NE Oregon Tree Farm Receives National Honor for 2016 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award


The American Tree Farm System announced today that the 2016 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award will go to the Defrees family of northeast Oregon. The award recognizes the Defrees family for practicing sustainable land management, protecting forested land, wildlife habitat and water quality for over a century.
The Defrees represent the first recipient of the award from Northeast Oregon, and are the first Oregon recipients in a decade. Learn more about the Defrees Tree Farm and the award at The Defrees will be honored for the award on December 6, at a reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the program.
Father and son duo Lyle and Dean Defrees, along with Dean’s family, wife Sharon, daughter Dallas and husband Riley Hall, son Nathan and wife Jess, and son Tyler and wife Max Patashnik, manage the approximately 2,000-acre tree farm located in northeast Oregon, a region of the state prone to intense wildfires that have consumed both forest and homes and affected watersheds and drinking water.
The Defrees have been active in their community, mentoring other landowners on the importance of forest management to get ahead of wildfire. Lyle is on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Northeast Oregon District Budget Committee, a member of the Eastern Oregon Forest Protective Association, a member of the Baker County Small Woodlands Association, and on the Tree School East Committee. Dean participated as a member of the Baker County Forestland Classification Committee. The family has hosted an emergency wildfire camp on their property and been involved in the community in many capacities throughout the region.
“When I think of family forestlands in Baker County and showcases of working forests, the Defrees family is without question one of the first families that come to mind,” said Joe Hessel, Unit Forester for the La Grande/Baker Unit. “They have struck a nice balance between raising cattle and growing timber on their land. Lyle and Dean have been very supportive of Oregon Department of Forestry through the years.”
Each year, ATFS recognizes four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers out of the 74,000 tree farmers nationwide. Winners have been selected for their dedication and work over the years to protect and provide sustainable wood supplies, wildlife habitat and clean water on their Tree Farms, as well their efforts to promote forest stewardship in the community. The American Forest Foundation (AFF) and the ATFS community select a national awardee from among the regional awardees.
The AFF is a forest conservation organization that works on the ground with families, teachers and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners and teachers working to keep our forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future they will inherit.
The Oregon Tree Farm System is the state affiliate for the American Tree Farm System, whose mission is to promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all the benefits of productive forestry and to help Oregon’s family forest owners sustainably care for their forests. The mission is accomplished through partnerships with Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University Extension, Oregon Forest Resource Institute, Oregon Small Woodlands Association, Sustainable Forestry Initiative State Implementation Committee, and the U.S. Forest Service.