Why We Do It

Landowner Stories

America’s family forest owners are dedicated to doing right by their land, and each one has a unique story to tell.

Meet the Jacksons of Pennsylvania

When looking for resources to support the health of their forest, Laura and Mike discovered the Family Forest Carbon Program. They learned that the program offered a steady, long-term revenue stream to enable them to take on their forest projects and continue to improve their forest’s health.

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Meet Tony and Debbie Wambaugh of Pennsylvania

When the time to retire came, Tony and Debbie Wambaugh were excited to be able to move to their family's land. Their main focus was on farming but they hadn't considered the potential of the 126 forested acres. An ad from the Family Forest Carbon Program changed all that.

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The Impact of Philanthropy in Western Forests

Family forest owners Ron and Marianne Dreisbach use land management – and provide philanthropic support – to help wildfire mitigation efforts

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Embracing Alabama's Longleaf

As a curious child and Eagle Scout in southeastern Alabama during the 1950s, Salem Saloom was surrounded by longleaf pine forests like the ones he and his wife, Dianne, and son, Patrick, now manage.

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Meet the Hartman Sisters of Pennsylvania

For the Hartman sisters, Chestnut Farm is a family heirloom. Like a handmade rocking chair, or well-used quilt, it has a feeling of home and memories.

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Planting Seeds for the Future of Family Forestry

Pride of ownership. That’s the driving force for Lois Kaufman and Dave McNamara as they steward their 53-acre property in Oak Run, California, about 30 miles northeast of Redding. They’ve both enjoyed long careers as foresters and mentored countless Tree Farmers.

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Mary LaHood and Bob Burns, 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Finalist

Meet Mary LaHood and Bob Burns, finalists for the 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year from South Dakota.

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Don Newell, 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Finalist

Don and Patricia Newell acquired their 250-acre property in Thorndike, Maine, in 1978, selling the lots with prime soils to farmers and keeping the forestland for their family. As a real estate broker and a descendent of Maine farmers and loggers, Don understands his obligation to leave the land better than he found it for future generations.

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Clifton Taylor, 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Finalist

Clifton Taylor’s tree farm, Elk Cave Farms, in Gravel Switch, Kentucky, has grown from 287 acres in 1959 to 1,076 acres of certified hardwood forestland. That first tract launched the family’s mission of establishing new forests, tending young timber stands, and harvesting sustainable forest products from mature trees. Today, three generations of Taylors actively manage the land and generously share their knowledge with other landowners.

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Paul and Joanne Mechling, 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Finalist

Paul and Joanne Mechling moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1974 to launch a veterinary practice. Although they knew very little about forest management at the time, they knew they wanted to own woodlands. The couple soon purchased their first parcel, 30 acres of reverting agriculture and clear-cut, and enrolled it in the Ohio Tree Farm program in 1978.

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Gordon and Gail Culbertson, 2020 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Finalist

Gail and Gordon Culbertson formed Whitewater Forests in 2001 with their first 43 acres in Douglas County, Oregon, eventually adding two more parcels for a total of 151 acres, 111 of which are ATFS certified. They sustainably produce premium sawmill and veneer logs from Douglas fir, Western red cedar, and white fir, while promoting healthy habitats and recreational opportunities.

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New White Paper Details Opportunities to Empowering Family Forest Owners to Address Climate Change

The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a conservation organization that focuses on empowering family and private forest owners to protect and improve their forests, has released a new white paper outlining the case for working with family forests to sequester and store more carbon.

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White Paper: Family Forests and Carbon Markets

It’s undeniable that our environment and climate face extreme challenges that must be addressed. Detailing America’s family-owned forests and their owners, the white paper explores the values and motivations of landowners, their barriers to action, and a crucial mechanism — carbon markets — that can help enable them to take action.

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Outstanding Efforts to Restore Critical Habitat

The New family, David and Dar New, and their daughter’s family, Jennifer and Jeff Parker and their sons, are owners of the Nourse Family Tree Farm in Bellingham, Washington. The 165-acre property has been in Dar’s family for three generations.

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Giving Back for the Forests of Tomorrow

Vermont Tree Farmers Peter and Julie Parker went from Tree Farm newcomers to advocates of how sustainably managing forests provides many benefits to the ecosystem, including wildlife habitat.

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Bearing the Cost of Forest Ownership

Susan Benedict's 2,087 acre tract of forestland in Pennsylvania has been in her family for 3 generations. She is devoted to making it 5. But it hasn’t always been easy. The cost of owning – and sustainably caring for land each year has been a significant barrier.

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Managing White Oaks During the Bourbon Boom

Bourbon’s popularity is on the rise around the United States. That means an equal rise in demand for white oak. Coopers use large, knot-free logs of this durable hardwood to make the barrels that give the spirit its rich flavors and amber hue.

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Why All Acres Matter: Family Forest Owners Are Key to Conservation Impact

While our forests can feel like one vast expanse, forest ownership in the U.S. is actually a patchwork of lands, with public and private lands of all types and sizes interlocking to create a forested landscape. Regardless of ownership boundaries, forests and the important resources they provide—clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, and sustainable wood supplies—thrive as an entire ecosystem or landscape.

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Giving Landowners the Right Resources and Tools to Manage their Forests

Landowners want to do right by their land, but often run into barriers. In the Southern Wildlife at Risk: Family Forest Owners Offer a Solution report - being unsure of what to do, finding the right professionals and programs to assist them, and cost can often stop family forest owners from taking action to improve their property.

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National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year 2018: Koral and Randy Clum

Koral and Randy Clum of Ohio have dedicated their professional and personal lives to managing forests for healthy trees, wildlife, and clean water and air. Over the past 25 years, they’ve shaped Hepatica Falls Tree Farm into a showcase of productive, sustainable forestland, all the while helping others manage their woodlands for generations to come.

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

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.

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Even Wildland Firefighters Need Help to Handle Wildland Fire Risk

When it was time to retire for Roy and Karen Stock and their friends, all their friends headed south to the warmth, but the Stocks made the decision to move north. After years of vacationing in Montana, they wanted a place with mountain views and big open skies. But rather than purchase a small bungalow like other retirees, they decided to take on a much bigger adventure—75 acres of forestland tucked into the Big Belt Mountain Range in Cascade.

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2017 Successes from AFF’s Placed-based Conservation Work

The Zorenskys in Colorado were able to overcome outrageous costs to restoring fire-resilency to their forests; the Smiths of Connecticut have a management plan in place to create wildlife habitat and climate-resilency in their woods; Dorothy of Alabama, a wildlife lover, now understands the benefits of forest management and just conducted her first prescribed burn. There are hundreds of stories like these thanks to the American Forest Foundation’s (AFF) conservation work with partners and family forest owners across the U.S.

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Report: Protecting Northeastern Wildlife Habitat

Learn more about the role family-owned forests can play in protecting and improving key wildlife habitat in the Northeastern U.S.

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Report: Southern Wildlife at Risk

The Southern forests in the U.S. host more wildlife than any other region of the country. With ownership of 134 million acres, families and individuals can play a vitally important role in protecting and improving wildlife habitat, meeting demand for wood products, and maintaining overall forest health across the South.

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Report: Western Water Threatened by Wildfire

As wildfire seasons continue to worsen, clean water sources are being put at risk. Addressing this issue requires working across both public and private lands and empowering landowners with the tools and resources they need to take action.

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