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Pioneer

What is a Tree Farm Standard?

The term standard has many definitions, and in the case for Tree Farm, its intention is “a required or agreed level of attainment.” The American Tree Farm System 2021 Standards “promote the health and sustainability of America’s family forests.” That is a mouthful and quite an all-encompassing expectation of family forest landowners. Certification of Tree Farms relies on these standards that were designed to help Tree Farmers to effectively manage their forestland, and promote stewardship.

The standards are based on international guidelines from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC TM ). These standards require following third party certification auditing procedures. Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is also endorsed through PEFC. This certification requires that all standards maintain water quality, wildlife habitat, soil conservation and provide recreation. It also requires wood products production to be done in a sustainable manner. With this “green” certification your ability to sell your wood to markets may be improved. In the future, certification of wood and chain of custody for timber may be a required part of selling logs from your property.

The eight certification standards include: a commitment to practicing sustainable forestry; compliance with federal, state, and local laws; complete timely reforestation or afforestation following regeneration harvests; protect air, water, and soil quality; conservation of biodiversity and forest health; value forest aesthetics; protect special sites and conducting activities in accordance with landowner objectives.

Each of these were designed to accommodate the diversity of forestland and landowner objectives, in relation to the size, scale and intensity of woodlands and operations. For example, managing a small property may look completely different than a 1,000-acre woodland, whether it is in scheduling timber sales, maintaining recreational trails, managing water quality, or encouraging wildlife habitat.

Over the next eight issues of Pioneer eNews, we will look more closely at each standard, and what you, as a Pioneer Tree Farmer, need to do to meet those standards. Each standard identifies “performance measures” and “indicators” that demonstrate conformance. To be more specific, a standard is the principle that is being followed that promotes sustainably managing your forestland. The performance measure outlines the methods for the landowner to meet the standard. Indicators are the activities that he landowner actually completes that meet the standard.

To give an example, many Pioneer Tree Farmers may already have a management plan that addresses some of the requirements of Tree Farm, and may meet the performance measure having a management plan. However, many of the “indicators” outlining more detail in the plan are not being met. Therefore, the plan does not meet the standard, and the Pioneer would need to address more in their forest management plan to be one step closer to certification. Many may only have to address a few items to meet the standard, and some may not even have a management plan yet.

As we move through each of the eight Standards of Sustainability to become a certified Tree Farmer, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns regarding your Tree Farm and your Pioneer trek to certification. Questions can be addressed to Kathy Beland at kathy.njtinc@gmail.com.

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Uncategorized

Black Hills Family Named National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year

Today, the American Forest Foundation, a national conservation organization that empowers family forest owners to make a positive impact through their woodlands, announced Bob Burns and Mary LaHood of Piedmont, South Dakota as the American Tree Farm System’s (ATFS) 2021 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. The LaHood-Burns family was selected from among more than 70,000 certified Tree Farmers nationwide, and are being recognized for their decades of dedicated, proactive stewardship of their 320 acres of forestland. 

“I am privileged to know Mary and Bob personally and can attest to their commitment to building community among forest landowners, in addition to caring for their land in a way that would make past and future generations proud,” said Angela Wells, Director of the ATFS. “Their efforts to empower their neighbors to protect themselves and their forests from wildfire, while tirelessly advocating for the rights of South Dakota’s family forest owners, are an embodiment of what makes the ATFS network so special.”

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Mary LaHood and Bob Burns: 2021 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

In the mid 1870’s, there were two ways to enter the Black Hills of South Dakota, on foot or on the back of a horse. By 1887, the effort to construct the first railroad into a piece of Lakota treaty land that settlers called the Piedmont Valley brought John Murray to the area. In July of that year, Murray purchased a large acreage, including the wooded slopes above the red dirt valley floor, for $675.

One hundred and thirty-four years later, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), a program administered by the American Forest Foundation, has named Murray’s descendants as the 2021 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. Mary LaHood and Bob Burns, who manage the LaHood-Burns Family Forest with their children, were selected by an independent selection committee made up of ATFS partners, landowners, and past Regional and Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year finalists.

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Tom Martin: Reflections on the Forestland

Tom Martin has many good memories of his childhood days at his family’s Northern Wisconsin Tree Farm. When he became president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation in 2009, the experiences he had in those woods provided valuable insights about what it meant to be a family forest owner 

“AFF resonated with my own values and experiences, having spent all those years in the woods and having the woodlands become a center for our family. It was easy to understand the opportunities and challenges that other forest landowners face. So, it felt like coming home to kindred spirits,” said Martin.

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A Q&A With American Forest Foundation’s New SVP of Conservation, Valerie Craig

The American Forest Foundation (AFF) is excited to welcome Valerie Craig as the new Senior Vice President of Conservation. 

Valerie has centered her career around her passion for conservation. Most recently working at National Geographic Society as the Interim Chief Science and Innovation Officer, Valerie spearheaded the organization’s efforts to deliver impact-focused programs and grants related to global conservation, history, and culture. During her tenure at National Geographic, Valerie provided vital program leadership both domestically and internationally on issues like landscape protection, sustainable fisheries, ocean plastics pollution, and illegal wildlife trade. Her strong background in conservation strategy and innovation will be invaluable as the American Forest Foundation continues to increase the conservation impact of America’s family-owned forests.

