We were deeply saddened to learn last week that one of our alumni and great friends, Steve Stinson, passed away on Wednesday, July 16, after a two-year battle with cancer.
Born December 10, 1961, Stinson grew up working on his family’s Cowlitz Ridge Tree Farm in Toledo, Wash., and was a tireless advocate for forestry. He was particularly known for his support of small family forest owners, and he was an integral part of the Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA).
Stinson earned his bachelor’s from Evergreen State College and was a master’s student under Professor Chad Oliver at the College of Forest Resources. He was among the first students working on the landscape management system (LMS) developed in the Oliver Lab, and his thesis was on dynamic habitat-based forest planning for small forest landowners. At a national Society of American Foresters meeting, one of Stinson’s posters demonstrating the LMS won a blue ribbon award; the poster and award were displayed outside the silviculture lab for many years. After graduating in 2000, he went on to direct the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ Small Forestland Landowner Office, established as part of Washington’s Forest and Fish Law, and he later contributed to the Denman Forestry Issue Lecture Series.
Early in his career, Stinson had the foresight to see that small family forest owners were being left out of the policy discussion largely because there was no database to identify how many there were, where they were located, and how much they managed. So he worked with the Washington delegation to secure funding for the University of Washington to create a database of small tree farm family ownership through the Rural Technology Initiative (RTI), currently managed by Luke Rogers at SEFS. As a result, the Washington State Parcel and Forestland Databases—both projects now into their 10th years—provide comprehensive GIS data on tree farm land parcels and a wealth of other information. Among many other long-term benefits, these resources more accurately document the significant contributions of small forest owners, including their role in providing riparian protection in the lowlands and population centers of the state.
Stinson’s life and work touched countless lives, and he is fondly remembered at SEFS as a great friend and champion of the forestry community. He was widely respected for his pragmatism, genuine concern for other people, and a relentless pursuit of science-based decision-making. He invested so much of his time and passion in the forestlands of Washington State, and helping landowners navigate the complexity of modern forest management. He will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Stinson’s life will be held at the family tree farm in Toledo on Saturday, July 26, at 5 p.m. The Stinson family has chosen to have a potluck, so please bring a dish and beverage of your choice. They will provide plates and cutlery. There will be a bonfire and live music by Joe Batt, Tom Barbara, Joe Green and Richard Roth. If you have questions, please email Ann (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Julie (email@example.com). No phone calls please.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Washington Farm Forestry Association
P.O. Box 1010
Chehalis, WA 98532
(Port Blakely is establishing a scholarship in Stinson’s memory; more details will be available soon about designating donations to WFFA for this particular fund.)
Assured Home Health & Hospice
2120 North Park Street, Suite A
Centralia, WA 98531
Photos of Steve Stinson © Courtesy of Rick Dunning and Luke Rogers.