2013 MN Tree Farm Inspector Training

We’re offering a 1/2 day Tree Farm Inspector Training on September 19 at the Cloquet Forestry Center.  The training is for forest resource mangers interested in becoming a certified a Tree Farm Inspector or for Inspectors who need to update their certification to the new 2010 Tree Farm Standards.  On the same afternoon, participants may choose to take a Quality Deer Management Association Land Certification Program training at the same location.

When:  September 19, 2013
. . Tree Farm:  8:00am to noon
. . QDMA Land Certification Program: 1:00 to 5:00pm

Where:  Cloquet Forestry Center, 175 University Road, Cloquet MN

Prices and eligibility:  See the following registration information

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Minnesota’s 2012 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

By Kathleen Preece

Congratulations to all four regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year nominees:  

Frank and Mickey Smith: Central Region Tree Farmers of the Year & Minnesota State Tree Farmers of the Year 

Nominating Forester Gary E. Anderson

Thirty years ago, when Frank Smith began exploring the forested frontier of his Crow Wing County Tree Farm, he didn’t liken himself to Daniel Boone. But he could have.

Boone is the iconic figure in American history who was pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman and whose exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States.

Smith, who retired as director of MIS and business systems at Honeywell, is the northern Minnesota citizen who is pioneer, explorer, AND woodland manager – and whose commitment to the land has given him notoriety as Minnesota’s 2012 State Tree Farmer of the Year.

When Frank and Mickey Smith purchased the 400-acre tract of woodland near the north central Minnesota community of Emily in 1981, they were presented with the many challenges that accompanying land that has been unmanaged and ignored.

One of the first things Frank did that year, was to obtain a forest management plan from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. But he didn’t stop there. Since then, Frank has  made it his goal to bring the woodlands under management with intent to raise and harvest the trees for their timber value, and to enhance the wood and water habitat for .wildlife. Timber sales, tree planting, creation of wildlife openings, and building and placing of nesting boxes are all part of the plan.

The Smith Tree Farm has 16 different cover types and six different age classes of aspen, black spruce, tamarack, black ash, northern hardwoods, and red pine plantations.

Five wildlife openings have been created and/or enhanced, and marsh and open water ponds are maintained.

Simply said, Frank and Mickey have created a wildlife paradise. Nominating forester Gary Anderson attests that the Smiths are “a great example of what can be done to improve a tree farm and bring it under sustainable forest management.”

Gary has known Frank since the Smiths purchased the property and developed the original management plan. He notes that the Smiths were attentive to changing times and woodlands have have updated their plan twice since the original plan was written.

Frank should know when updates are needed; he spends nearly every bit of his leisure time working on the Tree Farm. In the past five years alone, Frank has:

  • selectively cut 65 acres which yielded 600 cords of aspen and hardwood pulpwood and bolts;
  • clear cut 25 acre stand of aspen, which yielded 300 cords of pulpwood; and
  • commercially thinned a 4-acre pine and spruce plantation, yielding 20 cords of pulpwood and bolts.

When he is not in the woods applying his knowledge, Frank can be found at natural resource workshops, learning a bit more about that forest frontier.

The Smith story would not be complete unless you were told that, upon searching his family tree, Frank found that he is, in fact (and not surprisingly!) related to Daniel Boone!

Rod and Jill Wulff: Northwest Region

Nominating Forester John Berglund

You might think Roseau, Minnesota is so far north that it’s really a part of Canada.

Or, you might think it’s so far west that it is prairie country.

The Northwest Region Tree Farmers of the Year would likely argue both suggestions with you. Rod and Jill Wulff have owned their northern Minnesota woodlands for a quarter century. The 240-acre Tree Farm has been under a management plan for over half a century.

Last year alone, the woodlands yielded 500 cords of red pine pulp and bolts, and 100 cords of white spruce pulp and bolts from a commercial thinning. Over the past 15 years, two commercial thinnings have taken place, one with the assistance of the Potlatch Corporation and one with the assistance of Boise Paper.

Rod and Jill manage their northern Tree Farm for wildlife habitat and timber production. They are eager to showcase their activities, hosting tours for local schools and 4-H groups, as well as tours for companies such as Polaris. The Tree Farm has also been featured in a book focused on deer hunting.

