Working with Consulting Foresters to Manage your Woodlot and Tree Sales

March 9, 2022

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Video Transcript

 - [Host] At one o'clock I get the honor of introducing Julie Crick from MSU. She is a natural resources educator from Michigan State University, working out of Ross Commons as part of our extension program. She's gonna talk to us about forest management practices, geared towards Michigan farm woodlots. Julie, it's all yours. - All right. Thank you very much. Happy to be here today. So we will be talking about woodlot management and points to consider when making plans to manage your woodlot. And so just a brief agenda for today. We'll start out talking about some basic forest management techniques and then talk about the importance of hiring a consulting forester, how to find consulting foresters, and then I threw in a couple of slides about forestry careers. Forest management is actually based on the concept of succession or vegetative succession. And so that's really how vegetation grows back after an area has been cleared, especially a forested area, because most of the areas in the United States were once forested at some time. And so to draw your attention to the bottom of the slide, you can see that if an area that has been cleared isn't maintained through mowing or brush hogging, we'll see grasses and forbs start to grow into those areas. After a few years, we'll see shrubs and saplings start to grow into those areas as seeds get dropped in are blown in or deposited by wildlife. Those shrubs and saplings continue to grow until they're pole timber and then mature timber. And really, the point of this slide is that there are a variety of wildlife that utilize every stage of succession in a forest. In fact, having a mosaic of successional stages across the landscape in a forested setting actually provides the best wildlife habitat and will attract the most species of wildlife, the most variety of wildlife. So it's actually a good idea to keep forests managed in active management so that they're at different stages of succession. Some of the disturbances that succession follows is agriculture. Some people have let fields go fallow and then return back to forested settings. Planting certainly helps in that situation. In a forested setting, occasionally we have drought or insect epidemics, diseases that cause a pocket of mortality and a pocket of mortality refers to a cluster of trees that have died. So if you're looking at it from the top, it's sort of like a little pocket of dead trees. We also have wildfires and then wind events and tornadoes. And that's actually what's pictured on the slide here to the right. This is a picture of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Alligator Hill Trailhead. And there was a massive blow down in that area in I believe it was 2014 or 2015. And you can see just within a few years when this picture was taken, the shrubs and tree species that are starting to grow back and fill that void. Forest management is also a disturbance, but it's a planned disturbance. And so we disturb the forested area with a plan on how to grow back the trees that we are desiring to regenerate. So the outcomes are somewhat predictable. A couple of the factors of succession are tree tolerance to shade and stability and resilience of the forest types. When we talk about tree tolerance to shade, it's important to understand that some trees can grow in shady conditions and actually thrive in shady conditions and other trees require full sun to grow. And so some of those species that require full sun, those are the ones that would be first to inhabit an area, before any other vegetation is towering over it to cause shade, are jack pine and red pine, and aspen and paper birch. Here in the more central or the northern lower peninsula where Ross Common is, near Grayling, we see a lot of aspen and paper birch that frequently blow in and inhabit areas that have been disturbed. Intermediate for shade tolerance are oaks, white pine. and ash. And that means they can regenerate or grow well in a mixture of sun and shade. And then some of those shade tolerant species are tree species that will grow up under a shaded full canopy of a forest, sugar maple, beech, basswood, and getting into some of the conifers, cedar, balsam fir, spruces, and hemlock are all shade tolerant, which means they desire those shady conditions to grow. And when we talk about stability and resiliency of forest types, we're actually talking about the diversity of tree species in a forest. The more diverse a forest is, the greater the variety of tree species in a forest, the better that forest is going to be able to handle change, to handle a disturbance, an insect or disease epidemic, because not all of the trees are the same. It's not a monoculture. So there's some stability there for that. And also resiliency in that if the forest is actively regenerating, we know we have a diversity of structure, we've got small trees and shrubs, we've got a middle layer of trees and shrubs, and then an overstory. And that just means that there is active regeneration if there were to be a pocket mortality or a blow down event or some other kind of disturbance, we know those trees that are intermediate would be able to respond. Most trees would be able to respond to that opening and fill it. And so when we start talking about forest management