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Brainstorming Indoors, Then Boots in the Woods

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

To create good-quality wildlife habitat, it’s sometimes necessary to conduct a timber harvest. Many landowners that the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership (WYFP) works to educate and help haven’t considered harvesting trees – or they’ve taken the first step by developing a forest management plan but are unsure what to do next.

A panel discussion /R. Smith

To provide insight into how to conduct a successful timber harvest that will benefit wildlife, WYFP hosted a forestry workshop and tour on Saturday, December 8, at the Kemp Natural Resources Station in Woodruff. Funding from the American Bird Conservancy made the workshop possible.

An enthusiastic group of 29 landowners attended, representing ownership of 25 properties and more than 3,000 acres. They hailed from 11 counties across northern Wisconsin.

The workshop started off with an introduction to the WYFP and funding opportunities that are available. Peter Anderson, a consulting forester with Sound Forest Management in Rib Lake, WI, gave a presentation on “How to Conduct a Successful Timber Harvest.” Anderson covered topics such as the importance of a forest management plan, how to find the best forester for your needs, services that foresters provide, how to work with loggers, how to monitor the harvest, and what to do when the harvest is finished.

After the presentation, landowners asked questions to a panel of natural resource professionals: Jon Steigerwaldt, a regional biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society; Jacob Bonack, service forester with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Jeremy Holtz, DNR wildlife biologist; and Peter Anderson, consulting forester. Participants quizzed the experts on a range of wildlife and forestry topics and sought details about programs such as DNR’s Managed Forest Law (MFL) program, a landowner incentive program that encourages sustainable forestry on private lands.

Landowners inspect an oak regeneration harvest /R. Smith

After lunch, participants drove to a site where trees had recently been cut to see what the place looked and felt like. On snow-covered ground, they continued their discussion with the professionals, getting insight into the use of different types of logging machines. Landowners had a chance to get a close look at a forwarder, a forestry vehicle that carries felled logs from the stump to a roadside landing, from which they will be hauled to a mill.

The landowners also visited a red pine plantation harvest and saw how the harvester was able to move between rows of trees with minimal site disturbance. They also checked out a site where management was aimed to regenerate oaks and saw how trees are marked with different colors to designate whether they should be left or taken during logging.

Overall, this educational day was greatly appreciated by all that attended. Property owners reported being put at ease through learning what they should look for and what they should do as they consider taking the big step of harvesting trees on their land to make food and cover for wildlife such as deer, snowshoe hare, American woodcock, and golden-winged warbler.

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