A postcard arrived in the mail last week, encouraging me to “clean up” or “sell out” my woodlot. There were people in my area waiting to assist me! I should act now, before my “mature trees rot.”
To be fair, I don’t know the person who sent the postcard, and I’m in no position to judge intentions. However, it’s disconcerting when trees are described as if they’re old groceries lurking in the back of the refrigerator. This kind of solicitation makes me cringe for the unwary. There are too many sad stories of people cutting trees now and regretting it later because they neglected to get disinterested advice on the actual value of their timber stands, or learn about local habitats, or think through their own goals for the land.
If you examine the small print at the bottom of this page, you’ll see that Northern Woodlands is published by a nonprofit, and the mission of that nonprofit is to promote forest stewardship. What stewardship looks like is somewhat of a Rorschach test, but I think it’s fair to say, at minimum, that it involves people making thoughtful, well-informed decisions about how to care for forests in the long-term. It means people doing their best to leave land in as good or better condition than they first encountered it.
Starting with this issue, we’ll be running stewardship stories in our Knots and Bolts section that explore different ways people manage their woods. Funding for these articles is made possible by a grant from the Plum Creek Foundation.
We are grateful for this support. And, since winter is the traditional season to give thanks: we are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the work of the Center for Northern Woodlands Education this year. In the back of this issue, you will see a roster of all of the individuals and institutions who made financial donations in our 2013 fiscal year. Not listed, but also greatly appreciated, are all of the writers, photographers, and illustrators who contributed content, the experts who tolerated our incessant questions, and the many readers who shared the magazine with friends.
I can’t emphasize enough how critical all this support is. So, thank you. Thank you for caring about forests and for your enthusiasm for our small nonprofit’s work. Thanks for your letters, the photos of your chainsaws, and the funny emails we keep pinned to our staff message board. Thanks for including our educational materials in your classrooms and for competing in our “What In The Woods Is That?” on-line guessing game. Thanks for the many walks in the woods, the talks over coffee, and the sample home brew.
And thanks, especially, for being good stewards. We hope this winter finds you outside with the trees – mature, rotting, and otherwise – enjoying the beauty of the season.