Land | Ecotrope

Saving white oak trees ... by climbing them?

Ecotrope | May 31, 2011 9:39 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:37 p.m.

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Tree climbers Brian French and Will Koomjian traversed a kilometer of oak forest canopy in Northwest Oregon without touching the ground. A documentary called Treeverse will showcase their adventure while drawing attention to the disappearance of oak savannah in Oregon.

Tree climbers Brian French and Will Koomjian traversed a kilometer of oak forest canopy in Northwest Oregon without touching the ground. A documentary called Treeverse will showcase their adventure while drawing attention to the disappearance of oak savannah in Oregon.

I’ve been meaning to mention the oak savannah Treeverse project for awhile now. A filmmaker and a team of tree climbers turned an environmental issue – Oregon’s increasingly rare oak savannah ecosystem – into an adventure. And a documentary.

In March, climbers Brian French and Will Koomjian spent five days trekking through a kilometer of old growth white oak forest (climbing a total of 82 trees) in Northwest Oregon without touching the ground. The two arborists have also embarked (oh look, a pun!) upon a quest to measure the largest tree of every species in another project called Ascending the Giants.

Treehugger has a slideshow of the Treeverse endeavor. And an Oregon Field Guide team went along for the ride, so you can look forward to seeing the the project on OPB-TV one day soon. The episode of Field Guide below (which aired last year) details the threats to Oregon’s oak savannah, an ecosystem that is down to 1 percent of the ground it once covered. Farming and development in the Willamette Valley have reshaped much of the land where giant, gnarled oak trees once towered over open prairie. The show also highlights efforts to preserve and restore oak trees and their habitat – including an oak tree rescue and adoption program!

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