Caring for a Forest
landowners can maximize their own benefits from the land, as well as aiding conservation efforts.
Steve Whitaker is a good example of a responsible and conservation-minded landowner. Whitaker, who resides in Chaffee, owns about 160 acres of land in Wright County. This property has been in his family since the 1860s. "In the past, the land has been used for agricultural purposes - producing small grains and row cropping," he says. "Then it was used for a long time to raise cattle."
Whitaker took possession of the land in the late 1970s and continued to rent it out for raising livestock. "About 10 years ago, we began planting trees on the land," Whitaker recalls. The Conservation Department prepared a Forest Stewardship plan for the farm, outlining suggested management practices for the land. Today, he has 14 acres of black walnut trees and 45 acres of shortleaf pine growing on the property.
Clint Dalbom, resource forester, says, "Steve has taken an active role in reforesting the land. Everything he’s done has been done right, and the management practices have all been successful. He’s really been involved in the labor-intensive work - pruning the walnuts, mowing between the rows and taking care of the pines. His goal is to eventually reforest all the open land, except for a few acres that will be used as wildlife food plots."
Tom Agerton is a Missouri landowner who has been recognized by the Tree Farm System as a landowner who is doing a good job of managing forest land. Agerton’s property, which consists of 309 acres in Pettis County near Sweet Springs, has been owned by the same family for 150 years.
About 70 acres of the land is forested, while the rest is farmland. "My father-in-law, who owned the land, started planting walnut trees back in the 1960s and 1970s," says Agerton. Mature walnut timber has been harvested from the forest, and the family has had two timber sales. They also have done timber stand improvement work, which included planting more walnut seedlings and removing less desirable trees from the land.
Resource Forester Josh Shroyer remarks, "I’ve seen the property, and from what Agerton has described of how it used to look, it has dramatically improved. The tree planting, timber stand improvement work and timber sales have really made a difference."
Absentee landowners make up about one-half of the private forest ownership in Missouri. Even though they don’t live on their