Woodland - Winter 2019 - 8

taking the wood of the closed mills
too, had oversupplies of wood that
suppressed prices further.
Susan explored other revenue
options and decided to lease a
portion of the land to a natural gas
pipeline company. She also applied
for cost-share assistance through
Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS) for her habitat
The supplemental income
helped, but wasn't always enough
to cover the taxes, let alone pay
for management. Some years they
had to put in their own money,
oftentimes a hard choice with other
competing costs of life, like health
insurance. Other years, they simply
put projects on hold.
They started talking tree types and
soils, and state guidelines about
harvesting, and asking her if she'd
be able to mark up the trees she'd
like to take out on the next thinning.
She left the meeting with her
head spinning, not realizing the
complexities of forestry. She was
overwhelmed by the price tag on
the tax note and costs it was going
to take to maintain the place. She
was just an accountant, and her
husband recently retired. They were
not wealthy landowners.
"There's a business side to
owning land that many don't
consider. I cherished my walks in
the woods and spending time there,
but that wasn't going to pay the
taxes, or prevent the creeks from
eroding, or keep up the deer and
turkey habitat. It requires a lot of
knowledge and money."
American Tree Farm System Helps
Susan Benedict
As for knowledge, Susan
found solace in the American Tree
Farm System, an education and
certification program for small
family landowners. Along with her
trusted forester, the program has
been a guiding light on practicing
sustainable forestry. They wrote

8 WOODLAND * Winter 2019

up a 10-year Forest Stewardship
Plan to help improve wildlife habitat,
maintain her creeks and waterways
and grow profitable timber.
To cover costs, Susan continued
in her father's footsteps with
thinning different sections of the
property each year - selling the
smaller trees and keeping the
quality ones to encourage good
natural regeneration.
But then the gypsy moth came to
"The gypsy moth epidemic
hit us hard in 2006 and again in
2008," she recalls "It triggered
root rot in our trees and destroyed
what we estimated as $1.2 million
worth of timber. In the ten years
that followed each year when
we thinned, we ended up having
to cut more than we wanted to
get rid of the dead and diseased
trees. It was heartbreaking to see
a full generation of trees just gone
because of a little bug, but Mother
Nature is an incredible force."
This all coincided with a decline
in timber markets in the area. What
used to be five mills dwindled
to three, making haul distances
longer, trucking costs higher and
margins lower. On top of this, the
remaining mills, which were now

Susan Hopes to Leave Her Tree
Farm to the Next Generation
Today, Susan's Bear Town is
holding steady. Her tree stands are
free of pests and in a place where all
they need is time to grow. While this
is good for the overall ecosystem
she has created, this means other
"We want to just let things grow
for some time. But no thinning or
harvests means no income. We
still have property taxes to pay and
year-round maintenance to keep
up the wildlife habitat. And we are
getting older. Just a few months
ago, we watched our neighbor cut
almost all of his trees because he
needed the money for health issues.
I don't want to ever be in that place,"
she says with a concerned look.
As big and feisty as one of
the bears in her woods, Susan's
passion for the land keeps her
She takes her granddaughters
out for walks in the woods almost
weekly pointing out different trees,
birds and other critters.
"My hope is that we can take this
from a third generation Tree Farm to
a five generation Tree Farm. I think
it can be done, it's just a matter
of finding ways to keep the land
sustainable and profitable."


Woodland - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Winter 2019

2019 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year
Giving Back for the Forests of Tomorrow
Policies And Partnerships Go Hand In Hand For Strong Forests
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Intro
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover1
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover2
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 3
Woodland - Winter 2019 - OVERSTORY
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 5
Woodland - Winter 2019 - FORESTS AND FAMILIES
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 7
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 8
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 9
Woodland - Winter 2019 - FOREST INTERACTIONS Seedlings
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 11
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 12
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 13
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 14
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 15
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 16
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 17
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 18
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 19
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 2019 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 21
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 22
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 23
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 24
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 25
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Giving Back for the Forests of Tomorrow
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 27
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 28
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 29
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 30
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Policies And Partnerships Go Hand In Hand For Strong Forests
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 32
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 33
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 34
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 35
Woodland - Winter 2019 - TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 37
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 38
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover3
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover4