By Joanna Bastian

As a homeowner who lives on forested land, I am interested in learning how to take care of the surrounding forest. After all, we do regular maintenance on the house and the garden — what can we do to keep the forest healthy too?

A Forest Stewardship Plan, created by a professional forester, can help landowners identify potential problems, such as wildfire hazards, invasive species and trees that are damaged by insects and disease. The Forest Stewardship Program is administered by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and participants may qualify for financial assistance in caring for the land, current use taxation, and Stewardship Forest recognition.

Judy Swank of McFarland Creek has been working in forestry for over 30 years. Her business, Call Of The Wild Forest Management, focuses on forest health and fuel reduction projects. With private landowners, Judy creates management plans and helps forest owners obtain cost-share assistance from the state to help them maintain healthy forests.

Judy will walk through the forested area of a property and identify health issues while providing recommendations to ensure forest health. She recently sent me an email explaining that the main forest health issues in the Methow are “bark beetles in the pine trees, spruce budworm in the fir trees and dwarf mistletoe in all species. The best way to keep your forest healthy is to maintain appropriate stocking levels and diversity. A drought-stressed tree is more likely to succumb to insects and diseases than a tree with adequate soil moisture. A vigorous tree is more likely to be able to fight off an insect infestation.”

She goes on to explain that by thinning an area, the remaining trees have better access to soil moisture and less of a chance of spreading diseases between trees.

According to the DNR website, a forest stewardship plan includes an assessment of forest health conditions and tree vigor, current or potential forest health problems, invasive species and pest management techniques, and management practices to maintain forest health including practices to help reduce wildfire hazard.

Judy can assess the condition of the forest including insects, diseases, drought, wildfire hazard, weather and animal damage, stressed/overstocked stands, invasive species, noxious weeds, and much more. A friend of ours recently walked through their property with Judy and was very impressed with her knowledge of all things wild.

A sound stewardship plan includes actions such as thinning and pruning, slash disposal, creating firebreaks and defensible space around structures, improving access for firefighters, prevention and control treatments for insects and diseases, sanitation and salvage practices, and control of noxious weeds/invasive species.

Judy Swank can be contacted by phone or text at (509) 923-1965.

Got a car just sitting around not going anywhere? Improve your property value and scenery by recycling it! Methow Recycles needs 100 cars and farm equipment of any size in order to bring a crusher to the valley. Methow Recycles will even bring the crusher to someone’s property if there is 25 tons or more at one site, and they can also assist with hauling for just a few cars. Call Gina Monteverde at (509) 341-4264 or email for questions and to arrange logistics.

In addition to cleaning up the car junk, Methow Recycles will hold public scrap drop-off days on May 25 and June 7. According to Gina, “The public drop-off days do not include cars but things such as pressure tanks, appliances, roofing and any other metal that is around. These things are self-hauled by everyone. Neighbors are encouraged to help neighbors. We will also be sponsoring a metals reuse section this year. Cool and/or functional pieces of metal will be pulled out for resale (no car parts).”

They need volunteers to help unload materials during the drop-off days, and neighbors could check with each other to help haul items. Let’s get into spring cleaning mode and help each other out! More information can be found at