International Day of Forests

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are so many quotes I could start off this post with; so I chose one that was simple and too the point but is also complex.  With just 10 words and a deeper thought a bigger picture arises.  With one acorn we get a tree- which produces thousands more acorns to produce more trees and the cycle lives on into thousands of forests. In 10 words- we have the world; we have clean air, clean fresh water, carbon sequestration, recreation, wildlife habitat, a friend to hug, timber, food, clothing -“we have everything”- all from an acorn.

Now, I could go on and on about the benefits of forests and the importance of them but we should all know by now how they provide us with the essentials of life… 75% freshwater, oxygen, heat… but I won’t.  Instead I just wanted to say thank you to all the trees and thank you to those who appreciate the forests/trees/and vegetation not only today but everyday because without them humanity would not exist.

The picture below was taken a couple days ago- sometimes we run into areas where regeneration like this just does not happen and we have to plant- but I wanted to showcase mother nature at her finest- volunteer baby trees! The landowner told me he talks to his trees- which I think plays a huge roll in the amount of white oaks we are seeing here 🙂

Get outside…Plant a Tree…you will be planting for the future.

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Baby Oak Volunteers! 

 

 

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Check out that Norway!

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”        – Warren Buffett

Do you ever sit under a tree and think about how it got there?  Was it a volunteer, meaning did it naturally regenerate and grow there? Or did someone years ago, maybe decades ago plant it?  Did someone take the time to dig a hole and plant a seedling tree- hoping that one day it will grow up big and strong in hopes that someone sits under it and wonders or that wildlife is enriched by all the trees benefits.  Seriously…how did it get there, what has the tree seen, what kind of tree is it even!? If only trees could talk; the stories they would tell! Would you take the time to listen?

A few days ago I had a couple stop by the office carrying a large garbage bag and inside was a tree branch! They began to tell me about the tree and how they had 35 acres of these trees! I looked at it, felt the needles and said well “its a spruce, but I do not want to give exact species without seeing them”.  They had told me that the previous owner planted some 13,000 of these for a Christmas Tree Farm, but passed and the wife did not keep up with it so they just grew.  I did not want to confirm the exact species because partly I wanted to see these trees in real life and because I was not 100% certain on it, I told them I did not want to say white spruce and be wrong, in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t.  It was very bright green..but all I could think was black or white spruce for holiday trees but I just had a feeling it wasn’t because the branching and the pure green color.  In the back of my mind I am thinking can this really be a Norway Spruce and is just a young or upper branch?  But, Norway is not a common holiday tree here…  This was a brain teaser at best! I could not get it off my mind, so I talked it out with a friend…walking through all the trees it could be.

Anywho, so as I drove through the muddy back-roads to their property, it hit me like a cold snowball in the face and I yelled (all alone in my truck) I KNEW IT!! As I pulled into their driveway I had the biggest smile on my face because right in front of me, plain as day, rows and rows and rows of NORWAY SPRUCE!!!  I met up with the landowners and said, I am so happy I did not let you leave my office without setting up a visit-because these are Norway Spruce.  In shock we began to walk towards the trees and I explained how Norway’s branches droop down.  I have never seen a plantation of these species before, I was in awe.  It was a beautiful day, reaching 64 degrees Fahrenheit but when we walked into the trees it dropped roughly 10 degrees!  This beautiful, green carpet of trees stand tall all because some 26 years ago a gentleman decided to plant 13,000 trees!

Next time you pass a tree on a walk/run/bike or sit under one to cool down and take in its shady canopy take a moment to think- how did it get there? What has it seen? What species of tree is it?  If you do not know what species of tree it is, take a picture or note things about it and go that extra step to look it up!

Thank that tree for Clean Air

 

 

Trash to Land Ethic

 “We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
― Aldo Leopold

 

If you ever get an e-mail from me, this quote is part of my signature.  I put it on there in hopes to get as many people to read it as possible.  My hope is it latches on somewhere in folks minds and the next time they are outside they will make “better” choices than the day before.

