A Tree in Memoriam - Columbia Land Trust
Celebrating the memory of Land Trust friend and partner Daniel J. Howard Jr.

Forests, it seems, have a way of offering what we seek. Whether it be a shady spot for quiet reflection, a mountain biking trail, or space to walk with the dogs, Northwest forests have us covered. For some, forests also represent a source of work and a deeper sense of purpose. For many folks who work in forestry, a forest can provide all this and so much more.

This coming August will mark a year since the Land Trust lost a friend and partner in Daniel Howard Jr. Dan was 32 when he died tragically in an accident while on the way to help respond to wildfires in California. He lived in Philomath, Oregon, but Dan spent time in the Columbia River region as a forester and project manager with the team at Integrated Resource Management (IRM).

On behalf of IRM, Dan helped create and implement forest prescriptions on a project where the Land Trust’s goal was to set timberland on a new trajectory toward old-growth forest conditions.

Columbia Land Trust Stewardship Director Ian Sinks credits Dan with taking the lead on critical work at Pine Creek, the forest conservation site on the south side of Mount St. Helens. “Dan essentially filled the role of a staff person for the Land Trust, putting together plans for reforestation and revegetation of recently conserved timberland, while also collaborating with the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to secure grants and keep the project going.”

Sinks also recalled how Dan led extraordinary efforts to pull off tree plantings in the chilly early spring, transporting trees on snow machines and even shuttling plants through the snow on foot when one of those machines broke down.

Dan offered a unique set of talents to IRM, the Land Trust, and to the field of forestry by blending an old-guard land ethic and on-the-ground knowledge of forests with new-age skills around mapping and GIS analysis. He also loved the work. For Dan, working against the backdrop of Mount St. Helens, furthering the conservation of vibrant forests, helped fulfill a life-long dream of working and making a home in the Pacific Northwest.

On a sunny spring day this past May, Land Trust staffers Ian, Keith Daly, and Cherie Kearney drove up to Pine Creek with a 5-foot western redcedar tree in tow. Together, they found a low draw of land with rich soil near the remnant old-growth forest at Cedar Flats. Between the stumps of two ancient cedars, they planted the tree in memory of Dan, a forester, friend, colleague, and dedicated partner in conservation.

We at the Land Trust celebrate Dan’s life and his love for forests. We are deeply humbled and grateful that he thought so highly of the Land Trust’s work. Upon his passing, his family asked that donations be made to the Land Trust to continue his passion for forest conservation and protection. We received a generous outpouring of gifts in Dan’s memory.

Today at Pine Creek, a western redcedar grows in Dan’s honor, but his life and work also live on through the growth of a vast forest that will pass on generous gifts to generations to come. We are grateful to share in his passion.

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