Karen and Randy Cooper

Imagine driving with your in-laws to a fish fry in northern Wisconsin, when suddenly, a tiny sign nestled in the grass at the side of the road catches your attention. It’s written, “Land For Sale”.

You glance at your spouse, mirroring a look of mischief in each other’s eyes and decisively turn around to investigate. That’s what Karen and Randy Cooper did.

After parking and walking in a bit further, the Coopers decided to call the real estate agent right then and there, taking the first steps in the process of obtaining their northern paradise. “We fell in love with the red pine right then,” Karen recalls. “It drew us in.”

That was just the beginning, though.

“We never thought we’d find a property so diverse and so well managed,” Randy continues. He describes the mix of black ash, white cedar, white pine, red maple, aspen, red oak, and others that comprise the mosaic of forest cover on their 110 acre property in Oconto County.

The couple’s passion for forestry started long before they acquired the northern property, though. Randy’s degree in Forestry was enough information for Karen to know she’d accept a blind date with him back in 1985. “My thinking was we’d probably have enough to talk about for one night. Little did I know I’d receive a forestry lesson nearly every day since then.” [Read more…]

Jack Rasmussen

What would you plant on a cleared 50 acre parcel? A veneer plantation? Well, that’s what WWOA member, Jack Rasmussen of St. Croix County, did, with a little push from his older brother, of course.

Jack purchased the property in 1993. It was an open piece of land after having been enrolled in CRP following years of agriculture. He didn’t have plans for the property when he bought it, but his brother, Dane, convinced him it was best to plant trees on the land.

With a background in research and development, Jack applied the same critical thinking skills to his land, and invested a year’s time to study and plan the reforestation of his newly purchased property.

After much thought, Jack decided to pursue a veneer plantation. He knew it was a lofty goal and not something he would see in his lifetime, but someone’s children would, and that is what made it worthwhile to Jack. [Read more…]

Bobbi Freitag

Bobbi Freitag first heard of WWOA when she and her husband, Rick, attended a woodland owners conference in Ashland in the early 1990s. They had recently purchased their land in the Birchwood pothole lake area and decided to attend the conference to learn more about their northern woodlands. The conference opened Bobbi’s eyes up to sustainable forestry and enlightened her to the vast amount of information available. After hearing one of the speakers from WWOA, Bobbi and Rick decided to join the organization.

Sustainable forestry quickly became a passion of Bobbi’s. Her woodlands, enhanced by glacial lakes, are a mixed hardwoods type, including oak, birch, maple, popple, ash, and pine species; pine being her husband’s favorite. They implemented trails on the property to facilitate hikes and ATV rides through the woods.  [Read more…]

Jon Fox

Jon fells a tree on his property with his father.

Jon fells a tree on his property with his father.

Jon Fox currently studies forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His interest in forestry has deep roots, having grown up on 16 acres of woodlands in Dane county. His parents bought the property in the late 1980s, and have been caring for its woodlands, since. Jon has always been engaged with his family’s woodlands, working alongside his dad to remove invasive species and manage their property for wildlife and hunting. Studying forestry in school, however, has expanded Jon’s knowledge and granted him a whole new perspective on the field.

Jon notes that he has always enjoyed the woods, but since attending school, has come to realize just how diverse and special his family’s woodlands are compared to some of the northern pine stands. The property is home to large oaks mingled with evergreens left from their family’s old Christmas tree farm. Eagerly, Jon lists the other species on their land, including hazelnut, aspen, and mountain ash, that he hadn’t noticed before going to school.

[Read more…]

Rich Warosh

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Firewood and hunting was the extent of Richard Warosh’s familiarity with his grandparent’s woodlands in Lincoln County when he was growing up. Rich always looked forward to hunting the land, enjoying all the mixed northern hardwood stands had to offer, but as he entered college, his grandmother told him she planned to sell the land. Rich empathized with her and mentioned that he wished he had the money to buy it. She was surprised at his remark, not knowing that he had any interest in the land. This news instantly triggered a change in her plans, and she decided to take him to the courthouse the next day to sign the property over to him. Richard was shocked and excited by her decision, but quickly realized he lacked any background information on forestry or logging. [Read more…]

Carol and John Nielsen

Carol and John Nielsen worked as professional foresters with the Carol and John NielsenDepartment of Natural Resources (DNR) throughout their careers. They started out in Northern Wisconsin, but eventually ended up further south, where their 240 acre Bakken Skov (Hill forest in Danish, and also the name of their woodlands) can be found in Richland County. Bakken Skov is home to an old house’s foundation on a ridge, which is now home to a walnut tree growing tall in the center. In the beginning the walnut trees on their property had been their kids’ scholarship trees, but over the years they’ve turned into kitchen remodel trees, and most recently they’ve become Carol and John’s retirement trees.