techniques, we keep in mind those factors of succession and every forest management technique is actually chosen based on the trees that are desired for regeneration. And so clear cutting is an important forest management technique. It's not one that looks very good afterward, especially the first year, the first season right after a clear cut, but absolutely necessary in order to get the desired regeneration that we're looking for. And really, if we think about all of the wood products that we use in our lives, forest management is really a necessary part of using wood products and tress are sustainable. So it's a sustainable process. When we look at clear cut, we're creating full sun conditions for regeneration. And so we frequently use clear cutting to regenerate Aspen and Aspen are kind of special because they do grow in full sun conditions. But those full sun conditions also allow the buds on their lateral roots to sprout. And so effectively, when we see aspen regrowing, we can see very dense regeneration, 25,000 stems per acre in some cases. And then those stems gradually thin out, allowing other trees to seed in or regenerate in the same area. But those are all aspen clones because they came from the same tree species or the same tree individuals that were cut down. We do use clear cutting for oak regeneration in some systems. And we also use it for planting success. So when we're replanting jack pine or red pine, we frequently start with a clear cut. More suitable for the forest in Southern Michigan is something called gap creation or group selection. And that creates intermediate sun conditions for regeneration. It effectively removes a cluster of trees, maybe a quarter acre to about two acres in size, opening up that tree canopy and allowing the sun to reach the forest floor. The sun stimulates regeneration. It also stimulates flowering and seed production in the shrubs and herbaceous growth on the forest floor, increasing habitat and food for wildlife. Gap or group creation is best done in hardwoods. And we use it especially to regenerate oak in mixed hardwood systems. There's also something called single tree selection, and we use that mostly in hardwoods, even though the illustration here depicts conifers. I had a very hard time finding a tree selection illustration that actually depicted hardwoods, but really what single tree selection is doing is just removing a single tree, likely for its timber value or other kind of value, and the gap that it leaves actually stimulates the growth of the neighboring trees. So it's releasing those neighboring trees from the competition. There's more room in the canopy for those lateral branches to spread out. And then those trees surrounding the tree that was removed will then have increased growth. And we usually do this with high quality hardwoods and for timber stand improvement. And then conversely, we can use crop tree release. So with single tree selection, we were singling out one tree for removal, with crop tree release, we single out one tree to retain and then we release it from the surrounding competition. And as you can see with crop tree release, we can release one, two, three, or four sides of that desired tree from competition. And it increases the light that's going to be available for that tree and reduces competition for water space, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and aboveground and belowground root competition. And so trees that are released through crop tree release are available to grow about twice as fast, at least putting on twice as much diameter growth as a tree that isn't released in a 10-year period. And that's a generalization, not every species would respond that way, but some tree species do actually respond very positively to crop tree release. And before we go into the text on this slide, I'd like to draw your attention to the illustrations on the right hand side, the pictures that were taken. You can see that the dark tree in the middle is the crop tree that was chosen for release. And the top picture depicts the crop tree as it was in the forest prior to being released. So you can see the lateral branches and the canopy are very thick, but they don't really extend out and intermingle with the branches of the neighboring trees. Some tree species display something called tree shyness in that they don't grow into the canopy of other trees. They don't compete. They sort of mind their manners and keep into their own little space. But if we use crop tree release, we can actually release the competing trees around that desirable tree, opening up the canopy, allowing those lateral branches to grow out. Of course, with more lateral branches, you get more sugar production and the tree can increase diameter faster. There are several reasons why you might wanna do crop tree criteria. Sugar mapling is one of those things, tapping sugar maple trees. The larger the canopy of a sugar maple tree, the more sap that it can produce in a year. And so that would be one reason to release a Sugar Maple tree as a crop tree. You can also release crop trees for their timber value. And if you're going to do that, the criteria would be to choose a high value tree species that's adapted to the site with few branches in the first 20 to 30 feet. And that's because that 20 to 30 feet of I wanna say the bowl, but it's the trunk really, but it's considered the bowl when we're thinking about timber