The Wulff Tree Farm is a multiple use forest. Rod once operated a shooting preserve on the land, and still maintains the trails for recreation.  The couple are constantly managing and improving the Tree Farm since they purchased it. Rod has conducted thinning and pruning to improve timber production and quality, along with improving the habitat for wildlife. The couple has dug several ponds on the farm.

The Wulff Tree Farm sits along a county highway that serves to showcase a well-managed red pine stand to passersby. Rod and Jill are not keeping their Tree Farm a secret: the Minnesota Tree Farm sign announces the red pine stand and is easily seen from the county highway.

The Minnesota State Tree Farm Committee expresses its sincere appreciation of the Tree Farming commitment of Rod and Jill Wulff.

Steve and Debbie Morgan: Southern Region

Nominating Forester Terry Helbig

If anyone should be given honors for their “family management” of a Tree Farm, it is Steve and Debbie Morgan. On September 16, 2011, the couple hosted a birthday celebration for the trees of their Tree Farm family. That’s right, their trees. These Southern Region Tree Farmers of the Year celebrated the Norway (red) pine that were planted 50 years ago on their Tree Farm located south of Wabasha, Minnesota.

Steve Morgan, who operates an insurance agency in Faribault, bought the pine-covered land 21 years ago. He soon began to actively manage the property.  The 35 acres were quickly put into Tree Farm management. Over the past 20 years, the stand has been pruned, thinned a number of times, and inter-planted with some white pine, (with buckthorn control serving as one of Steve and Debbie’s hobbies!)

Steve explains that, in addition to the presence of buckthorn, other challenges have been encountered during their forest management endeavors, including recovering from a hailstorm and dealing with the introduction of thistle (likely brought in by logging equipment used in a thinning).

However, the management objective of these Southern Region Tree Farmers of the Year has been achieved: “joy in owning a woodland.” The Morgans use the Tree Farm as a weekend retreat and for recreating and hunting.

According to nominating forester Terry Helbig, the management of the Morgan Tree Farm is very intensive. Steve has pruned 35 acres to allow himself a better view of the trees. This was followed up by a thinning in 1993 and a second one in 2011. The goal of both thinnings was to improve the quality of the stand by removing double tops that had been caused by a 1973 storm.

As the stand was opened up, the oak became established in the understory; Steve has begun pruning these oaks. His long-term goal is to have a stand of Norway pine that look like those at Itasca State Park! To complement the stand, Steve planted white pine in the openings. Over the years, Steve has kept meticulous records, and has placed the Tree Farm in the 2c Managed Forest tax classification.

The 2011 birthday party was a noted event in the life of this Tree Farm. At the party, Steve and Debbie were hosts to a special guest – the man who had planted those pines 50 years prior – Loyde Wilcox. Loyde was presented with a tree cookie noting the significant events of the life of the plantation by marks in the wood. Even the planting machine that Loyde had used to plant the trees was brought to the party.

The Minnesota State Tree Farm Committee applauds Steve and Debbie Morgan for their enthusiasm for, and commitment to Tree Farming.

Bill and Bernie Gothard: Northeast Region

Nominating Foresters Jim Berkeland and Quintin Legler

It is one thing to walk the walk of forestry. And it’s another (and often times an even more time consuming task) to talk the talk of forestry.

Bill and Bernie Gothard have walked AND they have talked. In fact, Bill enrolled and participated in the Woodland Adviser course that consumed eight precious weekends of his time. And he has made the commitment to share the messages of good forestry with other landowners.

Bill and Bernie are Minnesota’s Northeast Tree Farmers of the Year. Their 69-acre Tree Farm has been under their ownership since 1994, and under a written forest management plan since 1995. In fact, the Tree Farm has been certified since 1995. It is located near Grand Rapids.

All of the forest management activities on the Tree Farm are conducted by Bill, except for the commercial logging practices. The couple has completed a selective cut-to-length harvest yielding 600 cords of pulp and bolts, 100 cords of birch, 100 cords of balsam and 400 cords of spruce.

