Maple Valley Small Forest Highlights Many Benefits

Jon and Kathy Matson’s Wild Rose Farm in Maple Valley is a peaceful sanctuary that not only provides ecological benefits to the surrounding area, but also directly to the Matsons. Jon shares some thoughts about what his journey in forest ownership is like.

What I love about stewarding my forest:

“Just about every evening, as an end to my busy workday…I’ll spend a half hour or an hour just walking the trails through my forest. I check the cages on my tree seedlings, look at the big trees, walk past my mushroom log stack to see if any mushrooms have sprouted…I listen to the birds and look for animals.”

“Learning about forestland, the ecosystems, I’m just endlessly fascinated by the complexity of what goes on out there, especially when you start to see it as more than just a stand of trees.”

What advice I’d give to other small forest landowners:

“Get involved with your land, become a steward. Even if it’s only an acre, or even less…take advantage of all the programs, people, and networks available to learn how to care for it. Your love for your forest will grow, and you’ll feel good in the end that you’re giving back and making a contribution to the world around you.”

Jon’s Journey as a Forest Owner and Steward

Jon Matson became a forest owner in 2001 when he bought 20 acres of forestland in eastern Washington. With the help of a consulting forester, he developed a forest management plan for his new property and joined the local chapter of the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA). WFFA is a non-profit organization of, and for, small forest landowners with 15 local chapters spread across the state. In working with his consulting forester to develop the forest management plan and learning from fellow small forest landowners through WFFA events, workshops, and tours, Jon became really interested in and learned a lot about actively stewarding forests. Then in 2010, Jon and his family were able to purchase and move to his 10-acre property in Maple Valley. Besides a home, the property had 5 acres of forest and the rest of the property was set up for keeping horses.

In addition to applying what he had already learned from his experiences in eastern Washington, Jon also took the WSU Extension Forestry’s Coached Forest Stewardship Planning Course to update the forest plan that came with his Maple Valley property. The course gave him the opportunity to learn from local forestry experts and apply what he learned to his Maple Valley property. Jon also learned about all the different natural resources programs and people available to help landowners with stewarding and managing their small forests for free.

After he updated his forest plan for his 5 acre Maple Valley forest, Jon worked with King Conservation District’s Landowner Incentive Program to complete a forest restoration cost-share project that removed large patches of invasive blackberry and replanted areas of the forest with native conifer tree seedlings. He also worked with a professional contractor during the restoration project to create new forest trails through his forest.

Today one of Jon’s favorite activities is just walking in his woods, observing what goes on, and learning about the diversity of life in his forest. He plans to tap some of the big leaf maple trees growing in his woods this winter to make maple syrup and has been growing shiitake mushrooms for a few years using alder logs he harvested himself from the forest.

Upcoming Tour

Want to manage your small forest, but don’t know where to start? Looking to improve your forest’s health and your own enjoyment of your land? This event is for you!

Join us on Saturday, August 20 for a free tour of the Matsons’ 5-acre forest in Maple Valley. Spaces are limited!

What you will get from this event:

  • Learn how to create forest trails that improve your enjoyment of your forest
  • Learn how you can improve the health of your forest and how to get free help
  • See examples of non-timber forest products small forests can produce
  • Get answers to your questions about using and managing small forests from a King County landowner and KCD Forester

The tour will feature Jon sharing how he got help with removing invasive blackberry, creating trails through his forest, how he protects the young tree seedlings in his forest and how he uses his forest to produce non-timber forest products like shiitake mushrooms.


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