Online Resources for Woodland Owners

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Photo by William Klase

It’s the holidays, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are pushing electronics of all kinds.  Hopefully, in a future post we’ll share some forestry apps for tablets and smartphones.  We are just starting to delve into some of these, so if you have used one, we’d love some input on what to check out and what to avoid (just shoot us an email).  In the meantime, this post will focus on a few websites that we recommend for woodland owners.

We have been growing our website over the last few years (woodlandinfo.org).  In addition to general woodland information, we also have information on the various woodland workshops/conferences around the state, Learn About Your Land and Ties To The Land classes.  In my opinion, the greatest asset is the catalog of over 200 forestry and wildlife publications (see Owning Wisconsin Woodlands).  Our latest addition is a publication on managing for and harvesting firewood.

If you are interested in an overview of your property, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) supports a mapping website where you can view, print and e-mail aerial photos and topographic maps.  It is user friendly with instructions when you enter the site, and in the mapping tool itself.  I promote the use of maps and photos in my classes to keep track of your projects, map out trails and unique features, and keep an eye on what is going on around your property at a landscape level.  See the November blog post for more information.

Tax time is coming up, and even if you haven’t had a timber sale with some income, you should check out the National Timber Tax website.  They discuss the difference between owning your woodland as personal use, business or investment property.  Depending on how to hold your property, you may qualify for deductions for planting and costs associated with maintaining your forest.  (That chainsaw you just bought might be deductible.)  The site has a nice fact sheet for 2012 taxes, but also has other resources including archived webinars and more publications.  This would also be a good website to share with your CPA.

One site that I haven’t fully delved into, but like what I’ve seen, is the MyLandPlan sitesupported by American Forest Foundation.  It can help you set up a basic management plan based on your interests and goals.  You start by entering  information about your woods (size, location, when purchased).  It integrates a mapping function using an aerial photo of your property.  You can add features (snags, hunting blinds, campsites, trails, etc) to your map.  The site offers a choice of over 30 goals to pick and choose from, then provides ideas of various activities to do to accomplish those goals.  The final feature, and one that I really like, is journaling.  Here you could enter wildlife or weather observations, who was visiting the property, what projects you were working on, and even download photos.  The really nice thing about this site is that you can share all of this with your family who may want to check in or see what you are up to in the woods.

These are just a handful of online resources that I teach about, and it can be overwhelming to think about everything that is out there. As educators, we not only have to know about them, but we have to think about how we can use them to reach woodland owners.  I get great joy from teaching my in-person classes, and our registration for those is getting started soon.  However, as our Facebook friend list and blog subscribers keep growing, it is energizing to be offering new ways to interact with us.  Check out our website for information on upcoming live webinars (starting March 2013).  Also, we will be re-launching the Learn About Your Land online self-paced course, and a new mobile friendly website design in the new year.