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Share Your Story

Tell us about your family woodlands! Your personal story will help us educate others about the importance of family forests and effectively advocate for government policies:

  • Why are you part of the the American Tree Farm System®? 
  • Do you have a favorite feature on your land?

We are often looking for stories about particular topics to help us advocate for better policies for family forest owners. This summer, we want to hear from you about:

  • Has your family's land or property been affected by a natural disaster? What happened? How did you rebuild/recover afterwards?

Please email with comments about ATFS program.


  • September 25, 2012 12:57 AM
    Marge Hayes
    Our story is one of a city girl who moved to a small lot in the forest as a teen, and then met her future husband who was a forester with the State of Oregon. We fell in love, married, and dreamed of owning a small piece of forestland. We found our 40 acres of heaven in the foothills of the coast range and bought it in 1996 with the idea of restoring it back to health - it was 40 acres of mismanaged Christmas trees. Our goal is to introduce diversity back into the forest and manage it for optimal health and supplemental income from thinning. We were honored with being named Washington County's Tree Farmers of the Year in 2008. We don't have children to pass the land to but understand the importance of keeping lands in the family. Our little forest is now well pruned, well thinned, with an understory of hardwoods and herbs. We have elk, deer, coyote, racoon, chippers and squirrels, raptors, band-tailed pigeons and songbirds. We feel good about what we've accomplished thus far and what we intend to do in the future.
  • August 24, 2012 7:41 PM
    greg Sparrow
    The history of our family farm since settling Starr Valley
    At the turn of the century the Starr family helped to settle Starr Valley located in Adair County near Stilwell, Oklahoma. In the late 1930’s, when twin grandsons Floyd and Boyd Harris came to live with their maternal grandparents, Grandpa Floyd Starr and his wife Aida raised pear and peach trees here at the farm. Young Floyd was especially taken with the orchards and they instilled in him the value of land and the lifelong love of trees. In the 1990’s, Floyd planted our 80 acre grove of loblolly pine and gave them plenty of TLC.

    Now nearly one hundred years later daughter, Tamara Sparrow and her husband Greg, join Floyd to continue the family tradition of cultivating the land and forest to harvest nature’s bounty. Here at Pine Straw Farms they are working together to offer the region pine straw mulch, an affordable, sustainable alternative to hardwood mulch.

    Floyd used to fly down to Texas, where he’d pick up a cargo of lob-lolly pine seedlings. He’d fly back over the farm in Starr Valley, and drop the trees out of the airplane. Then he’d turn around and fly back for another load of trees. When he finally landed the airplane back home, he and his family planted the trees. Floyd did this many times. That’s how we got Pine Straw Farms with 70,000 trees and a sustainable supply of pine straw mulch.

