Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tree Farm program evolves in 2014

Scott Phillips and Dr. George Kessler in Blackville on Nov. 12

           The South Carolina Tree Farm System recently celebrated 65 years of history. All of that time the Tree Farm program was free for private landowners to join, but with the current economic climate the program will now charge a membership fee. Some of the movers and shakers in the world of forestry have been touring the Palmetto State to make a case for the new Tree Farm system. Bob Franklin with the Clemson Extension joined them for the November 12 meeting in Blackville for Lowcountry residents.
            Scott Phillips with the S.C. Forestry Commission was first to address the crowd of landowners at the afternoon meeting, before the Polk barbecue supper was served. “The Tree Farm used to be sponsored by the timber industry,” said Phillips. “Partly due to the new costs of the certified wood programs that are beginning to take shape globally, that industry support is now gone. However, we still like the idea of the Tree Farm being a great recognition program for participating landowners.”
            Phillips serves on the S.C. state steering committee, which has undertaken the mission of switching over past Tree Farm members to the new program. “What we are finding out is that we have lots of disconnected landowners who signed up for the free program, and then we failed to keep them all informed about the evolution that is now underway,” said Phillips. “We are now being proactive and reaching out to them.”
            Requirements for membership include owning at least 10 acres of forested land that is a part of a written management plan. If it passes the inspection by a Tree Farm forester, then all that is left are the dues. One year will cost the landowner $60 for up to 100 acres of land. After that the cost increases to .10-cents an acre. Members will receive Woodlands magazine four times a year from the American Forest Foundation and several newsletters for the S.C. Tree Farm committee.

To view my feature article on the Tree Farm changes click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about Tree Farm click here.

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