Thank you for interest in Connecticut's Forest Stewardship Program. Many people are surprised to learn that 90% of Connecticut's forest land belongs not to the state or federal government, but to individuals and families like you. The Forest Stewardship Program recognizes the importance of these private forest owners by providing them with information, education, and technical assistance in managing their forest land.
No one needs to tell you how beautiful your forest is, or how much cleaner it makes the air and water. No one needs to tell you it's a home for wildlife or that it's a wonderful place to relax and unwind. And no one needs to tell you that, if you wish, it can provide you with firewood for the stove, maple syrup for the table, and lots of other things. If you're like most people, these are the joys and motivations that made you a forest owner in the first place.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that our heirs will be able to enjoy these blessings as we have. In Connecticut today, insects and diseases brought here from other continents are killing forest trees by the thousands. Wildlife species are slowly declining as their habitats change, shrink, and disappear. And with increasing frequency, heirs are forced to sell off timber, or even their land itself, simply to pay estate taxes. As these pressures mount, the future of our forests lie with those that own 90% of them: the private forest landowners.
FOREST STEWARDSHIP PLANNING: A WIN/WIN ACTIVITY
Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan is easy, and it's a great way to accomplish three things:
- First, it ensures that you will get the maximum possible enjoyment from your forest, since you decide what the goals of your plan will be. Do you want to know what kinds of wildlife live in your forest, and where? Do you want to make your wildlife habitat better, and get a few cords of firewood at the same time? Do you want interesting, beautiful trails your family and friends can enjoy? Trail Picture Do you want to be sure that the stream on your forest stays clean, and is the best fish habitat it can be? Whether you want to pursue active management of your forest or simply wish to know more about the land you live on, Stewardship planning can turn your goals into reality.
- Second, stewardship planning can ensure that your heirs will be able to enjoy the forest as you do. A stewardship plan takes the long view, anticipating and watching for problems like foreign insect attacks or unwanted changes in habitat conditions. It can also include estate plans, such as helping your heirs avoid unnecessary estate taxes, or growing some high value timber that can be sold and harvested in an environmentally sound manner when some dollars are really needed.
- Finally, stewardship planning is more than words, it's action. By protecting and enhancing your forest, you are creating environmental benefits like clean air, water and wildlife habitat that make the entire community a better place. Your Stewardship Forest sign demonstrates to your family, your friends, and your entire community that you are a responsible and proactive conservationist.
A Forest Stewardship Plan is an actual document developed by you and a certified forester. If you own 10 acres or more and follow a few simple guidelines, you are eligible for the Forest Stewardship Program. A typical plan has four basic parts:
1. Stewardship Goals: Deciding on and articulating your stewardship goals is the essential first step, and no one can do it but you. This statement defines where you want to go so the plan can take you there. Your goals need not be elaborate but must communicate the essence of what you care about and want from your forest.
The Connecticut Division of Forestry has Public Service Foresters who are available for no charge to come out to your property and help you identify options, alternatives, and potential forest stewardship goals.
2. Maps: Maps are fun, interesting, and valuable products of a stewardship plan. A typical plan includes at least two. The first identifies the various plant communities or forest cover types that occur on your property. The second builds on the first by adding features like woods roads, existing or proposed trails, and the locations of various habitat or conservation activities you plan calls for.
Many landowners find themselves making photocopies of their stewardship maps and taking them on walks through the forest. They're amazed at how these maps allow them to see their forest with new eyes; to learn about and enjoy their forest in whole new ways. For many families, as time passes their stewardship maps become irreplaceable family treasures.
You may request a set of five GIS based maps to be included with your stewardship plan.
3. Forest Inventory: As part of the planning process, your forester will conduct a professional forest resource assessment, resulting in a wealth of important, useful information. You'll know what plant species occur in each plant community, and a lot about their age, health, history, and how they're changing over time. You'll know where your high quality wildlife habitats are and where opportunities exist to make habitat better. You'll know more about your stream and wetland resources, including things like vernal pools or fish habitats. And you'll learn more about special areas on your forest like unique plant communities, potential scenic vistas or trail sites, and more.
If you want your stewardship plan to include timber management, you'll also receive detailed information on stand density, timber volume and value, and other important planning data for those cover types involved.
4. Recommended Stewardship Activities: Once the inventory is done, your forester will match your goals to your forest and begin to identify things you can do to make your goals a reality. This step is the real meat of the planning process, and one you will probably want to actively participate in. By taking advantage of your resource assessment and your forester's knowledge, you can develop a list of activities you hope to complete over the next ten years that are do-able and that will truly allow you to enjoy your forest more.
Once completed, you Forest Stewardship Plan provides you with both knowledge and direction. No longer will you have to make you best guesses as to what to do or not do in the forest. Every decision you make will be an informed one, and every action both positive and productive. Your Forest Stewardship sign will attest that you are an informed and responsible steward of the land.
HOW DO I APPLY?
The Connecticut Division of Forestry has experienced professional foresters who can visit your property and discuss forest stewardship options with you for no fee. For most forest owners, this is the ideal way to begin your stewardship planning process. If you don't have a state of Connecticut certified forester in mind to help complete your plan, they will provide you with a list of approved consultants in Connecticut.
Connecticut's Forest Stewardship Program Coordinator is also a professional forester who you should feel free to contact at any time when questions arise.
Some stewardship activities (such as the harvest of fuelwood, timber, maple sap, or other products) can earn you an income if you choose to build them into your plan. Others do not, however, and can take time, effort, and even some dollars. Often, government programs are available to assist with the cost of these kinds of stewardship practices. By keeping you informed about these opportunities, the Forest Stewardship Program remains your partner throughout the life of your Stewardship Plan.
Clean air, clean water, wildlife, and forest products are things that all of society needs, and yet they are dependent on private, family owned forests. The Forest Stewardship Program recognizes that, when forest owners like you practice sound stewardship, everyone benefits.
Once again, thank you for your interest in forest stewardship. The Connecticut Forest Stewardship Program is a unique opportunity that may not last forever. Don't put it off any longer: the right time to act is now!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about Connecticut's Forest Stewardship Program and current cost-share rates, contact the Stewardship Program Coordinator:
Stewardship Program Forester
Haddam Cooperative Extension Center
1066 Saybrook Road, Box 70
Haddam CT 06438-0070
Toll-free phone: 1-888-30WOODS (1-888-309-6637)
Tel: (860) 345-4511
Fax: (860) 345-3357