I am a forester.
When I visit home and run into old friends or when I meet new people at events and they ask what I do, I respond with I am a forester. What follows my response is often one of the many misconceptions folks have about foresters.
1. The number one misconception is “oh so you’re a park ranger”! No, I am not a park ranger. A park ranger is a job where a person(s) is in charge of maintaining and protecting a national, state, county, city park. A forester is someone who actively manages forests both private and state. Yes, we both typically work outside–but doesn’t mean we are the same profession! I am a District Forester for Conservation Districts, I help private landowners with land management. This can range from wildlife, tree plantings, disease and infestation control, harvesting and management plans.
2. Secondly, the misconception of clearcutting a forest. Clearcut harvests are a common practice in forestry, but hello as foresters we love and want to sustain our lands for optimum growth! We are not trying to “screw” anyone over by clear cutting- in most cases the forest needs to be clearcut due to disease, poor quality of forest (best to start fresh), or the species present requires a clearcut for optimum growth. For example- Aspen Trees- now they need to be clearcut once they hit harvesting age in order to open up the ground. Aspen trees stump sprout and when clearcut come back like WEEDS and its great! They need that full sun and full water potential which is why “foresters” recommend clearcut, and aspen grows back so fast you will only have the eye sore for a short time.
3. Third, No I do not “chop down trees”. There is a difference between a logger and a forester, our jobs are very different but both work towards a common goal of forest management. A logger actually does the cutting or harvesting of a forest where the forester can be the one to administer the sale and mark the trees but they are not the ones cutting trees. A forester is all about the best management a logger takes the wood off the ground and gets it to the mill (buyer).
4. We wear the orange vest only during hunting season. Oh no no NO, the vest is a foresters #1 tool in my opinion, its an everyday fashion STATEMENT! (I know my friends back at the University would agree, if you had the vest you were in!!!) The vest the beautiful vest carries all our tools and everything we will need for our visits. In my vest for site visits I have so many things in it. I have an angle gauge (to get the basal area), a clinometer (tree height), compass, gps, clipboard, knife, magnified scope, pens/pencil, tree id book (I do not know everything!!), small notebook, and usually my phone to take pictures! There are so many things in a foresters vest- helps us be prepared and look super great 24/7!!
5. This weekends misconception….so you watch for poachers? This weekend while watching my Wisconsin Badgers win, I met some new folks and again when asked what I did, I responded with I am a forester and his response was “so you go out and catch poachers”!? Again, no. I do not regulate what folks do on their properties or state lands- I leave that up to the conservation officers, not a foresters job!
So next time you meet a forester..thank them for actively managing lands for future generations and not jumping to one of these 5 conclusions right away!