measurements for trees. And so the first 20 to 30 feet of a tree trunk is actually the most important for timber production because that's what would be cut up into logs to be processed. We would also like a crop tree to be expected to live for another 20 years so it can take advantage of that space that's created around it. If you're choosing a crop tree for wildlife, you wanna choose a dominant or a co-dominant. That would be a tree that's actually taking up space in the canopy or just below the canopy. And then hard mast producing species. Mast refers to hard shelled nuts or food for wildlife. oak, hickory, beech, those are all good examples of hard mast producing species. And for wildlife, we wanna start out with a large crown relative to the diameter, again, expected longevity of 20 years, and few dead upper crown branches, meaning that those lateral branches will have a chance to really expand into the space that's created by releasing the tree. One of my favorite things I like to point out is that you can also use crop tree criteria to release trees for aesthetic purposes. I always think about a kitchen window that looks out to the back 40 on a hillside. You could actually sort of guide which tree species would be in that back 40 woodlot and what kind of fall colors that you might be able to enjoy from that kitchen window. And so choosing a species for release based on aesthetics would be a species that produces attractive flowers, fall foliage, or just a unique tree. And the picture here is a tree that I came across on public land, it's got some pretty unique branching, and if it were in my backyard, I might consider releasing it just to see what it would do. Some trees have unique bark, shape, maybe they're in unique place next to a stream, a lot of variety for why you would release a tree for aesthetic purposes. We also use crop tree criteria to improve water quality and basically wildlife corridor habitat, which is what's pictured here. We're looking at a riparian forest and we all know that riparian forest can help control non-point source pollution. And so any runoff that's coming across a field toward the vegetated area would certainly slow down. When the water slows down, it's able to release its sediment, thus creating cleaner water that would go into the field. But crop trees, there are certain tree species that absorb nutrients better than others. And so in a riparian corridor, you could certainly choose those species that are known to absorb some of those excess nutrients in the runoff. Of course, you'll also want trees tolerant to flooding. And then, again, that expected longevity of 20 years. And when we think about trees that actually can absorb some of the nutrients from our runoff and our ag fields, we would look at oaks and maple, aspen absorb nitrogen well, to a point. And so when thinking about the crop trade criteria for riparian buffers, releasing white and red oak would not only create wildlife habitat, but it would also absorb nitrogen, to a point. So we know if we have runoff that would help to take care of some of the nitrogen in the water before the water actually drained into the water body. other tree species like basswood, yellow poplar, dogwood, and red cedar absorb calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. There are other species that take it up just a little bit slower, but can still take up those nutrients. And nutrient uptake is most rapid in young deciduous trees. And some of these trees actually do serve as very good wildlife trees, which is important because in riparian corridors like that, or riparian buffers, they are used as wildlife corridors as well, or wildlife will use those riparian buffers or corridors to travel from one forested area to another forested area, utilizing that forest cover and habitat along the way to ensure their protection. Summary slide of forest management techniques. We didn't cover all of these, but the ones depicted here that we didn't cover like seed tree and shelterwood are sort of varieties of what we covered. So if we wanted to do a clear cut, but maybe wanted to regenerate oak, we would probably leave a few seed trees or some shelterwood trees in there in order to create those intermediate sun conditions to help shelter that regeneration that can do well in full sun, but may get hot or experience drought conditions and as a young regenerating sapling. Patch cut is basically group selection. And you can see how, if you selected groups over time, you would have an uneven edge forest, which provides the most structural diversity for wildlife. And group selection is sort of larger gaps or groups that were selected over time. And you can see how single tree selection is depicted as well. And so from here, we kind of transition into how do you get these questions answered? Lot of information, lot of background information into all of these techniques, lot of details to keep in mind. So what technique is best for your woodlot or forest? Ask a forester. And some of the questions that I receive on an annual basis, if not monthly basis, are people that have called me to say that someone's knocked on their door offering money to buy trees. How do I know it's a fair price? People call and say, how much is my woods worth? Can somebody come out to tell me more about my woods or my forest, or when are my trees ready to harvest? We always recommend that working with a forester is the