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What the 2021 ATFS Changes Mean for Forest Owners, Inspectors

By Eric Jenks

For NYFOA members that are also a part of New York Tree Farm (NYTF), 2021 has brought a change to the standards set by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). “We are in a transition period from two set of standards,” said NYTF Areas 3 and 4 Chair Erin Perry. “The 2021 interim guidelines are similar, but every 5 years there is a review period with a public comment period to make sure that the standards of sustainability are supported and manageable for people and forest management in general.”

All ATFS forest inspectors are required to retrain on the standards this year. “Everyone will be brought up to speed on the new standards, what the changes are, and what the guidance is to implement them,” said Perry. “Currently, Vermont and NY are doing online classes jointly throughout the year. Inspectors were supposed to be re-certified by March 15th, but the new training wasn’t available until beginning of March. We’re hoping to get everyone trained by fall.

According to Perry, most of the standard changes are minor, with many of them being simply clarification or wording changes. “They’ve also increased encouragement for landowner education, and included a section where the forester can give resources or guidance in their report on a property, which is nice,” said Perry. “A nice change is that the eligibility clarifications now specifically include plantations such as orchards and tree farms, as long as they are part of the forest system and management planning. Another wording change is native to naturalized species, which is recognizing that some native species don’t thrive here, and using naturalized species allows a better species selection to compete with potential invasive species.”

For forest owners, Perry says that now is a good time to have your management plan looked at. “For forest owners, changes include better documentation of chemical use, even where it’s applied on a private property,” said Perry. “We’ve never tracked small usage before, so it’s good to start incorporating it as part of your overall plan. There’s a bit more paperwork involved, but I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal to deal with at all. A nice thing about it is that it gives landowners an opportunity to talk to their inspectors about what these chemicals do. A lot of people think that small usage by individuals doesn’t have that much of an effect, but it’s worth having the conversation about the potential ramifications and how it impacts your other management goals. Like the rest of the guidances, it will be applicable to the size and management scope of the property. For example for a 25 acre wood lot homestead, the guidance is just looking for some handwritten notes with a date and application notes. A large parcel would however be looking for much more detailed records. I think this only furthers the conversation about the usage, what alternatives exist, and the potential overall effects on the environment. There are times it works well. I haven’t found any natural measures to eliminate poison ivy. Some things do have alternatives however, and if it’s written into the plan we can better manage for the goals of the whole property.”

For more information on the 2021 Transitionary Guidance, you can visit the ATFS website here: https://www.treefarmsystem.org/view-standards

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The Importance of Forested Land Inspections

Photo by Dan Newman

Managing your forested property can take many different forms. “Your plan is based on your own goals for the property,” said New York Tree Farm’s (NYTF) Erin Perry, Area Chair of the Capital Region and entrance to the Adirondacks, areas 3 and 4. – “Whatever it is that you want to use the property for, your management plan is built on that. All of these plans involve some sort of harvesting. The goal of a management plan is to nurture the natural progression of the forest with an underlying theme. What species that you harvest or leave may be determined by the wildlife you want to cultivate habitat for. Or perhaps there’s a stream out back that you like to go swimming in, and water quality is driving the shape of your forest. Forest management plans are based on your goals and what you want to use it for.”

Perry’s involvement with NYTF has varied over the past 18 years, ranging from being a forest inspector, the NYTF chair, past chair and currently an area chair. “I’m no longer an active inspector, however as an area chair I server a coordinating role for our all volunteer inspectors. Our inspectors help smaller landowners that need help, but get forgotten by the bigger guys that don’t take on small clients.”

According to Perry, tree farm inspectors are “the boots on the ground for the program. They’re meeting with landowners, keeping tree farmers engaged and helping them meet the expectations of the tree farm system and managing their forest to a tree farm standard.”

The inspection process is important for four separate reasons: maintaining your accrediation through NYTF, forest management, community outreach, and data accrual. “Obviously it’s important to check that the standards of the program are being followed, that everyone that has that NYTF sign are following those standards. So approximately every 5 years someone comes around to perform a multistep inspection for the integrity of the program.” Typically management plans are created for a ten year period. “The biggest thing that we’re looking for is that they’re following a plan. That they’ve worked with a professional, and are following a sustainable program. Programs can always change, but it’s necessary that they have a plan that can be reviewed on a regular basis.”

