerable during the ice storm. In contrast to the dendrochronology class, the students will be using information from individuals to make conclusions about larger-scale forest health.

  • September 20, 2021

    We spent the summer collecting, labeling, logging, drying, reducing, and mounting the samples (cookies) so many of you have donated to the project, and we now have 211 officially in the database. We estimate that there are still another 40-50 cookies out there that we need to pick up - thanks for your patience if you are one of the folks waiting for us! We are still accepting samples from the Willamette Valley, so if you are interested please check out the ‘Contribute to this Project’ link on our website; we would be happy to have your oak cookie as part of this project!

    Here are some photos of our process. drying in the lab (see photo!) we are testing several different ways to prepare them for analysis. This involves sanding and/or planing the cookie surface so that it can be photographed.

    Oak cookies drying
    Cookies drying
    reducing-cookies.jpg
    Reducing cookies to bars
    refining bars on bandsaw
    Refining bars on the bandsaw
    bars ready to mount
    Bars ready to mount on wood
    sanding the bars
    Sanding the bars
    mounted bars
    Samples mounted, sanded, and ready for age and tree ring width analysis by the fall 2021 Dendrochronology class. The Forest Management and Policy class will be investigating the varying oak tree responses to the storm.

     

  • May 28, 2021: Cookie Processing

    We continue to collect, label, log, and dry all the samples (cookies) so many of you have contacted us about, and we now have 128 officially in the database. We estimate that there are still another 40-50 cookies out there that we need to pick up - thanks for your patience if you are one of the folks waiting for us!

    As the cookies are drying in the lab (see photo!) we are testing several different ways to prepare them for analysis. This involves sanding and/or planing the cookie surface so that it can be photographed. We plan to use high-resolution digital images of the cookies in a web-based system to count and measure rings.

  • April 2nd, 2021: The Oak Salvage Project is underway!

    Professors Karen Arabas, Dave Craig, and Joe Bowersox are working with 6-8 students from Environmental Science and Biology to get the project off the ground. Since the ice storm in February, we have collected over 100 samples of Oregon White Oak from the Salem area and Willamette Valley. Currently, we are in the process of identifying, labeling and logging all of our samples. The samples need time to dry and will be prepared for analysis over the summer and students will begin analysis in the fall. Please check back for updates on our progress.

    We are still accepting samples from the Willamette Valley, so if you are interested please check out the Contribute to this Project page on our website; we would be happy to have your oak cookie as part of this project!

Willamette University

Environmental Science

Address
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
Phone
503-370-6013