[Read more…]

Tom and Mary Kempen

Tom and Mary Kempen’s road to being woodland owners was a Tom and Marywinding one. The Kempens built a home in Ashwaubenon in 1979, and Tom had a hankering to heat it with wood. He started looking for a piece of woodlands, so they could have a sustainable source of wood for their wood stove. In his search, he and Mary found a 55 acre piece of land up for auction, put in a bid on the wooded 25 acre portion, and won. These 25 acres on Pleasantview Road became Tom and Mary’s Pleasant Acres, which they still own today in Brown County.

Once they had Pleasant Acres, the research on tax breaks for woodland owners began, which led them to WWOA, because WWOA had a lot of the information they were looking for. By the early 1980’s Tom and Mary had joined WWOA, they enrolled in the Managed Forest Law (MFL) tax program in 1985, and had the first thinning of their woods in the summer of 1998.

[Read more…]

Kurt and Gloria Schuh

The Schuh’s woodlands, in Marinette County, have always been a familyDSC04459
affair. Kurt’s grandparents bought the first 40 acres in 1964, Kurt and his brother later bought 52 acres, and Kurt and Gloria bought 40 acres, all adjacent to one another, making a contiguous 132 acres today.

Gloria loves their woodlands for the space it provides for their family. When their son, nieces and nephews were young they planted many acres of trees in their woodlands, and Kurt and Gloria were able to watch the kids grow up alongside those trees.

Even when their son, Jake, was too young to entertain the concept of being quiet while in the woods, Kurt wanted to start instilling in him an appreciation for the woodlands and wildlife, and so he took up trapping when their son was 3 or 4 years old. Jake also got to help out in the woodlands alongside his grandpa planting trees on the property.

[Read more…]

Brent & Deborah McCown

McCownsI once read that ignorance and indifference are the twin enemies of democracy. The two are likewise the twin enemies of our forestland. It is the educated and responsible woodland owner who preserves the integrity our woodlands deserves. It is our community which reaps the benefits they sow: cleaner air, purer water, abundant wildlife, and revitalized souls.  We, as WWOA members, believe our woods are best managed by dedicated families with the power of knowledge. Let us look to yet another example of this belief in action.

Brent and Deborah McCown manage 157 acres of diverse, hilly uplands in Iowa County. 100 acres consists of maturing deciduous hardwoods, mostly oak, hickory, basswood, and ash. All of the woodlands have been actively managed by the McCowns for about 35 years now and are under the Managed Forest Law. The other 57 acres is Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grassland, mostly brome grass, but also include about 5 acres of rare remnant short-grass prairie and another 5 acres of planted prairie.
[Read more…]

Carl and Doris Mueller

DorisOne of my greatest pleasures serving WWOA is speaking with woodland owners from all across Wisconsin. There is so much difference among them– from political views to professional experience and hobbies. And yet there are many commonalities in the WWOA membership as well, including an ethical respect for the land, a deep seeded desire to leave the land better than they found it, and a passion to help fellow woodland owners. We shall continue our profile of WWOA members with Carl and Doris Mueller of Onalaska, WI. I recently had an entertaining phone conversation with Doris which I would like to share with you (Carl was out on their tree farm attempting to get a stubborn wood splitter working again.)

The Muellers first acquired their 160 acre tree farm in Trempealeau County after (and this is when I was introduced to Doris’s amazing chuckle) haha! Well, Carl came home one day and told me about it – hehehe!  She clarified that one of Carl’s former students-turned real-estate-agent informed them about the property. At the time the farm consisted of a few tillable acres, two active lime quarries, and the rest woodlands. In between her laughter (I believe half of our conversation took this form) Doris mentioned that over the years they worked hard to plant “thousands and thousands of trees.” [Read more…]