By Larry Beauregard
Okay, I admit it, I love the woods. From my youngest age, most of my best times were spent roaming in the woods surrounding our home and family camp in Rhode Island. I spent that time just admiring the huge oak and pine trees, enjoying the seasonal wildflowers, scouting for signs of animals, and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms. Forest immersion was my recreation and opportunity to learn about a wide range of natural sciences.
Shortly after my wife and I moved to Maine, we decided to purchase a 120-acre piece of land in Old Town as an investment but also as a place where we could enjoy a bit of quiet time in a natural setting. The woods here differed from the oak-pine forests that I was familiar with in Rhode Island. There was so much more spruce and fir; so much more hemlock, aspen, and maple. I was beginning to learn what it meant to be in the Acadian Forest.
At that time, I was not familiar with sustainable forest management practices but it didn’t take too long for my neighbor to get me thinking in that direction. Ted Tryon was a forester with the J.W. Sewall Company who owned a 900-acre parcel that abutted our own. He is the one who got us thinking about ways to actively manage our woods to improve the overall health of the forest, and, yes, consider harvesting some of the timber. Ted introduced us to a consulting forester and, with his help, we identified our initial goals and implemented our first timber harvest in 1983. Since that time, we have had the opportunity to learn so much from fellow woodland owners, the staff of the Maine Forest Service, the faculty of the University of Maine School of Forestry, members of the Maine Tree Farm Program, and the Maine Woodland Owners Association and, of course, from Dave Wardrop, our consulting forester. As a retired teacher and mentor, I have been looking for ways to share what I have learned with anyone who is interested and willing to listen to me brag about my woodland experiences.
One of the great things about the small woodland owners community of Maine is the general willingness to share what we have learned with like-minded individuals. Recently, the Maine Tree Farm Program established a Peer Network that is specifically designed to connect experienced woodland owners with new landowners or with landowners who are looking to become more active managers. The idea is to foster opportunities for the Peers to share their experiences – good and perhaps not-so-good. The objective is to encourage landowners in a non-committal, collegial way to think about ways to sustainably manage their woodlands and to access the multitude of services that are available to help them reach their goals. The Maine Tree Farm Program is currently recruiting motivated individuals to serve in the Peer Network. If you are a Tree Farmer with a passion for promoting good forest stewardship and a willingness to share that passion, please consider becoming a peer mentor. If this is of interest, please contact the Maine Tree Farm Coordinator at (207) 613-6837 or email@example.com. Candidates will participate in an orientation session to learn tips for landowner engagement and learn about resources available to support forest stewardship.