Archive for forest health

2015 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana


2015 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana

Keith Hawkins, Area Extension Forester

The LSU AgCenter in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry had a prescribed burn workshop to enable attendees to become “Certified Burn Managers”. Dr. Niels de Hoop, LSU Forestry Professor, was the lead instructor. Mark Davis and Darrell Eaves, both of the LDAF, also provided instruction.

2015 PB field exercise

Attendees cutting a firebreak during a field exercise.

Topics will include: fuels, burning techniques, proper tools, optimal weather conditions, smoke management, liability management, planning, fire behavior and more.

The successful graduates of this workshop are:

  1. Anderson, Becky
  2. Anderson, Harold
  3. Battaglia, Charles,
  4. Breland, Bradley
  5. Cooke, Dan
  6. Doffitt, Chris
  7. Fitzsimmons, Robert
  8. Garrett, Cody
  9. Gutierrez, Mariamar
  10. Holten, Ben
  11. Koepp, Russell
  12. Lawson, RaHarold
  13. LeJeune, Aubrey
  14. Parker, Kenneth
  15. Perkins, Robert Shane
  16. Reynolds, Matthew
  17. Richmond, Cecilia
  18. Rose, Gardner
  19. Shirley, Charleston
  20. Smith Vivian
  21. Sonnier, Cliff
  22. Tate, Jon

Congratulations to all students.

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Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees


Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees

By George  Giltner,  Adv. Master Gardener, Tree Farmer

On a recent trip, we noticed a billboard that warned users of firewood not to transport the wood, but instead to buy locally cut trees.  There may be invasive bugs hidden in and under the bark that can infect and cause the death of your favorite trees.  Firewood should not be sold or bought if it is infested with bugs.

LSU Plant Pathologist, Dr. Raj Singh, in a 11/03/14 news release warned that Laurel Wilt has been confirmed in Union Parish.  This lethal fungal disease is spread by the Redbay ambrosia beetle, which is carried with infested firewood.  Host trees include sassafras, red bay, swamp bay, camphor, spicebush, pond berry, pond spice, avocado, and California laurel.

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Adult redbay ambrosia beetles. Credit: Michael C. Thomas, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Redbay ambrosia beetles push out frass for “toothpicks” to appear on tree. Credit: Georgia Forestry Service

These black to brown beetles are very small at 2 mm in length.  There presence may not be noticed until they produce fine sawdust tubes that extend from the bark.  Also observe that the leaves of the infected trees are wilted due to clogging of the xylem (water-conducting tissues).  When the bark is peeled notice the black coloration of the sapwood.

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Red Bay with Bark Striped showing black fungus. Credit: Albert Mayfield, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Another beetle, the black twig borer, will attack and kill smaller branches.  It is frequently misdiagnosed as redbay ambrosia beetles.

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Damage by black twig borer.


Please contact Dr. Singh, 225-578-4562 or email him through the LSU AgCenter if you suspect Redbay ambrosia beetles within Louisiana.

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Adult emerald ash borer. credit:


 The adults are a dark metallic green, ½ inch by 1/8 inch wide.  They make a small “D” shaped exit hole when they emerge from the bark. The adults do little damage to the trees as they nibble on leaves, however the larvae feed on and destroy the inner bark (xylem and phloem) which results in significant damage to the tree nutrient and water transport system.  The ash trees usually die within 5 years of the initial infestation. Insecticides may save trees but the degree of damage under the bark is difficult to determine.

The cost of treating trees, especially in landscapes, is a difficult decision.  Homeowners must consider property value enhancement, shade and cooling, environmental quality of life in a neighborhood, and sentimental attachments.  The use of systemic insecticides has been attributed to beneficial insect population declines.  Heavy use of certain insecticides may destroy an EAB infestation, but may not be suitable due to state laws or environmental concerns.

Other serious pests as firewood hitchhikers include the Gypsy Moth (males trapped in Mississippi and Texas) and the Asian Longhorn Beetles that attack 15 plant families including maples, willows, and elms.

