Rural Landowners in AL, MO, MT and NH named the 2017 Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers by the American Tree Farm System

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Honored for their hardwork and dedication to forest stewardship, clean water, wildlife habitat and wood supply.

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American Tree Farm System

Today, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) announced the four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year from among more than 73,000 Tree Farmers across rural America: Glenn and Scarlett Riley of Abbeville, Alabama; Jim Ball of Parkville, Missouri; the Chrisman Family of Kalispell, Montana; and Ned and Jean Therrien of Gilford, New Hampshire.

“Tree Farmers represent some of the most passionate and dedicated forest owners in the U.S.,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, the organization that oversees the ATFS. “These individuals actively care for their land, create needed wildlife habitat, protect clean water, stimulate local economies and more. Our Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year take this duty above and beyond, and we are proud to honor them and share their stories and accomplishments.”

The ATFS is a nationwide sustainable forestry and certification program designed specifically for small family and private forest owners. The program provides landowners with tools and guidance as well as a network of other landowners and experts, all to help them keep their forests healthy and providing clean water, wildlife habitat, wood supply and more. In total, there are 20 million forested acres within the ATFS program.

To be considered for the Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year award, individuals must exhibit the most exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve our forest resources, and must promote forest stewardship within their communities.

About the 2017 Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers:

Northeast Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, Ned and Jean Therrien of Gilford, New Hampshire have spent more than 13,000 hours carefully and meticulously managing their 119-acre Tree Farm since they purchased it in 1980. When they purchased their overgrown and hilly piece of property, the Therrien’s had steadfast plans to turn the property around and make it into a multi-use forest for wildlife and bird habitat as well as timber production. Though money was tight in the early years, the Therrien persevered, doing the work themselves with hand saws and their old four-wheel drive truck. Over time they were able to create the forest and the habitat they desired. Today they can proudly say they have 2 thriving ponds, 5 vernal pools and several streams, as well as more than 100 bird species on the property and other wildlife species including beavers. Wanting to share their experience and encourage others to practice forestry, the Therriens have publically available hiking trails on the property, host outdoor education classes for local organizations, and speak often at forestry and ATFS events. Read more on the Therrien’s.

North Central Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year, Jim Ball of Parkville, Missouri epitomizes forest stewardship in a state mostly known for its farm land. After serving in the military, Jim purchased 80 acres of land for hunting, but soon saw more opportunity in the property, acquiring other tracts to reach his now 850 acres. Interested in the beautiful hardwoods of the Midwest, Jim began planting and naturally growing black walnut and other hardwood species in 1991, since planting more than 160,000 trees. Actively caring for these stands has meant annually pruning and thinning to allow for optimal growth, most often with the work being done by his family alone. Jim has been met with challenges, particularly with runoff and drainage across the property. Taking them head on, he planned and created a 20-acre lake, and surrounding retention ponds on the property, an arduous task that many do not take on. Jim’s continual management of both his forest stands and lake, has resulted in cleaner water (with less silt) as well as a thriving habitat for deer, turkey, quail and many other species. Read more about Jim Ball.

Southern Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, Glenn and Scarlett Riley of Abbeville, Alabama have not only been actively stewarding their land, but also focused on promoting forest stewardship and a love of the outdoors in their community. Glenn and Scarlett inherited their 283-acre property from Scarlett’s family, taking on the role of caring for the land. Though they had no formal forestry training, they set their sights on creating wildlife habitat and profitable timber. At times, they battled erosion and invasive plants, but thankfully had experts in their life such as their extension forester and members of the ATFS community who helped give them advice and overcome challenges. Today their property is home to many wildlife populations, including the threatened gopher tortoise. Wanting to pay it forward, the Riley’s decided to focus on sharing their learnings and love of the land with others. The property is part of the Classroom in the Forest program, hosting local school children as well as 4-H groups and other education groups. The property has also aided in training efforts of foresters and forest industry workers. More on the Riley’s.

Western Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, the Chrisman Family of Kalispell, Montana are a remarkable example of how a love of the wilderness as children can turn into lifelong dedication to conservation. Allen Chrisman and Kari (Chrisman) Wiley grew up in Illinois, yet remember their childhood for the memories made at their family’s 310 -acre property in north Montana, a region home to countless wildlife species. Though it was originally purchased as a vacation home, the family soon discovered it was worth much more. Hit with a major pine beetle epidemic in 1977, they nearly lost a third of the property and had to work to salvage and replant the trees lost. Once recovered, Allen and Kari dedicated themselves to protecting the health of the family’s forest and keeping it thriving for wildlife, clean water and productive timber. Going above and beyond, the property today is a wildlife haven. Not only are elk, moose and deer present, but both black bears and grizzly bears are common which was not the case when the property was purchased. Read more about the Chrisman Family.

One of these Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers, based on judging from AFF’s governance and online voting, will be chosen for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award later this year.

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Elizabeth Greener
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