John Buck is the owner of a 70 acre woodland property in Washington, VT. John, who is a retired wildlife biologist for the Fish & Wildlife Department, purchased the property in 2012 with the intent of it becoming a place where his family could retreat to, know the woods better, and participate in activities like deer hunting and maple sugar making. He and his family operate Buck Family Maple Farm making pure Vermont maple syrup from 2,000 maple trees on the property. He and his son also operate a small portable sawmill business as well.
John’s property was enrolled in the Tree Farm program in 2012 shortly after he purchased the land. As a former wildlife biologist, John cares about his land being hospitable to wildlife and wants it to remain sustainable so it can be passed on to the next generations of his family. Since purchasing the land some timber cuts have been done mainly to release an understory that allowed for younger, healthier trees to grow and make for a healthier forest. The work also created better habitat for some species of songbirds which he has seen increase on the property.
What does being a Tree Farmer mean to you?
Being a Tree Farmer allows us to demonstrate the ways in which forestland is valuable and a good natural resource. It shows that we have a good attitude toward the forest. Being in Tree Farm is a symbol of good stewardship and it represents the stewardship paradigm we live by in regards to the land. Anyone having a Tree Farm sign makes it an advertisement in a way for these stewardship practices.
What do you value about the Tree Farm program?
One of the things I value about Tree Farm is that it represents a multitude of qualities when it comes to forest management. With Wood, Water, Wildlife, and Recreation focuses, Tree Farm helps demonstrate that forestland can be managed in a variety of ways. It helps show that forestland can be financially sustainable, and not just land that can be converted to something else. Tree Farm helps landowners display and live by the actions they take with their land.
Why should someone who is not enrolled in the Tree Farm program join the program?
Before joining the program, I would suggest first to get in contact with a consulting forester. Consulting foresters can help you learn more about the different parts of being a landowner and can help you make the most out of your land. Along with a consulting forester, Tree Farm can help in oversight of your land making sure it is being managed in a good way and accomplishing the goals you would like it to achieve.
What advice do you have for a landowner who is new to Tree Farm?
Take the time to think about why you bought the land, what you hope to gain in the next 5 years through your land, and what you want your land to be like in 50 years. After thinking about these questions, take these ideas to a consulting forester. They will help ensure that your values are upheld in any management that takes place on your land.
What suggestions do you have in ways to get the next generation involved in Tree Farm?
This is a question we all struggle with. Currently there are cultural and financial barriers that impact access to the forest. As American culture becomes more suburbanized there are less opportunities for people to have experiences in the woods and the cost of purchasing forestland
is often too high for young people to be able to buy forestland. Access to the natural world can be a health benefit, I believe. Finding ways to get young people experiences in the forest to show its importance and benefits is a way to help grow interest. Tree Farm provides a human component which can help engage young people and provide those experiences. Creating a strong forest economy, increasing private ownership of forest land, and showing the role forests play in creating healthy ecosystems in the face of climate change can also help get the next generation involved.