ashley bee wrote:
The only worrisome thing about the land right now is the sheer volume of dead trees, it seems that every day another one has toppled and I worry someday a person will be injured. I went out when there was no wind blowing and intentionally/proactively pushed a few more leaning ones down. I definitely feel the need to learn more forest management.
This is a real thing to be aware of. I generally wear a hard hat anytime I'm working under a canopy just out of habit, they also make good rain and sun hats :). You can't really eliminate the risk but you can pay attention to your surroundings. Sick looking trees with fungal or insect infestation are more likely to break. So are red alder and black cottonwood. Look up occasionally to check for hanging dead branches, these are called widowmakers. Impractical to remove them but make a note of them, perhaps flag the tree. Branches break more often when they've snow weighting them down. Don't work under a canopy while it's windy. Try to have someone else with you or at least nearby. Make and carry a first aid kit.
The woods actually are somewhat dangerous but there's pretty simple things to reduce your risk, don't let the fear keep you from living.
You ought to post that blackberry you saw for an ID. We have quite a few native species of rubus, the evergreen and Himalayan are noxious weeds that I'm sure you've noticed fight back. Luckily they're not horribly difficult to get rid of with a little elbow grease. Shade, mowing, and digging the roots out are all very effective. It's worth the effort in the long run if you're methodical, especially since that forest looks pretty intact.
I highly recommend you buy "native plants of the Pacific northwest coast" aka "the pojar". It's a really good book for beginners since it's easy to use with lots of pictures, but is also pretty dense with a broad scope of information on each plant. It's a lot of fun (when it's not winter twigs) to practice looking up plants you don't know. Having a name for each one really helps you notice it more often and begin learning each one's personality. After you're addicted to plant ID you get so good at it that you start to do double takes when you don't recognize something.