Let Mother Nature Take Her Course

“The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been waiting quite some time to be able to start with this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I have finally been inspired by a landowner where it fit- on top of his bucket list was being able to escape the trifles of life and live surrounded by nature and being within the trees.  Recently retired he was able to finally escape the hustle and bustles of work and live out his life long dream of trees and wildlife! There is pure comfort in being able to know what you do to positively impacts the land.  This landowner was searching for all the right education to better sustain his property for the future all all wildlife that lives among it; even the families of squirrels!  Not many landowners I meet care for the squirrels!! Go Squirrels!

This landowner had just purchased the property and called me up a couple weeks prior to our visit very concerned about what previous landowners had done with logging it.  He is not against logging, but was very concerned with how it looked “butchered”.  I pulled up curious of why he was concerned…I saw no immediate concerns.  We began to talk about the property, a bit of history, and I simple said “I think it looks great”.  He took a stutter step backwards and had a huge smile on his face! He told me I made his day, I said great my work is done and jokingly acted like I was going to leave! He began to explain how this is his life’s dream, his top of the bucket list adventure, his true passion.  He was so incredibly worried about the forest and purely wanted to know everything he could do to make it better, was geared up to learn and do everything in his power to make it sustainable. We chatted about the basics- he has oaks so I filled him in on oak wilt and Asian- longhorn beetle for his maples.

We began our trek through the forest, well the sprouting of a new forest! I began to explain to him about how great it looked, you could see the baby red and white oaks covering the ground and the maples sprouting like crazy! He asked what he needed to do with everything and my answer for everything was “just let nature takes its course”.  Forests have been doing their thing for many years before us so they know what best to do naturally.  Now, if he did not have the ample regeneration he had, we would have been compiling a planting plan! Instead, we discussed adding fruit trees, hazelnut trees and some pines around the property lines for edge to enhance for wildlife and biodiversity. Forest land is so fragmented, split into parcels and one way to help wildlife feel safe in an area is to have forest edge and enclosure.

Just let Mother Nature do her thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Three Days…No Flannel- Day 3

Mayor in TX: “I am going 100% renewable, but I am polar opposite of Al Gore”.

Al Gore: “Hey man, that works for me”!

This quote was quite funny, regardless if you like Al Gore or not Climate Change is real, renewable energy is becoming cheaper, and we need to do something about it before all is irreversible.   This Mayor is entitled to his opinion and just because he does not like Al Gore it does not matter because by him still going 100% renewable is the step everyone needs to take.  I am sure I will speak to folks who do not like me- but because the science, the facts, the reality IS real does not mean they will not change!

The third day, bittersweet.  I was filled with empowerment and knowledge but sad to be taken out of my safe bubble. Last night, at the board meeting I was asked what was one thing I found most beneficial with this training.  I responded with it was my safe place. I was given the opportunity to meet folks around the world and be in an environment to get the education, training, and empowerment to fight Climate Change.  Climate change in my area is still a taboo statement, so being able to be surround by folks with the same passion was one of the most beneficial things for me.

The third day was geared towards using the knowledge we gained and present with the most impact. One of the sessions was all about words, body language and tone.  According to The Truman Security Project words count for 7%, body language 55% and tone counts for 38% of the presentation.  Basically, no one hears the content of the presentation unless all other things are in line.  Another key point I took from this presentation was to identify shared values, when talking about Climate Change it can be difficult but for me personally I can connect “My Story” with folks by talking about trees.  Since it is what I do, I know my landowners share the value of wanting to preserve their forests so that is my main hook to keep my audience engaged.

It is now time for me to take what I learned and find my path to Climate Reality and get the message out there! Even if I reach one person at a time- that one will tell another and it will spiral. We have to come together and make a change.  This is the future of humanity- so wake up!

Oh, and I survived the three days…no flannel challenge!

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes”

“Blue Marble”
The Climate Reality Project
The Climate Reality Project
Table 36- Canada, Holland, US, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria
Table 36- Canada, Holland, US, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria
I graduated! :)
I graduated! 🙂

Children + Earth Day

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”   -Richard Louv

That quote is from the author of the book “Last Child in the Woods”.  The book was given to be by another nature lover and educator. Although I have not finished the book, it is an inspirational.  It is a book to remind us that our children are the future and education and nature for them is vital.  I do not have children of my own yet, but in my position as a forester for the Conservation District…education is key!  This past Saturday, I was asked to host an educational table for 4-H children.  I will also in the next week be at two more educational “Earth Day” events for young children to teach them about trees, the importance of trees, and to love this Earth for everything it can give us.

When planning what I was going to do, I picked the brains of folks around me and decided to go with a way children can connect everyday things they see with trees.  I also learned through the experience and sharing this project with those around me that even adults do not understand the basics of trees, I was not shocked! We see trees on a daily basis, but we do not know the basic functions of a tree.  I’ve blogged about the benefits of yard trees (clean air, reduction in stormwater runoff, energy savings) but today I am going to blog about what I told and will tell lots of children this month in honor of Earth Day!

