Forests for the Long Run

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1998

Last revision: Oct. 28, 2010

a future generation.

Too often, landowners look at trees as they do crops, considering only their annual value. They don't have enough experience with forest products to make good long-term economic decisions about their timber stands. Fortunately, good help is just a phone call away.

The Conservation Department provides free forest planning assistance to private landowners. Our professional foresters will take a close look at your timber, diagnose problems and make recommendations on how you can get the greatest benefit from it. Unless your timber resource already has been exploited, a forester will be able to increase your income potential from your land.

When you call a Conservation Department forester, you will be sent a postcard-sized questionnaire on which you can describe your land and indicate whether you are primarily interested in wildlife management or timber management.

A forester will call you back and arrange to meet you on your property, usually within four to six months. This on-site visit is an opportunity to meet the professional forester and for the two of you to assess your land and its potential.

After analyzing your property and considering your objectives, the forester will present to you a stewardship plan. He might suggest thinning some trees to produce better firewood, for example, or girdling some, if you are interested in creating den trees for squirrels.

You will be asked to sign a stewardship plan. This puts you under no legal obligation, but it documents your agreement with the plan and your intent to follow it. The agreement allows the forester to begin looking for cost-share money when needed to help you implement a management plan.

In many cases, either state and federal funds are available to assist private landowners with planting trees, putting in food plots, improving streamside habitat and managing timber stands.

Foresters try to think of their relationships with cooperating landowners as long-term. Foresters are available for assistance as the forests mature and, when harvest is indicated, usually will advise landowners planning a timber sale and will help locate logging roads and trails to prevent soil erosion and other damage to streams.

Professional foresters may also help you determine the tonnage of your timber, which is the way bids will come from chip mills. Most landowners are not familiar with measuring the value of their timber in terms of weight, and they need expert help to make sure they are getting a reasonable deal.

We supply this valuable assistance because we know well-managed forests improve the general quality of air, land and water in the state at the same time as they provide profit for the landowner. We want Missouri to have an expanse of sustainable forest that protects watersheds and scenery and provides habitat for wildlife. We realize we can best accomplish this goal by helping private landowners manage their forest resources.

Landowners who seek the help of a forester can decide on two levels of assistance. Advisory Service, which is available to all landowners, including urban residents, may include group training sessions, publications, film and video loan, office consultations, insect and disease identification and referrals to consultants. If on-site visits are called for, owners are encouraged to accompany the forester.

Landowners who would like long-term management of their forest land may ask for Management Service. To qualify for this service, they must agree to develop and carry out a management program for their property. The forester will help them develop and implement that plan.

The kind of help you might receive through the management service would include:

  • Advice on tree planting and free use of mechanical tree planters.
  • Pest identification and analysis, including lab services when needed.
  • Guidance for conducting tree stand improvement work.
  • Assistance in marking and selling forest products.
  • Guidance in wildlife habitat improvement, erosion control, soil and watershed protection, forest road location and construction and outdoor recreation development.

The fate of forests in Missouri is in the hands of private landowners, who own the bulk of our state's woodlands. We rely on you to treat your forests with an eye to creating and maintaining a sustainable resource. Think of your forest's health in the same way that you think of your own health, and then call on a trained individual to help manage that very important resource as effectively as possible.

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