By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
Next Saturday, Aug. 4, woodland property owners in Whitley County can learn how to enhance their land and find out what resources are available to use their property to its fullest potential.
The UK Department of Forestry and the Whitley County Extension Office are holding the 2012 Woodland Owners Short Course, one of three regional courses held each year in the western, central and eastern parts of the state.
Next Saturday’s course begins at the Whitley County Extension Office on North U.S. 25W in Williamsburg, starting with registration at 8:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., those taking the course will visit woodland field sites at Flying Rooster Tree Farm and the Bob Lynch Tree Farm. The course will end that day at 4:30 p.m.
“It’s the first time this short course is being done in Whitley County. It’s a good opportunity for folks who own woodlands to get some educational direction in managing their properties,” said Phil Meeks, Whitley County’s Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Both Meeks and Billy Thomas, extension forester with the UK Department of Forestry, agreed that many landowners who have woodlands don’t really know what they can do with them.
Thomas noted that’s where the short course comes in.
“It’s to connect landowners with agencies and organizations to help open the landowners’ eyes to the opportunity their woodlands contain.”
Some of the agencies are partners with the Woodland Owners Short Course, such as the Kentucky Division of Forestry, the Kentucky Forest Industries Association, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Thomas added the Whitley County program was developed by a local planning committee that addresses local needs and subjects.
“One topic is how they can go about selling their timber. Another topic is learning about the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and other forest pests. And yet another one is about wildlife. We’ll talk about how they can integrate wildlife into the woodlands, and make them healthier and more productive.”
Those who register for the short course will be able to take two different “tracks” — a “Green Track” and a “Gold Track” — during the tours of the tree farms.
“The ‘Green Track’ is for folks who own the woodlands, but don’t have a formal management plan. The ‘Gold Track’ is a more advanced course for those who’ve owned woodlands for some time and want to be more active in managing them,” Meeks said.
Those taking the Green Track will learn about tree planting and identification, native warm season grasses, crop tree management, woodland health threats and wildlife food plots. Those on the Gold Track will learn about wildlife habitat management, woodland management for wildlife and timber, conservation reserve program and wildlife corridors, salvage harvests and improving storm-damaged woodlands, and the benefits and opportunities of woodland certification.
Both tracks will have discussions about USDA’s farm bill programs to improve landowners’ woodlands, along with timber harvesting and sales.
Meeks spoke highly of both Bob Lynch and Flying Rooster Tree Farms, who will host the field trips next Saturday.
“They’ve done some management on their farms, and they’ve had some experience as well. They’re both good role models for those participating.”
Registration for next Saturday’s Woodland Owners Short Course is $20 per person, and $30 for couples. Reference materials, lunch and transportation to the field sites is included in the registration fee. To register, call UK Forestry in Lexington at 859-257-7597, or e-mail them at www.ukforestry.org.
Thomas hopes the short course will lead woodland owners onto a new track — one leading to a better understanding of the land around them. “Just doing nothing is not a good option anymore. They have things to look at and address, like forest fires, invasive plants and insects, timber theft, trespassing on property, and other issues. They can’t ignore their woods. That’s why we’re here next weekend.”
By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
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