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Male & female gypsy moths. Credit: Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

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The best advice for campers and homeowners is to buy only local firewood within a county or parish.  “Spread the Word” about these very destructive insects to fellow hunters and fishermen, fellow campers, and neighbors.  Inspect firewood and report suspicious infestations to AgCenter representatives throughout the state.

George Giltner is a forest landowner in Beauregard Parish, LA  and a self-taught entomologist. He is also a Louisiana Master Gardener.




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Drones for Forest Landowners


Drones for Forest Landowners

By George Giltner

 One of the newest evolving gadgets for farmers is camera drones. The technology has recently changed into “smart” flying cameras that offer a multitude of uses. Even a first glace at a one of these visual choppers scares off many potential users, but the flying has been greatly simplified and is reportedly fun to operate. A quick search on the internet yields numerous videos of instructions, flight trials, and aerial views that seeds landowner’s usage.

drone pic

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter

Forest landowners need close aerial, visual information. For example – When smoke is in the air, a quick flight of a 20 minute battery operated flying camera could spot the location and extent of a local fire.  Then response time could be minimized to reduce damage and intensity.  With state fire teams stretched to extremely low numbers, a quick response by local landowners equipped with plows, sprayers, and rakes could put out initial small fires.


The eye in the sky can also observe suspicious activity. Trespassers, illegal hunters, parked cars around the property boundary, nearby logging operations, etc. can be viewed without risk and the effort of time.  These cameras can range to 300 yards.  Also they can be fitted with wide angle to narrow vision lens.

Some four-legged animals can really be a pest around a tree farm. Feral hogs, loose cows from a busted fence, coyotes, and even deer can be located easily from an above live camera video feed to an iPhone attached to the flight controller.  On the ground this would be impossible, as bushes just a few yards away can hide a piney woods rooter.  However, you would not want to launch a Quadcopter around trees, especially in winds.

Your investment for a good camera system is usually beyond $1000, therefore having it hung up 100 feet into a Longleaf pine, and then dropping to ground would be a disaster. A cleared out loading zone is ideal for launches and retrievals.  If you drop the controller and the power is lost, no problem – a GPS system like the Phantom 2 goes into auto-retrieve mode and flies back to the launch site for a landing.  This also applies when the limit range is overreached.

With a high visual view, problem bug sites can be identified. Also the quickest route can be determined and saved for an up-close examination of the infection. In years of outbreaks of southern pine beetles, this can be a priceless tool for the landowner.  In two weeks time a 40 acre plot could be destroyed within two weeks time, like in the late 70’s and 80’s.

In our Louisiana woods, slews, creeks, marshes, and other obstacles make havoc of a “quick walk in the woods”. A man plowing fire lanes became lost overnight in a creek bottom as he went for a diesel can ‘just across the creek’.  Other stories were common until the age of cell phones, GPS, and updated aerial maps.

Therefore with a little investment in time and a moderate investment in technology, a modern forest manager can have an excellent tool for aerial observation and historical photography. Beyond the forest business, aerial cameras are used for outstanding photography, hobbies, security, and family fun. They are definitely worth investigating for your use.







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Brief Photo Essay on Prescribed Burn Workshop



Brief Photo Essay On Prescribed Burn Workshop

Jimmy Earl Cooley, Master Gardener, and Keith Hawkins, SW Area Extension Forester


Dr. Niels d Hoop, LSU AgCenter, was the lead instructor of this year’s workshop.


This field exercise included a test burn.


After the test burn, the class evaluated to site and decided to burn a small area.


The field exercise included the mop-up of the burn site.


Graduates and Instructors of the 2014 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana.

