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Scenic I-84 poplars to be clearcut, replaced by cows, potatoes

Millwood photographer Craig Goodwin sent in this photo with this note:
Millwood photographer Craig Goodwin sent in this photo with this note: "This is a photo from October in Boardman, Oregon, but I share it now because I found out this week that this well-known tree farm, beloved by photographers and road-weary travelers, has been sold and will soon be flattened into fields for dairy cows and potatoes." (Craig Goodwin courtesy )

OUTDOOR SCENERY -- Every car-load of travelers that's enjoyed the perfect scenic lines of poplars bordering Interstate 84 near Boardman surely must have expected some of the trees to be cut down at one time or another.  It's a tree farm, after all. The trees are destined to be harvested.

But it's going to be worse than that this year. The plan is to clearcut the trees and replace them with cattle and potatoes? Oh, my. 

Goodbye golden-leaved Octobers. Hello cow pies and soon-to-be french fries.

According to The Oregonian, a third of the 25,000-acre Boardman Tree Farm was sold in November to a dairy. A Washington agriculture company has bought the rest of the land for irrigation crops, such as potatoes.

Here's the story by Molly Harbarger of OregonLive.

The Boardman Tree Farm is a distinct element of the Columbia Gorge landscape. Rows and rows of millions of hybrid poplar trees run next to the highway for six miles. GreenWood Resources, a firm that manages forests as investments in timber, has owned the tree farm since 2007, and it has become a community fixture.

Each year, a charity race is held on the site. A sawmill and a veneer plant are located on the farm. The East Oregonian reports that those two companies employ about 100 people.

The poplar trees are harvested on a 12-year cycle. It will takes years to fully clear cut the tree farm.

Willow Creek Dairy, which leases land from Threemile Canyon Farms, bought 7,288 acres from tree farm owner GreenWood Resources for $65 million, according to Capital Press. The dairy is planning to use the land along the southern boundary of the farm, near Finley Buttes.

AgriNorthwest, a company from the Tri-Cities region, will use the land near the highway.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

GreenWood Resources has a headquarters in Portland, but manages forests and timber sales in Asia, Europe and Latin America as well as the U.S. In 2015, the company expanded its operations to near $1 billion in timber assets.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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