by Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation
Years ago, I was fortunate enough to inherit land in Wisconsin that my grandfather, Bump, and his children first bought in the 1960s. I now manage the land along with my sister. Our certified Tree Farm Wisconsin woods are the one constant in my life, and my family and I spend as much time there as we can.
While woodland owners like me share a lot in common, what we want to do on the land is an individual decision, and there’s a lot to consider.
With today’s perfect storm of forest threats—invasive species, tree disease, drought, and wildfire—keeping woods healthy requires family forest owners take a more active role managing their land than ever before.
Growing Stewardship Every Day
Here at the American Forest Foundation (AFF), our staff is dedicated to help woodland owners protect and enjoy their land. We work on-the-ground with families, teachers, and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage.
The American Tree Farm System (ATFS), AFF’s certified woodland program, is grateful for its longtime partnership with STIHL. STIHL is the presenting sponsor of the ATFS Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year awards, which annually recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on privately owned woodlands. We’re grateful for the support, advice and #1 products STIHL provides to woodland owners all over the country. Our organizations share a passion for supporting landowners as they work on their land.
Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year are the stellar stewards of America’s forests. This year’s national winners, Walt and Barbara McPhail, are leaders in Tree Farm’s nationwide community of forest owners who share the desire to leave the land better for the next generation.
What Do You Want to Do with Your Land?
We know that there are a lot of woodland owners out there that are just starting to learn about forest ownership and caring for their trees. Folks wonder about their woods—am I doing the right thing? Are my trees healthy? What if I want to take down some trees, who do I call? There are so many questions! And there are also so many ways to ensure that our families and friends can enjoy our land safely, too.
That’s why AFF developed MyLandPlan.org, an easy-to-use, fun, and interactive website for woodland owners. The new website is geared toward woodland owners of all stripes: from wildlife lovers and legacy owners who inherited land, to families planning for a timber harvest and landowners enrolled in cost-share programs like those in the Farm Bill.
With MyLandPlan.org's planning tool, members map woodlands and record features such as streams, trails, plants and wildlife. The tool supports landowners as they identify goals for their property, and once selected, suggests recommended action steps and relevant information automatically to help reach those goals. The site also connects users to local professionals and organizations that can help them reach their goals.
Innovative Solutions for Conservation
MyLandPlan.org is also an innovative part of the conservation solution. If you are, or know, a stewardship-minded woodland owner, check out MyLandPlan. Sign up today at www.mylandplan.org to use all the resources and tools designed for woodland owners, by woodland owners.
MyLandPlan Quick Links for Woodland Owners
Make It Healthy: This section will help woodland owners care for streams and lakes, learn how to address pests attacking woods, and implement an Integrated Pest Management plan.
Pass It On: An important part of caring for and preserving woods is planning for the future. MyLandPlan is designed to help families get on board with legacy plans, find the right estate planner, and set up the mechanisms for implementing an owner’s vision for their land.
Profit From It: This section helps identify new opportunities for generating income. Users can explore whether their land is a good candidate for a hunting lease or financial assistance like Farm Bill conservation programs.
Enjoy It: This section has information to help woodland owners enjoy their woods to the fullest. In this section, information is available about how to establish a family’s connection with the land through hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking.
Protect It: Pro-active care can go a long way in protecting the woods MyLandPlan has information about how to recover from a natural disaster, discourage trespassing, and choose the right type of property insurance.
My grandfather, Bump, instilled in me a love for the land, which I know you have too. It’s an even tougher job in 2012 to keep family woodlands healthy, so I hope you will join with other woodland owners and take an active role in keeping your land healthy. MyLandPlan.org can help.
While there is no single solution to stemming the loss of America’s forests, partnerships like the one we share with STIHL is one way for us to achieve better stewardship on more acres of land.