David New and Darlina New collect berries on their family lot, Nourse Tree Farm, and will host an open house next weekend to celebrate being the Tree Farmer of the Year for Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

David New and Darlina New collect berries on their family lot, Nourse Tree Farm, and will host an open house next weekend to celebrate being the Tree Farmer of the Year for Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

How a family’s coveted land became a working forest

The New family knew nothing about forestry. Now they’ve been named the state’s top tree farmers.

ARLINGTON — The New family gathered July 3 for a picnic at a favorite spot near the river.

There are years of happy memories there. It’s part of a 160-acre swath of forested land that recently was recognized as a top tree farm in the state.

The News own the Nourse Tree Farm north of Arlington. Recently, David and Darlina New began managing it as a working forest, with timber harvests and replanting.

They’ve been married 42 years and live in Bellingham. They spend most weekends at the farm.

“There’s always something to do,” David New said. “We have a great big huge garden here and an orchard, and raspberries and blueberries and 350 dahlias as well as the tree farm.”

Darlina New’s grandfather bought the land in 1942. Then her uncle owned it for about 50 years. She remembers camping by the river as a child, and growing fruit and vegetables in the garden, she said in a video about the tree farm. Her uncle raised cattle there.

David and Darlina New took over in 2010. They formed a limited liability company to manage the tree farm with their daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Jeffrey Parker.

David works as a civil engineer and land surveyor, and Darlina is a retired teacher.

“I knew about engineering and other things, but nothing about forestry,” David New said in an interview last week.

The News were willing to learn. And this year, the Washington Tree Farm Program named the family Tree Farmer of the Year.

David New was surprised.

“Eight years ago I knew absolutely nothing about this, but I’ve been working at it and the rest of the family has been working at it, too,” he said.

They hired a forester for an inspection. The forester noted an over-mature stand of alder. That became the first timber sale, 60 acres of hardwoods. The area was logged in 2013 and replanted in early 2015 with alder, Douglas fir, pine and hemlock.

“The idea was to create stands that could be smaller and be harvested at different times,” David New said.

The family also restored fish habitat along a tributary of Pilchuck Creek. A biologist pointed out juvenile coho salmon. The News worked with the Snohomish Conservation District to remove grass and weeds around the stream and plant other vegetation to help keep the water cool and clean.

Darlina New bought her husband a wildlife camera one Christmas and they set it up. They’ve added two more cameras now. They have images of bobcats, bear, cougars, deer, rabbits, hawks, mice, owls and coyotes, David New said.

He took classes and worked with the Washington State University Extension Forestry Program on a management plan. Most people who own forested property don’t create a plan, he said. He encourages them to do so. It can help avoid disease and fire hazards.

An open house is planned at the Nourse Tree Farm, 1130 Stanwood Bryant Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. There will be experts from the Washington Tree Farm Program, WSU Extension, the conservation district and the state Department of Natural Resources.

David New hopes his family’s work over the past eight years will allow future generations to continue caring for the land.

“We’re trying to set it up so that the property can be working forest in perpetuity, off into the future as long as the family wants to keep it,” David New said.

He likes to take his grandchildren, ages 4 and 6, to spend time on the farm. He wants them, like Darlina, to cherish their time by the stream or in the garden.

“The whole idea is to give them good memories here so they want to keep it,” he said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Nourse Tree Farm Open House

July 21

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

1130 Stanwood Bryant Road

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