Working to Be Good Stewards

Couple honored for their dedication to timber management

Evan demonstrates a log mill.

Story and photos by Craig Reed

Evan and Lorreen Barnes split their time among timber, power, fire prevention and water.

The couple manage and maintain timber property on the San Souci Ridge west of Roseburg. In 2014, they helped start the San Souci Firewise Community that emphasizes wildfire prevention. Evan is the program’s coordinator.

Evan also manages Lookingglass Olalla Water Control District and is a Douglas Electric Cooperative board member.

In 2006, Evan and Lorreen bought 15 acres of agricultural ground and 65 acres of timber. At the time, mixed among the timber and meadows were 2 mobile homes and 30 broken-down vehicles.

It was fixer-upper property that needed tender loving care and hard work. The Barnes decided they were up to the challenge.

They recently were rewarded for their forest management and fire prevention efforts. The Douglas County Small Woodlands Association named them the 2021 Douglas County Small Woodlands Tree Farmers of the Year.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, recognition of the Barnes’ efforts, a tour of their property by small woodlands members and presentation of the 2021 award was delayed until fall of 2022.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged,” Lorreen says. “It’s nice to share what we know and what we’ve learned over the years.” Evan agrees.

Loreen Barnes speaks to guests during a tour of the couple’s property.

“It’s an honor to be distinguished, to be acknowledged for the work we’ve done around here,” he says.

The Barneses designed and built a circular access road system with landings for logging and self-loading trucks. It also provides better access in case of wildfire.

They removed trees from close to where they built their home and outbuildings. For additional fire protection, sprinklers were installed on all the buildings. They equipped the property with a 500-gallon water tank on a mobile trailer and 10,000 gallons of water in 4 holding tanks.

“Every year, we try to clean up the forest floor to reduce the hazard,” Evan says of the surrounding Douglas fir, oak, madrone and pine trees.

Through the Upper San Souci Firewise Community, workers from Douglas Forest Protective Association have visited the property and helped clear 200 feet of defensible ground around each structure.

The couple are still cleaning up debris from a snow event that hit a few years ago.

“You have to continue to battle the threat of wildlife and clean up anything on the ground that can be a fuel,” Evan says.

The Barneses had no forest management experience early in their lives. Evan was a construction contractor and builder in Northern California. Lorreen was a high school teacher and social worker. They read books and news publications, took extension classes and consulted with foresters to learn about forest management and fire prevention.

“From what they described that it was like when they bought it to now, they’ve made tremendous progress,” says Richard Rawson, president of the Douglas County Small Woodlands Association. “The property looks very nice. It’s a well-earned honor for them.”

In addition to managing the timber, the Barneses have added a large garden, fruit trees, chickens, and fenced pasture for a few cows and 2 horses.

Tami Jo Braz, the woodlands association’s membership and communications coordinator, describes the Barneses as an “inspiring example of forestry and woodland management.”

“They exemplify the 4 core tenets of stewardship, which are wood production, water quality protection, wildlife habitat enhancement and recreation opportunities,” she says.

The small woodlands association has a membership of 190 families. The organization’s objective is to study the problems of managing, protecting and improving small tracts of forest; disburse information on the establishment, growth, harvesting and marketing of forest crops; inform and educate owners on problems and solutions for forest management; and represent the owners of small woodlands before legislative bodies and state agencies.

Evan Barnes has been a Douglas Electric Cooperative board member for 10 years.

When not working on his property, Evan spends time researching power issues and information. He has been a Douglas Electric board member for 10 years. He was board chair from 2017 to 2022.

“I enjoy being a participant in the management of our local electric utility,” he says.

Evan is proud of the co-op’s new headquarters building in Roseburg.

“The new building has so many benefits,” he says. “There’s an efficiency to it. All of the divisions of the co-op are together rather than spread out. It was the right decision to build new.”

Evan also finds time to manage Lookingglass Olalla Water Control District. He works with new property owners and project managers who need to secure water from Ben Irving Reservoir.