The new 2021 ATFS Standards of Sustainability were approved by AFF's Board of Trustees on November 11th, 2020 and enacted January 1,2020. These new Standards, which serve as the basis of the American Tree Farm System® certification program, will replace the 2015-2020 Standards of Sustainability.
Additional information regarding training dates will be coming soon.
Please contact ATFS Certification Manager, Leigh Peters, email@example.com.
Non-industrial private forest land (NIPF) is owned by an individual, group, association, corporation, Indian Tribe, or other private legal entity that has decision-making authority over the land. As the forest product companies have either sold their forestland to timber investment management organizations or converted their forests to real estate investment trusts, the difference between non-industrial and industrial forest has become less distinguished.
NRCS seeks public input on proposed changes to the agency’s NIPF definition used to determine eligibility for program enrollment. Please see this Federal Register notice link to provide comments by January 19th.
NRCS proposes three revisions to the NIPF definition to ensure the wood products industry and their forest lands are not eligible for NIPF program enrollment. NIPFs are:
Emma Sass and Brett Butler
Forests provide benefits at local, regional, and global scales. Families and individuals own more wooded land than any other group in the U.S., and their decisions about how to manage and care for their land have broad impacts. Understanding these woodland owners in Kentucky, including what they do with their land and why, and what their challenges and needs are, is important to help support healthy forests and vibrant communities now and into the future.
Here, we use “woodland” as a broad term to include woods, woodlots, timberlands, and forests – any patch of trees that’s more than one acre in size. Families and individuals who own wooded land – collectively, “family woodland owners,” can be one person, a joint ownership of spouses or other individuals, family partnerships, family LLCs or LLPs, and family trusts or estates. We use “ownerships” to refer to all the owners of a piece of woodland.
To better understand family woodland owners, the USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS). The survey asks landowners about who they are, why they own their wooded land, what they have done with it in the past, and what do they intend to do with it in the future. Below we present results from 181 randomly selected Kentucky woodland ownerships with 1+ acres who responded to the survey in 2017 and 2018.
Family Woodland Owners Count!
An estimated 8.8 million acres of wooded land in Kentucky are owned by an estimated 410,000 family ownerships. Family ownerships control 71% of Kentucky’s wooded land, more than any other ownership group, including the state or federal government or forest industry.
Size of Holdings Makes a Big Difference
The average wooded land ownership (with 1+ acres) in Kentucky has 22 acres of wooded land. 67% of the ownerships have relatively small holdings between 1-9 acres, but 48% of the area of wooded land is owned by ownerships with 100 acres or more. This is important because size of holdings limits what an ownership can do with their land, such as timber harvesting, wildfire protection, or control of invasive species, and often impacts what programs they are eligible for. Because of the increased management options, program involvement, and other dynamics of larger ownerships, all following results are for family woodland owners with 10 or more acres.
Beauty, Wildlife, and Nature are What Matter
The most commonly cited reasons for owning woodland in Kentucky are related to the beauty and privacy the wooded land provides as well as protecting wildlife habitat. The goal of passing land onto future generations and land investment is also important to many owners. Hunting and other recreation is highly regarded as an important reason for owning wooded land in Kentucky.
They Love Their Land
Most family forest owners in Kentucky have a deep love of their land. The vast majority of owners, 81%, agree or strongly agree with the statement “I want my wooded land to stay wooded.” 73% of owners agree or strongly that they have a strong emotional tie to their wooded land, and 78% say they know their wooded land well.
In the past five years, around one in eight (12%) family woodland owners have cut or removed trees for sale, and one in three (33%) have cut trees for their own use. 20% have improved wildlife habitat, and 15% have reduced invasive plants. Only 3% have a written management plan and 6% have received woodland management advice in the previous five years.
They are Older
The average age of primary decision makers for family-owned woodland in Kentucky is 64 years. 17% of acres are owned by people who plan to transfer some or all of their wooded land in the next five years, and a majority of ownerships (57%) are worried about keeping the land intact for future generations. 73% of primary decision makers are male.
Woodland conservation and management depend on the people who own it – in Kentucky, most of these acres are held by individuals and families. Owners care about and manage their wooded land, but often the traditional forms of engagement, such as having a management plan or working with a professional, are not widely used. Understanding the threats to the land – including the loss of forest through development, parcelization, invasive plants, disease, and insects, and other issues – is critical for conservation efforts. Using a common language and designing policies and programs that meet the needs of landowners and professionals will have a major impact on the current and future owners and the vital lands that they own.
For more results, visit the USDA Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey website at www.fia.fs.fed.us/nwos. To learn more about the services and resources available to woodland owners in your state, contact your local forestry agency or association.
