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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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…]

Roger and Judie Wilson

WWOA members, Dr. Roger and Judie Wilson of Clintonville along with their children Central Sands & Wolf River Ch 9.29.12 043Sandra, Gregory, and Dan recently discussed their woodland passions during a family weekend.  Roger would like to share some of their thoughts.

Roger says, “Your passion for your woodlands is like roots in the sand.” He explains, “All roots are not the same but serve a purpose for growth, stability and a base for the creation above them.  Flowers, field crops, trees and families all have roots that bind and twine as time moves along.  Anything with roots in the sand deserves attention.  A sand base presents a challenge to start with – to bear fruit then, is a special gift of life.”

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Don and Geneva Krahn

WWOA members, Don and Geneva Krahn of Arkdale, have involved bridal shower backdropstheir family and friends in their woodlands for many years.  While Don has always been interested in the outdoors, he says, “it was a conservation course in college that really stirred my interest in tree farming.”

Their story starts the day after Geneva and Don closed on their first home in Fort Atkinson in 1962.  Don and his brother-in-law, Howard, headed to Adams County to look for land resulting in the purchase of 40 acres in the Town of Big Flats.  Don states, “Needless to say, the proximately of those two purchases brought some slight friction to the Krahn household.  Worse yet, both my brother-in-law and I had to borrow the farm funds from his father.”

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Jim and Marlene Zdanovec


WWOA members, Jim and Marlene Zdanovec of Oshkosh, grew up with a passion for Zdanovecs & shop 2011woodlands.  Coming from rural backgrounds, Jim says “passion for our 160 acre woodlot and the environment began at an early age because we understood how important the woodlots are to our sustainability as a human race.”

The objective of Zdanovec’s Outback Tree Farm in eastern Marathon County is to promote long-term productivity of the forest ecosystem with good land stewardship, for the benefit of the land and wildlife.  Their Tree Farm started as land that was referred to as the “pits in early years due to granite excavation and timber high-grading but through their care the land has been transformed to a healthy forest.  The Zdanovec’s passion and hard work on their woodlands resulted in being named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Tree Farmers in 2002, and in 2004 they were awarded the National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year Award, becoming only the second Wisconsin couple to receive this honor.

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Kent and Jeanette Makela

WWOA members, Kent and Jeanette Makela of Maple, say WP_20131008_002their family history has influenced how they manage their woodlands.  As Kent says, “Being a somewhat stoic Finnlander, getting passionate about anything can be a stretch . . .that said, I do fantasize about returning the land to what it must have looked like before the great cut-over.  WWOA has caused me to focus on this sort of goal, as well as meeting others who, while we may have different goals, share the same passions.”

The Makelas have randomly planted white pine, white spruce and yellow birch to create a seed-tree stocking base, three species that Kent is sure were present on the landscape and are now absent.  Kent states, “So, I guess you could say I am passionate about historical restoration of our forest.  I have looked at the original survey notes of George Stuntz and picture him making notes on the section corner just down from our house.”

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Dean and Kay Mehlberg

2104K&DAs a new member of the WWOA community I have observed a common trait among the members I’ve met thus far, passion; passion for their woodlands, passion to learn, and passion to give back. With spring approaching and the field season near I want to encourage all our members to share their passion. Talk to community members, neighbors, family, and friends about WWOA. Take the time to give back in your Chapters, help plan a field day, join a committee, and find a way to get involved. You never know the influence your passion will have on others.

Dean and Kay Mehlberg do know. Kay’s father, Pete Kucksdorf, was a big inspiration in their lives and helped lead them to WWOA. In Kay’s words, “When I think of him trees automatically come to mind. I remember planting trees every single year. It was a big part of him. The woods became a family recreational and learning activity.” Pete managed 150 acres in Shawano County. The woods strengthened the family bonds. Dean reinforced that message, “He was big in managing hundreds of acres and a consummate reader and learner. He would encourage all his kids to participate in logging activities and plant trees.” Dean and Kay followed Pete’s advice and joined WWOA, the passion was passed on.

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