  • June 15, 2012 1:51 PM
    Joe Butler, Jr.
    Our Tree Farm has been in the family since the 1870s. I am the 5th generation family manager, and the 7th generation children, although living out of state, have participated in forest management activities like planting longleaf seedlings, assisting with prescribed burns, marking gopher tortoise burrows, etc.
  • June 15, 2012 1:50 PM
    DJ Brewster
    we have a generational tree farm started in 1967, purchased by me grandfather in 1921. We have shared our tree farm with the cub scouts and boy scouts.
    sharing our pond to help the cubbie earn his frst fishing badge is exciting.
  • June 15, 2012 1:50 PM
    Pat Rawson
    My husband, David, and I purchased our "Camp David Farm" ten years ago with the idea of creating a wildlife refuge. Our place is located in Crestview, Florida, and is approximately 150 acres (95 of which is split between loblolly and slash). We immediately began planting hardwoods (bareroot), planting 100 per year in ten different varieties of oak. Our next undertaking was to begin the task of cleaning up the existing stands. There had been no thinning and no burning. We found our forester and got started. We then built a second pond from scratch (already had an existing three acre pond filled with bass and bream).
  • June 15, 2012 1:50 PM
    Our property is located in western NY, near Bath. We have 128 acres of mostly northern hardwood forest. We manage the property based on a plan we had prepared almost 10 years ago. We have a strong timber and wildlife management objective. I am writing to encourage Farm Bill programs to continue for family forest owners. They have helped us tremendously in the management of our forest. We have benefited from both EQUIP and CSP funds. The monies have been used primarily to help control invasive exotic plants that have begun to take over the property crowding out the native vegetation, compromising our regeneration success and limiting the wildlife diversity. Without the Farm Bill programs we would not have been successful at reducing and eliminating the harmful impacts of these exotic plants. Please support Farm Bill programs that assist family forest owners in keeping their lands growing.
  • June 15, 2012 1:48 PM
    Frank L. Brewster
    TSun Lumber Company has been in business for 107 years. I am the third genertion, and my son is the fourth. My grandfather was a pharmisist and took land for payment.
  • June 15, 2012 1:42 PM
    Horace White
    Tree Farm is used as a source of funds for the family along with a place for the family to fish and deer hunt. It is also where we garden, pick blackberries and mayhaws for jelly.
    It is a Stewardship Forest and Louisiana's
  • June 15, 2012 11:50 AM
    Payden Welker
    Dixon tree farm is a nearly 1000 acre plot of land situated in SE Missouri, about an hour east of Cape Girardeau. The farm has been in the family for 4 generations, all of which involved various farming techniques, from cattle to trees. It is a dear part of our family, and holds many personal touches, including a cemetary dating back to the mid 1800's. My grandfather worked hard to make the cemetary once more operational, succeeding just before his death. His final resting place is Ivy Cemetary, located on the farm he worked tirelessly to improve for future generations. The farm will remain in the family, as we attempt to do the same for our future.
  • June 15, 2012 11:30 AM
    Wiliam Young
    I purchased my 108 area in South Carolina in 2007 to preserve forest to be enjoyed by all for ever and fund the project with the trees. I live in Florida, but fell in love with this land in a National Forest near a lake that by children and grand children can enjoyed and learn about the evniornment.
  • June 15, 2012 10:23 AM
    Eric Ellis
    The Ellis farm consists of 1650 acres located in Northeast Alabama, and is now in its third generation of operation. All but 200 acres consists of loblolly and long-leaf pine plantations with Terrapin Creek running through the middle of most of the acreage. Participation in current government programs include WHIP, EQUIP, and CRP. The farm also has a hunting club which helps manage the land's deer, turkey and fish population.
  • June 15, 2012 10:23 AM
    Salem Saloom
    Saloom Properties, LLC is a 1762 acre awarded 2010 National Outstanding Tree Farm. Since 1983 we have been purchasing blocks of property in eight different blocks to accomplish the contiguous acreage as noted. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the timber that allowed us to change our management plan to start planting longleaf pine as the main species of pine. We are managing our property for timber, wildlife, recreation and clean air and clean water. Education is a priority where many field days are held on the property. We have the gopher tortoise which is a threatened species and with prescribe fire the longleaf ecosystem with its many flora and fauna are thriving and being perpetuated.

    The cost-share programs throught the Farm Bill Conservation program have been very beneficial to us in our conversion to longleaf as well as its management and sustainability. Those programs that we have utilized have been EQIP, WHIPP, CSP, and many others.
  • June 15, 2012 9:19 AM
    Marilyn Jones
    In 1986 we purchased our Tree Farm that we named Centennial Acres Tree Farm. It has been a source of much enjoyment (and work!) for our family--four generations.
  • June 15, 2012 9:19 AM
    C.A."Buck" Vandersteen
    I am a forester and purchased the family forest in 1983. The 40 acre forest is located in the middle of the Kisatchie National Forest. My partnership with the National Forest is most beneficial in keeping boundary lines painted and completing prescribed burns.

    The objective of the forest is timber production. The next objective is hunting. The Tree Farm is a Certified Family Forest.

    We do not participate in any government programs or plan to do so in the future.

