Family Forest Blog

Caution: Oak Trees May Bite

Katie Taylor, Communications Manager & Macey Howell, Family Forest Storytelling Intern

August 25, 2023

AFF Red-Fox-Frank-Weber-Wildlife

It was during their many nights spent under the stars, that the Weber family got to know their wildlife neighbors. They heard coyote howls and saw porcupines, rabbits, bears, turkeys, phoebes, skunks, bobcats, chipmunks and rattlesnakes.

After enjoying a weekend living at a cabin in the woodlands of Sullivan County Pennsylvania, Frank and Barb Weber knew they wanted forests of their own. As their vacation came to a close, the Webers were determined to purchase their own secluded woodland so they could relive their trip every day. When a 90-acre property came up for sale near a friend’s property, they immediately jumped on the opportunity. The couple were proud to preserve their newly acquired forest, prevent deforestation, and steward their woodlands for their children through the Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP).

When the Webers first started working on their property, they pitched tents and built campfires to form a makeshift homestead. It was during their many overnight stays under the stars when they got to know their wildlife neighbors. They heard coyote howls and saw porcupines, rabbits, bears, turkeys, phoebes, skunks, bobcats, chipmunks and rattlesnakes. Eventually, they built a cabin so that they could enjoy their serene getaway regardless of the weather or season. As they explored the property, they saw the land marked by tall prairie grasses, low hanging trees, and caves carved out of the stone.

Frank’s favorite part about owning a forest is the accessibility to nature.

One of the reasons Frank joined the Family Forest Carbon Program is because he actively preserves his slice of heaven as a habitat for the native wildlife. This also allows his family to experience the nature around them.

Preserving Forests for the Future

The Webers could not imagine their land being logged. Once they purchased the property, they began looking for programs to help them manage their woods. They wanted more than to just own their land, they wanted to earn money and secure their stewardship efforts. This way, they would not have to consider lumbering the land in the future. Frank was intrigued by FFCP because, compared to other forest programs, FFCP requires a 20-year commitment. The contract ensures, regardless of the status of the carbon market, his land will be maintained via a forest management plan and preserved for his family.

Frank's number one priority in maintaining his land is ensuring that he is “building a relationship, based on respect for the land, that will benefit the ecosystem and people in the future.”

Like most landowners, the Webers faced challenges while maintaining their woodlands, such as lacking the proper equipment to till the area or to remove fallen trees. Periods of drought killed trees and other vegetation and when it finally rained, the earth flooded out the roads as fast as the family could repair them. The dry periods also drove out beneficial wildlife and increased invasive species such as gypsy moths and kudzu.

But what extreme weather events and invasive species takes from them, FFCP helps to get back. Frank worked closely with his forester to develop a plan to rewild the area while attracting wildlife. He also discovered maple trees on the property and tapped them for syrup.

AFF-discussing-deadwoods-with-landowner

AFF Outreach Forester, Brittney Hartzell, talks with the Weber family about the effects deadwood can have on a woodland. The Weber children explore the tree stump rooted on their property.

The Trees Smile Back at You in Frank’s Woods

As Frank tells it, the maples on his land held more than just sugar. Since they've bought the property, Frank’s mother has hid items that were special to her. Before Frank's father passed, he had lost his dentures. Not knowing where the dentures were, he was buried without them. Some time later, while taking a walk around the property, one of Frank’s children decided to climb a particularly large oak tree. They found the teeth nestled in the trunk. It turns out Frank's mother had hidden the dentures in the oak and, once discovered, the family decided to leave them there. The Webers enjoy knowing that one day in the future someone is going to find those teeth in the oak. By then, the tree may grow over the dentures, leaving whoever finds them with an oak in the backwoods of Pennsylvania showing off its pearly whites.

Looking Ahead

The Family Forest Carbon Program supported the Webers to turn their woodlands into their home-away-from-home. FFCP provided resources to help restore damage caused by gypsy moths and allowed the family to grow closer together through their investment in the land.

AFF-landowners-have-snake-sighting

When managing your woodlands for wildlife, you're sure to come into contact with new neighbors. The Weber family is excited to see a snake moving through a bed of ferns in their woodlands (marked with a red arrow in the bottom right).

The Webers are thankful for the security provided by the 20-year agreement, ensuring they will be able to maintain their forest for many years to come.

If you’re looking for forestry programs that do not feel like pulling teeth, then check out how the American Forest Foundation can assist your forest stewardship efforts. With ongoing expansions into new regions across the United States, the Family Forest Carbon Program may be right for you.

The Family Forest Carbon Program is now enrolling landowners with 30 acres or more in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Vermont, as well as select counties in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin. Click here to check your eligibility today.

Katie Taylor, Communications Manager & Macey Howell, Family Forest Storytelling Intern

August 25, 2023

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