Perry continued on the importance of community outreach. “Secondly inspectors focus on communication, outreach, and fostering community. Inspectors visit about 20% of tree farms annually, which helps keep the foresters and the tree farm board more accessible to members. With that regular inspection and communication, it means it’s not just someone you met 20 years ago that is helping with your tree farm.”

Lastly, inspectors help gather statewide and nationwide data on tree farms. “When bills are being passed by state and national legislature, it’s important to know how many tree farms are out there,” said Perry. “By having an accurate database of acres, number of forested properties, knowing how long it has been in a family and how many generations, etc., that can help shape the conversation on a state and national level when it comes to funding and bills.”

If you’ve recently received a notice that you’re due for inspection, it’s important to reach out to your forester and set up a visit. Not only will you have help towards achieving your goals with your property, but you’ll learn more about the health of your forest, the community that you’re part of, and help shape the national conversation on our nation’s tree farm system. If your recertification period with NYTF is coming up, you should make sure to have an updated management plan in place within the past year.

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THE STEWARDSHIP BENEFITS OF STAYING HOME

Photo by Dan Newman

Angela Wells, Director of the American Tree Farm System

During this time of major social and economic disruption, when many people are affected by the stress of a looming health threat, financial uncertainty, or simply the deviation from treasured routines, I have felt the privilege of being a resident and steward to a piece of forestland even more acutely. This is my family’s first spring living on our family forest in Western Montana, and we feel daily gratitude for the fortuitous timing of our move “out of town” to a place where we find both safety and freedom to venture outside the confines of our house. We are also finding time – made available by forgoing the daily commute into the town office and all the associated errands, not to mention canceled social engagements – to check things off the long list of forest stewardship to-do’s. In this issue of the ATFS Network News, I’ll share a few activities we’ve found immensely satisfying in our time of social isolation that you might enjoy as well.

First off, I finally completed our management plan! This means we now officially meet the eligibility requirements for Tree Farm certification. According to the guidance that goes with the ATFS Standards of Sustainability, management plans must be consistent with the size of the forest and the scale and intensity of the forest activities. Since our parcel is on the small side and a harvest was completed recently by the previous owners, most of our activities are related to either improving forest health, wildlife habitat or monitoring. Our plan is a streamlined 6 pages plus an addendum for soils information and maps and features a set of long-term goals and objectives as well as a schedule of activities for the next 5 years. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a look at your own plan, you’re not alone. It’s easy to let forest management plans sit on a shelf. ATFS Standards of Sustainability require plans to be updated regularly to evolve with changes in the landscape and evolution of landowner objectives, so my intention is to revisit our plan in early spring every year to check progress against our scheduled activities and adapt accordingly.

With a plan in hand, we’re now set for the final step of having a Tree Farm inspector examine it and verify with a site visit that it conforms to a reasonable set of objectives for our property. Did you know that site visits for new inspections and re-inspections can be completed with or without a landowner (or their representative) present, provided that they are followed by a phone interview with the owner and a process to acquire an official landowner signature on the form? Our Tree Farm inspector happens to also be a friend and neighbor living just down the road who has visited our property and discussed management objectives and options with us on several occasions. He is in the process of reviewing our plan, and we’re expecting to sign on the dotted line before the end of the month using the electronic signature feature on the electronic 004 form. If you’re due for a reinspection, rest assured that options exist for moving this process forward that do not violate social distancing guidelines, and your state Tree Farm leadership as well as the staff at ATFS are here to help you explore those.

Before the ink on our plan was even dry, we were already starting to implement priority activities for 2020, one of which was tearing down an old barbed wire fence bisecting our woods. While I am all in favor of fencing as a tool to keep relations civil between neighbors and the cows out of the creek, abandoned and decrepit barbed wire fence is an unfortunate feature on many landscapes across the West. It’s also a major hazard to young deer and elk, which are two of the desired species highlighted in our management plan. It can be easy to feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time when it comes to forest stewardship, so it was important to us to start with a project that would reap quick benefits in terms of aesthetics (the fence was within sight of our kitchen window) and habitat improvement and also be realistic to accomplish on a few sunny afternoons. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the to-do’s in your plan or the aspirational nature forest management in general (where success is often measured in decades or generations) I encourage you to break your goals, objectives, and schedule of management activities down into smaller sets of attainable tasks that you can tackle a little bit at a time.

