Douglas County tree farmer a finalist for national honors

ROSEBURG, Ore. - The Barnes first became familiar with the Nickel Mountain property in the late 1990s.

Rick Barnes, a professional forester, had to convince his wife Audrey that it was a good investment.

"I had a vision of what it could become," Rick said, "and she had a vision of a mess. I did a sales pitch and we ended up buying the property."

They bought 970 acres in 2000. A second purchase a year later expanded the farm to 1,262 acres.

"To date we've harvested a little over 1.2 million feet," Rick said, "and we have substantially more volume here today than when we purchased it, even given that harvest."

In 2012, the couple won Douglas County tree farmers of the year honors.

In 2013, they won Oregon tree farmers of the year.

Now the Barnes family is in the running for National Tree Farmer of the Year.

The couple had to meet many requirements to qualify for this honor such as: education, community involvement, good stewardship, forest health, forest productivity, recreation, and fish and wildlife.

"This is a working forest. we're trying to increase the forest health we're trying to improve timber growth," Rick said. "I love growing trees and I love taking a forest setting and doing what we can to improve it and watch it improve over time."

The Barnes head to Pittsburg, Penn., in July with the three other regional winners to compete for National Tree Farmer of the Year.