Living Forest Cooperative is now 143 landowners in northern Wisconsin engaged in sustainable forestry. We collectively own approximately 14,000 acres of land, most of which is forested. This project provided support for outreach activities and research related to sustainable forestry in the region. We were actively practicing sustainable forestry prior to this project.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
A) Education and outreach on sustainable forestry through newsletters and field days of the Living Forest Cooperative.
B) Research and demonstration of alternatives to aspen clear cutting.
A) Utilize an existing framework of a landowner forestry cooperative to organize outreach activities and disseminate information.
B) Identify a producer interested in supporting a demonstration project within the service area.
A) For outreach activities, cooperation and support came from:
a. Bayfield Regional Conservancy, Ruth Oppedahl
b. Kris Tiles, UW Extension Basin Educator
c. John Duplissis, UW Extension Basin Educator
d. Vijai Pandian, UW Extension Agriculture Agent
e. Living Forest Cooperative
B) For research activities, information and direction came from:
a. a.. USDA Forest Service in Washburn
b. USDA North Central Experiment Station
c. Jim Meeker, Professor at Northland College
A) Field Days conducted by Living Forest Cooperative during the project period included:
a. Conservation Easements for Landowners
b. Restoring Conifers in Aspen Forests
c. Northern Forest Safari – Making Dollars and Sense
d. Chainsaw Safety
e. GIS/GPS for Forest Landowners
f. Sustainable Forestry in Sweden
h. Timber Cruising and Forest Monitoring for Private Landowners
i. Exotic Species in Forests
Eight “Living Forest News” newsletters were published and distributed through direct mailings and via a website.
Field days and general activities of LFC resulted in more than half a dozen articles about the coop and the ideas of sustainable forestry in local and regional media.
B) Research results into alternatives to aspen clear cutting resulted in a 13 page research paper identifying an alternative which produces income while retaining most of the ecological value of the forest and setting up for a transition to a longer lived, more native forest cover type.
On the ground research established baseline data for pre-cut and post-cut forest cover and volumes. Short term data indicates positive growth response from conifers from a shelterwood type harvest a weak response from red maple. This reflects our anticipated results.
The landowner sacrificed approximately 40% of the short term revenue to implement the shelterwood practice over conventional clearcut harvests, but this of course is 60% more than the no harvest alternative increasingly favored by conservation oriented landowners. In addition, the cost of sale set up was significantly higher than conventional clearcutting. Reflecting the priority on sustainability and aesthetics over income, the landowner in our case study gave up over 30% of the sale value by choosing small equipment, single man operator over a mechanized operation to implement the harvest. The operator chosen performed outstandingly.
Over the near term (7 years) the landowner has the option of capturing some of this value through removal of the overstory that survives since it appears the stocking of seedlings will be adequate to ensure a surviving forest.
From this work it appears there are silviculturally reasonable alternatives to clearcutting aspen on the clay plain.
We learned there is little research that has been done on alternatives to clearcutting aspen, though there is some. Our biggest challenge in implementing our research project was that State DNR which regulates the harvests on private lands enrolled in MFL. After the harvest was complete, DNR Foresters visited the site and informed us they will no longer allow this type of harvest. The literature research and field data we have collected may provide a starting point for a discussion to create an accepted alternative prescription for converting aspen forests.
The primary method used for outreach as part of this project was newsletters and field days. Coverage in local media greatly increased our visibility. Attached are our newsletters.
No particular comments. We appreciate the support for the outreach and research efforts.