July 25, 2011
Washington, D.C. – The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) has named Joseph “Steve” and Janet Funk as Western Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. Their 369 acre Tree Farm has become a valuable tool in demonstrating sustainable management of degraded forests and the pathway to a healthy and thriving forest.
As one of four regional awardees, the Funks are now contenders for the 2011 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year Award which is sponsored by Stihl, Inc. The award will be announced at the National Tree Farmer Convention August 11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With this award, the ATFS annually recognizes the outstanding sustainable forest management on privately owned woodlands.
Steve and Janet Funk began with a dream to live near the woods and streams of the West, where they might find opportunity to camp occasionally. Opportunities for jobs near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and for purchase of a derelict farm in a small mountain valley with a stream running through the property put the dream into their lap – and into reality.
Since the early 1970s and with the purchase of the property, the dynamo duo has been advocates for responsible management, forest restoration, and environmental education. An oil pipeline rupture that contaminated Wolf Lodge Creek, which runs through their property, sparked their leadership of a community watershed effort to restore the creek as well as protect it from periodic floods.
Liz Sandler, ATFS Director, lauds the commitment of Steve and Janet Funk, stating that their management philosophies and actions “demonstrate the Tree Farms System’s core values of wood, water, recreation, and wildlife.”
“Every year, the American Tree Farm System recognizes family forest owners like the Funks - examples by which ATFS grows stewardship from the roots. Families like the Funks are essential caregivers of our nation’s private woodlands that provide the benefits we all receive from forests, including clean water, air, wildlife habitat, recreation, green jobs, wood and paper products,” Sandler said.
The nearly 90,000 family landowner American Tree Farm System represents the largest group of private landowners in America. Family forest landowners manage and own 35 percent of
America’s forests. These private forests provide more than 25 percent of our nation’s drinking water and 60 percent of at risk wildlife depend on private forests.
Logging with a team of Belgian mares, comprehensive and amended forest management plans, and educating themselves through University of Idaho Extension opportunities have given Steve and Janet the foundation from which to speak on projects and issues that may affect the viability of the waters and woods of their mountain valley Tree Farm.
Janet summarizes their woodland-based lives by admitting, “Living near a stream in the forest far surpasses our old dream of being able to camp in such places occasionally. We have found more than enjoyment – we have found ourselves!”
The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation, is a network of private woodland owners sustainably managing 26 million acres of forestland. It is the largest and oldest sustainable family woodland system in America, internationally recognized, meeting strict third-party certification standards. For 70 years, ATFS has enhanced the quality of America’s woodlands by giving forest owners the tools they need to keep their forests healthy and productive.
STIHL Inc. is the exclusive presenting sponsor of the ATFS Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Regional and National Awards, as well as the sole, handheld outdoor power equipment provider for the ATFS. STIHL Inc. manufactures the world’s largest selling brand of chain saws and produces a full line of powerful, lightweight, and versatile handheld outdoor power equipment for homeowners and professional users. STIHL products are sold through servicing power equipment retailers from coast to coast— not mass merchants. STIHL products sold through U.S. STIHL dealers are for distribution in the United States only. For more information or for the name of the closest STIHL retailer call toll free 1-800-GO STIHL (1-800-467-8445) or visit the STIHL Web site at www.stihlusa.com.
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