OAKLAND, Ore. — Tami Jo Braz is not only a small woodland owner, but also an ambassador for those who grow and manage trees on small parcels of land.
By CRAIG REED For the Capital Press | capitalpress.com | Jun 30, 2022
Braz and her husband, Barry Braz, have owned and managed 50 acres of woodlands since 1986. After taking Master Woodland classes and with help from a forester, the work the couple did on their property earned them the 2004 Tree Farmer of the Year award for the Douglas County Small Woodlands Association.
In 2016, Tami Jo Braz joined the association’s board and soon became the secretary and membership coordinator for the organization, which has 225 member families. Braz writes a regular newsletter that includes a profile on one of the members and the management of their land.
“It’s a matter of giving back and working to further the education of those who want to be good stewards of their land,” Braz said of taking on a leadership role for the Small Woodlands Association. “I want to encourage others to be good stewards of what they’ve been entrusted with.
“Being a member of the association allows you to be in some great company,” she added. “People who love their land have so much in common.”
Braz said she and her husband have taken a “long-term view” regarding their property. She came from a Douglas County family of mill workers and log truck drivers, but she is the first in her family to own a parcel of land and “to be a steward of that land.” Barry Braz had no background in the logging or timber industry.
From 1991 to 1993 and then in 2014, the couple planted Douglas fir seedlings on some open ground. They managed some of their acreage for wood production, some as oak and madrone woodlands, and some for wildlife habitat.
“We’ve planted, we’ve thinned,” Braz said.
“We were very proud,” she added of the Tree Farmer of the Year honor.
A 1-mile trail has been developed through the Braz property and it offers both recreational and educational opportunities.
“We’ve hosted educational tours through the Oregon State University Extension Service and for Umpqua Community College forestry students,” said Braz, adding spring time wildflower walks have also been held. “I love to have people learn here and to see what we’ve experimented with over time. There’s been brush reduction and invasive species removal. We’ve sweated and hacked. It feels good to be making a difference on our land.”
Braz has been a guest speaker on small woodlands management at several events in Southwestern Oregon in recent years.
“I’d love to have the influence over more land, but I don’t have to own more if I can speak up as a steward or ambassador, be like a spark plug that ignites passion in other people in a way that encourages stewardship across a great broader area,” she said.
“I believe in forestry, I believe in wildlife, I believe we can have wildlife habitat and we can have recreational opportunities,” Braz explained. “All of it is possible if all of us do our part.”
The Douglas County Small Woodlands Association is a chapter of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. More information on the county association is available online at oswa.org/blog/douglas.