This may all sound like a lot to think about, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be enjoyable—a time to slow down and reflect on your Tree Farm’s progress and your plans and hopes for the year to come. And while it does take a bit of discipline, it can reward you in real, tangible ways.
For one thing, reviewing your management plan—whether that means involved revisions, like the Fords’, or a handful of notes scribbled in the margins—leaves you better prepared to seize new opportunities, such as an uptick in the timber market. If your inventory of what’s mature and ready for harvest is up-to-date, you can take advantage of a brief opening in the market and reap economic benefits that a less-prepared Tree Farmer might miss.
Another economic benefit will come at tax time: your plan will reflect your commitment to careful long-term management, which reinforces the idea that your Tree Farm is a business. The IRS will appreciate the proof, particularly if your Tree Farm has incurred expenses or a loss during the past year.
Reviewing your plan offers personal rewards as well. It is a time to share with the next generation the work that goes into forest management. They learn from your dedication, and if they contribute to the review process, will feel a closer connection with the Tree Farm and its progress. Regularly updating your plan will also ease the passing on of your legacy. When the next generation takes the reins, your detailed account of the property’s history and condition will enable them to make more informed decisions about its future.
And remember, if you find you’d like help with your review, there’s a world of experts willing to lend you a hand. Your forester, local extension office, ATFS online resources and the ATFS network of over 80,000 woodland owners and 2,800 resource professionals can all help connect you to the information you need.
With the new year comes new opportunities, and reviewing your management plan gives you the best chance at success when you seize them. Take the time now—your confidence and peace of mind in the new year will make it worth the while.
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