Emma Sass is a Research Fellow with the Family Forest Research Center and University of Massachusetts Amherst. Brett Butler is a Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and Family Forest Research Center.
December 2020 edition of In the Flow
Licking River Basin Coordinator, Kentucky Division of Water
Banklick Watershed Council
"Our zoning request was approved for public access to our planned nature preserve along Brushy Fork Creek in Independence, KY. We are now positioned to construct an entrance area and trailhead using funding from the Duke Energy Foundation. The Brushy Fork Nature Preserve project is a partnership with the Kenton Conservancy and is now 104+ acres, with almost 2 acres of wetland, 6,000 linear feet of creek, and the potential to support 2.25 miles of passive recreation trails.
The Banklick Watershed Council has partnered with the Green Team at Groundworks Ohio River Valley to improve trails, repair bridges, address erosion, and remove hazards along trails along Banklick Creek and Doe Run Lake. This project is in partnership with the Kenton Conservancy and Kenton County Parks, with contributions from the R.C. Durr Foundation. "
Mason County Conservation District
"Lee’s Creek was selected as a priority watershed through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). A signup period was established, applications were ranked, and over $100,000 was obligated to address resource concerns. Some of the practices included fencing, to exclude cattle from sensitive areas, rotational grazing, and seeding of marginal land to permanent vegetation to name a few.
An online, interactive course on the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is now available from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. The course is available for free to anyone through a simple registration process. The learner will be introduced to the basic ecology and silvics, historic significance, and demise of the tree species that once occupied 200 million acres in the eastern U.S. The course includes a glossary and links to dendrology tables, external webpages, and published scientific papers. A certificate of completion qualifies for 1 CFE credit with the Society of American Foresters.
The course, An Introduction to the American Chestnut, was developed by Stacy Clark, research forester with the Southern Research Station and adjunct faculty in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee.
Please contact Stacy Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-318-8391 with any questions about the course.
Find it here:
Upon completion of this course, you will understand the basic biology and silvics of the American chestnut and the factors that led to its demise. This course is interactive and accessible. You will have access to scientific literature, videos, web links, and dendrology tables for the American chestnut.
From the USDA Farm Service Agency Outreach Focus
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized alternative documentation for heirs’ property operators to establish a farm number. A farm number is required to be eligible for many different USDA programs, including lending, disaster relief programs, and participation in county committees. Operators on heirs’ property who cannot provide owner verification, or a lease agreement, may provide alternative documents to substantiate they are in general control of the farming operation. Download the fact sheet on the Heirs' Property Landowners webpage .
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public input on Nonindustrial Private Forest Land (NIPF) related to technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“We want to ensure we continue program consistency across USDA agencies with how we are defining nonindustrial private forest lands,” said NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton. “It’s important that our conservation assistance reach all eligible lands in accordance with proper criteria to ensure we enroll eligible lands that hold meaningful opportunities.”
NRCS welcomes input from stakeholders to assist with the development of guidance about how to identify NIPF for program enrollment purposes. NRCS must ensure that such guidance is consistent with how other USDA agencies identify NIPF under identical or similar programmatic frameworks. This request for input is to improve transparency about how NRCS makes land eligibility determinations with respect to forest lands.
The nonindustrial private forest land criteria will be adopted after the close of the 30-day period and after consideration of all comments.
NRCS invites input on this technical guidance through January 19, 2021. Electronic comments must be submitted through regulations.gov under Docket no. NRCS–2020–0009. All written comments received will be publicly available on http://www.regulations.gov
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) protected an additional 1,368 acres on Pine Mountain near Cumberland, Kentucky, establishing the Warbler Ridge Preserve. The preserve combines this newly acquired tract with land protected in 2017, creating its largest preserve totaling 2,456 acres. This is one of the most unique conservation projects in its history.
This project builds upon the Trust’s 25-year history of working to protect Pine Mountain, a biologically diverse and climate resilient landscape that is important to local, regional and global communities. Pine Mountain is a 180,000-acre wildlands corridor running from Tennessee through Kentucky to Virginia. Learn more about the KNLT
Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor project.
The preserve protects the headwaters of several tributaries to Kentucky and Cumberland rivers whose waters flow into the Ohio River forming the fourth-largest watershed on the planet.
During forest fire hazard season, it is illegal to burn between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.
The Division of Forestry is responsible for fighting wildland fires on private lands and enforcing forest fire hazard seasons and other outdoor burning regulations.
Violation of a burning ban is a misdemeanor punishable by law.
Burn bans generally prohibit the following: