Monday, July 29, 2019

Clemson Forestry Professor Writes Op-Ed on Threat of Forest Parcelization

I came across this piece in the Southern Regional Extension Forestry News. Great article highlighting the problems associated with parcelization which I highlighted in my previous post on urban sprawl on farmland. This post points out the same problems are occurring on forestland. 

Clemson University Forestry Professor, Dr. Thomas Straka, wrote an opinion article published by The Hill. Straka argues that wildfires and public lands aren’t America’s only forestry problem. Rather, the rapid parcelization that is occurring across the nation is a threat to family forests. Parcelization results from forest holdings being broken down into smaller parcels. Ultimately, smaller land holdings and more landowners will result in contradictory management goals/styles. Straka contends that these management problems will negatively affect the nation’s timber supply and provides recommendations on how to reduce parcelization impacts. I provided the article below.

Wildfires and public lands aren't America's only forestry problem
By Thomas J. Straka, opinion contributor — 07/22/19

Wildfires and contentious public land policy in the American West, sparking debate about climate change and forest management practices on public timberlands, seem to be the only forestry issues in the news. This suggests that problems with America’s forests are centered on federal land ownerships. Actually, forests owned by average folks are more likely to be a future problem. Lots of regular people own forests. These are called family forests and their future is important for the clean water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and timber they produce.                   

The majority of the nation’s forests (443 million of 766 million acres) are in private ownership. Nearly two-thirds of that private forest is owned by families and individuals, mostly in small holdings. These became the family forests and the nation’s largest forest ownership group (owning 38 percent of forest, while the feds own only 31 percent).

Over the last 20 years, the number of family forest owners increased by over 1 million (to nearly 11 million). Considering just owners with more than 10 acres (eliminating the large backyards), average tract size of a family forest is 66 acres. That’s small by forestry standards.

At the time of the nation’s settlement, just over 1 billion acres was forested; today it is about three-quarters of that. This forest area has remained relatively stable over the past century.  Shifts in land use have helped maintain that stability; population growth and urban development ensure that won’t continue indefinitely.

To read the rest of the article click here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What is the Impact of Suburban Sprawl?

I had a chance to see this first-hand a few weeks ago on my way out to Wyoming and back.  It was dramatic, the permanent loss of productive farmland was alarming to me.  The American Angus Association produced a documentary film on urban sprawl to demonstrate the impact of urbanization on rural America.  The film is called “Losing Ground.”  Check it out.  I provide the link to it on You Tube below.  

Morning Ag Clips
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Farmers and ranchers face a lot of challenges. Weather. Policy. Markets. One of the growing issues is the increasing urbanization taking over farm and ranch land across the U.S. To help spread awareness about this growing issue, the American Angus Association® produced the first film to expose the impact of urban sprawl on American Agriculture – “Losing Ground”—an I Am Angus® production.

The documentary features five Angus farm and ranch families who talk about the challenges and opportunities they have experienced with urban sprawl in their areas. The Lovin family, Lexington, Georgia; Marsh family, Huntley, Illinois; Stabler family, Brookeville, Maryland; Cropp family, Damascus, Maryland; and the Nelson family, Wilton, California, discuss how urban sprawl has impacted them, and American Farmland Trust CEO John Piotti talks about their research report “Farms Under Threat,” which shows the issue on a national level.

“It’s easy to drive through, especially the Midwest, and feel like we have plenty of land,” said Josh Comninellis, film director. “But, it’s a little more complicated than that as we dug into the research. Not only are we losing some of our best ground and a lot of total agricultural land, but the population, and therefore demand, is going up. When you pair those two things together, you see, down the road, a really dire situation emerging.”

According to the American Farmland Trust “Farms Under Threat” report, we’re losing 1.5 million acres a year, which breaks down to 175 acres every hour and three acres a minute. That trend is unsustainable, and a common ground needs to be reached between the population’s need for more housing and retail and agriculture’s need to produce food.

“There are a few documentaries out there talking about urban sprawl from an urban point of view, but there was nothing out there talking about the impact on farmland,” Comninellis said. “There is nothing talking about cities spreading and taking over farmland and the implication for our food supply. So, we decided to tackle the issue through the eyes of Angus producers, and we think ‘Losing Ground’ gives us the opportunity to help educate consumers while establishing connections with their rural counterparts.”

Education is the key to bridging the gap between farmers and ranchers and those who live in urban areas. The film strives to spread awareness for a rising issue for rural America and provide content for the agriculture community to share, as well.

For more information on “Losing Ground,” visit: . Share the film with friends and neighbors.

June 12, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What Will My Woods Look Like: Before and After Timber Harvesting

This looks like a great resource!

What Will My Woods Look Like: Before and After Timber Harvesting publication is now available. The Maine Forest Service, along with the Maine State Implementation Committee of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, is pleased to announce a new publication (careful this is a large document, will take a bit of time to download) and web page, entitled “What Will My Woods Look Like: Before and After Timber Harvesting.”

Before a timber harvest, there are many things to think about, questions to answer, details to consider. One important outcome that woodland owners often have a hard time imagining is “What will my woods look like after the job is done?”

The website and the associated booklet (PDF | 29.8 MB) show some typical forest stands before and after different kinds of logging operations. The pictures are intended to help start a pre-harvest discussion about post-harvest results. The forest scenes also help tell the story of woodland stewardship, forest management, and the professionals who make it happen.

We plan to expand the project with additional picture sets. If you have a series of photos that show woodland stewardship activities over time, we would love to see them. Please look at the section of the web site called “How To Submit Pictures” for more details.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry