It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?... -Fred Rogers
Last month, Bill wrote about questions you can ask a logger’s reference. There is a another piece in here that is important for landowners, and that is to have a network of people you can turn to when you have questions. As a new landowner, or one who has just recently decided to invest more time in their woods, there are all kinds of questions and decisions that are put in front of you. Owning woods is no different than owning a car and having to take it to a mechanic for help; there can be a steep learning curve and some things you never want to have to do yourself. Luckily, there are some ready-made people resources out there who have knowledge and experience they are willing to share.
One of the best opportunities for woodland owners to meet others is through various woodland owner organizations in the state. The primary one that covers the entire state is Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA). They are a statewide group, but have local chapters that meet as well. In fact, right now is a good time to check them out as they have workshops around the state from January until March. The local chapters commonly have meetings and local field days where you can get out and learn from other landowners. There are a few more locally based groups as well. Kickapoo Woods Co-op is located in Viroqua, and offers educational events as well as forestry services. Partners in Forestry is based in Conover, and offers educational events. Meeting other woodland owners is a good way to get some basic questions answered from others who have been in your same place. Since these landowners have experience, they are a good place to start asking about forester and logger recommendations.
For you women landowners out there, good news. There are a few opportunities specific for you as well. Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) is a program offered through the University of Stevens Point. They offer field experiences throughout the state from a general weekend to get your hands on a whole variety of activities to specific experiences, such as edible plants, dog sledding, and hunting. WWOA has also recently started a women’s group called Women of WWOA. They offer several field trips each year to visit other landowners, and provide some skills learning.
Another good resource for landowners are your own neighbors. For one, they may know the local resources. AND (and I know Bill and I go on and on and on about this) it is good to get to know your neighbors early for a multitude of reasons that are good for you and your woodland (better prices for timber sales if loggers have access to more wood, potential control of those nasty invasive species, work parties to help get bigger projects done, better use of land for wildlife habitat… should I go on?). If you are the extrovert type, just head on over and knock on doors. If you are an introvert or they are non-resident landowners, you can find information in a county plat book or head to your county clerk’s office or website and they can give you a mailing address.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about some of the resources that your tax dollars pay for. DNR foresters are based in every county in the state, and they don’t get paid by how much wood you sell. They are a great place to start looking for advice and answering questions for you. There are three of us at UW-Extension, based in Wausau, Rhinelander, and La Crosse, who can talk to you if you have questions as well.