The graduates of this year’s Prescribed Burn Workshop include, in alphabetic order:

  • Stewart Bailey
  • “Doc” Calcote
  • Joe Chaney
  • Steve Coleman
  • Douglas Dowden
  • Ashton Dupre
  • George Giltner
  • Bret Hardisty
  • Ronny Jones
  • James Love
  • Bryce Mae
  • Wendell Marcantel
  • David Meaux
  • Dick Meaux
  • Gaston Messer
  • Luke Parlier
  • Jonathon Perkins
  • Wayne Pleasant
  • Todd Strother
  • Clint Travis
  • James Turner

Instructors were Mark Davis, District Forester, LDAF, Darrell Eaves, Firefighter, LDAF, Dr. Niels de Hoop, Forestry Professor, LSU AgCenter, and Keith Hawkins, SW Area Extension Forester LSU AgCenter. Mr. Jimmy Earl Cooley was event photographer.



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SWLAFA Board Meeting Minutes – September 18, 2013

SWLAFA Board Meeting Minutes – September 18, 2013 – Wednesday 0900 to 1030 hours

Recorded by George Giltner substituting for Bobbie Giltner, Secretary

Board members in attendance:  Richard Meaux, David Meaux, Harvey Kieffer, Dr. Joe Bruce, George “Shorty” Crain, Paul Stone, and George Giltner.  Keith Hawkins, Chair of LSU AgCenter (Beauregard) Extension Service was absent due to an out of state Service Conference/Award Presentation.

Dr. Joe Bruce moved to approve minutes after their review.  It was seconded by David Meaux.

The board offered “Get Well” wishes to our secretary, Bobbie Giltner, who has recently had a bad fall and health issues.  She was missed by all, and the consensus of a speedy recovery was passed.

The Treasurer’s report was presented by George “Shorty” Crain.  He reported a single withdraw $250 for Keith Hawkin’s Conference Trip) since the last report.  Harvey Kieffer requested a dated Financial Report on paper for board members.  President Richard Meaux wanted the Financial Report to be separated from Keith’s Budget portion in our bank account for clarity.

New Business:  1) The board set a date of March 8, 2014 for the SWLAFA Annual Meeting in the DeRidder Exhibition Hall.  An alternate date of March 15, 2014 was selected in case of conflicting scheduling with the Exhibition Hall.  Keith Hawkins was to make reservations for this event.

2) Topics of the Annual Meeting were discussed.  Consensus was to have professional speakers (Selected/contacted by Keith Hawkins) to provide current information on the following forestry topics:
a) Regeneration Planning (procedure, cost, assistance programs, contacts, fertility issues, etc.)
b) Forestry Management during the growth cycle (fertilization, thinning, burning, disease, storm replants, etc.)
c) Sales (current market, how to make a timber sale, who to contact, markets, etc.)  Current Timber prices can be found online:
d) Local Forest Product Industries (Location, names, and end products that are made from our timber).

3) Tax Exempt Status for the SWLAFA.  Bobbie Giltner is to look through the Secretarial Files to locate documented paperwork and a number for Tax exemption for our organization.  She is to contact David Meaux, or (337) 257-3385 of her search.  If this information is not found, then he will begin a new tax exempt process through the IRS.

4) SWLAFA Bylaws – David Meaux will rewrite and update our bylaws with a dual old/new format for the Board’s review.  He will email this document to board members before the next meeting (Nov. 6).

5) Upcoming SWLAFA Board Meeting Dates:
November 6, 2013 DeRidder AgCenter @ 0900 for Bylaws/Tax Exemption Status/Annual meeting
January 15, 2014 DeRidder AgCenter @ 0900 for Annual meeting details

Adjournment was moved by Richard Meaux, and seconded by Harvey Kieffer.

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The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar
By George Giltner, Master Gardener

2013 WMTM

The caterpillar of the White Tussock Moth

Ouch! Most of us in forested areas have come in contact with these little tuffed (tussocks) hair caterpillars with short, bristly, toxic pincushion hairs on their backs.  These stinging hairs cause a very irritating rash especially on the inner arms, neck, and stomach areas.  Where do they come from?  Look no further than trees and brush as these caterpillars feed on a large variety of leaves including oak, pecan, hickory, walnut, willow, rose, maple, pear, and many others, including conifers.

The population densities cycle from year to year with very high numbers one year, then possibly no reports the next year.  They can cause economic loses of newly planted trees (1-3 years old) when complete defoliation occurs.  Healthy developed trees usually recover even when they are completely defoliated.

A positive ID is made by observing the orange head, tuffs on the back, and red dots on the hind abdominal segments that are in line with a dorsal black stripe.  Also look for the brown, paint bush tail hairs. The white-marked tussock moth is related to the gypsy moth, family Lymantriidae, which also has the tussock stinging hairs on the larvae.

To control the young caterpillars (less than ¾ inches) use Bt products like Dipel or Thuricide.  For the larger caterpillar that can reach 1.25 inches, use pyrethroids (synthetics), pyrethrums (natural), or spinosad products.  Birds are voracious feeders on the large caterpillars.

The caterpillars first appear in early April after overwintering in the egg stage.  Then they go through several enlargement stages during 35 days to pupation.  The gray cocoons with silk threads may be noticed in the bark of host plants.  The adults emerge in about 2 weeks, mate, and then die.  The males are born with well-developed wings, but the females are forced to stay local with undeveloped wings. Three generations per year are normal for the white-tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma.

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Top Ten List: Louisiana Forestry Association


Top Ten List: Louisiana Forestry Association

Keith Hawkins, Area Extension Forester

             The Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA) is a private organization which serves the interests of forest landowners and many enterprises relying on forestry for economic and environmental benefits. With apologies to David Letterman, here is a Top Ten List for joining the LFA:

10.      Sponsors of the Tree Farm Program and the Louisiana Loggers    Council.

9.        Providers of seminars and conferences to improve your knowledge of forestry.

8.        Your voice before state and federal lawmakers.

7.        Defenders against excess regulation.

6.        Source for information to get the most from your forest investment.

5.        Leaders in developing and training in Best Management Practices which protect water quality.

4.        Promoters of Sustainable Forest management.

3.        Supporters of fair competition for your forest products at home and abroad.

2.        Promoters of fair taxation for your forestry investments.

1.      Defenders of your Right to Practice Forestry.

The LFA has more information at about joining. This webpage will provide inforamtion about membership fees and a downloadable form.  For more information, call the LFA at (318) 443-2558 or Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter, 337-463-7006.

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                                      By Dick Meaux, President

A number of years ago, some forward looking individuals decided that it was time for landowners in Beauregard Parish to get together and meet to discuss items of mutual interest – the result was the founding of the Beauregard Landowners Association.  As time progressed the focus of the association narrowed to issues primarily involving forestry and the name was changed to the Beauregard Forestry Landowners Association to reflect more accurately what the organization was about.   The evolution continued and a couple years ago it was decided to broaden the membership to include the parishes of Allen, Calcasieu, Jeff Davis and Vernon, changing the name to the Southwest Louisiana Forestry Association (SWLAFA).

Those of you receiving this blog already know this and are familiar with what we do.  You also realize that our group is made up primarily of forestry landowners both private and industrial.  Certainly there are professionals such as foresters, buyers and loggers and the like who are members, but our primary membership is made up of tree farmers both large and small.  It is with that in mind that this article is written because there are a lot of people out in the five parishes that are involved in growing, managing and selling timber that could benefit from what SWLAFA has to offer and yet they do not know that we exist and that we can help them enhance their forestry operation.

With the foregoing in mind, this is a plea for you who already enjoy membership in our group to pass the word to friends and neighbors who are interested in forestry and tree farming that there is an organization that can provide them not only with information and assistance but with the opportunity for them to meet with others who share their interests.  They should know that we have an informative annual meeting, field trips and workshops of many types that cover a wide range of topics.

At the last annual meeting we had a presentation from the Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association covering the activities of the Legislature, then in session, that affect Forestry.  An attorney who specializes in mineral leasing gave timely advice on that topic, one which is of interest to many as there is much activity in the local oil patch just now.  The District Conservationist discussed longleaf programs as well as other areas of NRCS support that could benefit forestry land owners.  How to register your land as a movie site was presented and the difficulties of selling small tracts of timber were brought up.  Timber from small tracts of less that 40-70 acres is sometimes difficult to market since it is not cost-effective for a logger to move equipment for such a relatively small harvest.  The hope to develop a system wherein small landowners could get together on a sale in a certain area that would concentrate their timber assets and thus make harvesting more attractive due to the larger amount of acreage.  This effort is currently underway.

Field trip options are being considered, but the last annual meeting site was a just such a trip in itself in that it was held the historic Southern Forest Heritage Museum at Longleaf, Louisiana between Forest Hill and Glenmora.  This could not have been a more perfect setting for an in depth presentation of items pertaining to forestry.  The opportunity to enjoy a great bar-be-que luncheon and then tour of the historic buildings and facilities rounded out a very informative day.

Recent workshops involved hunting leases, prescribed burning and landowner legacy and succession.   The later topic is unique in that it attempts to help a landowners pass on the fruits of their efforts to the next generation and not see their land lost to an unmanageable estate where a tangle of different interests result in the land becoming unproductive and unmanageable.  One future workshop already planned will address thinning of a stand and thus be a help to those who choose to manage their own timber.

The price of membership for one person and one spouse is only twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per year.  The benefits, such as the ones discussed above, are obvious, but in addition at the annual meeting there is lunch for all and the fee for most workshops are waived for members of our group.  Now it is up to you, current members, to put out the call and be a good friend and neighbor by encouraging other forestry landowners to join.  They will not only benefit from what we have to offer, but they will thank you as well.

Thank you and think good forestry management.

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“Whitetail Deer Food Plots” will be Featured at SW LA Forestry Association Annual Meeting


“Whitetail Deer Food Plots” will be Featured at

SW LA Forestry Association Annual Meeting

 Again, it is that time of the year when forest landowners are invited to attend the Southwest Louisiana Forestry Forum. Dr. Don Reed, Wildlife Biologist, will instruct deer hunters and landowners about the most productive methods of installing food plots for whitetail deer.

Also, the Southwest Louisiana Forestry Association (SWLAFA) Annual Meeting will occur jointly with the Forum. This Meeting will be on Saturday, March 9th, 8 AM until 12 noon, at the Exhibition Hall, Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds, DeRidder, LA. The cost for this event is $25 per household which includes a husband, wife, and dependent children. Lunch is also included in this fee as well as a year’s membership. A registration form is included towards the back of this newsletter.

Another important benefit to being a member of the SWLAFA is free admission to most workshops coming up later this spring. A story in the newsletter will describe other programming that the Board of the SWLAFA had requested from the LSU AgCenter.

This event will deliver useful forestry topics such as: the state of Louisiana forestry, and USDA forestry programs. Here is a summary of the topics on our agenda:

STATE OF LOUISIANA FORESTRY: Mr. Buck Vandersteen, Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA), will make a presentation about the state of Louisiana Forestry. Buck is also very knowledgeable about upcoming forestry issues which our State and National Legislators will confront.

The LFA provides an insurance program for landowners and hunt clubs, and these comprehensive general liability policies offer a $1 million dollar policy per occurrence with a $2 million aggregate with no deductible. Both the landowner and the hunt club will receive a certificate of insurance.  As always, Buck welcomes questions from attendees about forestry, landowner insurance and related topics.

FOOD PLOTS FOR WHITETAIL DEER: Dr. Don Reed, AgCenter’s Wildlife Biologist, wrote Food Plot Plantings for White-tailed Deer in Louisiana, a publication to assist hunters and landowners in producing forage suitable for our native deer. Dr. Reed will describe the optimal methods for raising food plots.

Also, Dr. Reed will be available to answer question regarding other aspects of wildlife Management.

ASSISTANCE FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS: Mr. Corby Moore, our local Conservationist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will share the latest information about programs to help forest landowners. Some of those programs help with longleaf pine reforestation,  hardwood tree planting, and other practices can help with controlling invasive exotic plants. Some programs allow for landowners to improve their wildlife habitat. The USDA provides financial resources to enable good forest and wildlife management.

SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE (SPB) UPDATE & NON-NATIVE FOREST INSECTS AND THEIR POTENTIAL INFESTATION: Where is the SPB? What are they doing? Will their number explode soon? Dr. Tim Showalter will talk about what SPB is doing and what the future will hold regarding this important pest of southern yellow pine trees. Dr. Showalter will also apprise forest landowners of other forest pests which may cause economic problems for Beauregard Parish and other timber locations in Louisiana.

UPDATE: EUCALYPTUS FORESTRY IN SW LOUISIANA: SW Louisiana, especially around Merryville, LA, is home to several thousand acres of eucalyptus which will provide wood fiber for paper manufacturing. Dr. Mike Blazier, an AgCenter Forestry Professor, has conducted herbicide trials on eucalyptus plantations in Beauregard Parish and can describe the current status of this fairly new type of forestry.


FEE:  $25 per household (husband, wife & dependent children); Late fee: $5 additional



# Attending: _____________________      $ Amount Enclosed: ______________

Make checks payable to:    “SW LA Forestry Association”.

Proceeds go to Beauregard 4-H Foundation & to AgCenter adult education.

Mail payment & this form by March 6, 2013 to: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter, POB 609, DeRidder, LA 70634

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 337-463-7006 or

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Forestry Forums – A Valuable Tool for Tree Farm Management

The Southwest Louisiana Forestry Forum, an educational program of the LSU AgCenter, will be coming up soon. It will be on Saturday, March 17, at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, Longleaf, LA. It is also the Annual Meeting of the SW LA Forestry Association.

I asked Mr. George Giltner, a Tree Farmer and past President, Beauregard Forestry Association, to share his comments about the benefits of attending Forestry Forums. Here are his thoughts:

This is the time of year to get updates, make new contacts, and to review management plans with the assistance of forest forums throughout the state.  These meetings provide experts from the LSU AgCenter and other agencies to help deal with everything from estate planning to prescribed thinnings to maximize forest health and yield of our timber products.  While we are in the information age with computers and online information, human to human communication is by far the best means of disseminating forest information.

 Our Tree Farm has benefited over the years with professional advice from forest specialists. Dad first experimented with Timber Stand Improvement with a garden tractor modified to power a heavy drill that he used to inject herbicide.  That did not work as the cull trees simply continued to grow with dead holes in the trunk.  After attending one of the first available forestry meetings, he learned about girdling to destroy the cambium layer for hardwood control. Then we were off deadening hardwoods every weekend to improve our pine stands.  From that time on, we made every effort to keep up with the educational information at forestry seminars.  Probably the most significant seminars were on marketing timber for final rotation sales.  We doubled our expected returns by using sealed bids and the services of foresters for sales.  Estate planning seminars also had a profound effect on our ability to send the kids to college and to retain capital in the Tree Farm after Dad passed.

 Last year after hearing emphasis on fire protection, budget cuts affecting response times of fire fighters, and the need for continued management in a down market, we took our forester’s advice for a thinning on our home 80 acres.  Most of our fire lanes are now 20 to 25 feet wide, yaupon and other flammable brush has been reduced to ground level, and crowded pine beetle Ips infected areas have removed or opened up for healthy forest growth.

 Forestry forums have always been a catalyst for action.  The emphasis of subject matter that they bring forward, a better way to manage forests, and just the private discussions and interactions at meetings with professionals, lead to making the family forest more profitable and viable.  Plan on attending one or more!

Attitude of gratitude: Thank you, George for your comments.




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