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Upcoming Events (See above for details
September 9th: Annual Picnic at John Daugherty Tree Farm.

October 1st WOCAV is participating in the PA Woods Walk to take place across PA to highlight Penns Woods. See details above.

December 14th 7 - 9 PM Annual Christmas/Holiday party

August 2017
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Members List:

President:
Max Lowrie
Treasurer:
Joe Lowrie
Vice President:
Eugene Metcalf
Secratary:
Lee Swoger
Board:
John Daugherty
Layne Giering
Duane Harriger
Lana Harriger
Jim Ross
George Schmader
Jane Schmader
Dennis Waldorf
Jackie Waldorf
Ser. Forester:
Clarion Cty Dave Cole
Jefferson, Armstrong Gary Gilmore
Forest & Venango Cty Ty Ryen
Penn State Ext:
Gary Micsky
Penn State Ext.:
Scott Weikert

Links Section


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PENN STATE EXTENSION

NORTHEASTERN AREA USDA FORESTRY

SIGEL SPORTSMEN'S CLUB

NWOA

TREES OF PA

PENNSYLVANIA FORESTRY ASSOC

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WEB SOIL SURVEY

CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY

PA COUNCIL OF PROF. FORESTERS.

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Member Experiences
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“Love of the Land”

Written by Cathy and Paul Kentzel

It took years of sacrifice and labor for a blue collar man to acquire the Kentzel property. Jack and Nancy Kentzel found refuge in the rolling hills away from Pittsburgh’s industrial landscape. Slowly, they collected parcels of land. A Butler County farm was inherited from Nancy’s family, the Shaffer’s, and the mountain lands in Venango County were purchased one by one as funds became available.

Years of enjoyment were clouded by life’s misfortunes: Nancy succumbed to illness at a young age and Jack endured his senior years alone. He was a private man who was proud of the properties he had accumulated. However, lack of estate planning made it impossible for Jack’s heir to hold onto these cherished assets after his passing in 1998. There was always a promise that the properties would be inherited by Jack’s only child, Paul. While grieving the loss of his father, Paul and his family were quickly faced with the reality of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government’s inheritance tax laws. Back in the 1980’s, the tax was at an astounding 50% of the land’s value. This was an enormous burden both financially and emotionally for a middle class family of five.

In order to cover some of the tax burden, timber was harvested from the three generation Shaffer family farmland. In the skidder’s wake, a barren waste land of twisted timber and unhealthy stock was all that remained. Ultimately, the timbering did not raise enough revenue for the Kentzel’s to retain the land, and with heavy hearts, they sold the farm to a doctor who planned to build a hunting camp. Paul and his wife Cathy vowed to do whatever necessary to keep the Venango property in their family and to never destroy a forest again due to their lack of forestry education.

In 2002, the Kentzel’s learned that the property adjacent to theirs in Venango County, which had been donated to a conservation organization without any easements was now being sold on the open market. Upset that the future of this land would be as uncertain as their own, the Kentzel’s quickly rallied friends and nearby landowners to create a not for profit organization, The Fisherman’s Cove Preservation Foundation, Inc. (FCPF) , to purchase and preserve the land.

The Foundation provided an extensive educational opportunity for the Kentzel family. Knowledge is a powerful tool and was collected to be utilized not only for the FCPF property but on their personal lands as well. During this time, foresters from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) visited the properties and added their knowledge of vital sustainable forestry practices to manage the forest along the Allegheny River. By nomination, Paul and Cathy were invited to participate in the PA Forest Stewards Program created by Dr. Jim Finley of Penn State. This program raised the Kentzel’s awareness of their surrounding forest land.

As volunteers, the Kentzel’s continue to share their knowledge with others. The five Kentzel children were enriched with education of the forest as well. Laurel, the oldest, aided in the technical aspects of projects. Ivy, then a high school student, created a Youth Group. Aspen chose to aid in invasive plant removal and management, and the two youngest children Willow and Briar, participated in the annual property clean ups. Slowly, the family grew to have an immense appreciation for the lands of Fisherman’s Cove.

Paul and Cathy met their tax debt by scrapping together funds and managed to pay Uncle Sam. The hardship to the family was great! The Kentzel children went in debt for their own educations. Ironically, Laurel now works for an investment company, Ivy and Aspen are working towards degrees in anthropology and forestry and Willow and Briar are absorbing it all.

The quest continues as the Kentzel’s must continuously meet the financial demands that proper management of their property requires. Stewardship is currently maintained with little to no cost by means of invasive removal, tree planting and erosion controls. The future forest management plan will provide an income to sustain the financial burden of the land. Paul and Cathy have chosen to will the land to one of their five children so the land will remain intact and not be parcelized thus risking its preservation. The property will have easements in place to guide its heir and all subsequent generations in sound management. The funding for the property will come from sustainable forestry harvest and the building of one to two rental properties which the siblings will utilize as well.

