When properly managed, private woodland can be a place for rest, retreat, recreation and spiritual renewal. It can also be a source of firewood and income from sales of firewood, as well as standing timber.
A growing number of northern New York landowners are looking at maple production as an income-generating opportunity as well. They view management for maple production as a long-term investment. Some look at it as a way to produce supplementary farm income. Some consider it a retirement opportunity. Others see it as a commitment to their children and grandchildren.
In Franklin County, a motivated and active group of forest landowners have come together to establish the Franklin County Maple (Producers) Association (FCMA). The new association promotes sugar production and stewardship of forests for the long-term benefit of current and future generations. Membership provides camaraderie in addition to knowledge and training for experienced producers, learners and those considering getting into syrup production. Members include syrup producers, landowners and members of the public.
For a newly established organization, the group has been remarkably active. They’ve been working closely with the Brushton Moira Central School (BMCS) Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Franklin County with a close-knit core group of members from all three organizations meeting regularly. They have also received the support of the New York State Maple Producers Association and have had some interaction with the Northern Adirondack Chapter of the New York State Forest Owners Association.
In May of this year, the new association collaborated with CCE and BMCS FFA to provide a location for an extension-sponsored Woodlot and Sugarbush Management Workshop, which focused on tree assessment and low-impact harvesting. The program was conducted by state Extension Service Forester Peter Smallidge, with small-scale, low-impact equipment that a landowner can use to remove small numbers of logs without damaging standing trees, provided by extension and the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment.