Tom and Margaret Culbert

All members of the Culbert family enjoy spending time in their woodlands and using Margaret’s Gator. Photo by Margaret Culbert.

By Margaret & Tom Culbert

Our woodlands, located in Holcombe, include a 40-acre mixed hardwood forest that backs up against some 2,000 acres of Chippewa County land. We were familiar with the property 25 years before we purchased it, as a friend of Margaret’s family bought the property in the late 1960s and Margaret’s father helped build the rustic A-frame cabin that has become our traditional deer hunting meeting place.

Every November, Tom traveled to the cabin from our home in Virginia with one or both of our sons for deer hunting, and we all gathered there for family celebrations whenever possible. We purchased it in 1993, taking the fam-ily legacy into the next hunting season and beyond.

As our family retirement approached, we had more time to spend at the cabin, traveling to Wisconsin about every other month. Tom purchased a compact tractor (Margaret got a Gator), and with the help of family and friends, carved four trails into the woods. The trails have opened up the woods for recreational enjoyment in all seasons; they also prove useful as “fire lanes,” providing access to county land in the event of a fire.

Tom is a life member of WWOA and, when possible, we attend Chippewa Valley Chapter and Annual Meetings. We look forward to those meetings as we share our interests and concerns with other woodland owners, while the educational sessions continue to help us shape and improve our woodlands. [Read more…]

Geary Searfoss

Share the Passion… for Your Woodlands

By Abby Krause & Geary Searfoss

Geary at a Plantation.

Sudden may be a good word to describe how Geary Searfoss and his wife, Kay, acquired their second piece of property.

The two were not unfamiliar with buying woodlands; they already owned 32-acres in Dunn County. They bought that property shortly after they were married, even before they owned a house, since having a piece of land to call theirs was so important to them.

However, buying their second woodland took a slightly different route than the traditional buyer-seller arrangement.

It started when Geary was looking at tax forfeited properties in Sawyer County. Many of the properties he had been viewing possessed little to no timber value. He was ready to head home when a piece of landlocked woods only legally accessible by river caught his eye. Closer inspection revealed impressive glacial features including eskers, erratics, and a bubbling, cold water stream. Geary fell in love with the property so much that he rushed to the county offices before they closed to put in a bid, as they were due that afternoon. [Read more…]

Dave Hall

Dave Hall strives to engage his kids and grandkids in their woodlands. He wishes they love the smell of sweet, spring air when the wild geraniums are in bloom as he does. But he also wants them to know and care about the biology of managing such a place. That’s why walking and working in the woods with family is his favorite thing to do on the property.

Dave and his wife Eveyln stand in front of their restored barn on a tour during an Annual Meeting. Dave is a charter member of WWOA.

One of Dave’s fondest memories is walking the trails with his 4 year old grandson when he informed him, “You know how you plant seeds in the garden and grow pumpkins and squash and other stuff? Well, all these trees grew from seed.” His grandson’s observation: “The forest is a giant garden.”

Getting the kids and grandkids involved in the property presents its own challenges- from busy schedules and finding activities to interest them, to forcing them to think in the long term of trees’ lives. Still, once they are there, the property offers plenty of space for exploring.

Dave and his wife, Evelyn, have lived on their 160 acre farm in Green County since 2002. The property consists of 90 acres of cropland, 30 acres of creek bottom, and 40 acres of woodlands (with 28 acres in MFL). The forest is central hardwoods comprised of old red and white oak, younger red elm, bitternut hickory, and black walnut. They have a timber sale scheduled for winter 2019.

Dave has employed a variety of practices to achieve his management objectives. He even uses something most landowners don’t want to see in their woods to his advantage: Dutch elm disease. [Read more…]

Aaron Burmeister

Aaron Burmeister has been a life member with WWOA since 1994, and most enjoys WWOA’s field days.

Aaron Burmeister’s passion for sustainable forestry and logging goes back to his high school days when he cut and sold firewood to his teachers. In the 1980s he bought his own land- 5.5 acres of hayfield- that he planted with red and white pine and walnut, with the intention of growing the pines to train the walnut.

Aaron became involved with WWOA because of conversations and involvement in forest with a past member, the late Jim Ring. He was invited by Jim to attend the Annual Meeting in Green Bay that year. Enjoying the organization so much, he decided to purchase a life membership with WWOA in 1994.

“I wanted to help out WWOA more than anything,” Aaron explains. “It’s a great organization that does a lot of good for public outreach and private landowners.”

Burmeister works as a logger in the Fox Valley area. “I want to see the woodlands do well. It’s like Aldo Leopold said, you need all the pieces for something to work. There’s not one aspect of the forest that I’m more interested in than others. Everything is important.”  [Read more…]

Dale Parker

Dale and his wife, Lola, were awarded the 2013 Crawford County Conservation Forestry Award for their efforts to promote and enhance healthy forests in southwestern Wisconsin.

Dale Parker was looking to come home when he purchased 80 acres in northwest Richland County in 1978. As a teenager, he had hunted the property, but as an adult, had an added interest in producing high quality timber on the land. A lot of the property was mixed hardwoods like ash, oak, and maple, but about 18 acres of it was on an old ridgetop meadow overrun by brome grass.

After consulting with Wisconsin DNR forester and recently deceased WWOA member, Rudy Nigl, in addition to a soil conservationist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dale decided to plant the brome grass meadow with black walnut.

The entire property was enrolled in the Managed Forest Law (MFL) program to help formalize the management plan. Dale has practiced timber stand improvement on the property with three crop tree releases. The property is currently in harvest mode and is half done.

As with anything, the unexpected and undesired happens, and Dale was one of the first landowners in the area to have a confirmed case of oak wilt. The recommended (and soon implemented) treatment was to cut all of the oaks in the immediate circle, then trench around them to break up any root graphs that could facilitate the disease spread. [Read more…]

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.evening gowns UK

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 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 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…]