It is a brighter future. With planning and education, the Kentzel family will enjoy Jack and Nancy’s lands with sustainable practices and a legacy for the future.

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The Freeman Tree Farm is located east of State Highway 478 along Freeman Road (T 314) in Richland Township, Clarion County. The property can be reached from Interstate 80 taking exit 45 on SR 478 south 7 tenth miles to yellow gate on east side of SR 478. The entrance area is identified by several tree farm signs.

The property has been a certified Pennsylvania Tree Farm (No. 1447) since June 4. 1974. The first Management Plan was written in 1972 and updated -1980 -1982 -1986 and 1991. – A comprehensive ten year plan was prepared in1998 to which there have been regular annual updates

The landowner’s Management objectives are to practice overall good stewardship and forest management, with the assistance of professional foresters, so that the property can be used as a showcase to promote the stewardship land ethic and the tree farm concept to others. Provide educational opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life. Search for new methods and ideas in forest management and to provide a test-site for those concepts. Enhance and create wildlife habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

Many have enjoyed hiking, hunting, wildlife observation and relaxing on the property. There are approximately 17 miles of hiking trails on the property with other trails being constructed during timber harvest activities.

The Freeman’s have hosted numerous educational events beginning in 1985. Individual’s youth and adults have enjoyed a visit to the farm. The largest event was the Pennsylvania Tree Farm 50th Anniversary in September 1997, attended by over 400 landowners, professionals, and children.

With the cooperation of Pennsylvania State University School of Forest Resources a 12 acre experimental/demonstration Stewardship Timber Harvest Demonstration Area was established. Trails through the six treatment blocks were accessible for hiking and wagons. The project was set aside for over ten years with the objective to encourage the responsible management of forests by showing the results of alternate timber harvesting treatments. An improvement cut has been completed this year to restore the area with good management practices.

Arlyn Perkey, former USDA Forest Resource Manager established a 6.5 acre Crop Tree Management test site. The selected crop trees were measured annually for a period of ten years to determine the annual growth. The area is scheduled for a timber management harvest with in the next two years.

The Freeman’s have earned numerous State and National awards/ recognitions over the years to include the prestigious the American Tree Farm 1998 National Tree Farmers of the year.

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Gene Whited

We have 12 acres of property in Butler County, 64 acres in Clarion County and 36 acres in Venango County. All of these have woods with timber size trees for a total of approximately 95 acres of woodlands. I acquired them strictly for recreation or a suitable place to live.

The trees are very nice and I enjoy owning them. The fact that one property has woods with a stream, one had a site suitable for building a large pond, and another is on the Allegheny River and they all gave me space and privacy which is what drew me to them.

Five or six years ago I began to realize that I had to give some attention to the future of the woodlands we own.

I am beginning to understand what needs to be done. I've learned that there are a lot of help available to assist in this endeavor. I am going to begin by developing plans for our land this summer. I know there are a number of individual owners and professional foresters to show me the way, but the ultimate responsibility is mine.

Gene

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Arnold Greenawalt

I have been a dairy farming or had some association with farming for my entire life. Throughout that time I have been committed to and will remain diligent to conservation practices.

I own approximately 320 acres. All of this acreage has the constant concern of soil erosion associated with it. Stream bank fencing and concrete walkways have been installed on my property to help preserve the cleanliness of the waterway running through the grazing areas of the cattle. These measures also help to prevent soil erosion by the 60 head of Holstein cattle.

Rotational grazing by a series of paddocks has also been implemented to help mitigate soil erosion. Spring development provides the cattle with a constant supply of clean drinking water. Another measure taken to prevent soil erosion within the grazing area is the use of geo-textile material and 2RC aggregate base for heavy use protection.

For my conservation efforts I was awarded the Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1999, and the Gold Trout Award in 2002 in recognition of distinguished service and dedication to the enhancement, preservation and restoration of our cold water resources and the Northwest PA Project Grass Outstanding Producer Award in 2006.

I have been a member of the Clarion County Conservation Board for four years and associate member for one year prior. I am also a member of the Woodland Owners of Clarion Allegheny Valley and the Arbor Day Foundation. By way of my involvement with the district I hope to continue to be able to provide a voice for the use of conservation efforts throughout the area.

