July 15, 2012

Group works on behalf of local forest owners

Richard Gast, Cornell Ag Connection

---- — CCE - Working with NYFOA on Behalf of Forest Landowners

Are you a private forest landowner? You may not realize it, but as such, you are part of the very large community of individuals and families that manage our nation’s timber and non-timber forest resources.

Just under two thirds of New York State, 18.95 million acres, is forest. About 20 percent of that is public forest. Four percent is industrial forest. The vast majority, 76 percent, or roughly 14.4 million acres, is privately owned by an estimated 687,000 individual, non-industrial forest landowners.

Owning private forest property can be rewarding. When properly managed, it can be a place for rest, retreat, recreation and spiritual renewal. It can be a source of firewood and income from sales of standing timber. And it can be a long-term investment, a nest egg for retirement and a commitment to your children, grandchildren, wildlife and the environment.

New York’s forests contain a broad range of species diversity and ecotypes, including more than 100 commercial and non-commercial tree species. New York landowners who have properly managed their private forests now own some of the most productive forestland in the country.

One of the best ways to learn about sustainable forestry and maximizing the use of your natural resources is to become a member of the New York Forest Owners Association (NYFOA), a state-wide not-for-profit organization comprised of New York’s non-industrial private forest landowners. 

Through its local chapters, including our own Northern Adirondack Chapter, NYFOA provides camaraderie, knowledge and training for landowners and the public. Neighboring forest owners often meet to share information, attend workshops and tour each others’ woodlots. Local chapter and statewide activities, woodswalks and tours provide an opportunity for landowners to look at successful woodlot improvement and effective timber- and land-management strategies taking place within local communities.

 NYFOA also assists by serving as an advocate for forest owners, by educating community leaders, by uniting forest owners in the common cause of improving their forest resources and opportunities, and by educating the public on the value of a healthy tree-growing industry.

The core group assisting NYFOA with information, education, outreach and programming is a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educators trained in a variety of forestry, natural resources and environmental fields. Behind the scenes, a powerful network of scientists and educators from Cornell University, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service work with CCE educators to connect landowners to the knowledge and resources needed to ensure sustainable production and ecological function on private forest lands.

Fact sheets, brochures and webinars improve skills and assist with putting knowledge of forest ecosystems, silviculture, watersheds, wildlife, natural aesthetics and even local economies and law into practice, ultimately fostering the stewardship for the long-term benefit of current and future generations. Newspaper and magazine articles and press releases address forestry issues, the woodlot management concerns of private landowners and the benefits of owning forest land.

Among the issues being addressed are forest-management plans for long-term conservation, timber sales using best-management practices, invasive species, harmful insects, wildlife habitat, wildlife food plots, timber theft and tax laws.

NYFOA and CCE are working to provide resources and assistance to all parties involved in making informed decisions regarding the best use of forests. This includes foresters, loggers, community leaders, local legislators and other representatives who help form the policies that affect the management and sustainability of private forest lands.

If you are a non-industrial private forest landowner, you should consider becoming a NYFOA member. Membership will enable you to learn more about the most recent developments in current forestry and land-management practices and issues. You will be invited to attend chapter and statewide meetings and other planned events and to participate in educational tours of other private forest owner and manager lands. And with your membership, you will also receive a complimentary one-year subscription to Forest Owner magazine.

For more information, contact me at CCE Franklin County, 483-7403, or call or visit NYFOA online, 1-800-836-3566,

Richard L. Gast, Extension program educator II, horticulture, natural resources, energy, agriculture programs assistant, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, 355 West Main St., Suite 150, Malone, 12953. Call 483-7403, fax 483-6214 or email