The third episode of WSU Forestry Extension's Forest Overstory podcast features Ann Stinson and Lou Jean Clark, the co-owners of Cowlitz Ridge Tree Farm in Lewis County. Ann and Lou Jean have co-owned/managed the Cowlitz Ridge Tree Farm since the passing of husband and brother, Steve Stinson in 2014. Ann discusses growing up on the tree farm and Lou Jean shares her experiences taking on the tree farm later in her life. Both having grown up in the area, they share their passion for taking care of the land and what trials and tribulations they have faced along the way. Finally, we chat with Ann about her experiences writing a memoir about her family and the forest they have long cared for, titled The Ground at My Feet: Sustaining a Family and a Forest.
The Ground at My Feet is a memoir about loss and grief as well as a portrait of a family, a region, and an industry. Combining personal story and research, Stinson weaves essays, poems, history, and science into a rich and layered account of life in a family forest in the Pacific Northwest. She maps interactions between the land and its people over two centuries: the Cowlitz peoples, homesteaders, and several generations of logging families who have worked the property. She follows her family’s logs as they become lumber for fence boards and suburban homes, touring a local cedar mill and traveling with her father to visit mills in Japan.
Stinson adds a landowner’s voice to conversations about the human tendency to demand more of the land than it can sustain. With its uniquely personal view of the Pacific Northwest’s timber and forestry heritage, The Ground at My Feet is an engaging addition to the literature of the landscape and ecology of the West. Available from OSU Press and Amazon.