Trees are a renewable resource that give us basic essentials; to those materialist products we enjoy.  They literally give us everything we use.  Do you know how difficult it is to find something not made from a tree??!  I am telling you right now, my friends, it is not an easy task!!  I wanted to make a fun quiz for the children, so I started filling a box with products made from a tree and products not made from a tree.  It was super easy finding those items made from a tree, I could have put my whole darn office in that box, but I did not!! Instead I researched and researched and researched for things not made from trees.  This is what I came up with…a magnet and a plastic bottle.  I am not even 100% sure if I am correct on these items!!! Here I thought Crayons were tree free–NOPE!!!  Gum extracted from trees helps make crayons! Mind BLOWN! 

When I asked an 11 year old boy to pick out an item from the box that he thought was not made from trees, his first choice was a sheet of paper that said “Ice Cream” on it.  This one was my curve ball!  Yes, ice cream contains cellulose from trees to give it texture.  He dug around some more, looked at the tooth paste, the band aid and finally grabbed the magnet! I yelled Yahtzee! With a little extra thought he was able to find the rare item not made from a tree.

It is important not only for adults to be educated on trees but to connect our children in unique ways to the earth, I primarily focus on trees, because it is my job but I try to tie it all in together in the end.  After going over the tree parts, deciduous vs. coniferous trees, and tree harvesting the children were able to connect themselves to trees and find what is and is not made from a tree.  We need to keep making these connections and getting children outside and educating them, they are the future stewards of this Earth and they need to learn now to love it and respect it.  I know, when folks ask me why I became a forester…I tell them about my childhood.  Growing up with a woods in my backyard I was never inside (yes I know times have changed) but I still was outside more then I was inside.  At a young age I created that bond with nature that carried into my career.

Get outside, bond and love the Earth!  Earth Day April 22nd.

Tree Cookies!!!
Tree Cookies!!!
White Pine Stand...
White Pine Stand…

What do you do? I am a Forester…

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!

Ash Tree
Inside the “mind” of an Ash
White Pine, Red Oak, Aspen, Paper Birch (L to R)
White Pine, Red Oak, Aspen, Paper Birch (L to R)
IMG_2536[1]
Black Ash on Left

Wonders of the TREES

Ever walk through the forest and see something, stop, and go hmm?

Yesterday I was out on a 120 forested property with a landowner.  We were just cruising along, when we stopped and both looked up and went hmm.

Often when I go to properties with a lot of acreage to cover the landowners drive me around on 4-wheelers or gators so we can cover all ground and see EVERYTHING! So here we are vroom vrooming along when we had to hit the breaks.  Up above us was unlike something I have never seen before.  The tree branch was literally curling around making a doughnut shape! I thought perfect placement for a bird or squirrel nest.  Now, I have seen a lot of trees that grow around things, like a sign or nail or something like that. Trees have incredible strength to grow around inanimate objects in order to survive.  I have also seen trees that grow slanted to try and catch as much sunlight as they can, but never in all my days of hugging trees have I seen one curl around like this.  It is quite odd to me actually; what in the world  this tree branch thinking to grow like this?!

All Natural Curl Tree

To my next wonder of trees…the other day I was sent an article about trees and communication.  Whether or not trees communicate in ways underground through their root systems.  Now part of me is like yeah okay makes sense what she is saying and part of me is thinking no, competition and Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest”.  Survival of the fittest is not saying the strongest always survives. It is often misinterpreted or maybe I am the one who misinterprets it but I believe it means the ones willing to change or adapt and the ones that are “smarter” are the  ones who survive. I am no expert on this!  So when I was listening to this forester talk about the communication with trees I obviously got to thinking about her theory.  When I was at this site visit he had a lot of regeneration. BABY TREES!!!! EEEE!!! Anyways, so I looked around at these baby trees and her theory did not sit right with me..if a “mom” tree is supposed to reach out and provide for the baby trees by giving nutrients then why are there a bunch of baby spruce trees growing under oaks? Does the “mom” not have to be the same species of tree?  Are the mature oaks providing for these white spruce trees?  Now I know, seeds travel by all sorts of ways but it was just a thought I had.  I like the concept of trees working together to survive…but I also believe in competition and space with trees all the trees are out to get the amount of sun they need, water, nutrients–why would it compromise its livelihood for a baby tree that may not make it? Her theory is valid and she has much more experience and knowledge then me, but I love the passion others have about trees and learning new things…its all a learning curve for the constant change and new discoveries people uncover!

It is all just so crazy to me, but I love the constant wonder…

Baby Balsam Fir Tree
Baby Balsam Fir Tree
White Cedar
White Cedar Horizon line 🙂