  • June 15, 2012 9:17 AM
    Chris Welshans
    My brother Fred and i started our Tree farm from the ground up,,literally,,we bought some ground and thought tree farming would be something to look in to..Well almost 25 years later,,we are proud to be called tree farmers,,,more to come at a later date,,,ill keep you posted,,,
  • May 3, 2012 9:31 AM
    Mary Liles Pokorne
    I have a long leaf pine plantation, 317 acres of wonderful pines, deer, wild turkeys and quail. This land has been in my family for at least 5 generations including an old family cemetery dating back to the early 1800's. This farm was almost lost in the 1970's to foreclosure, this is when my father bought it from his mothers family, I am so grateful he did! I love being a tree farmer!
  • March 25, 2012 8:45 PM
    Ginny Nipper
    The history behind our Tree Farms goes back several generations. My ancestors back to my great-great-great-grandfather were loggers and landowners in southwest Mississippi and central Louisiana. My husband’s ancestors were landowners and row crop farmers that eventually converted the hill country land in northwest Louisiana and southwest Arkansas to trees. One Tree Farm has been in the family almost 110 years and is registered as a Louisiana Centennial Family Forest. Another Tree Farm will be eligible for the same recognition in Arkansas in 2019, and yet a third one will be eligible about two years later. All of our tracts are Certified Tree Farms with the ATFS. We own a little more than 400 acres in both Arkansas and Louisiana spread across five tracts. We acquired the majority of our Tree Farms via inheritance, but we have also purchased some tracts.

    Before acquiring any of our tracts, we realized our need to learn a lot more about forestry management and land stewardship. We began to attend educational meetings sponsored by the Master Tree Farmer program, local and regional Extension Service groups, forestry agencies at the state and national level, and state and national forestry / landowner associations. The knowledge we gained formed the basis from which we have been able to develop our management plans and focus.

    We also began to talk to independent forestry consultants and worked with those that were willing to be patient and answer our multitude of questions. We currently use the services of two private forestry consultants and work with state agency foresters as well. We have chosen not to use direct forestry cost share programs, but we have taken advantage of state forestry agency programs that have provided management activities at a reduced cost. The information and support provided by the Extension Service and state and national forestry agencies is very important to all forestry landowners, and support for those agencies needs to be maintained and increased by Congress and state legislatures.

    Because so much of our Tree Farm property was inherited, there are many locations on each tract that are special to us, and most have a story that goes with a particular location. Some of the stories are funny and some serious, but they collectively help establish our family history and values. Over the years, we have seen our children, now adults, develop their own stories and special places on different Tree Farms. Those special places each provide a different perspective of the farm for all of us, but they also serve to help involve everyone in the management of the Tree Farms in some manner. One of our goals has always been for our Tree Farms to remain in our family for many generations, and our children’s involvement will help maintain their long-term interest.

    We are concerned the federal estate tax may make it harder for our heirs to continue to own and manage our lands sustainably. The estate tax should not cause future landowners, such as our heirs, to sell the land to pay the tax and lose some of their special places. The easiest way to resolve that concern is for Congress to do the right thing and eliminate the federal estate tax.

