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.
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.
In one area of the land, Dave is converting an old field back to forest. Initially, the tall grasses were outcompeting any desired walnut seedlings, so he let red elm move in and shade out the grasses. This then allowed the walnut seedlings to survive and become established.
Now when he comes across a walnut that is competing with an elm for resources, he simply gives the elm a whack. The gash makes the elm susceptible for Dutch elm disease and it is only a matter of time before the disease takes its course.
Growing up on a farm with a woodlot, Dave spent as much time in the woods as possible. This appreciation of the forest helped led him to a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a master’s degree in forest entomology, or the study of forest insects. It was while he was working as a forest entomologist for the Wisconsin DNR in Fitchburg that he was made aware of the effort to start a woodland owner organization. He thought it was “the best idea since power chainsaws” and joined as a charter member when WWOA formed in 1979.
From the beginning Dave has been involved with WWOA. Early on he was a member of the Education Committee with the likes of Joe Tuss, Bill Seybold, Jeff Martin, and Betty Hauge. After Bill’s death he co-wrote an article in Woodland Management (currently Wisconsin Woodlands). Additionally, he was the first chapter chair of the Blackhawk Chapter.
His current favorite chapter activity is Blackhawk’s Tap’N Woods nights. Members visit local pubs or wineries for a night of food, conversation, and advice. These nights are also the epitome of Dave’s advice to new members: enjoy the company of other WWOA members and learn about managing your woodland.
As a charter member, Dave has witnessed WWOA grow over the years. He’s glad to see WWOA accept change, but still maintain its values since forestry is a long-term endeavor, “WWOA must continue to be a strong leader for sound forestry practice. It is important to resist threats to sound forestry practices by those who are motivated by short-term interest.”
Through his involvement in WWOA Dave has learned a lot that is not in forestry textbooks, thanks to professionals and other woodland owners. Dave gives back to the organization because he feels a responsibility to help WWOA bring woodland owners together. It’s a place he feels he belongs.