40 Year Forest Transformation

We’re celebrating Father’s Day this year by highlighting Bruce Alber, a father and retired forester who took a picture every year, for 40 years of the same tree in a coastal managed forest.

Bruce documented the lifecycle of a forest from planting to harvest to replanting, capturing his own parallel life changes across the four decades.

Check out the video below to see their transformation starting in the 1970s to present day.

Happy Father’s Day Bruce, and to all the fathers out there!

40 Year Forest Transformation from Oregon Forests Forever on Vimeo.

Video Transcript:

I’m Bruce Alber, I am a recently retired forester. I spent 43 years in the woods working for different companies, and specialize in reforestation.

The Dilley Road is in the coast range so it’s fairly close to the Pacific Ocean. It is rolling hills, some it is very steep and short. It is not mountainous as it is in the Cascades.

My first full-time job was working out on the coast and it was in the area, and as a new forester my job was to work with the tree planting crews making sure the contractors were doing a quality job planting the trees.

So as a hobby I’ve always been a photographer since I was a young kid, and started looking around and understood that you can see changes rather rapidly over the years.

The idea of putting in a photo point came to me fairly early, and then always put the camera on that stump. I took the picture almost every year for 43 years.

So in the first pictures you can see I’m by myself, I’m the young forester, single.

And then a couple years later there is a young lady named Lynette who was my girlfriend.

A couple years later there is a young lady named Lynette who was then my wife.

Now you can see the photo tree showing up, it’s about shoulder high.

So one thing about foresters is we are really cognizant of the passage of time, and you can see that in the trees growing in these pictures.

So milestones like my 50th Birthday, being out there at that time was extra special. The very final photos before the harvest I was 65. Remember when I started at 23, that’s an amazing amount of time to watch go by.

So the process once we plant the trees, it takes a while for them to get set with the roots and they grow slowly for a year or two. About year 3-5 they really start to grow quickly.

And also the underbrush that has been knocked back by the logging resprouts and grows well and becomes great food for animals.

The process is very dynamic, and in the pictures you can see that. It’s been fun to go back and analyze the difference species that are growing after a planting.

Then as a family we came out, and they really enjoyed going out in the woods. We did lots of hiking and skiing so they were outdoors people as well.

Bruce returns to the photo tree point 43 years later, replanting a tree for the next generation.