Ben Deumling started Zena Forest Products in 2007 at age 25. He wanted to find a better outlet for the logs from Zena Forest than the big industrial sawmills, where prices were low and good management practices were not appreciated or rewarded. Zena Forest Products is now able to process logs onsite into finished flooring, furniture and cabinet stock, as well as a wide variety of other custom products.
Zena Forest is a 1300 acre parcel of FSC® certified forestland located in the Eola Hills a few miles northwest of Salem. Zena Forest comprises one of the largest contiguous blocks of mixed conifer forest in the central Willamette Valley. It includes large areas of endangered Oak Savannah and Oak Woodland. The Zena Forest contains headwaters of Rickreall, Yamhill, and Spring Valley watersheds, and is home to a number of threatened and endangered species. The forest is protected by a conservation easement that stipulates 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.
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 operation located in the forest. Ben grew up working in the forest and shares his mother’s passion for the forest and all it has to offer.