It’s a double bonus when these jobs are also a source of enjoyment, such as in the case of our family’s regular walks in the woods which also constitute the regular monitoring recommended for Tree Farm properties. We’ve been taking advantage of our forest “adventures” (as our kids like to call them) to make notes of observations we make along the way or as soon as we get home. Of late, these have included top damage in a pine tree close to the house (porcupine), a couple of patches of spotted knapweed that will need to be mapped later this summer for scheduled eradication in 2021, and visible deer beds in thickets of conifers that are used regularly for thermal cover and will be marked on our Tree Farm map and protected during future management activities. These notes can be added to our management plan in the form of an attachment and used to document changes over time, while the walks in the woods – at least in theory – are a time we can model to our young children that forest stewardship isn’t just a job but a source of enjoyment and connection between people.

On that note, in the coming weeks and months, I hope you’ll take advantage of some of the opportunities the American Tree Farm System and state Tree Farm programs are providing to connect landowners remotely. These include video-conference meetings, virtual tours of Tree Farms, e-learning opportunities, and more. If you have an idea for a virtual offering for the Tree Farm network, please let us know by emailing info@forestfoundation.org with your idea and a few bullet points on how we can help. And until we can meet again face-to-face, take care of yourself, and take care of your woods!

(“This article originally appeared in the April 2020 e-newsletter ATFS Network News.”)

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Maple Producer 2020 Season Highlight – Mapleland Farms

2020 has been a year of challenges and changes for most of the world, as Covid-19 reshapes how we interact on a daily basis with others. While being out in the woods can help remove yourself from some of that stress, producers of all kinds have had to react to changing markets and sales in the face of economic downturns and upswings this year. For maple producers, Covid-19 is just another challenge to tackle, as the weather is the main fickle and unpredictable part of the business. Mapleland Farms (MLF), a maple producer in Salem, NY, with over 18,000 taps and hundreds of acres to manage, the 2020 season has been about adapting to new market conditions and keeping up with a growing woodlot. “Covid-19 has certainly changed what we’re selling the most of right now,” said Dave Campbell, co-owner of MLF. “Liquid Syrup sales are up for home delivery, and candy sales are down because restaurants and other businesses have been closed up. That’s starting to change as businesses reopen and place orders again. Covid-19 has changed the way that we’ve been marketing our product for the past few months quite a bit. We’re lucky that we’re diversified enough in different markets that we’ve been able to adjust and keep moving products, unlike some other producers that may only have a retail operation for their own products that have had to shut down.

Beyond Covid-19, MLF has dealt with a changing mark for when the season begins due to weather fluctuations. “We started the earliest ever for us this year,” said Campbell. “We made syrup on the 12th of January. We’ve had more wind and tree damage this past year than normal as well. The vacuum that we were drawing on our lines to get the sap from the trees was lower than normal at the beginning of the season due to all of the damage. Once we repaired the lines though, the vacuum levels held up for the season, and the taps stayed clean throughout what was a longer and more drawn out season than normal. Overall the season’s crop was down from the last couple of years though. The sugar content was lower than average even though we handled just about the same volume of sap as normal.

This was also MLF’s third season as a NY Grown and Certified producer. “It’s not something that we did to grow our brand, people pretty much already knew who we are,” said Campbell. “But I think it’s important to make consumers aware of what a quality brand does to be considered NY Grown and Certified, and that it show that we’re taking care of our woods and waste water in the right ways. This year we’ve actually been talking with NY Audubon to develop a pilot program to create bird friendly woodlots. They came out last summer to scout one of our woodlots and again surveyed it during the winter. We haven’t heard much about the progress on the project currently, but we’re excited to be part of it. They were pleased with the diversity of birds that they found on our woodlot.

For those that are interested in scaling up, Campbell had some tips. “It’s taken us a lifetime to develop our marketing,” said Campbell. “You have to look at how to do things efficiently if you’re going to try and sell in bulk. Quebec had a record crop up there this year and they make 80% of the world supply, so there’s a lot of bulk on the market driving prices down right now. If you take the time to invest in making value added products and can find a market for it, there’s a lot more profit in that end of the business.”

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Why Forest Owners Need the Game of Logging

If you have any interest in using a chainsaw to maintain your property, you’ve probably heard of Game of Logging. This should be the first thing you should do when you’re considering being a forest owner,” said Dan Carusone, a program coordinator for Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Warren County. “There’s a great deal of trail maintenance, thinning, etc., where a chainsaw comes in handy. Chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools to run improperly. But when you know how to use it properly, it becomes one of the most efficient tools that you could ever own. Game of Logging is the most comprehensive workshop on chainsaw safety there is. It starts with the basic anatomy of a chainsaw, how to maintain it, sharpen the chain, and then starts in with the field work of how to cut logs on the ground and how to drop trees. Each participant in the course has to do all of that, including dropping two trees. That last part makes hosting the course difficult, as we have to find community members where having 20 trees dropped at one time on their property isn’t a big deal.

In co-operation with Bill Lindloff’s ProCuts, one of only seven authorized instruction organizations in the country, CCE of Warren County tries to offer the course several times a year. “Normally participants pay $150 per course, but we’ve subsidized it for the past two years through a grant from International Paper,” says Carusone. “All you pay is $45, and you get the best chainsaw course there is. I would say for a forest owner – there’s a great deal of trail maintenance, thinning, etc. This should be the first thing you should do when you’re considering being a forest owner. Participants are required to bring their own gear to classes. “You do need to bring your own chainsaw,” said Carusone. “One with a 16” bar is recommended. It’s the happy medium between weight and capability. You also need all of your own safety equipment. Work boots, long pants, chaps (preferably the kind that bind the chain when they’re cut into), hard hat, goggles, ear protection, gloves, and a long sleeve shirt regardless of the weather. It would be more than once that my sleeves have done the job of stopping an errant chain. And don’t forget a lunch! They only take a half hour lunch break before getting right back to it.”

Currently, CCE has three classes coming up on September 9th (storm damage), 10th (Game of Logging Level 1), and the 11th, though the first two days of classes are already full. The class on the 11th is Game of Logging Level 2, which requires Game of Logging Level 1 before you can take it. According to the Game of Logging website, level 2 “focuses on maximizing chainsaw performance through basic maintenance, carburetor setting, and filing techniques.  Limbing and bucking techniques are introduced, spring pole cutting is covered and more felling is practiced.“ The class on the 9th is a storm damage training class, where you’re working on clearing trails and learning the particular dangers and the way trees might fall in the aftermath of a storm. CCE of Warren County is hoping to host another set of classes in late October, provided Lindloff has an open date. “If not in October, we will have another round of courses in the spring,” said Carusone.

For those that are hoping to find a class sooner (albeit one that isn’t subsidized), they can contact Lindloff directly at blprocuts@aol.com, or by phone at (607) 786-5462.

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In Memoriam: Gretchen A. McHugh

Photo provided

Gretchen A. McHugh, a mother, musician, teacher, journalist and photographer who turned her love of good food and nature into a popular cookbook for outdoors enthusiasts, died Thursday, August 20, at The Slate Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Granville, New York. She was 78 years old and suffered from frontotemporal dementia.

Ms. McHugh lived in Granville.

Throughout her life, Gretchen McHugh was an avid hiker and canoeist, taking her two children and dogs on wilderness trips throughout the upper Midwest and, after moving to New York from Michigan in 1979, to the Hudson Valley, the Catskills and the Adirondacks. The rigors of raising children and preparing tasty, inexpensive food in the wild led her to study cooking and, finally, to write the defining outdoors cookbook, The Hungry Hiker’s Book of Good Cooking, which was published by Alfred A. Knopf from 1982 to 2007. The book was republished by her family in November, 2012, and is available online.

In New York, Ms. McHugh worked in publishing before joining the staff of The Riverdale Press in The Bronx, where she was a reporter, photographer and editor of the paper’s Life Style section. In 1989 the New York Press Association named her Photographer of the Year and one of her articles was singled out as Best Feature Story. She also taught English literature at Bronx Community College. She spent many days sailing the Hudson River as a volunteer editor and photographer for Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Foundation and traveled to Northern Quebec to document the lives of Native Americans who were fighting expansion of a hydropower project on the Great Whale River. In 2004 she exhibited a collection of photographs titled Harnessing the Hudson, on the use of water power in the mills and factories on the edge of the Adirondacks. The show was mounted in collaboration with The Chapman Museum and the Folk Life Center of Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, New York.