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A View from the City to the Country
By Jane Schmader

Being a city girl in the suburbs of Washington D.C. until I married George, I had not given much thought to living in the country or owning a lot of land. As George began to show me a “whole new world” in Pennsylvania with all the activities and sports that he loved doing in the country, I realized I needed to go shopping for some serious footwear!! I knew his hearts desire was to some day retire to his beloved Pennsylvania. That seemed a long way off in the future and in the meantime it was just a fun place to go for a “quiet get away”. But my love for the country grew as I learned to hike, canoe, fish, camp in a tent, sit in a tree stand for three years (freezing) until I got my buck, and go with out make up! WOW!!!

As the years marched on we began to plan and talk about how we could make our retirement dreams a reality. George dreamed of owning a “lot of land”. I thought Fernwood our little camp on 35 acres, was a “lot of land”. I always dreamed of living on a hilltop or even a mountain. And we did seriously look at property in Colorado, but settled on PA because we both wanted to be close to our family (at least in the same time zone). After a series of events that ultimately allowed George to retire early we started looking for a “lot of land”.

God’s amazing grace has a way of bringing happiness out of sadness. While visiting his dieing mother one weekend George heard that a 145 acre property, that he knew as a boy, might be for sale. He called me in VA and said “I found your Hill”. The very next weekend he drove me up a rutty, badly washed out and neglected driveway, past two rusty abandoned old cars to “my hilltop”. On that warm spring day as I stood in grass up to my knees and gazed over the distant hills and endless blue sky I knew that “this is where I will spend the rest of my life”. For me it was love at first sight and not all of it was a “pretty sight” (as George and I later discovered). We quickly closed the deal. And after months of looking at various house plans we selected one with the most windows and enlisted a builder. Our home was constructed while we sold our house in Northern Virginia and tried to explain to friends and co-workers why on earth we were retiring NORTH.

Next we enrolled the property in a Forest Stewardship Plan and my education began. After moving into our new home we spent our first summer picking up and hauling away all sorts of medal and pipes from an old abandoned gas mining operation, years of accumulated trash dumping ,as well as finding someone who would take away the two rusty old cars and other items too large or heavy for the two of us to handle. George got his first experience at timber stand improvement when he thinned a 10 acre maple stand. He learned a lot that summer about felling trees and I learned to watch from “far away”!!!! We kept binoculars in every room of the house so that we could “watch the wildlife eat” our newly planted landscaping and garden. I felt like I had National Geographic in my backyard.

Along with my love of the “view” came a love for the land. As we became forest stewards, I learned the enjoyment of hard work and the feeling of gratitude for the privilege of sustaining and improving the piece of creation that God has entrusted to us. Hillwood is now my home and where my heart is.

My hopes for the future of Hillwood are pure and rather simple. I hope that by the time George and I are laid to rest, there will be among our children, grandchildren, and by then great grandchildren, many wonderful memories and happy times spent at Hillwood, etched on their hearts. I hope that we will have taught them the value of our forested land to the environment and the importance of sustainable forestry practices to future generations. I hope that Hillwood will stay in the family for our future descendents to continue good stewardship, and always enjoy the view!!!!

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It was all about horses
Layne & Susan Giering

After boarding two horses for a number of years, it was decided to find a home where the owners and the horses could live together. With the pasture came woodlands. Our purchase of 100 acres, in 2000, contained 35 acres of fields and a 65-acre woodlot.

After reading a notice in the Derrick newspaper about a Landowners Conference to be held in Clarion in early 2002, I decided to attend because a topic timber management caught my eye. The rest is history.

David Steward wrote a forest stewardship plan in 2003. Since then, I have been cutting grapevines, killing muliflora rose and doing TSI. I planted some Christmas trees (but I am still on a learning curve). Also I am trying American and Chinese chestnuts. I tired ginseng but it was not successful.

The property was high graded in 1999 by the previous owner. It will be another 10 years before a commercial cut can be done. In 2007, I purchased an adjoining 25 acres. There will be an improvement cut done in 2008. A 1.5 acres test plot will be clear-cut in an area that has prolific oak regeneration. It will be interesting to see the results.

One great pleasure is walking and hiking the trail system that is constantly being developed and expanded throughout the forests. These trails are used almost daily for exercising the dog; trail riding on horses and simply peace and relaxation. A possible future educational project is to develop a nature walk with points of interest to view.

Tools of the trade include a tractor. The front bucket helps make trails, then I can brush-hog the trails in the summer, and with a 3-point hitch adaptor I can skid logs. The most useful tool is the ATV. I have a box on the back loaded with chainsaw support items, bow saw, pruner, gas, oil, Biltmore stick, note pads and spray paint. The saws are attached front and back and I am ready for action.

The move to the country was one of the greatest things that happened to me. It has given me a new sense of purpose and work to keep me occupied in my semi –retirement years.

