A Conservation Investment for Sustainable, Marketable Timber Products
Like many people who make a living off the land, Dan Mast works to make the
best management decisions he can for his land and his future. Conservation, he
says, is a sound investment in the natural resources that support his
“When you’re managing a timber enterprise in a 50 to 60 year rotation, you have to be aware of conservation,” Mast asserts. “You wouldn’t have anything down the road if you weren’t.”
“In this particular area, forestry is of course very important to small acreage owners,” he said.
Mast’s property includes 200 acres of mature timber as well as another 590 acres of understocked woodlands that, for decades after it was originally logged and prior to the Mast ownership, had not been replanted or managed for timber.
Mast contacted district conservationist Tom Purvis with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for help developing a conservation plan to manage the site for sustainable timber production.
“Tom [Purvis] has a reputation in the community as someone people can talk to and work with,” Mast said. “He has lived here for years and can appreciate some of the resource problems.”
NRCS provides conservation planning assistance to private landowners to help them evaluate the natural resource conditions on their land. Conservation planning is an important step that helps land managers assess management alternatives for meeting both production and conservation goals.
Purvis worked with Mast to develop a plan to meet Mast’s goals for sustainable timber production while protecting healthy plant and animal communities, preventing erosion, protecting water quality, and deterring invasive species on his land. The plan focused on a practice called Forest Stand Improvement. This includes establishing a forest through tree planting, increasing the growth and quality of young timber stands, and removing mature timber for forest products or wildlife habitat. In addition, Mast installed all-weather access roads, fish friendly stream crossings, and forest harvest trails and landings designed to protect water quality and prevent soil erosion.
“The conservation plan lays out priorities for management,” Mast explains. “We’ve gone through the unit and prioritized the projects over the next 20 years.”
Not only is Mast working to optimize forest production, but his conservation plan will also help him market the timber as it becomes ready for harvest.
“One factor in marketing logs is the certification issue,” he said. “Retailers are demanding it, and more mills are asking for it.”
Forest certification assures buyers that the forest products are produced and
harvested in an ecologically sound manner that maintains natural forest
characteristics and protects soil, water, plants and wildlife.
“Having a conservation plan takes care of the first step in receiving certification, because you have to have a plan to earn one,” said Mast.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides leadership
in a partnership effort to help people