Seneca Plants 40 Millionth Tree
This spring, Seneca planted its 40 millionth tree.
The occasion was celebrated on the tree farm where two of Seneca’s three owners, sisters Becky Jones and Kathy Jones-McCann, planted seedlings with their grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews (Parker Roscoe, 8; Jake Hamaker, 6; and Ava Roscoe, 5).
“I’m so excited about the planting of the 40 millionth tree! This is a huge milestone for our family,” says Becky. “That soil is the native soil of the Douglas fir, but as the fourth generation of our family plants trees in it, it feels like the native soil of our family as well.”
The family used the experience to pass on knowledge and values about nurturing and sustaining the land. “Healthy trees are important to us, but so is healthy soil, cool clean water and thriving wildlife,” explains Kathy. “On the tree farm we plan on a 50-year horizon. We plan for generations of trees and generations of family.”
“The knowledge passed down is not just about trees. It is also about soil, fungus, being a good neighbor, streams, fish, sunlight, different types of habitat, outdoor recreation (we allow a lot of it on our lands and it affects the land in different ways), rocks, pollinators like bees and Monarch butterflies, etc. We love all of that stuff!”
To help the kids understand the magnitude of 40 million trees, they calculated that if those little seedlings were laid end-to-end, they would cross America five and a half times.
Seneca manages its 167,000 acres of timberlands sustainably, meaning that they grow more than they harvest every year. They currently have 92% more timber on their lands than they had on those same acres 25 years ago. The timber harvested from their timberlands goes on to be made into renewable building materials. For every tree harvested, they plant three more.
Seneca started as a small sawmill operation founded by Aaron Jones in 1953. Today, his daughters —owners Becky, Kathy and Jody Jones — continue the legacy of leadership and innovation in the wood products industry, overseeing a family of companies: Seneca Sawmill Company, with some of the most innovative sawmills in the world; Seneca Jones Timber Company, with sustainably managed timberlands; and Seneca Sustainable Energy, which has the cleanest running biomass plant in America, creating enough sustainable energy to power 13,000 homes.
Sustainability is a core value of the multi-generational family business and is woven throughout all of the Seneca companies. They even have electric car charging stations so employees with electric vehicles can charge their cars for free while they are at work.
They are fiercely proud of being part of the wood products industry in Oregon, which also values sustainability and renewable products. Oregon is the #1 lumber producing state in the nation, and yet it has more trees today than it had 100 years ago.
When talking about the recent experience of tree planting with her family, Becky said, “Getting to 40 million was quite an accomplishment. I felt like Dad was there smiling with us.”