best first step in managing a woodlot. Even if it's just an incidental meeting, an event, that forester can help you decode why the trees are growing there, which trees are better for timber, what timber markets are in your area, those types of questions. And Bill Cook, who is a retired MSU extension educator put together quite a few years ago a bulletin called Hiring a Consulting forester. And I'll go through some of the points that are mentioned in that bulletin. And I will mention that all of the resources that I'm mentioning in this presentation are going to be available through both a handout, as well as on a couple of slides at the end of this presentation. Why work with a consulting forester? Just like you would go to a financial advisor to help with investments, or you would call a plumber if you needed major plumbing work done in your home, an electrician, a forester is your trained professional to help you navigate management in your woodlot. And professional foresters, consulting foresters, have knowledge about forests, forest ecology, forest management, road building, habitat enhancement for all types of wildlife, the timber markets, again, those can be localized, harvesting contracts, and overseeing that timber harvest to be sure that the woods are left in a condition that you'd like it. Consulting foresters do cost money, but it's an investment. And here's what your money buys. It buys advice on what is appropriate, what management techniques would work in your woodlot, what wouldn't, they can tell you more about reduced risk or adverse effects of harvest and how to avoid those, and even help avoid those by doing that harvest oversight. Usually there's a higher revenue from a timber harvest that has a consulting forester handling the harvest itself. And then that forester is familiar with the local logging operations in the area and would help you market the trees to a logger with the appropriate equipment that would meet your goals for the property and avoid damaging the trees that are going to be left on site for the next harvest or for your future goals for the property. So why work with a consulting forester? A consulting forester should really work with you to help you meet your goals for the property. And the first thing a consulting forester should ask is what are your goals for the property? Because that will create the lens that that forester then provides advice and sees your property through. We always recommend that, just as with any professional, that you meet with several and find out if they speak your language. Are they speaking in terms that you understand, if you don't understand, are they explaining it to you? A degree from an accredited university is a good thing. And then you should always check references. Think about if the person's an independent business person or do they work for a mill? Are they an industry forester? And are they active in their professional associations? And so all of these things are just good guidelines for hiring any professional to help you with a lifelong investment and to create a lifelong relationship with. A forester can help you over time meet the goals that you have for your forest and help you realize the benefits of your forested property. And so even if it's a small woodlot, we really recommend that have somebody come out and discuss what could be the next steps. How do you find a consulting forester? There are several ways. There is a National Association of Consulting foresters, and there is a website. All of these websites are listed at the end of this presentation. The Association for Consulting foresters is actually by nomination only. And consulting foresters nominate one another to come into the association, and then they are held to a code of ethics in order to remain within the association or as a member of the association. The Department of Natural Resources has a find a forester website, as well as some information about forest management techniques. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has a list of foresters by the counties in which they serve. And here in Michigan, we have a Forestry Assistance Program that I'll talk about in the upcoming slide. And we also have industry foresters. And so you can always work with a mill, one of your local mills, too, over time, and they have a forester that would come out and help you create a management plan that would realize your goals, but then would also help ensure that that nearby mill has wood over time. I mentioned the Forestry Assistance Program that's sponsored by MDARD, and these folks are service foresters. They will meet with people that are in the counties that are colored on this map at no charge. If you're near the county line, I highly suggest you give a call and just ask. They're grant funded through the Michigan Department of Agriculture through the qualified forest program. These foresters are available to provide guidance, options, advice, and then they have a referral system for professional providers. And so if you have a property that you're looking to manage, you can meet with these folks, they'll put a description of your property without identifying features on their referral list. Professionals can let them know that they would be interested in working with you. And then you're provided a list of professionals that you may choose to contact to work with. And so it's actually kind of a slick system that helps