The American Tree Farm System in Washington, D.C., recently announced the four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year from among more than 73,000 tree farmers across rural America: Jon and Carol Gould, of Vernon, Florida; Russell Black, of Wilton; Randy and Koral Clum, of Dover, Ohio; and Dan Kingsbury, of Olalla, Washington, according to a news release from the organization.

Forests across the U.S. provide all Americans with essential resources, such as clean water and air, wildlife habitat, places to recreate and a wood supply for the products we use every day. The largest portion of these forests, or more than one-third, are owned by family forest owners, according to the release.

“Forests across the U.S. are facing a wide array of challenges — wildfires, insects, invasive weed species, the rising costs of forest management and more. Yet, tree farmers take on these challenges and work incredibly hard each and every day to keep their forests healthy and sustainable,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, the organization that oversees ATFS, according to the release. “Our Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year take this duty above and beyond. They not only have outstanding properties to show for it, but are spreading the word in their communities about the benefits of stewardship. We are proud to honor them and share their stories and accomplishments.”

To be considered for the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award, individuals must exhibit the most exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve our forest resources, and must promote forest stewardship within their communities.

Northeast Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year, Black has shown a lifelong commitment to forest stewardship, beginning with working on his family’s land at the age of 10, and assuming ownership of the then 200-acre property in his early 20s. Over time, Black has acquired several surrounding tracts of land, bringing the total acreage of his tree farm to 500 acres. With more than 50 years of sweat equity in the land, he serves as an example of hard work and dedication to forestry.

Today, the property is an active tree farm, cattle farm and Maine maple syrup producer. To maintain the property, Black conducts needed thinnings, has installed a large truck bridge, created pollinator habitat, has protected the frontage area of Pease Pond and much more. Not only is Black active on his family’s land, but he has taken his love and knowledge of good forestry beyond his property lines, being vocal in the state about stewardship.

He has served as state representative for his district for nearly eight years, using his experience to help inform the state legislature’s agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He also is active in numerous local associations, and opens his property up for tours, education, recreation and more.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Greener at [email protected] or 202-253-1096.

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