Her love of the outdoors drew her out of New York City in 1993, when she settled in a 200-year-old farm house — with associated barns, fields and woodlot — in Granville, NY. She restored the barns and the house, learned the details of forest management, enrolled the woodlot in the New York Tree Farm System and became active in the New York Forest Owners’ Association. She was later treasurer of NYFOA’s Southern Adirondack Chapter. She taught English at Adirondack Community College and taught piano to private students.

A native of Birmingham, Michigan, Gretchen Ann Ruhl was the third of four daughters; their maternal grandfather Joseph Simms was born in Bohemia — now part of the Czech Republic — and became a prominent glass artist and engraver in Detroit. Gretchen studied piano from an early age and attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts and Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1963, where she was a member of the Shakespeare Society and made many lifelong friends. She received an MA from the University of Michigan and taught English and piano in the Detroit area. Her marriage to psychiatrist Dr. James McHugh ended in divorce.

She is survived by two sisters, Mary Edwards of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Kathryn Allen of Northville, Michigan; her daughter Jennifer McHugh, her husband Jack Hedin and their children, Emmet, Oscar and Jasper Hedin of Winona, Minnesota; her son J. Murray McHugh, his wife Jinna and their children, Ashleigh, of Los Angeles, and Benjamin, of Granville, many nieces and nephews and her husband, John Sullivan of Chestertown, New York.

Services and interment will be private.

Gretchen’s family offers profuse thanks to the many staff members at The Slate Valley Center for their good cheer and many years of devoted care.

Donations in Gretchen’s memory may be made to The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, 724 Wolcott Ave., Beacon, NY 12508.

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All About Environmental Quality Incentive Program from USDA NRCS

NYFOA and NYTF recently sat down with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to talk about the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and the financial and management opportunities that EQIP can provide to forest owners and their properties.

“EQIP is a program offered through the USDA NRCS,” said Shanna Shaw, Area Resource Conservationist. “It’s considered to be a part of the Farm Bill that is authorized every five years. EQIP offers an array of options to landowners and farmers looking for financial assistance to do conservation work with their properties. There are various categories and funding opportunities available, but we’ll focus here on forest and habitat work.”

NRCS Area Biologist Mike Shaw added, “We can also pay for timber stand improvements that promote new growth. Selective harvesting of timber can open the woods up to more sunlight to get regeneration started with other species as well.” Timber thinning can be funded if it improves the overall health of the area. “If you’re looking to do a stewardship plan and it specifies that doing a thinning is needed because of a concern over degraded plant condition, or you’re trying to make sure you have a healthy forest that is disease resistant and things like that, there are funding opportunities,” said Shanna Shaw.

While EQIP has some specific target species of both fauna and flora, these conservation goals can often line up with other goals for landowners. “A lot depends on the goal of the participant and the specific goals they have for their property,” said Nicole Kubiczki, Resource Soil Scientist. “We can offer technical assistance at any point to help a landowner, both in guiding them and helping them achieve that financially.” Mike Shaw added, “Our young forest initiative is geared toward golden wing warblers, eastern cottontails, black-billed cuckoo, North American woodcock, and brown thrasher.” However, these species share habitat with many others, including game species. “You might not be interested in woodcock, but the same habitat will support deer, turkey, and grouse to name a few,” said Kubiczki. “We can marry the objectives of the agency with the objectives of the landowner, if someone wants to gain species for hunting versus others that NRCS might identify.”

EQIP isn’t just for managing habitat types. Using an energy audit from NYSERDA, for example, maple syrup producers can apply to replace equipment for efficiency purposes. “For people managing a sugarbush or working on maple production, there are things we can do for them with energy savings,” said Mike Shaw. “For example we helped replace a reverse osmosis system with a newer, more efficient system. The first season in use we saved one farm 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel. It’s not limited to that though. Evaporators, arches, it runs the whole gamut of stuff to help with. Another example is when I helped a farm with their vacuum system. We replaced it with a variable motor system that was more efficient.”

For those who want to pursue funding, the first step is contacting the nearest USDA service center in your area. “Contact your local rep for your county, and from there there’s a conversation to be had,” said Kubiczki. “NRCS will ask what your objectives are — for example, growing specific trees, controlling invasive species, managing a sugarbush. From there, NRCS needs to assess soils, streams, and other landscape features, not only geographically, but in terms of meeting the objectives. NRCS will go to the property, walk the site, and then suggest practices that would lend the landscape to meeting goals. There are a suite of practices that are combined to arrive at an objective. If there are any resource concerns for plant or animal habitat condition that isn’t ideal, we will go over ways to enhance that. From there, we or a forester can work with the landowner to write a conservation plan and then a contract.”

