The American Tree Farm System is a national recognized organization that promotes good stewardship of private woodlands. Everyone that has ever driven in the country has seen the iconic Tree Farm Signs as shown above. But many don't realize what it means. Most think Christmas trees I would bet, however it is a lot more than that.
Most private land owners are not trained in land management. They may have the desire to do what is right for their properties but lack the knowledge of what that is. This organization provides that knowledge allowing land owners to make wise choices. As the sign reads, proper management of woodlands is based on four elements: Wood, Water, Wildlife and Recreation. They focus on your goals and the sustainability of the woodlands for the future and then helps you to achieve that.
As a forester, I was very familiar with this organization. So immediately after buying the property, the process was started of having it become a Certified Tree Farm. However, having been many years since I was actively involved with the forestry profession, I contacted the National Tree Farm System to learn what was required. Some of what was required for certification was already complete since the property had a previous management plan. The plan required upgrading and some new direction as I now envisioned.
In the process of getting Certified I became a member of the Minnesota Forestry Association. Taking advantage of a program they offer called "Boots on the Ground", together with having the local DNR forester come out and walk the property, I was able to get some valuable opinions and learn about changes in land management practices. I decided to hire a consultant to perform a timber sale in 2018.
We completed a plan of attack for the property and submitted it the the Minnesota Tree Farm Committee. The property was quickly approved as it met all the requirements for certification and then we were allowed to post the Tree Farm sign. I was pleased to get that accomplished as that was one of my original goals of buying the property.
Forestry is both a science and an art. There are rules to follow, but also options available to make choices. Every artist sees the canvas different just like a forester sees a woodlot. Some managers focus more on wood production while others focus more on wildlife enhancement. The choices you make is what can make your property unique.