    We were fortunate that many years ago we were able to attend a “Ties to the Land” workshop taught by Clint Bentz, the grandfather of that program. The use of family meetings as a means for our family to know our goals, interests, business affairs, and even stories was the result of that workshop. We felt so strong about the importance and need for family meetings in other families that we developed a Landowner Legacy Communication© seminar where we teach others about the role of family communication related to family timber lands. As a part of that effort, our children helped me develop a blog,, where questions are answered and many of our experiences are shared. Please read the blog, and we would appreciate your comments and suggestions to help improve it.
  • March 16, 2012 8:38 PM
    Ed abd Bobbie Gross
    Our 150 acre tree farm is in north Fayette County, Iowa at the western edge of the moist, mesic deciduous hardwood forest and the driftless area. We have been in the Tree farm system for 40 +/- years and have been caring for our forest long before that. Ed grew up there and was introduced into family forestry practices in about 1949. Bobbie grew up in St Paul, Minnesota in a conservation oriented family and is natural for managing our forest. We have employed about every possible cost-share program from planting, timber stand improvement and more. Our forest provides hundreds of hunting days every fall and winter. In the spring mushroom pickers abound. Wild flower viewing and photography has increased many-fold in the last 20 years. All of these uses are unrestricted and free to anyone.
  • January 3, 2012 12:51 PM
    Gordon Bakie
    Having lived in Kingston N. H. since birth , faamily has owned a wood lot. It is tree farm # 85 in the state. It has been continous since 1952. After hurricane Carol in 1954 I planted aprox. 2000 white pine trees. They are now aprox 14 inches in dia. I take great bpride in showing to my grand children. I was in 4-H at the time of plannting . I still continue to work at TSI and try to do a cut every 12 to 15 years. My farm is open to everyone except motorized wheeled vec. .
  • December 28, 2011 4:26 PM
    Charles D. Williams
    Attached you will please find an article that I wrote for the Tree Farm magazine, but I have heard nothing from them, so I guess they are not interested. I would like to submit this article to the Tree Farm System website. If you would like to use this article, please let me know. I do have a number of pictures.
    Thank you in advance for your consideration.


