Across the U.S, a dedicated group of 70,000 family forest owners are caring for their land – improving wildlife habitat, lowering risk of catastrophic wildfires, protecting clean water, increasing carbon sequestration, and fostering their own connections to the land. These are the members of the American Tree Farm System, a nearly 80-year old program that represents the largest, most engaged network of landowners managing 19 million acres of forestland, meeting a rigorous set of sustainability standards.
Each year, ATFS, which falls under the American Forest Foundation, celebrates the work being done by ATFS-certified landowners with the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year (OTFY) award. This award recognizes landowners that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to caring for their forests and leadership in educating communities about the importance of conservation on family-owned forests.
Like many other organizations, AFF and ATFS had to adapt to the challenges of the global pandemic. The health and safety of our Tree Farmers and OTFY selection committee is the number one concern. After having identified eight regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year finalists early in 2020, for everyone’s safety we elected to defer the selection process to 2021.