Yesterday, I went out for a site-visit with a landowner who had just acquired the 10 acres of property next to him and he wanted to manage it because the previous owners had not.  When I say they had not…I mean they really had not. Reflecting back to the quote we see the land as a commodity to us…the previous landowners saw just that.  Because they were the “owners” of this 10 acres of woodlot, they felt they could abuse/use it in anyway they wanted because it was “theirs”.  All over this 10 acres was old dying trees, it was overgrown and unproductive but this is not even the worst of it.  Scattered all around the 10 acres were piles of trash, tires and old bricks!  I even saw an old baby stroller!  The landowner who I was walking with made the comment “maybe they did not realize the trash was picked up weekly”!  Instead of recycling or throwing away all this trash they hid it in their back yard woodlot. What they could not see did not affect them. The good news is the new landowner is chiseling away at this trash and cleaning it out and harvesting it to bring it back to a natural forest again.

This all brings me back to the Aldo Leopold quote on seeing land as community versus a commodity.  Land is more than a “object” that we own, land can give us so many resources and gifts if we treat it as something that is living with us; part of us, not that we just own it. We need to grow and think about what Aldo Leopold said YEARS ago about Land Ethic. Ethics are our standards/morals we hold for ourselves and how we apply those standards when making choices. When you throw the word Land in front; Land Ethics are the standards we hold leading to the reasons why we do certain things to/on our land.  If we do not have good land ethic the land will continue to perish.

We need to work WITH nature not against it. Treat it like family/community not an means to an end.

Aldo Leopold aldoleopold.org
Aldo Leopold- pure contentment
aldoleopold.org
Young forest
Young Forest Regeneration

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)
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Black Ash on Left

Two Brothers – One Property

Have you ever shared something with a sibling and it turned out good??

On one of my first site visits I went out to a property that two brothers shared and it was quite the talk. The front half ones one brothers (We will call him Ned) and the back half was the others (we will call him Fred).  So Ned and Fred!  Ned’s half was this gorgeous red pine plantation mostly.   Perfect placement of trees for optimum growth, tall, no major die back or disease.  Then we walked back to Fred’s part…Uffda! He also had a red pine plantation but the rows were all funny, there was too much competition due to poor planting and not enough pre-commercial thinning and he had all these straggly choke cherry trees taking over large parts of the canopy cover.  Then it tapered off into a maple oak stand where there was little to no regeneration and all the trees were past their prime.  Now here in Clare county pretty much all the soil is SAND (Yuck!) so when you get a tree as large as an oak can get growing there it begins to uproot itself because the soil cannot support the root system.  I explained to them that they need to open up this stand to allow for sunlight to promote regeneration and this is their response.  “Can we bring in hogs to rut up the land”?  I looked at the landowners–pondered a minute to try and grasp what exactly he was asking.  Hogs?! You wanna bring in hogs?!  Well yes, they will rut up the land and open up the soil.  But I advised them that this was not a good idea.  They had already expressed that they wanted regeneration of the oaks for deer management…well folks hogs will take away that regeneration.  Let me tell you why.  Hogs are kind of lets say destructive, they will rut up the soil and eat the organic materials, eat up the little acorn seeds in their area then when they are moved they will eat and rut up all that.  And if they destroy too much and take away too much seed source and your oaks are already not producing enough seed, there is no room for regeneration.  The forest will eventually decline and be left with nothing.

In hardwood stands the best thing to do where there is a lack of regeneration is to open up the canopy to allow for ample sun and water for regrowth.  To do this a crop tree is chosen.  A crop tree is one that is relatively straight and still productive and can be promoted to keep growing.  Then around the crop tree you take out any other competitors, take out those competing above (canopy space) and below to open up the ground.  Then you move on to another crop tree and do the same.  Eventually you have marked your crop trees and cleared all around them and regeneration can happen.  Now this might scare a lot of folks but its the best management for hardwoods, it might look bare at first but after a few years, that regrowth will begin and you can have the pride of being a good steward and forest owner.  Who knows maybe those crop trees will grow to be veneer logs!

Although the brothers had two very different plans for their “parcels” of the property- the fact they were trying to be proactive in their management is the key here.  Not just being reactive, when things get bad!

Learning experience from this site visit- no to hogs!!!

Red Pine Canopy Red Pine Plantation

Not from this site visit–but still beautiful Red Pine