Nick Stefanowicz earned the nickname when he was working on the Astoria docks as a longshoreman.

"There were three guys named Nick who worked on the docks," he said. "I lived up on the mountain so they call me Green Mountain Nick."

Stefanowicz retired as a longshoreman more than two decades ago, but he still goes by the nickname.

Every morning during the 7 o'clock hour, he provides the Green Mountain weather report for KAST radio. This morning the temperature was 26 degrees, sunny and icy on the mountain, where he owns Stefanowicz Tree Farm.

At 82 years old, Stefanowicz says he can still do a day's work without it affecting him. Crows talons sink deep around his eyes, but he barely looks a day older than the picture taken when he was named Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year in 1983.

"When people see me they guess me for 60 years," he said. "I laugh at them. I say, 'You better guess again.'"

Stefanowicz credits years of hard work and the Northwest's clean air for his health. His parents Ukrainian immigrants had nine children in the Pittsburg, Penn. suburb of Monessen. In those days, most men worked in the steel factories and died young.

But the Great Depression hit the area and Stefanowicz, then 16, lied about his age so he join the New Deal program Civilian Conservation Corps.

When he was in his 20s, the United States joined World War II. So Stefanowicz joined the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1943, he was stationed in Astoria and met his wife.

After the war they moved back to Pennsylvania, but Stefanowicz couldn't stand it for more than a year.

"I didn't know what fresh air was until I moved back here," he said.

He bought a farm on Green Mountain in 1947 and began his weather reports the next year. Back then, he owned 14 dairy cows and no trees. But in 1947, he planted his first spruce tree. A swing still hangs from the spruce, now a natural skyscraper in his yard.

"When I saw how fast trees grow I quit cows and started growing trees," he said. "When I had nothing to do, I planted trees."

Stefanowicz planted 1,000 trees in that first grow. Now he uses seedlings produced from the trees to replant on his farm, which is about 70 acres now. He estimates he has planted more than 5,000 trees using such a method. He's logged (partially) only once in 1989.

That year his son was swept overboard from a fishing trawler. The year before, his wife died of "smoking cigarette cancer." His daughter survives in Boring and several grandchildren and great grandchildren are scattered throughout the state.

Stefanowicz, whose spine is straight in his hickory shirts, still strolls along the path into his woods that wrap around his house.

"It brings back memories of what I accomplished in my lifetime; it makes me feel good," he said. "One thing I like about trees, they don't talk back."

- Jennifer Collins


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