Family Forest Blog

Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers Amazing Examples of Long-term Commitment to Stewardship

Tom Martin

July 24, 2018

Russell Black (landowner, ME) and family

Russell Black with his family in front of their Tree Farm sign in Wilton, ME.

Recently, we announced this year’s four American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year: Jon and Carol Gould of Vernon, Florida; Russell Black of Wilton, Maine; Randy and Koral Clum of Dover, Ohio; and Dan Kingsbury of Olalla, Washington.  

As you read about their accomplishments, you will notice a common thread throughout each of their stories: a long-term commitment to stewardship of their forests.

This commitment to forest stewardship is a pillar of the ATFS program of which we are particularly proud. Creating a sustainable forest and maintaining it for all the public benefits that support our communities – clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and sustainable wood – cannot be done overnight. It takes foresight, planning, patience, dedication, and ongoing work – actions that Tree Farmers across the country take on year after year. Some for 20 years, some for 40 years, some for three to four generations.

Given the importance of the resources that come from forests, and the size and scope of some of the challenges forest owners face – catastrophic wildfires, insects, invasive species, the rising costs of forest management to name a few – this commitment is paramount. 

The Tree Farm sign, in return, signals to the community and beyond that these forest owners are committed to good stewardship and conservation, yielding benefits that are enjoyed by the broader community.

Our regional Outstanding Tree Farmers also highlight the ATFS program’s commitment to sustainability throughout the lifecycle of forests.  ATFS programming and the certification process not only validates that landowners are doing right by their land, but it also gives them the confidence to deepen their conservation practices. In addition, following the best management practices ensures we will have this resource in the future. On top of this, the commitment to sustainability is also felt through the community of volunteers from agencies, conservation groups, universities, companies and trade associations that are committed to nurturing stewardship.

Dan Kingsbury (landowner, WA) with family

Dan Kingsbury with his family in front of his Tree Farm sign in Olalla, WA.

Last, education and information sharing are so important to the ongoing engagement of landowners. As part of the ATFS community, our regional awardees have learned from their foresters, inspectors and other ATFS woodland owners. They too have been leaders in paying it forward and sharing their knowledge with other landowners – by hosting field days, welcoming visitors to their land and being a voice for forests at the state level. This support and comradery, especially for newly managing landowners, can be the linchpin that keeps people engaged and doing right by the land.

We hope you will not only take the time to read their individual stories, and vote before July 27 for this year’s national awardee but share them as well. Together, as a community of passionate landowners, foresters, inspectors, forest product companies and more – we can all be proud of the ATFS community in which we belong and the work we do to produce invaluable benefits that all Americans enjoy.

Northeast: Russell Black of Wilton, Maine

North Central: Randy and Koral Clum of Dover, Ohio

South: Jon and Carol Gould of Vernon, Florida

West: Dan Kingsbury of Olalla, Washington

Jon Carol (landowner, FL) in front of ATFS sign

Jon and Carol Gould in front of their Tree Farm sign in Vernon, FL.

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