It was September, 1991 when the gate officially opened at a public dedication event held at the Hopkins Memorial Tree Farm in Beavercreek, southeast of Oregon City. Nearly 200 woodland owners, neighbors, friends and family came to see what was new. This was big news and quite a story in the Portland area. Local TV stations covered the event. Former Governor, Bob Straub, was the dedication speaker.
Now, 25 years later, on Saturday, September 17, Hopkins will be re-dedicated. The public is invited again. Tours and displays will be available beginning at 2:00 pm. A re-dedication ceremony will be held at 4:00 pm with a reception to follow. Hopkins Demonstration Forest is located at 16750 South Brockway Road, Oregon City, OR, 97045.
“It’s incredible to think about,” said Ken Everett from Colton. Everett is one of two people responsible for creating what is known today as the Hopkins Demonstration Forest. “Hopkins is a place where thousands of students come each year to learn in a forest environment. They come to learn how to work with their hands and they come to provide community service. We couldn’t be more proud of this forest and the people who have helped make this all happen over the years!”
Everett, a consulting forester, worked with Howard and Margaret Hopkins—long-time residents of Milwaukie—to help manage their timber property in the 1980s. After Howard passed away in 1989, Margaret decided she no longer wanted to care for the property herself, but wanted to see the land remain as an educational resource for the community—and as a legacy to Howard and his work to build a sustainable forest.
That’s when Everett called Mike Bondi, Oregon State University Extension Forester in Clackamas County at the time, to seek his help thinking about turning Margaret’s dream into a reality. “We worked hard to find an organization to accept Margaret’s gift of land and to work with her to create an educational forest. But, we had no luck. No one was interested.” Bondi said.
That’s when Margaret said, “I guess we’ll just have to do this ourselves.”
Ultimately, Bondi and Everett created a federal tax-exempt non-profit corporation called Forests Forever, Inc., to accept Margaret’s gift of land and take responsibility for the land. The two foresters identified community members willing to serve on the non-profit’s board of directors. And, they began inviting their clients, friends and family members to provide the volunteer help, supplies and people power to build what you see today.
Bondi said, “When we first received the property from Margaret, the 120-acre tree farm was just trees and a road through the woods. We developed parking facilities, built equipment storage buildings, toilets, classrooms, and a picnic shelter. We drilled two wells and are now completing work on a historic fire tower. But, what we are most proud of is the use of the property by the community, by teachers and their students, and by private woodland owners for their learning and enjoyment. We’ve had well over 100,000 visitors since we opened. It’s really pretty incredible to think this was possible!”