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On-site sustainable forest management ‘woods walk’ offered in AuSable Forks

A woods walk is a great way for the public to learn about forest management issues. (Provided photo — Richard Gast)

The New York Forest Owners Association assists landowners and the public by serving as an advocate for forest owners, by educating community leaders in the benefits of sound forestry practices, by uniting forest owners in the common cause of improving their forest resources and forest opportunities, and by educating the public on the value of a healthy tree-growing industry.

Through its local chapters, NYFOA provides camaraderie, knowledge, and training for both landowners and the concerned public. Neighboring forest landowners and other NYFOA members often meet to share management information, attend workshops and tour each other’s woodlots and forests. Local chapter and statewide activities and tours are commonly referred to as “woods walks.” These woods walks provide valuable opportunities for landowners and others to look at successfully applied forest management and woodlot improvement techniques, and effective timber and land management strategies taking place within their local communities and across the state.

While I was at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, I maintained a friendly, focused, working relationship with the Northern Adirondack Chapter of NYFOA, its officers, and its members. I continue to believe that one of the best ways to provide outreach and facilitate learning about conservation planning issues and sustainable forest stewardship strategies and practices is to provide meetings held on privately owned non-industrial forest properties, workshops that allow private woodland owners, property managers, maple producers, legislators, government representatives and anyone else interested in the quality of New York’s woodlands the opportunity to meet, share beneficial management information and see firsthand woodlot improvement and timber and land management strategies that are effectively being utilized by dedicated forest landowners in their communities to maximize the productive use of their forest natural resources.

NAC NYFOA recently announced that they will be sponsoring a woods walk tour of Asgaard Farm and Dairy, the former home of artist, writer, adventurer, and political activist Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), and that the event will be free and open to the public.

The theme of the meeting will be sustainable private forest management, with a focus on the farming and forestry practices currently employed by the owners, who sustainably harvest white pine and some mixed hardwoods yearly, under American Tree Farm System certification. Highlights will include a look at a riverside site harvested in September 2013, which is currently being used as a “silvopasture” grazing area. Silvopasturing integrates forestry, grassland ecology and animal husbandry into a single system for actively managing livestock and timber on the same acreage. Attendees will also look at a salvage harvest site, which was timbered after the ice storm of 1998 using conventional methods and have the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of that salvage cut with Deb Boyce, the owners’ consulting forester. All are invited to hike nearby Haystack Mountain (not the 4,960-foot Haystack Mountain), after the meeting.

A woods walk is a great way for the public to learn about forest management issues. (Provided photo — Richard Gast)

The core group assisting NYFOA and its local chapters with information, education, outreach, and programming is a small but dedicated team of CCE educators trained in a variety of forestry, natural resources, and environmental fields. But behind the scenes, a powerful network of scientists and educators from the Cornell University campus, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and others work with CCE to connect forest landowners, land managers, and land users to the knowledge and resources needed to ensure sustainable production and ecological function on private forest lands.

Just under two thirds of New York state, 18.95 million acres, is forest. About 20% of that is public forest. 4% is industrial. The vast majority, 76% or roughly 14.4 million acres, is privately owned by an estimated 687,000 individual non-industrial forest landowners.

Over the years, I’ve learned that even if they have different objectives, most of the region’s forest landowners have one thing in common: the desire to be good stewards. And those who have properly managed their non-industrial private forest resources now own some of the most productive forestland in the nation.

If you are a non-industrial private forest landowner, you should consider becoming a NYFOA landowner member. Membership will enable you to learn more about and keep on top of the most recent developments in current forestry and land management practices and issues. You’ll be invited to attend chapter and statewide meetings and other planned events. And you’ll receive a complimentary one-year subscription to “Forest Owner” magazine. For more information, call 800-836-3566 or email info@nyfoa.org

A woods walk is a great way for the public to learn about forest management issues. (Provided photo — Richard Gast)

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