The couple reforested the land by planting white spruce and red pine, with natural regeneration of white pine, aspen, and birch. In fact, Bill and Bernie plant trees every spring. They also transplant natural seedlings that are growing too close together on the Tree Farm. They work continuously at releasing, spacing, and pruning their trees – all of this work is done by hand with many hours a week spent in the woods. They have not let the plantings fend for themselves, but rather are committed to bud capping and hand-releasing the spruce and the pine.

The Gothard’s neighbors do not have to wonder what is going on next door: Bill and Bernie advocate Tree Farming, tree planting, and forest management to their neighbors!

Two miles of trails help the Gothards reach one of their management objectives: recreation. They hunt, ski, and snowshoe the trails as each season allows.

They are members of the Itasca County Woodland Association.

The members of the Minnesota State Tree Farm Committee raise their Tree Farming hats in honor of Bill and Bernie Gothard.

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2012 Minnesota Tree Farm awards

Tree Farmers:

The annual Tree Farm awards ceremony, recognizing Minnesota’s outstanding Tree Farmers, will be May 18 in Grand Rapids.  The awards will be presented as part of the Minnesota Forestry Association annual meeting. We hope you’ll join us.

If you haven’t attended in the past, this is a good opportunity to meet and hear about real, everyday tree farmers who are doing great things on their land here in Minnesota.

Here’s a link to more information and registration details for the MFA annual meeting and Tree Farm awards.  Thanks for all the good work you do on your family’s Tree Farm!  We hope to see you in Grand Rapids.

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ATFS Announces four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

Washington, D.C. - The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) has named Putnam “Put” Blodgett (Lyme, New Hampshire); Russ and Barbara Ford (Columbia, Mississippi); Joseph “Steve” and Janet Funk (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ); and Walt and Donna Lange (Swanton, Ohio) as 2011 Regional Tree Farmers of the Year sponsored by Stihl, Inc.

This annual award recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on family-owned woodlands. Every year, the four regional winners are recognized for stewardship of America’s family woodlands. Stemming the loss of America’s woodlands is vital to our country’s clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreational activities, and producing the wood and paper products we all need.

ATFS provides landowners with the validation that they are doing right by their land, meeting the highest standards of sustainability and being good stewards for the future. One of the four regionals will be announced as the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year during the 2011 National Tree Farmer Convention on August 11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Putnam “Put” Blodgett has been a Tree Farmer for more than 50 years, managing 670 acres of woodlands near Lyme, New Hampshire. He has always lived off the woodlands of his Tree Farm – initially, when it was under the ownership of his parents, followed by his ownership of the land, and eventually through the founding and directing of a boys’ summer camp within its woodlands.

Through intensive management, Blodgett has derived the majority of his income from the farm and through his forest management activities. More than 90 percent of the white pine, hemlock, and red oak that went into the building of his retirement home was harvested from the Tree Farm. The heating and hot water needs of the home are supplied by the Tree Farm’s forest resources. In addition to managing the Tree Farm to meet his personal living needs, Blodgett has incorporated numerous and successful management practices to improve wildlife, water, and recreation on the Tree Farm.

Russ and Barbara Ford started the first local forestry organization in Mississippi, with Russ holding an active office in the organization for a number of years. Sharing information about invasive species control, practicing active wildlife management for both game and threatened species, and making a commitment to improving water quality has earned the couple a bookmark in the history of forestry in the State of Mississippi.

Russ has made tree farming his only job, but he has not done so at the expense of the resources of the farm. Firebreaks, road construction and maintenance, pre-commercial thinning, pruning, mowing, prescribed burning, tree planting, herbicide applications and more are on schedule and performed nearly 100 percent of the time by Russ himself. And the ‘special ones’ are not forgotten: numerous gopher tortoises are located on the Tree Farm and Russ actively manages for them, striving not to destroy their habitat.

Steve and Janet Funk began with a dream to live near the woods and streams of the West, where they might find opportunity to camp occasionally. Opportunities for jobs near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and for purchase of a derelict farm in a small mountain valley with a stream running through the property put the dream into their lap – and into reality.

Since the early 1970s and with the purchase of the property, the dynamo duo has been advocates for responsible management, forest restoration, and environmental education. Logging with a team of Belgian mares, comprehensive and amended forest management plans, and educating themselves through University of Idaho Extension opportunities have given Steve and Janet the foundation from which to speak on projects and issues that may affect the viability of the waters and woods of their mountain valley Tree Farm.

Walt and Donna Lange, self-taught landowners, own and manage a Tree Farm near Swanton, Ohio. They have been honored for their exemplary woodland management practices, including planting thousands of trees and conducting numerous beneficial resource projects such as the “Green Tree Marsh.” This project was created to provide a valuable seasonal water source for wildlife.

The professional forestry community holds Walt and Donna in particularly high esteem for their efforts to spread the word about trees to innumerable groups of people for years, especially Boy Scouts and 4-H groups. Local Scout groups have made the Lange Tree Farm their annual location for “camping within the pines.” Walt and Donna, their two daughters, and five grandchildren are all an integral part of the field and management crews of the Tree Farm in preparing the family property for the next generation.

“Every year, we at the American Tree Farm System commit ourselves to the recognition of family forest owners like Putnam, the Fords, Funks, and Langes who contribute to our country’s natural resources, communities, and good paying jobs without expectation of recognition,” stated Liz Sandler, ATFS Director.

The 96,000-family landowner American Tree Farm System represents the largest group of private landowners in America. Family forest landowners manage and own 35 percent of America’s forests. These private forests provide more than 25 percent of our nation’s drinking water and 60 percent of at risk wildlife depend on private forests.


The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation, is a network of private woodland owners sustainably managing 26 million acres of forestland. It is the largest and oldest sustainable family woodland system in America, internationally recognized, meeting strict third-party certification standards. For 70 years, ATFS has enhanced the quality of America’s woodlands by giving forest owners the tools they need to keep their forests healthy and productive.

STIHL Inc. is the exclusive presenting sponsor of the ATFS Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Regional and National Awards, as well as the sole, handheld outdoor power equipment provider for the ATFS. STIHL Inc. manufactures the world’s largest selling brand of chain saws and produces a full line of powerful, lightweight, and versatile handheld outdoor power equipment for homeowners and professional users. STIHL products are sold through servicing power equipment retailers from coast to coast- not mass merchants. STIHL products sold through U.S. STIHL dealers are for distribution in the United States only. For more information or for the name of the closest STIHL retailer call toll free 1-800-GO STIHL (1-800-467-8445) or visit the STIHL Web site at www.stihlusa.com

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On the ground success: Farm Bill programs working in Minnesota

Nancy Livingston, a Wisconsin Tree Farmer, had settled into her  hard-earned retirement when a wildfire tore through her forest.  Leaving  the land barren, the fire destroyed years of work.  To restore her  forest, she came out of retirement, but even then, Nancy didn’t have the  resources she needed.  So she turned to the Wisconsin Department of  Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where  she found the helping hand she needed to restore her woodlands.

In 2008, Congress made important changes to USDA conservation  programs—opening them up to family forest owners and improving the  health of America’s woodlands.  Tree Farmers like Nancy now have the  tools needed to do right by the land—whether it’s managing for wildlife,  improving stream crossings, or protecting against fire and invasive  insects.

Congress just started rewriting the Farm Bill, which could change  how  the programs work and affect forest owners.  We need your help  to  share the successes of Farm Bill conservation programs for family   forests!  Learn how Farm Bill programs are working for families  across the country  in a new AFF report that was released today: Forests   in the Farm Bill Progress Report: 2011 Updated Edition.  Please send the report to your member of Congress and share with them how important farm bill conservation programs are for the health of woodlands in Minnesota.   Also share the report with your local forestry department staff and   NRCS offices, your state forestry association and anyone else you think would be interested.

Nearly 40,000 families with woodlands participated in Farm Bill programs last year, including the Pionkes who used the Conservation  Stewardship Program to restore and diversity their Pennsylvania Tree Farm after a devastating gypsy moth infestation.  Read their story and others in the report.

Despite the success of the programs, some members of Congress have proposed deep cuts to the programs, which would make it difficult for  USDA to provide technical assistance and management tools to family forest owners for years to come. While we understand that cuts must be  made, and conservation programs  must be a part of any debt solution, the budget cannot and should not be  balanced on the back of conservation.

Congress just started rewriting the Farm Bill, which could change  how the programswork and affect forest owners.  We need your help to  share the successes of Farm Bill conservation programs for family  forests!  Please send the report to your member of Congress and share with  them how important farm bill conservation programs are for the health of  woodlands in Minnesota.   Also share the report with your local forestry department staff and  NRCS offices, your state forestry association and anyone else you think  would be interested.

“A lot of people think forest management is a one-man show.  It’s not.  I definitely put my own sweat, labor and money, but I’ve gotten a lot of help, too.  I couldn’t have done it without some financial help and all of the technical advice…” said John Traylor, Georgia Tree  Farmer.  Read  John’s story and more in AFF’s report.

If you have any questions about the Progress Report or Farm Bill  programs, don’t hesitate to contact us at AFF.

Thank you for your support,
Dan Conant
Public Affairs Manager
American Forest Foundation
phone: (202) 463-2431
email:  dconant@forestfoundation.org

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December 2010 Tree Farm inspector training workshop

On December 16, 2010, the Minnesota Tree Farm System will offer a Tree Farm inspector training workshop in Cloquet.

This workshop is for forest resource managers interested in becoming a certified Tree Farm Inspector or for Inspectors who need to update their certification to the new 2010 Tree Farm Standards.

Details are as follows:

December 16, 2010 from 9am- 3pm
Cloquet Foresty Center, 175 University Rd, Cloquet MN
CFE Contract Hours, Category 1:  4 Credits
Cost:  $30.00
Registration Deadline:  November 10, 2010

To register: Complete the Inspector Training Workshop Registration Form and mail it, along with your check payable to MN Tree Farm Committee to:

Tom Witkowski
22445 E. Lake Hubert Dr
Brainerd, MN  56401

Questions:  218-232-3948

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Sonnenbergs named Regional Tree Farmers of the Year

The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) has named Minnesotans Robert and Ingrid Sonnenberg of New York Mills as the 2010 North Central Regional Tree Farmers of the Year. Winners of the other regional awards were Trevor Evans of Derby, Vermont; Salem, Dianne, and Patrick Saloom of Brewton, Alabama; and partners Jim Cota and Robbie and Scott Melcher of Sweet Home, Oregon.

This annual award recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on family-owned woodlands. Every year the four regional winners are in contention to win the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award, which is given at the National Tree Farmer Convention. The National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year will be announced at the 2010 convention on July 15, 2010 in Burlington, Vermont.

Robert and Ingrid Sonnenberg, the North Central region winners, own a 227-acre Tree Farm located in New York Mills, Minnesota. Robert grew up on the Tree Farm he now currently owns and has managed for the past 50 years. In 1996, Sonnenberg sought professional forestry help to manage the less productive forestlands. A Forest Stewardship plan was created and the Sonnenbergs have been managing the land ever since. In 2002, their woodlot was recognized as a certified Tree Farm.

Since 1998, Sonnenberg has planted more than 80,000 trees on 100 acres of his woodlot. Sonnenberg is currently working with the University of Minnesota on hybrid aspen clones. He has restored a 45-acre wetland and with that given the numerous geese, ducks and pheasants a new nesting ground. Along with other wildlife efforts the Sonnenbergs oversee all of the work done in their Tree Farm.

Use these links for more information about the Minnesota and American (national) Tree Farm Systems.

Trevor Evans, the Northeast region winner, owns 789 acres of woodland in Derby, Vermont. For 10 years beginning in 1980, Evans, purchased small pieces of the land from his father-in-law to provide him with an income stream during his final years. When his father-in-law passed in 1994, Evans was faced with decisions about the future of the land so he invested in forestry. Through his father-in-laws teachings and his own research, Evans has become the tree farmer he is today.

Evan’s Tree Farm fittingly called, “The Tree Farm,” has within the last 15 years planted 6,000 trees and developed areas for wildlife habitat with a goal of returning areas of the land to what is called a 4-stage forest, where a natural progression of open space, shrubs, young trees, and mature trees exist together.