you get in touch with the local people in your area. And they're usually employed through local conservation districts. In fact, they all are. And so even if you're in a county that isn't highlighted with a color on the map here that's shown, I would highly recommend reaching out to your local conservation district to find out what sort of forestry assistance they might be able to provide through the local office. There are lots of jobs in Michigan's forest industry. There are several jobs, as far as being a forester or a truck driver mechanic. You can see all of these trade jobs that I list here. And I do this because Michigan's forest industry does need additional professionals. And I always like to remind people that these are well paid jobs with benefits, 401ks, and can really get somebody through a career while living in a rural area, usually in Northern Michigan, but also in Southern Michigan as well. And so not to discount what happens in the forest industry out there. Sort of off the wall, forestry professions could be a historian, an equipment operator, a wildland firefighter, or a researcher or geologist or ecologist. And some of the resources that I talked about here, the hiring a consulting forester, the MSU extension bulletin, a link for the Association of Consulting foresters, and links for the other lists, the forestry assistance coverage map, DNR service foresters, understanding a simple contract. And then there are some really fun videos by Bill Cook and Jordan Peterson called Be Leaf It or Not. Excellent educational videos, five to seven minute snippets all about the forest industry here in Michigan. And so highly recommend those if you have any questions or are looking for more information about what actually goes on in the state of Michigan. The last link I provided here is for the crop tree management in Eastern hardwood forests. I was trying to find a link for that, but every time I clicked on the link from the search results, it just took me to the free download. So beware, if you do find crop tree management in Eastern hardwoods, it will download immediately. If anybody would like to have me just go ahead and send them that publication, that PDF publication, I'd be happy to do that as well. And you can certainly contact me and I'll send that along. And I think I went really fast, but that's the end of my presentation. And so if there are any questions out there. - [Lyndon] Yeah, we've got plenty of time for questions. As you type those into the Q&A, we go through that. So how do professional foresters get paid? - They can be on a flat fee. So it can be by the hour for the person or they can get paid as when timber is sold. And I think Kathy might cover that a little bit more. We also recommend that you work with a consulting forester to create a timber management plan, and that would be a fee for that management plan. And then you would work with that forester over time on a fee that's agreed upon when the management plan is written. - [Lyndon] We're waiting for people to type into the chat any questions. So this is a long term investment, hiring a consulting forester. How do you make sure they outlive your forest so that they're still there when it comes time to do the next job? - That's a good question. Most consulting foresters usually have a transition plan when they're ready to retire or transition out, they find another forester that they work with over time to hand off that forest that's being managed. And really, managing trees is a long-term investment. And so that brings up a really good point that if you do have a woodlot that you're actively managing, you do wanna consider the legacy of that woodlot and who is going to inherit that in the future. And do they know your plans and what you've done thus far for that woodlot. If not, maybe it's time to get together with somebody, the next person who may own the property, and talk about those plans. - [Lyndon] Yeah, that's important that something that has a 20 year lifespan, you need to have a plan. And I didn't think about the idea of passing the business along to the next forester. That's important. The chats disabled. I think we sort of purposely did that to try to keep all the questions coming in the Q&A. So somebody brought that to our attention. I've got a question here. Your thoughts on walnut lots as part of a wildlife habitat. Your thoughts on walnut lots as part of a wildlife habitat. - I was trying to process through that. Does that mean a walnut plantation on wildlife habitat? - [Lyndon] Let's go with that. I believe that would be. - I have seen differing types of walnut plantations. Generally they have grass or something growing in the under story to keep competition down from the walnut trees so that they can grow quickly into timber species or timber specimens, because I would think that they would still provide some value as far as wildlife value. Certainly the deer would come and eat the grass. Trying to think about alley cropping, but knowing that walnut produces the juglones, there may be some competition there from the allelopathy. I'm not sure what crops you would be able to alley crop in there, but certainly every cluster of trees provides wildlife habitat. It's just a matter of creating the habitat in the understory, midstory, and overstory to cater to the species that you desire, is how I'll answer that question. - [Lyndon] So Mark asks, it's more of a statement, it's