Having grown up in the Zena Forest, Ben Deumling started working to improve this little corner of the world, that he had come to love.  To this end, he started the Zena Forest Products sawmill and millwork operation in 2007. He wanted to find a better outlet for logs from the Zena Forest than the existing sawmills, where prices were low and exceptional forest management practices were not rewarded.   Zena Forest Products processes logs into hardwood flooring, millwork and lumber as well as a wide variety of custom products.

In the heart of the Willamette Valley, the Zena Forest is a 1300 acre parcel of FSC® certified forest land nestled in the Eola Hills a few miles northwest of Salem.  The forest comprises the largest contiguous block of forest within the Willamette Valley. It includes large areas of the endangered Oak Savannah and Oak Woodland ecosystems, as well as headwaters of Rickreall, Yamhill, and Spring Valley watersheds, and is home to a number of threatened and endangered plant and animal species.  The forest is protected by a conservation easement stipulating that the forest will remain a working forest in perpetuity. No development is allowed, and strict harvest levels, as well as habitat preservation and enhancement, are mandated by the easement. The forest has been managed by the Deumling family since 1987.

© Andrea Lonas

© Andrea Lonas

The management goal of the forest is to create an ecologically sustainable and economically viable, uneven aged and mixed species forest including all tree, plant and animal species native to the area.  In practice this means:

  • No Clear-Cutting – We select single trees to harvest based on the overall health of the forest, not on maximum profit.

  • No Compaction – We do not run equipment on the forest floor. Permanent skid trails are used as sacrifice areas set as far apart as possible.

  • No Chemicals – We remove invasive species by hand, using machetes and plenty of sweat.

The forest is a family operation. Sarah Deumling manages the forest, and oversees all restoration, logging and planting, as well as leading tours and hosting school and university groups.  Sarah’s son Ben runs the sawmill and millwork operation located in the forest.  Ben grew up working in the Zena Forest and shares his mother’s passion for the forest and all it has to offer.