Evans has shown that he is dedicated to making his land stand as a working example of the best forest management that can be practiced, a working model that integrates wildlife habitat work with silviculture, and recreational trails that provide aesthetically pleasing walks.

FunForest, the Western region winner, is jointly owned by Jim Cota and Robbie and Scott Melcher in Sweet Home, Oregon. The three came together when Jim Cota went to work for Mike Melcher, who owned Melcher logging in 1980. Through his good work ethic, Cota earned respect as one of the best top hillside cable loggers in the industry. Cota thus became a very important part of Melcher’s company. It was during this time that Melcher’s sons, Scott and Robbie, graduated college and began their careers in contract logging. In the early 1990′s, Melcher and Cota partnered to form Timber Harvesting Inc, (THI) and with Scott and Robbie they formed Four M Fiber.

In 1999, after nearly 20 years of working together and building a successful and productive forestry contracting company, there came and opportunity to purchase a 320 acre parcel of timberland. Although this was a large and expensively challenging purchase, they decided to take the risk. It was from this purchase that the now 1,281 acre Tree Farm known as Fun Forest began.

Cota and the Merchers have purchased 12 parcels of poorly stocked forestland and marginal farm land to convert them into highly productive forestland using their effective forestry knowledge and capabilities. They are leaders in developing techniques to do low impact logging and to utilize biomass material and outstanding contributors to the Sweet Home Community.

Saloom Properties, the Southern region winner, is owned by Salem, Dianne, and Patrick Saloom of Brewton, Alabama. Salem, his wife Dianne, and Patrick all run Saloom Properties together. Salem started Saloom Properties in 1983 when he bought 158 acres of forest property in Conecuh County. His goal was to improve the land’s timber as well as wildlife, while creating a family refuge. For the next 27 years, the Salooms would buy surrounding parcels of forestland which today totals 1,762 acres of Saloom Properties.

Today, Saloom Properties has many different practices. Field trips are common to the woodlands Farm to explore the forest. The Salooms host many family and community gatherings. Fishing, hunting, camping, horseback riding hiking, etc., are activities that can occur daily in the Salooms forest. For the past five years, the Salooms have been involved in the Forest in the Classroom/Classroom in the Forest Program in which they visit fifth grade classes and speak to students about forestry and other environmental topics.

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Please fill out the Tree Farm stakeholder’s survey!

We want to hear from you about how well the Tree Farm program works for you.

  • What do you like about being a member?
  • What can be improved?
  • How can the Tree Farm program become a valued partner in your forest stewardship efforts?

Please tell us what you think by taking our online survey before April 23, 2010.

The survey will be online until April 23rd, so please take a moment to complete it today and invite your Tree Farm friends to take it too.

Upon completion of the survey, you will have the opportunity to be entered into a drawing to win your choice of prizes – a Tree Farm sign, a Tree Farm hat, or a one-year subscription to Tree Farmer Magazine.

Your responses to the survey  are completely confidential and will be handled by our independent consultant, the Center for Nonprofit Strategies.  The survey results, along with the concrete steps that we are taking in response to your suggestions, will be e-mailed directly to you in August 2010 if you provide your e-mail address at the end of the survey.

If you  have any questions or concerns about this survey, please email info@treefarmsystem.org or call our consultant at the Center for Nonprofit Strategies, Ravi Singh, at 301-920-1230.

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Small forests a big help in curbing carbon

Chuck-Leavell-CNN-com-photoIn late December 2009, former National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Chuck Leavell wrote an excellent piece about the important role of private forests in the current policy debate over climate change.  Leavell’s full piece is available here.

CNN.com photo (source)

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ATFS Forest Certification Program Strengthens Its Standards

ForestNovember 10, 2009—The American Forest Foundation (AFF), the nation’s oldest and largest network of woodland owners, announced today that its Board of Trustees has adopted new, revised standards for the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), its woodland certification program. Bob Simpson, AFF Senior Vice President for Forestry Programs, said “The changes do two important things: they go further in protecting woodlands of high conservation value and they streamline the process for woodland owners participating in USDA conservation incentive programs.” READ MORE

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