Thursday, April 30, 2020

10 Things to do for Your Woods While Social Distancing

Modified from the American Tree Farm System/Woods Camp – April 24, 2020
1. Walk your Property….. with your Goals and Objectives in Mind
Take this time to thoroughly walk your property while thinking about what you would like to see happen with your land in 5, 10, or 25 years, and begin to mentally map out the next steps. You might be surprised to discover that what you want from your land has changed. Life circumstances can impact how you see your land, and what you hope to get out of it.
2. Perform General Upkeep & Repairs
While you’re on your property, note and look for work that needs to be done. This could include:
·         Repairs to things like fences or clearing out ditches and culverts.
·         Upkeep/maintenance on past practices such as tree planting projects
·         Refresh property line marking/blazes and replace signage and markers
·         Maintain walking trails and roads where they may be beginning to erode
Do what you can to maintain your woodland while practicing safe social distancing. This may mean waiting until you can get help from others and/or a forestry professional to complete the work but taking inventory and creating a plan will get you one step closer to completing these tasks.

3. Contact Your Local Forester to get Questions Answered
Due to the current health risk, local forestry professionals are spending more time in their offices than ever. This is a great opportunity to give them a call—they will be happy to answer your questions and help in any way they can. Visits by a forester can still take place if there is access to property and if the landowner is comfortable not being present.

4. Tune into Online Workshops and Trainings
As the timeline for social distancing continues to grow, many organizations are opting to move in-person events to an online format. This means participating in events that would otherwise have been too far away to attend in person! Look for online courses and webinars that can help you learn something new about your land!

5. Plan Your Estate
In uncertain times, many start to think about the “what if’s” in life. What you want to happen to your land when you’re gone is an important question to answer for yourself and your family. You may want to sell your woodland, donate all or part of it, divide it among heirs, etc.

Many landowners intend to pass down their land to children or other family members with hopes that it will remain in the family for decades to come. While this option may seem like a simple one, there are still many things to consider to make sure your heirs can keep the land and still have the means to cover the estate taxes.

6. Review Tax Guidelines
Looking for a bit of light reading? This is an excellent opportunity to make sure you are prepared for any timber sales you see in your future. Do some online research to better understand the tax guidelines around timber sales and other forest management activities you may be planning.

7. Get a Management Plan or Update an Existing One
Now is a great time to get started on a written management plan by talking to your local forester about your goals. They can point you in the direction of resources such as cost-share opportunities for you to investigate while waiting for an on-site visit. If you have a written management plan that needs updating, contact your forester to discuss making changes to your plan. Some changes may have to wait for an on-site visit, but in the meantime, they can suggest ideas to consider and share educational resources.

8. Look into Stewardship Programs
Many of us are finding ourselves in front of a screen more than usual these days. While you’re online, here are some great online resources for identifying programs and opportunities to talk to your forester about:
·         American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
·         Forest Stewardship Program (FSP)
·         Cost-share programs you might qualify for
If you’re already a certified Tree Farm and looking to re-certify, give your forester a call to see how they might be able to help.

9. Learn to Identify and Control Invasives
Learning to identify and control invasive species on your land is a great management activity you can do on your own. Online tools like Bugwood Apps are available to help you with this. You can also do a Google search of invasive species in your area before heading out and take photos of anything you’re unsure about to send to your forester or research later.

10. Enjoy your Property!
This recommendation goes without saying—use this opportunity to spend more time enjoying the beauty and fresh air your land provides!

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