Being a good steward of the land is not about going through it with a fine toothed comb.

Whether its one acre or one thousand acres of forest land the key is knowing how to manage it.  When looking at a forested property I am looking for- diversity in trees, shrubs, and plants and if there are any water features.  Once I know what the species composition is and if there are any wetlands, creeks or ponds then I already know a great deal about that forested property. By the species present I can get a rough estimate of the type of soils present (well-drained soils or clay) and by the water feature I know if there is change in elevation and also indicates wet soils; meaning different species will likely be present.

Also, by knowing these two things I am able to look at the big picture for best management.  Awhile back I was asked to talk about wildlife habitat while walking through a community forest.  At first, I was pumped, “yeah a walk through talking about attracting wildlife”.  But as we reached the first place to speak, I froze and not just because it was negative 20 that day but because this forest was so groomed over that it was hard to see that bigger picture.  Don’t get me wrong this community forest was beautiful and did attract wildlife with cover and water feature.  However, I am used to walking through a forest with snags, fallen trees and limbs, and at least some ground cover.  Because this forest is well groomed for the public it does not have all these features due to safety reasoning.

Sometime folks get so caught up in trying to keep their property “neat and tidy” they don’t realize its not actually helping promote growth. Without the wildlife habitat spread of seeds decreases, reducing regeneration (not completely but kinda). The opposite of this is just as detrimental, letting a forest just grow, grow, and grow and not manage it at all.  Eventually that forest would all just be mature trees- they would grow old, die and little to no regeneration will happen and forest would be lost, or become a huge fire hazard.  We need to find that middle ground- where management is happening but not too much where the structure or composition of the forest is compromised.  Ahh, the beauty of best management practices!! Now, I could go on and on about this but I feel I have gotten my thoughts across so I will leave with one final thought.

Consult your local forester before doing any major logging, planting, or anything around a wetland; do the research.

See the bigger picture, not just whats right in front of you.



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