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Uncategorized

Determining a True Carbon Benefit Part 4: Permanence

Over the past several months, we have detailed how the Family Forest Carbon Program, a partnership between the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working to create a true carbon benefit.

Led by two mission-driven non-profits, the Family Forest Carbon Program is driving meaningful and lasting carbon sequestration and storage to help address our climate crisis. For all involved – from our organizations to the companies who purchase our verified carbon credits, to enrolled landowners who are contributing to a larger conservation movement– it is in our collective interest to ensure we are achieving real climate mitigation together.

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Tree Farmers

Meet the Jacksons of Pennsylvania

Mountain Meadows and its many acres of forests were part of Laura Jackson’s beloved childhood home. As a young adult, she moved away from the family farm in Everett, Pennsylvania and met her husband Mike, who also grew up on a farm. They are both retired schoolteachers. In 1983, when her parents asked, “Why don’t you move back?” the answer was “Yes.” Her parents gifted Laura and Mike 113 mostly forested acres from the farm, and five years later, the Jacksons built a house on the property and started their journey as first-time landowners and forest stewards.

Their property was a wildlife oasis. The Jacksons were thrilled to watch bobcats, deer, bears, and birds that called their property home. They spent time in the woods documenting their sightings, became amateur nature photographers, and Mike became an avid hunter.

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ATFS/AFF

Meet TyKeidra Young Who is Working to Advance Conservation Impact

Two years ago, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR) transitioned from the U.S. Endowment to the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and a talented Business Major from Mississippi State University, TyKeidra Young, came to the organization as a summer intern to learn more about the program.

TyKeidra didn’t know the first thing about forestry or agriculture, but she was dedicated to learning more about the legal solutions that SFLR provides to landowners and assisting landowners impacted by the program. During her time at AFF, she was introduced to partners and colleagues throughout the forest sector which helped her grow her understanding of the important work being done by America’s family forest owners to increase the conservation impact of their land.

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Vermont

Crews erect 48-foot Christmas tree at Vermont Capitol

Many Vermonters may have seen that the VT Capitol Christmas tree was cut in Wallingford from the Cadwallader Family’s property, for the second time. This property has been a Certified Tree Farm for over 50 years, managing the forestland sustainably with wood, water, wildlife and recreation as part of their management goals. Thirty years ago, they planted black walnut seedlings, in a hard to navigate hay field, with balsam fir as companions to help the walnuts grow straight and hopefully without branches. The deer took care of many of those balsam trees, but left a few. This year, Leonard Cadwallader finally gleaned some walnuts from his orchard. Congratulations to the Cadwallader family for having a tree chosen for Vermonters two years in a row!

A large Balsam Fir tree was erected Friday in front of the Vermont State House, continuing an annual tradition in the capital.

The 48-foot-tall Balsam Fir was donated by Cadwallader Farm in Wallingford and driven by a trucking group from East Montpelier. Transportation officials assisted in the process, escorting the oversized tree to its temporary home.

In the past, the tree has been lit with white string lights ahead of the holiday. No similar plans for a lighting have been publicly announced this fall.

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Pioneer

Pioneer Program: Initial Steps

The Pioneer Tree Program is an introductory phase of the Tree Farm program that helps those who are interested in becoming certified, but not up to American Tree Farm System (ATFS) standards yet. It also helps those who were previously certified but did not keep their land up to standard get back on track. For those who are new to the Pioneer program there are some steps to take towards becoming a certified Tree Farm.

Pioneer Tree Farms should first contact their forester to review Tree Farm standards and other requirements of the program. To be admitted to the Tree Farm program a property must be between 10 and 20,000 contiguous acres, be privately owned, pass inspections, and meet ATFS standards. The 8 certification standards include: a commitment to practicing sustainable forestry; compliance with federal, state, and local laws; complete timely reforestation or afforestation; protect air, water, and soil quality; conservation of biodiversity and forest health; value forest aesthetics; protect special sites and conducting activities in accordance with landowner objectives.

Meeting with your forester will help a landowner know what standards their land is currently meeting and areas that need improvement. In order to meet Tree Farm certification requirements, your plan might need to be updated. Review your forest management plan with your forester to see what needs to be added or changed to meet the requirements. If your forester is not a certified Tree Farm inspector, Vermont Tree Farm can connect you with someone who can work with you to certify your property.

For land that is already enrolled in the Use Value Appraisal (UVA) program some Tree Farm requirements may already be met. For those that are not, the Tree Farm Addendum form covers many areas that may not be included in a standard UVA plan. The VT Tree Farm website offers a comparison matrix which may help in fulfilling additional needs. Changes to your management plan do not need to be filed to the county forester unless it affects your UVA status.

Getting your land to certification may also involve changes beyond amending your management plan. For example, if a Tree Farm has problematic erosion or severe invasive plant problem which have not been addressed with some plan of action, that may need to happen prior
to certification. This determination is in the hands of the certified Tree Farm Inspector, which may or may not be your consulting forester.

If the landowner is not ready to update their plan or address concerns prior to certification, they may remain in the Pioneer program for five years.