Ebey's Reserve shows off fir trees

Tours of the fir tree orchard growing at Ebey's Reserve are available this week.

The orchard, which was protected in 2005 by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust via a conservation easement, is opening for rare presentations and public tours on April 16 and April 17.

"Whidbey Island is an ideal location for the seed orchard because the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains makes the weather extremely dry in May and June," said Dan Cress, independent consultant for Ebey's Reserve.

The seed orchard is young and not yet in full production, but in another six years, it will produce tens of thousands of cones that will be shipped to Oregon. There, the seeds will be extracted from the cones and then shipped to tree nurseries across the Northwest, where they'll be sown. The trees spend one or two years in the nurseries before being hand-planted. It takes 40 to 60 years for them to grow to harvestable size, and then the cycle begins again. When it's in full production, the 38-acre seed orchard will generate enough seeds to reforest 4,000 acres of land every other year.

Two free tours are available. The first is at 4 p.m. Friday, April 16 and the second is 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17. Space is limited.

For details and reservations, call 360-222-3310 or e-mail

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