about 3 out of 70 of the plantings and wetlands I think he's talking about that walnut lots are about small percentage or 3 outta 70 of our plantings. - Interesting. With Michigan being such a large state and me being up near the Grayling area, I don't have a chance to visit a lot of the walnut woodlots down south. - [Lyndon] Eric's trying to open it up so we can ask the questions live and that may help clear up some of this, or it may get us deeper into the path or down into the mire, but. - Oh, okay. So acreage of planting and wetlands. - [Lyndon] Let's see if Mark can get us a little more detail. In the meantime, any resources on photographers or photogrammetrics, which offer state of art tools to collect, measure, or interpret geographic information in order to create and update maps and charts of the region for planning and education purposes. - I don't really have any of those resources. I know that it does go on and talking more about forest management planning on a landscape level, I think is what that would be used for. I know that it's been talked about, but I don't know that it's actively ongoing in Michigan. And if it is, then I'm not aware of it or actively involved with it, but certainly a good concept to use. - [Lyndon] I've been aware of some of that. When we look at expanding forest cover in the Southern states and where that expansion is happening, and it's sort of interesting. It's interesting first that we're actually increasing forest cover down here since the 30s, but that it's happening more in what we call home lots or 10-acre housing, that type of thing. But beyond that, I don't know of a whole lot of work. How do you respond to someone who thinks you shouldn't cut down any trees? I'm not sure this is even possible. - Again, I like to remind people that most of us are surrounded by wood product. I live in a stick-built house and without the sustainable management of our forests, that wouldn't be possible. We'd have to increase our petroleum use for plastics, synthetic materials. And I really value the mosaic of habitat created by forest management for wildlife. I live in Grayling, has about four mills within 10 miles of me. The forests are actively being managed. Every year, there's a change across the landscape, but it's actually incredibly delightful to witness the wildlife using those areas. Anecdotally, I was walking through an old growth forest on a rainy day, it was an afternoon. The forest was completely silent. When I walked into the area that had been cut over the year before in more of a shelter wood selection with inclusions of conifers throughout, the cacophony of bird songs in that managed area, because of the variety of habitat, and that structural diversity was overwhelming. And so it really is a benefit to not only us, for being able to use those wood products, but also wildlife in having that variety of habitat to use for nesting, breeding, and forging. - [Lyndon] So in my job, we work with water and I've found that it's really different how people look at water. Some people only look at it to be conserved, even though it's an annually renewable resource. And it's really only a resource if you plan on utilizing it. So that's sort of same thing in your forest area. If you don't plan on utilizing it, it's really not a resource. I understand there's a lot of ways of using it, but. - Every forest management decision is made with the subsequent regeneration in mind. And so deforestation is when we take forests out of forest production, we remove the trees and we change the land use. Clear cutting and forest management is actually actively regenerating the forest and creating forests in the future. - [Audience] I have a question. - [Lyndon] Go for it. - [Audience] What would the minimum number of trees or acreage that someone would have that would make sense to invite a forester or logging company to come and assess? Is there like a minimum threshold, like, oh, that's not even really worth having someone come out and look at it. - I don't know, Kathy might have a better answer for this, but I would say, even five acres, because there is a lot that you can do with five acres and it may not necessarily be timber-producing five acres, but there's a variety of habitat that you create there, especially if you're neighboring adjacent forested land, that just increases the variety of what could move through your property. For timber value, I'll let Kathy answer the minimum acreage that you would need to have a timber harvest. Generally around here, it's 20 to 50 acres with good timber species on it. And that's because of the movement that a logging operation would have to do with their equipment. But if your goals are other than timber, certainly a forester could help you meet your goals on any size forested property. - [Kathy] I would agree with that, Julie. I think sometimes we overlook those landowners that have smaller acreages because they may be more engaged and more willing to do some management than some of the bigger parcel owners. And so I don't think we should look past them for what they wanna do. They bought their 5 acres or 10 acres for a reason, and they can also contribute to the invasive species side of things. So we should be working with them so that they aren't a cause for some of our invasive plant issues. - Good point. - [Lyndon] There's a question here that was posed during one of the morning sessions, talking