    Two outstanding Kentucky Tree Farmers have collaborated over the past twenty years to preserve the unique cultural heritage of the place they call "home" -- Hart County in South Central Kentucky by using the tools of all tree farmers: hard work, dedication and imagination. .
    "Jimmy" Middleton is a doctor and farmer in Munfordville, Kentucky. He was recognized as Kentucky's Tree Farmer of the Year in 1987. He also received the Tom Wallace Farm-Forestry Award for Kentucky and Indiana in 1988, and the Kentucky Forest Stewardship Award in 2011.
    "Charlie" Williams is a lawyer and farmer. He was recognized as Kentucky's Tree Farmer of the Year in 2006, received the Tom Wallace Farm-Forestry Award for Kentucky and Indiana in 2005, the Kentucky Forest Stewardship Award in 2007, and the Kentucky Woodland Owners' Association Award for Silvaculture in 2007. He has been tapped as Kentucky's nominee for National Tree Farmer of the Year for the last three years (2010-2011-2012). In April, 2011, the Arbor Day Foundation awarded Williams a national prize: its "Good Steward Award" for his lifetime of planting trees. He has planted about 75,000 trees in his life, but Dr. Middleton has planted over 750,000! "I guess you know who I'm going to be nominating for 2012," Charlie says, with a smile.
    They are friends from childhood. Jimmy's father, Rev. James W. Middleton, Sr. presided at the marriage of Charlie's parents. Jimmy's mother was the "Matron of Honor." When Jimmy's parents were married, Charlie's mother was "Maid of Honor." Their grandfathers were business partners. So it was plain Fate that these two men would join together to preserve the unique cultural heritage of their home. Charlie says, "Our two families were always intensely interested in Kentucky's woodlands and also in the cultural heritage of this region. Jimmy and I learned what we've been doing for twenty years at the knees of our parents and grandparents."
    This story begins in 1983 when Williams, a young lawyer in Munfordville, was appointed to the Hart County Fair Board. He envisioned the Hart County Fair as a way "to showcase the things we do best in Hart County," he says. He started a Blackberry Cobbler Contest that year, because he knew that Hart County cooks made superior Blackberry Cobbler, and because the fair was held in July, when blackberries abound. The contest proved to be an enormous success and more entries came every year. In 1992, he invited Jimmy to judge the contest, and it was transformed by the force of Middleton's personality. He praised each entrant and told all the ladies (and men) that they were "great pastry chefs. As good as the pastry chefs of Paris." As a world traveler, Jimmy would know this and could back it up. The contestants responded to his praise. Now, the Hart County Fair hosts the premier Blackberry Cobbler Contest in Kentucky.
    "That combination, Charlie's eye for the right contest and Jimmy's praise for all contestants, has given us seven over-the-top contests at the Hart County Fair. Charlie and Jimmy have been on a mission to preserve our local heritage, and through the Hart County Fair, they have found a great vehicle for its preservation," says Jimmy England, President of the Hart County Fair Board.
    The other six contests began similarly. In 1994, Charlie looked around and saw that there were no barbecue restaurants in Hart County. He knew that Hart Countians prepared superior barbecue, so he started three new contests at the Fair: Barbecued Beef, Pork, and Chicken. He enlisted Jimmy as a Judge, and Jimmy's enthusiastic praise kicked in. Now, Hart County has three barbecue restaurants and one exceptional barbecue caterer. At Williams' insistence the Munfordville Tourism Commission, of which he was a founding member, sponsors a nationally sanctioned annual barbecue contest through the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
    Then, Charlie turned his thoughts to fried chicken. What is more "Kentucky" than fried chicken? Jimmy was there to praise and promote. "By the late 1990's, when Charlie started the contest, the quality of fried chicken in Hart County had sort of flat-lined. Now, we have great fried chicken from a number of restaurants, supermarkets, and private cooks," says Jimmy England, Hart County Fair Board President. "Their work has translated into superior efforts by our citizens in this community in amazing ways."
    But the greatest contest of all wa
  • October 14, 2011 11:23 AM
    Walter E Nachtigall III
    "The Woods"
    It is hard to imagine a life without 'the woods'. My parents bought a parcel back in 1971 at the urging of my Godfather, Bruce. He knew it was for sale and knew my fathers love for the outdoors. Investing in land was a gaining in popularity, as I am sure it always is. My parents bought several parcels and ended up with 50 acres of land on the North Fork of the Crow River. It is a scenic river and at the time was remote, only buffeted by farms and nearby towns.
