By Steve Boehme
If you’re reading this there’s an excellent chance you love trees, and a fairly good chance you actually own some woodland yourself.
Managing woodlands is a constant challenge, so it was exciting to discover a wonderful local group of woodland owners, the Southern Ohio Forestland Association (SOFA). Based in nearby Piketon, this friendly group is a terrific resource and a wealth of useful information about living with woodlands.
There are many ways to manage woodlands. Woods can provide firewood or logs for lumber, forage for deer, cover for other wildlife, or a rewarding hunting experience. Some owners simply want their woods left alone. Others are managing them aggressively for one or more specific objectives. Larger properties allow different areas to be managed for different purposes, for instance some acres devoted to firewood production and another area opened up to encourage deer forage and new growth.
GoodSeed Farm includes about 70 acres of woods. We have a sugar maple grove, many acres of mixed hardwoods, fissured hillsides of gnarly old cedars, acres of aggressive young cedars, and a stand of huge poplars. The moment our backs are turned, our pastureland tries to become woods as well, with rapidly volunteering green ash, catalpa, thorny locust, and yes, more cedars. Over the years we’ve had select-cut timber sales, cut “water bars” to stop erosion on old logging roads, cleared trails, installed culverts, salvaged windfall trees, and leased some areas for hunting.
It was a pleasure to spend a recent evening with a few dozen fellow woodland owners, share our experiences, compare notes, and get into a loop of helpful tips. Incidentally, we also enjoyed some marvelous food and desserts, since the SOFA meeting included a generous carry-in buffet supper! There’s an informative newsletter, and talk of a SOFA cookbook project. We saw some familiar faces, and met some new ones.
Over the past fifteen years we’ve walked our woodlands countless times, saw in hand, “limbing-up” and pruning young trees, cutting grape vines and briars, observing our trees through the four seasons. Watching young trees develop is extremely satisfying for us, and at SOFA we found kindred spirits with the same or similar feelings. As with most things, the more you know about forestry the more you can enjoy, improve, and benefit from your own unique woodland property.
Woodland management has its own language and skill set. Do you know how to maximize timber yield using “crop tree release”, or calculate board-feet using the “Doyle scale”? Do you know how “climax growth” changes your tree population over time, or when clear-cutting might just be the best thing you could do to restore your woodlands?
I would encourage anyone with an interest in trees, whether you currently own woodlands or dream about owning them someday, to reach out and meet your peers in a local group such as the Southern Ohio Forestland Association. You’ll thank me if you do. Just go to www.ohiosofa.com.
Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. To e-mail your landscaping questions click “Contact Us” from their website at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.