about having bare rooted red oak and what was the time of the year to try to plant those so that they would prosper and have the least amount of disease potential. - Because I'm in the Northern part of Michigan and in growing zone four, I'm gonna let Kathy answer that question. - [Kathy] So repeat the question 'cause I wasn't paying. - [Lyndon] It came in earlier this morning, at the time we were talking about disease and they were trying to think of the right time to plant with disease considerations as part of that decision. - So typically we think about bare root seedlings getting planted in the spring. So for us here in Ohio, anytime the ground starts to become thawed enough to get the seedling in the ground, it could be now, it could be late March. And then through about, depending on where you are in Ohio, I would say in Northern Ohio, you're probably looking that you wanna have those in the ground before the 1st of May. Maybe even with the way our temperatures have been lately, maybe even earlier, 'cause we've had some really warm temperatures here lately. And so as long as you get them in when they're dormant and solidly in the ground, you shouldn't have to worry about the disease part of it unless you're planting in an area that already has some issues. We talk about folks that have maple with verticillium wilt, you don't wanna put maple back into those soils. So those are the things that I worry about more. So don't plant a species back that has been lost from an area because of a disease, 'cause you're just gonna have the same issues. Hopefully that helps. - [Lyndon] Yeah. I think that helps. We see a lot of the challenges with planting red oak is the deer population so high that you're doomed. Is there an optimum time or some type of guard or. - Good old Bambi. It really does depend on how heavy your deer population is. They're gonna nibble and what you don't want them to do is to go down the row and nibble everything in the row. If they get one here or they get one there, you kind of, okay, you've contributed one to the cause. So you need to, when you're going into it, you need to understand what your deer population is like in the area. I always say we can do tree plantings that are too clean that just expose them to the deer. Sometimes it's good to have some rough weedy cover that they're not as easy to find. And so there's a balance there between weeds that inhibit early growth but keep them out of the site of the deer. And there are products that you can use. They're gonna be expensive, fencing out, applying deer away or what some of the other products are. Sometimes it's a trial and error. Now I have some landowners I used to work with that it was the tree shelters that they purchased. Now if they put 500 trees out to the acre, they didn't buy 500 shelters. They bought about 120 shelters to an acre and tried to scatter them out so that if everything else got eaten, you would still have 120 trees in those shelters, hopefully, that would inhabit the site. There's different methods, but you do have to understand what your deer pressure is going in to know how much effort you're gonna have to go with. - [Lyndon] See there's question here on consulting foresters. Some of the consulting foresters listed on the references that Julie provided listed foresters that are employed by harvesting companies, hardwood companies. So how do you decide between a forester that's being paid by someone to source lumber and an independent? We always like somebody else paying the bill, but is there a downside to that? - I don't know that there is a downside to that. As I mentioned, there are industry foresters that work for a certain mill and they would still work with you to meet your goals. Do all of the tree species qualify for whatever that mill is making? Maybe not. And so that forester would still have to sell that wood out to other venues, not just the mill that they work for. And so I wouldn't see any detriment to working with an industry forester over time to create a management plan. - [Lyndon] Eric, is there any problem with us merging right over to Kathy's presentation? - [Audience] I have another question. I'm not sure if this is more for Julie or Kathy, but I'll toss it out there. So just this last year, several wind storms came through Michigan, lots of down timber. In some cases, the timber grade wood was taken out with the remaining tops left behind, other times trees are left. Is there a best management practice for, should you try to clean up those woodlots that have a lot of down timber or tree tops or is it best to just leave them, they'll decompose on their own? What do you think? - You want me to tackle that one, Julie? - I do. - I don't have any magic answers. You probably have some better ones. Around where I am in Ohio, emerald ash borer has left us with woods that are full of suspect trees, when we get wind events that come crashing down, they come crashing down without a wind event. If there's something to salvage, and we'll talk a little bit about that in the marketing, there may be stuff to salvage, to sell, but I'm one of those that I'm not worried about the woods being "clean". If you wanna cut up the top so they kind of lay down and mesh down and break down quicker, that's good. All of that material returns nutrients to the soil. So I'm not a huge pusher of my woods has to be pristine. You wouldn't wanna walk through my woods 'cause you spend