    My father loved bonfires, had a firepit on the deck at home and soon put two and two together. He had invented a camping trailer that filled the ticket for hauling the wood home from 'the woods'. Soon he needed a chainsaw and as he learned about which woods were available and good to burn he stumbled on another 'Ah ha' moment.
    Channel 2 had a special one spring on making Maple syrup. Bruce had also made syrup with his family, and again urged my father on. He had noticed while cutting wood, that he had many sugar maples on the property. Being one to research his new interest, we went to Carver Park and witnessed a real tapping of the trees and the process was condensed down for us in a few hours of information and observation.
    One of my fondest memories is of him in the 'shop' below my bedroom, making spiles (spouts) out of wooden dowels. He shaved, cut drilled and dipped in parafin. He sold equipment to a restaurant near 'the woods' so he asked them for old pickle buckets. We used those to collect the sap, as they were free and held five gallons.
    That first spring we made about a cup of maple syrup. He woke me up and brought me into the kitchen to taste what he had been started before dinner. Mom wasn't happy with another pot on the stove spewing steam. But we made sugar.
    I think I was about 10 years old. From a map the river looks to make a human foot around the property, and the bulk of the foot was my parents. I used to go down by the fenceline and look over at the heel of the foot. It was sloping down like a rams horn, and the heel was the low spot with an inland pond. I never walked or set foot on that land, as my Dad taught me to respect others property. I did, and it served me well as the day came when I walked that line because it was now mine. I had fulfilled a childhood dream of rejoining the 'foot' into one parcel of land.
    I had a calling in my twenties, one that foresaw the possible selling of the land as my parents would no doubt retire. I had always wanted to build a log cabin and had cut logs in the falling elms, as they died from Dutch Elm desease. Why waste the wood, it was strong and dense and straight. Time passed and I never made the time until I knew it would be now or never. So I saved some of the original logs, cut them down to smaller ones and rethought the plan so I could do it by myself. Ten foot logs were manageable. So I built the cabin, or should I say it built me. I learned more doing that then in all of school. Well, almost. I learned about commitment, and how to finally finish a project to completion. One can never put into plans the moments that unfolded in that little 10' x 10' cabin. What a treasure.
    We grew to forty trees, and my Dad gave much of the syrup away on sales calls when he traveled the Dakotas selling restaurant equipment. It became a subtle 'hook' for him and made him stand out. It made him a better salesman. People remembered him as the 'syrup guy'.
    As I got older and was more involved with the process, I pushed for more trees to be tapped. I saw the potential and sold it as gifts to try and get back the investment in gas and costs involved so this hobby would break even. Soon I was up to 120 trees, and now several years later I am up to 300. I bought the land from my parents in the late ninties, having saved my money and cashing in stocks and painting houses. I put a third down cash, meaningful to me because I was the third Walter.
    When I bought out my neighbor back in 2004, and added the 'heel' to the foot, I also got a cabin on the other side of the river. It now is fixed up and renovated one project at a time, as now it is a home I hope to retire in. Imagine walking the woods in the Fall, the majority Maples and surrounded by a river. It is heaven on earth, and has helped me in times of stress and need. I don't think I would be the same person, nor would my Dad have been. When you walk the woods your perspective is restored, the paralax of life is clear.
    My father suffers from Alzheimers now, and is in his eighties. I take him out to the 'woods' whenever I can and he comes back to life with memories. Those memories are too strong for any desease to supress, as is my love for my father. We shared a bond because of those woods, and I can not imagine a better place or a better Dad.
    The economy has hit us all, and the counties are fighting for money. They see big parcels of land like that and want to tax the heck out of them bec
  • August 8, 2011 6:29 PM
    David Alexander
    The Alexander family has been blessed to have our Bossier Parrish, Louisiana tree farm in the family since 1858 when Asiel Alexander bought and farmed 326 acres. We believe Asiel bought the place from the original homesteaders. One of Asiel's sons, William Jefferson Alexander, fought in the civil war and eventually became jailer in the Shreveport, Louisiana jail. His son, my granddaddy, was actually born in the jailhouse where the family lived. He spent a lifetime enjoying the farm, hunting, planting pine trees, running a cattle business and teaching all of us grand kids about how to be good stewards of the land. He passed half of the property on to my dad who in turn has passed it on to me and my 3 siblings.

    We have enjoyed the benefits of the place all these years including timber sales to help pay for college, hunting, family outings, campouts and many more great memories. Of the 163 acres, 100 acres of 50 year old trees that my granddad planted were harvested 8 years ago and we used part of those proceeds to replant with loblolly pines. We used state cost share programs to replant and we subsequently sprayed to take out hardwood and give the pines less competition. My dad planted another 50 acres or so 30 years ago and this stand has been thinned every fourth row at 15 years and a subsequent thinning more recently. We have also had the Lousiana Forest Service do control burns in the more mature stands and we make use of a local forester to advise us on good tree farm practices to maximize yield and provide for wildlife. Stream side zones have been maintained along dry creek beds and a deep spring-fed creek that is never dry, even in drought conditions like we are having now. The property is abundant with white tail deer and many other species of wildlife. We are a certified tree farm and proudly display the Certified Family Forest sign on the property.

  • August 5, 2011 10:08 PM
    David L. Kennedy
    When I was boy, I advance from cub scout to boy scout and eagle scout. That is where I learned an appreciation for the woods from all of the camping, hiking, swimming and canoeing. We learned how to enjoy forests and use them safely. While I was a scoutmaster, I was able to pass on my love of the woods to my boy scouts. When I was about 30, I bought a 70 acre forest in central Wisconsin and wasted no time becoming a Tree Farmer, working regurarly with the District Forester, and now that I live here, 64 of my acres are enrolled in the Managed Forest Law.
  • August 4, 2011 1:27 PM
    Joan Cudhea (mother) and Peter Cudhea (son)
    I (Joan) inherited about 64 acres of woodland in Middleton,Massachusetts, quite close to Boston, from my father in 1986. Originally this was "sproutland", when purchased by my grandparents in the late 1920's as a summer place. After creating a Cudhea Realty Trust ( a special kind of trust in Massachusetts, in which beneficial interests need not be registered with the state), I gifted percentage interests over time to my surviving son Peter. We are now about equal Co-Trustees. Informally, we call the place "Two Brooks Family Tree Farm". We hold frequest family Board meetings in person and by phone- seven of us. At the end of 2010 we granted a 58-acre Conservation Restriction to the Essex County Greenbelt Association. The woods have been professionally managed and certified "all this time". My father began the process, working with the State Forester and the New England Forestry Foundation. Under our one-year old state-approved Stewardship Plan, the immediate focus is to eliminate invasives, particularly European Buckthorn. Meantime, we enjoy the two brooks, the beavers who maintain a small dam - thus creating a pond, and other wildlife, and long stays in the original cottage and a newer log cabin. We are thinking about agroforestry along the long driveway.
  • August 2, 2011 8:22 PM
    Eugenia Graham
    My wife and her family own approx 700 acres on the Catawba River in Lancaster County S.C.. My wife and I own 33 acres within the 700 acres.The property has been in my wife"s family since the 1890s ---our house was built around 1850 and is approx. 6500 square feet. We have constructed a buffer strip along the Catawba River ---- there is approx 1 1/4 miles of river frontage.. The land is in a Conservation easement so it can never be developed and has approx 120 acres open land,350 acres of planted pines and the balance is in hardwoods.We have been members of the Tree Farm organisation for a number of years. We try to practice good forest management and encourage wild life. Recently my wife and I have opened our house and gardens for tours,weddings and other functions.
  • August 2, 2011 5:59 PM
    Donald and Linda Knotts
    We own approximately 65 acres of woodland in southwest Indiana. Some is in CRP other in older trees. We are both in our 60's. We are looking for an organization to which we can leave this property when we die. We want the land preserved in trees, as a wildlife habitat and saved from development. Do you of an organization who can assist us?
  • July 31, 2011 10:50 AM
    Dr. James S. McLelland - Super Tree Farms
    Became an American Tree Farmer in 1971 with a land purchase in Bullock Co. Alabama.Was awarded the State Treefarmer in 1984 - the first non-resident ever.
    Forty years later am still "farming"and enjoying the benefits of owning land.Lots of good forestry practices over the years,some tax shelter benefits, great recreational
    opportunities for friends and family.The financial return is only a small part of the over-all positive experience.Growing trees is a lifetime involvement.800 ac is alot to care for.I have been blessed with good health and a strong back to enable me to do
    most of the work myself.My ancesstors were hard working rural folks and I am proud to have carried on the tradition.
  • July 30, 2011 3:49 PM
    Anne M. Wells
    I was born in Gary, Indiana, 92 years ago, of Italian immigrant parents.
    One summer when I was 9 years old I recall walking down to the Little Calumet River. There I found a young cottonwood tree that I brought home. After borrowing a shovel from Pa's tool shed, I planted my prize, plumb in the center of our yard, which at the time was devoid of anything green. My father nurtured my treasure and later planted grass, a seven sister climbing rose, and a grape arbor.
    Later in life I found myself in the career of buying, renovating, and landscaping homes. I found a state nursery at Vallonia, Indiana. They sold a variety of trees by bundles, inexpensively. And so my planting flourished.
    I have owned land from which I harvested the timber, then replanted small trees to restore the land.
    A friend once asked me, " Why do you still do this? You will not live long enough to see the fruits of your labor." I replied, "I do not do it for myself, but for others; that is good enough for me."
    I believe I inherited my green thumb from my father.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my appreciation for one of the joys of life.
    Anne M. Wells (widow)
    723 E. Walnut
    Brownstown, IN 47220
    P. S. My husband and I learned long ago that a very small tree when planted along side a larger tree (of the same variety) at the same time will outgrow the larger tree. We read this in a government bulletin, and we saw it happen.
  • July 27, 2011 10:39 AM
    Don C. East
    I bought my seven tree farms in Clay and Randolph Conties in Alabama on Navy pay from 1967 through 2002. Using all my military leave time to improve the properties through many cost share programs, these tree farms are now in maximum production for timber and wildlife. The superior management, along with the diversity and natural beauty of the tree farms has garnered many awards including The ATFS Alabama Tree Farmer of the Year, Finalist for the ATFS Southern Region Tree Farmer of the Year, The ATFA Helene Mosley award, and the FLA Forest Landowner of the Year award. Buying and improving timberland turned out to be the best investment of my lifetime. However, owning tree farms where you do all the work yourself is not for sissies!
  • July 26, 2011 11:46 AM
    Boyles Tree Farm LLC
    Boyles Tree Farm (BTF) was formed in 1986 but our roots go back to 1942 when my father Eugene H. Boyles purchased his first farm. Eight years and a war later, he was looking for an opportunity to put the land into use as an absentee farmer and came up with the idea of planting slash pine tree seedlings. He may have put in the first planted stand in Suwannee County, FL.

    Over the years, he continued to add to his land holdings and pine plantations. He died in 1991 and the family has continued his legacy. Today we have eight separate timber tracts in North Florida totaling 1850 acres. The 8 tracts are subdivided into 20 units, 2 in natural state and 18 planted.

    We have three majority owners and six minority partners as we bring the next generation on. Our products are timber, pine straw, recreation leases, and real estate. We're looking at expanding into the energy sector if and when it becomes viable. Our species are slash and longleaf, although this winter, we'll be putting in a 30 acre loblolly site.

    We have cut nearly all of our merchantable timber and replanted over the last 9 years. Our average plantation age is 7.45 years. We need to get this above 11 which we should do by 2020. We have a written strategic plan which is updated annually with recent changes.

    ATFS is the best certification form to meet our needs. We're proud sponsors and participants.

    Joe Boyles
    General Manager
  • May 27, 2011 10:51 PM
    David L. Kennedy
    May 21 was like most days of the year when I took a walk out into my 70 acre Tree Farm. I only walked about a half mile, but over a mile the day before. During walks this time of the year, I carry a plastic bag and dandelion puller to clear my trails of those weeds. I also carry a three-foot scyle to clear the trails of fallen branches. Each year I invite out boy scouts and cub scouts to hike through the woods. And there were times when they camped overnight.
  • February 2, 2011 10:10 AM
    Ed Piestrak
    I purchased an initial 265 acres of forest in Steuben County, New York in 1989 after prompting from my son Jeffrey who hunted on the property. I have since acquired additional land which now comprises the 900-acre Piestraks Forest Lands, LLC.

    Almost 90 percent of the Piestraks Certified Tree Farm is wooded and managed under a 480-A management plan* that he updates regularly. The land started as a pioneer forest with hickory, oak, maple, with some ash and aspen mixed in too. I’ve worked hard to create a healthy forest for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation by constructing five ponds, three vernal ponds, three deer enclosures, seven acres of corn for wildlife, and conducting nearly a hundred acres of TSI work.

    My land is important to my entire family, my wife Wanda, my son and my grandchildren. Our family enjoys hunting, wildlife watching, hiking, and fishing on the property. We’ve built 17 tree stands approximately 20 feet high and from atop the buildings with windows so we can stay out of the rain. In the fall, we sit in the stands, taking pictures and watching the wildlife with binoculars, the wildlife we’ve successfully been able to integrate with our timber goals. We placed tail cameras on the property to capture images of foxes, raccoons, and coyotes. Two of the ponds are stocked with a mixture of fish and the other three are for amphibians, frogs and salamanders.

    In the young forest, all kinds of birds are making their home. To attract even more birds, we erected 80 bluebird boxes. Last year, all but two of the boxes were occupied. Bats also have found a haven in one of the eight boxes located on the property.

    We were approved for a Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) from the National Resource Conservation Service to make land and road improvements, crop tree release, mark snags and down trees, and thin. I won’t reap the benefits personally but the next generation will and the forest will be improved.

    Multiple Tree Farm signs are proudly displayed around our property. Part of our property borders the new interstate highway 99 which is in the final construction phase. The family LLC members decided it would be a good idea to expose the Tree Farm to the thousands of people that pass by the land. A New York welcome center is planned for directly across from one end of the property. An 8x8 Tree Farm sign was installed by the family members so that it can be seen from the welcome center.

    Sharing and teaching are important tools. Enthusiasm can be caught. Come catch some enthusiasm for YOUR woods.