Nourse Tree Farm north of Arlington named state’s Tree Farmer of the Year

ARLINGTON – The New family, owners of the Nourse Tree Farm north of Arlington, has been named the 2018 Tree Farmer of the Year in Washington.

David and Darlina New of Bellingham own the 160 acres of forested land that has been in the family since her grandfather acquired it nearly 80 years ago as a recreational getaway.

The family has managed the forest for seven years since David attended classes and wrote a forestry management plan to oversee timber harvesting and replanting. The farm received American Tree Farm System certification last year. “To be honest, I was quite surprised to hear that I was receiving the Tree Farmer of the Year award,” said David, who was presented the award at the Washington Farm Forestry Association’s annual meeting. “I thought there were people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have.”

An open house is planned from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at 1130 Stanwood Bryant Road. Experts from the Washington Tree Farm Program, WSU Extension, conservation district and state Department of Natural Resources will be there.

Darlina carries a lot of fond memories about the property growing up. “I loved coming here, going down to the river and camping.” In later years, the land was used to grow crops, fruits and vegetables, while her uncle used several acres for cattle.

David and his wife bought the property in 2010 when Darlina’s uncle died.

“We recently harvested sixty acres of alder and maple, and have now replanted that with alder, Douglas fir and mixed coniferous trees,” David said. “We have a stand of alders and other trees we’re going to be taking down in about five years, about thirty to forty acres on the other side of the road.”

The family has a huge garden.

“We grow raspberries, blueberries and have about 50 fruit trees and 300-400 dahlias that take up a lot of our time during the spring and summer,” David said.

He credited the WSU Extension Forestry program and forestry association for helping the family develop the forest management plan. When David was preparing to add a vehicle bridge to cross Pilchuck Creek, he had a fisheries biologist come out to confirm that the tributary was a salmon stream, pointing out juvenile coho swimming. In partnership with the conservation district, the New family restored over 30 acres of fish habitat by planting conifers in the riparian area and reengineering the stream. One of the Pilchuck Creek’s side channels led into a grassy field, which resulted in the death of a number of spawning salmon. “We also worked with them to build 200 yards of stream channel that didn’t exist before,” David said.

Restoring fish habitat is one of the conservation district’s many goals, said Ryan Williams, program integration manager.

Because of these restoration efforts, the Nourse Tree Farm has served as an outdoor classroom for local school groups and WSU extension classes. The New family also donates firewood to a local church who distributes it to members in need. The News’ daughter, Jenn Parker, said she loves having friends, family and urbanites visit the property. “Every year we have an annual camp-out where we try to get people to come up from Seattle and get a little taste of the outdoors,” Parker said, including a variety of fun seasonal activities. David said the land is home to a menagerie of wildlife, viewed from field cameras purchased for him by his wife and set up at various locations.

“We see lots of deer and coyotes mostly, but then we also see bear and hawks and owls, occasionally a cougar,” he said.

Jenny Knoth, co-chair of the tree farm program, said, “The New family’s commitment to be good stewards of their forestland and their desire to educate their community and share their story is why they deserve the Tree Farmer of the Year award.”

Darlina said she is glad it will remain a forest. “As a place where our children and our grandchildren hopefully can enjoy the naturalness of the world,” Darlina said. “It’s going to stay the way it is.”

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