more time walking over stuff than you than you do just bare ground. And so for me personally, and even as a forester, downed material, unless it's a hazard to something or you think has some value to it, I'm not too worried about it. It's a source of firewood. It's a source of future nutrients for the soil and future trees. And so I can kind of balance that out. I'm not a "clean forest" forester. - And then I kind of go into the wildlife aspect of it too, in that the downed woody material is going to be used by wildlife and invertebrates breed in downed material, invertebrates breed under downed material. Those provide food for other wildlife. And so I'm with Kathy, clean isn't necessarily the best way to go. But if that meets your goals, that might be what's best for you. - [Lyndon] Is there a fire danger concern here? - Not in my part of the world, Ohio really doesn't have too many issues along those lines. We've got folks who start fires in our forest in Southern Ohio, but for the most part we have enough moisture. That may change in the future, but we have enough moisture that we really don't see a lot of risk with all the downed woody material. - [Lyndon] That's good to know. Can you guys see the questions there? - Oh wow. - [Lyndon] I'm outta my element, so I'm hoping one of the forestry people can figure out where we're going here. - I haven't been too far into analyzing the data put out with those tools. Kathy, have you gotten too far into? - So my issue always is I want some information, I dive into the tools, and I may finally get to where I wanna be, but I don't use it often enough to be really adept at it. So when I go looking for data, sometimes I walk down the hall to one of my colleagues that's much more into the data and just say, hey, I wanna know this. And they can usually extrapolate it from the FIA data much quicker than I can, but it's a powerful tool and there's a lot of data there. So it's a great resource. And when I teach some of my master gardeners or volunteer naturalists, I always tell them if you're a data geek, this is a site for you because you can go by county, you can go by states, there's a lot of ways you can sort it depending on what you're looking for. So it's a great resource, I just don't use it consistently enough to be very adept at it. - [Lyndon] I don't think everyone can see the question, but the question was about the use of the Forest Inventory and Analysis, FIA, program through the Us Forest Service. And what you're saying is when you go looking for something, you use it, but it's not a common tool for you. - No, and there's videos you can watch and learn how to use the system. I highly recommend, folks, if you're wanting data, it's the place to go because it's got decades of research data in there that you can extrapolate from. Be patient, 'cause the tools are not as intuitive as maybe some other tools you're used to using, but there's some great info there. And you can get, I don't know, Julie, when the last Michigan booklet was printed from the Forest Service on Michigan's forests, Ohio's due for our next one. I think our last one was 2016. - That was when ours. Yep. - So then you should have one probably coming out as well. And you can go online, you can print those out if you're looking for data on the forest. They do like a five-year plan that pulls all the data they collect from the ground into a publication. And I value those. I put that stuff in presentations all the time because that's our best knowledge of what's going on out in our forest. - [Lyndon] I'm not sure that I've got a good connection. Can you hear me, Kathy? - I can hear you. - [Lyndon] Eric said something about the straight line wind that went through St. Joe County and really devastated a lot of woodlots. What I find is as you talk about that, there seems to be a straight line wind every five, six years that takes out a lot of nice woodlots. How is that changing management as we see something that just thins the trees by 50% and doesn't always take the worst, low value trees. - Of course not. I think that one of the things that I always think about is adaptive silviculture. We have to be able to adapt and mother nature's gonna have the last say, no matter what we plan in our plans. On my own property and my own woods, my ash were going to be my future timber crop. That didn't work out very well. So you just adapt. You have to kind of change and you try to manipulate what's left. And in some cases you hope that you don't open up the canopy so much that now you add an invasive species problem. So it's adaptability, no matter who and what you're trying to manage in that scenario, there's not much you can do to stop it. You're just gonna have to deal with the aftermath. - [Lyndon] Is that another good reason to have a good forester on retainer to- - Yes. - [Lyndon] To be able to step in when you have that? The day after the major event say, okay, what are we gonna do now? Do we try to conduct a sale or do we just let it go? Where are we at? - It truly is the reason for a plan and a process, so that you can say, okay, this path probably isn't as clear as I wanted it to be. Now we're gonna have to do this and this to keep on the straight and narrow for our goals and objectives. - [Lyndon] So I don't see any other questions coming forward in the Q&A. I'd like to thank Julie Crick from MSU Natural Resources Group there for her presentation. If we could