Woodland Steward Newsletter – Letter from the President 2014

Why are Woodlands Important…to you

I am amazed when I think about the history and importance of Indiana woodlands. If we look back to pre-European settlement Indiana, the state would have been about 85% covered in forests. If we jump forward to 1900, forestland in Indiana was down to about 1.5 million acres or 6%. In less than 200 years the face of Indiana had been drastically (to say the least) changed. The Forest Tax Classification Act was passed in 1921 giving rise to the current Classified Forest and Wildlands Program. This Act provided a tax incentive for private landowners that were willing to make a conservation commitment to keep their property forested. To date, close to 650,000 acres of Indiana’s 4.7 million acres of forestland are enrolled in the program. From a bird’s eye view, your woodland is important to Indiana. Every acre of forestland in Indiana is helping to stabilize soil, filter and slow runoff, produce clean air and water, provide wildlife habitat, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and protecting habitat for native plants and animals.

As woodland owners, we all appreciate the high level benefits our woodlands create for Indiana, but the reason woodlands are important to landowners in Indiana is as varied as the woods themselves. Private woodland owners all have their individual connection to the land, reason for owning the land and goals and plans for their woodland. I had a wonderful meeting with a landowner this past winter. I was visiting some neighbors of The Nature Conservancy’s Green’s Bluff Property in Owen County along Porter Ridge Road. I knocked on a neighbor’s door, introduced myself and was warmly welcomed into the home. For the next hour, I had the pleasure of hearing all about the family’s woodland. I heard about the history of the property and the family’s connection to the land. We talked about the troubles created by an old unmaintained county road that enters the property. We discussed timber management and the care they had taken with their last harvest to ensure a good harvest in the future. They shared stories about the property and how hard they work to extract firewood from the property each year. Gathering the firewood is a lot of work, but as we sat around a warm wood burning stove that heats the family home, you could tell the rewards were worth the effort. It was a wonderful out of the blue meeting with a landowner that depicts just one of the thousands of stories of Indiana woodland owners and why their woods are important to them.

The members of the Woodland Steward Institute hope that the Woodland Steward Newsletter is an important part of your connection to the land. We hope the newsletter is a resource and tool that you can use to help make management decisions, learn more about your property and keep you informed about current forest and wildlife issues.

In this issue of the Woodland Steward, we are asking landowners to show their support by making a contribution to the printing and mailing of the newsletter to the 33,000 woodland owners in Indiana that receive the newsletter. You are the reason we produce this newsletter and your support helps ensure we can continue to produce this newsletter every year.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Dan Shaver, WSI President

PS – The landowners on Porter Ridge Road had the Woodland Steward Newsletter sitting on their coffee table. For 2014 our goal it so make sure they receive it 3 more times.