HARRISON COUNTY, Ohio — Do you ever drive down that township road and barely notice a little wooded patch? Does your farm have a woodlot at the far side of your property that you visit only during hunting season? Ohio’s forests and woodlands are a resource we often don’t appreciate enough. Two Ohio foresters recognized on a national scale can heighten our awareness of the importance of those trees.
Randy and Korel Clum in east central Ohio received the 2018 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year from the American Tree Farm Systems. Randy and Koral both had extensive careers in the forestry industry before acquiring their own woods in 1993. They now manage 152 acres of certified forestland in southwest Harrison County, consult with local foresters, and share their expertise at public speaking events.
Forestry education is a core value for Koral. She and Randy are very active around the state with various organizations, but they feel most impactful at the local level.
“As foresters, one of our downfalls is we like to be in the woods and be quiet,” Koral says. “Like a triangle, forest land owners, foresters, and loggers must work together. The more educated each branch is and the more communication that happens, the more healthy forests we can have for the future.”
Forestry often ends up as a forgotten stepchild in the agriculture family, but most farms have a woodlot, it might help a farmer add more “acreage to their numbers” for business benefits; it might be separated most of the time or just added in later. Most of the time, good forestry management is a “moving target” and must meet a land owner’s objectives and be sustainable in the future. Koral said these different objectives are creating the “legacy of the land” for these agriculturalists.
Brad Perkins, executive director for the Ohio Forestry Association and OSA Steering Committee member, shared his enthusiasm for the Clums’ recognition and achievements for the state. He is confident that their leadership and other foresters around the state can help connect agriculturalists with foresters.
“The forest products industry in Ohio would like to see traditional agriculturalists approach the management of their forested acreage with the same zest for knowledge that they exhibit in the management of their traditional farm acreage,” Brad says. “Using this obtained knowledge to properly manage their forests will result in a win-win-win situation.”
The total annual economic value in Ohio from forestry was $26.3 billion, according to the latest report from The Ohio State University Forest Economist on Ohio’s Forest Economy. This can be enhanced through continued partnership and awareness in the ag sector.
“More and higher-valued, sustainable products for the forest products industry; increased income on a more frequent basis for the landowner; and enhanced ecosystem services such as better wildlife habitat, improved water quality, and increased soil protection,” Perkins says, are all possible as we close the forest and farm gap.
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