Glenwood is located at the foot of Mt Adams,  in the scenic                        
Glenwood Valley/Camas Prairie
  of Klickitat County
Note.....Mt. Adams  is NOT in Klickitat County.


I have a challenge for some of you local photographers. Do you have a Glenwood photograph that features a Quercus garryana?

I selected an image taken at the Miller Ranch by Portland photographer Todd Kreuter 

Only in recent years have I become interested in the oak trees of Klickitat County. I grew up on the west side of the Cascades, where farms in the prairie like settings  of Camas, Vancouver and Battle Ground had massive oak trees in the fields and around the farm houses.

A winter scene of Oak Trees in the Battle Ground area.

A trip through the Willamette Valley was a real eye opener to massive oak trees.

A Willamette Valley Oak.


An oak savanna is grassland characterized by a scattered distribution of open-growth oak trees and small groves of oaks

By Lynda Boyer

Land surveys conducted by the General Land Office of the US Government in the 1850’s documented about 1 million acres of the Willamette Valley were prairie lands both upland and wetland and over 400,000 acres contained oak.

Evidence suggests that the valley prairies may have become established during a time when the climate was warmer and drier than today (Hansen

 At present, the climate of the Willamette Valley is sufficiently cool and moist to support woody vegetation on most sites

Palynological studies indicate that the Willamette Valley has been dominated by oak savanna for more than 6,000 years. Since lighting fires are infrequent, this suggests that human-caused fires have maintained this sub-climax condition....

The Kalapuya Indians, the Willamette Valley’s native inhabitants, had substantial motivation to use fire in the landscape. The falls on the Willamette

River at Oregon City made most of the river inaccessible to salmon. TheKalapuya relied on the native plants of the prairie and game to provide their economy. In order to eliminate woody vegetation and maintain the open structure that facilitated this diverse resource base, frequent, low-intensity fires were set...."


So...when I moved to the Glenwood Valley in 1970,  I paid little attention to the scrubby oaks growing on the breaks of the Klickitat River and the Goldendale Grade. I had great admiration for their tenacity to grow out of a rock, while twisting and turning themselves into a trunk with gnarly branches and still capable of producing a nut.  It was great firewood for holding a fire all night. 

In the 1980's the farms of Battle Ground began turning into one massive housing development and I mourned the loss of those huge Oak trees, but I was still somewhat oblivious to our oak trees. 

However, in the last few years, as I have become more gnarly and twisted myself with age, I have gained a fascination with the Garry Oak, the only oak native to Washington State. 

I had been pondering, what  it must have been like when the Native Americans set fire to Camas Prairie.  Then I pondered the thought that Camas roots and Oak trees often seem to occupy the same habitat.  Not a "symbiotic relationship", but perhaps some type of relationship.  Remember....I come from the area of Camas, Washington where the Camas root and Oak trees once grew in abundance.  I know this Camas Prairie gets colder with frequent frosts, but is it possible big Garry Oak trees grew here at one time?

"OREGON WHITE OAK  Also called GARRY OAK.   Oregon White Oak was named after Nicholas Garry, a deputy governor for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

This species grows slowly to 80-100 feet (25-30m). It may live 250-500 years.

Oregon White Oak grows on dry, rocky slopes and in open savannahs. Many native oak prairies, and their associated ecosystem, have disappeared and continue to decline due to urban development, fire suppression and overgrazing. There is evidence that native people in the Willamette Valley burned the Oregon White Oak savannahs nearly every year in the late summer or early fall to prevent the encroachment of faster growing conifers....."

   Along the southern fringe of the Glenwood Valley are some tall, straight Oak trees.  Nothing like the Willamette Valley Oaks of course, but they are respectable and some are even a bit majestic. 

Then I began pondering,,,,, could I start an Oak Tree from the nut?

And then,..... I found out I am way behind on that idea.

Just about anything you wanted to know about...."FROM ACORNS TO OAKS".

And then, there is this guy at DERBY CANYON NATIVES

Guess what he does?
He sprouts acorns!

Ted Alway says....

"....There is but one species of oak native to Washington state, Oregon white oak or Garry oak (Quercus garryana). It grows west of the Cascades from Vancouver Island to California, but occurs east of the mountains only in Yakima and Klickitat counties… except for a fairly small population found between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, separated by 60 miles from their closest “cousins”. I don’t know how this outlying population came to be there; perhaps Native Americans transported acorns north many centuries ago. This northernmost population of oaks may be the hardiest of the species, and may do well in other areas of Central Washington.

I’ve been propagating seedlings from these impressive trees for several years now. I collect acorns in the fall, trying to collect enough before the Steller’s jays and weevils get them all...".

And here is another guy:  Tom Conway of Tall Clover Farm on  Vashon Island:

Notice...he addresses the question I had been pondering about a relationship between oak trees  and camas root.

"Last week in the greenhouse, I did notice my taproot-cramped Garry Oak seedlings were pining (so to speak) for a forever home in the ground. These wonderfully beautiful oaks, the only native oak to Washington, have a very limited range within the state. Surprisingly, the hand of man and woman created and encouraged the tree’s unique habitat and ecosystem. Indigenous people of the region would start brush fires to clear the understory around these oak groves. The annual practice promoted the growth of an important vegetative food source: camas tubers. As the practice declined, so did the range of the groves. Firs trees would quickly encroach and begin reforestation. Bye, bye Garry Oak? Not so fast…"
and then....to top it all of....I came across this guy...Ed Book, who saw the beauty of our oak trees long before I did.

"Ed Book presents an 8x10 portfolio of 72 photographic images of the mixed woodlands of Garry Oak and Ponderosa Pine found in and on the rims and surrounding plateaus of the Klickitat River Canyon, northeast of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state.

This forest puts on an autumn color display unrivaled anywhere else in Washington. The small, leathery, multi and irregular lobed oak leaves turn saturated yellow, orange, red, and magenta hues when the first cold clear nights of autumn arrive.

Repeated extended visits in various weather conditions were required to record the woodlands and canyon at their optimum.

These images provide a glimpse of how the oak habit adapts to the varying habitat, from steep walled canyon to rolling parklands of forest mixed with meadow."

There is a lot of information and knowledge out there about our Majestic, Scrubby Oak Trees and I am just beginning to learn some of it.