While some grassland and species-specific projects do require a certain amount of acreage, NRCS works with properties of all sizes. “Forestry projects have no size limits,” said Kubiczki. “Some projects have been as small as an acre.” That said, the program funding is competitive to receive. “Each part of the state gets a budget, and everyone in that area that applies competes against each other,” said Shanna Shaw. “It’s a competitive process with a ranking system based off questions answered about the property and its goals. The financial allotment given out is funded by starting at the top-ranked applicants and moving downward until the funding is gone for the year.”

For those working at NRCS, there are rewards beyond the conservation work that take place. “The feedback from landowners that we get is awesome and is what keeps us going,” said Kubiczki. “Seeing aspen regeneration after a clearing photo, getting video and photos from folks from their trail cams — a lot of the work done translates into wonderful memories. One applicant was so thrilled to take their grandson out and have a successful archery hunt, and they were so happy that it was in the area that we had helped them improve. We talk about the species and fauna and flora, but we also have to talk about the sense of pride in having an impact and getting to be outside.”

Shanna Shaw added that the USDA has many other opportunities besides EQIP for landowners. “Don’t think of USDA as being just for dairy or orchards or meat inspectors,” said Shaw. “From wetlands work to habitat growth to forestry or pollinator needs, we’re here to help. Start with your field office and we’ll hook you up to get your project going.”

Click here to find your nearest USDA service centerClick here to learn more about EQIP.

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What to Look For in A Forester

The great thing about owning a woodlot is the options available for managing it to reach the goals you have. However, all those choices can sometimes cause hesitation or even paralysis because you “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Working with a forester enables you to see the best choices more clearly and build a management plan that can help you reach both your short- and long-term goals.

Eric Stawitzky, a 25-year veteran of forestry and owner of Pioneer Forestry, LLC in Jamestown, New York, says there are several things to consider when choosing a forester. “Experience plays a part, obviously,” said Stawitzky. “Getting someone who has been through a number of different scenarios is useful. If you’re trying to find a forester, reaching out to state agencies for cooperating foresters and/or members of professional organizations like The Society of American Foresters (SAF) is a place to start. If they’re qualified to meet these designations, it means they are continuing to educate themselves on relevant topics which will provide the landowner with the quality of service they deserve. In the end you need to find someone to trust, and that’s never an easy thing to do.”

“There are lots of scenarios when someone calls me to talk about their forestland and what help they may need,” said Stawitzky. “My first questions for the landowner are what are your goals and objectives, and how are you looking to manage the area. It’s recommended that the landowner be as open as possible about want they want their property to be. That phone call can be a good way to help them become more educated on options that are available, but the best advice comes when I get a chance to get my boots on the ground and inspect the property. It’s best if the landowner can join me because it gives them the opportunity to address and discuss in more detail specific areas within the ownership. That visit connects the dots between desires and obtainability, considering the health and quality of the forest currently.”

When landowners have an onsite visit, they are encouraged to listen as much as possible. “They should try to be a sponge, so that they can learn from the forester about all of the different management possibilities and scenarios available for their property,” said Stawitzky. “Every property has issues, both good and bad. Creating a management plan is about getting a thorough understanding of what those issues are and what to do to improve the property over the long term. Once understood, immediate goals and objectives might need to be adjusted to have any chance of meeting long-term agendas. Be adaptable.”

Another thing to keep in mind while working with a forester is it can take time to accomplish major ecological changes to a forested property, and not everything goes as planned. “Once the forester interview process is complete, you should have a better overall sense of what you have, what you want, and how to potentially accomplish it,” said Stawitzky. “Don’t ever be forced or pressured into making a forest management decision. It’s taken years – sometimes decades – for a forestland to get to the level it’s at. However, there are also events that can make changes to your plan almost instantly. For example, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that has altered a lot of goals and objectives for forested ownerships. Things change no matter how good you are in managing your property. My goal as a forester isn’t to overwhelm you with possibilities but to help you think about your property more than you ever have before while providing all available scenarios so you can choose the right approach for you.”