Layne Giering

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Dave and Betsy Fowler

I came to Clarion County in 1971 after spending 6 years in Kansas City. As a native of Pennsylvania it was good to be back. I had worked for Penn State as a County Agent for four and a half years before going west, now I was back as a County Agent assigned to Clarion County.

I found our 30 acres in 1972 and built our log home in 1973.

The land had been a farm in the early 1900’s but was grown up and some of the fields were still a horse pasture. A stream runs the full length of the property.

In 1984 a small timber sale took about 100 trees off the north east comer. In 1993 we decided to have a Stewardship Plan written. Dave Steward wrote the plan that called for a timber stand improvement cut in an overpopulated area. Gary Gilmore marked the trees and I started cutting to keep our new outdoor wood burner fed. We cut and cut and cut, the good trees breathed a sigh of relief and filled the canopy.

In 2005 I removed the blue beech in the understory of one block to improve regeneration. The results are still to be seen there.

Lee Swogger updated the Stewardship Plan in 2006 and marked more fire wood to be cut along with opening the canopy for some regenerated cherry that was growing where the timber was harvested in 1984.

Looking at our land now we see a very diversified 30 acres. The old fields have grown up in shingle oak brush, excellent wildlife cover. The firewood cuts have improved the quality of the timber to be harvested in about 10 years and removing the understory will regenerate a crop for the future.

After the plan was written both the work and fun started, we like it.

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Dreams really do come true. Joe & Barb Lowrie

While Uncle Ralph was ill, he needed someone to look after his country house and acreage in Tionesta. Our four kids were young then (so were we) and we thought it would be fun to spend some time away from the city. For three summers we left Pittsburgh and made weekend visits to Uncle Ralph’s farm house on German Hill Rd. We all enjoyed our time in the country and began to dream of someday having our own place in the woods. The dream grew to include a log house, a nice garden and maybe even a pond.

We kept nurturing our dream and spent almost 3 years searching for just the right property. In 1978 we found 65 acres for sale just outside of Clarion. The day we drove up to see it, there was three feet of snow on the ground but the minute we saw it, we knew: “This is it!” We came back in the spring and purchased the land and a used trailer to put on it. For the next 20 years we used it for summer vacations and winter hunting camp.

In 1997 our son, Max, announced that he wanted to move to the land and build a log house. Our dream was coming true but not for us. Max had a contractor build his shell but Joe helped Max finish the inside work. The experience convinced them that when it was time for us to build, they could erect the shell themselves.

Joe retired at the end of 2001 and our log kit was delivered in March of 2002. Joe lived in the trailer and worked on the house every day. Our three sons came every weekend and labored tirelessly toward the completion of our project. We moved into the house in May of 2003. We are now living happily in our log cabin in the woods, helping our trees grow and tending our garden. With a lot of help from family and friends, dreams really do come true.

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John & Bev Campbell

John Campbell has been keenly interested in our forests from the time he was a boy and an Eagle Scout hiking amongst the tall timbers of Cook Forest until he realized his dream of having a woodlot of his own.

His Forest Stewardship plan was written with much forethought in 1996 and followed diligently and enthusiastically - meeting all goals and demonstrating what a dedicated woodland owner can accomplish.

John is a member of the Pennsylvania Stewardship Program, Volunteer Initiative Project, VIP Coverts, American Tree Farm System, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation and the Woodland Owners of Clarion Allegheny Valley. His wife Beverely is on the board of the Woodland Owners of Clarion - Allegheny Valley.

He is a Director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Forrest County where he represents the interests of good Forest Stewardship and Management.

He is an ombudsman for our Forest Resources and their best management practice to insure that our forests will be there in good shape for the future. John, as a small woodland owner, is active in the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program, Forest County Cooperative extension as well as the local Woodland Owners Association. John has attended the National Tree Farm Convention and many state and local continuing education seminars in Forestry Management.

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Jeff & Evelyn Balla

My wife, Evelyn, and I retired in 2004. We spent the last 35 years living in South Florida. Since I am a native of Western Pennsylvania I had always hoped to retire to this area. Evelyn and I spent the last 15 summer vacations scouting the Western Pennsylvania area for property to build our retirement home. Finally in 2001 we found 50 acres of an old strip mine with a scenic view. Originally we wanted to settle on 5 or 10 acres, however we fell in love with the 50 acre parcel and decided to purchase it for our home site.

Several years prior to my retirement I was a member of The American Chestnut Foundation. I wanted to plant a few chestnut trees on our property since the majority of the land was open grassland with clumps of shrubs that Evelyn thought were very fragrant in the spring. I joined the Pennsylvania Chapter of TACF and they put me in touch with my DCNR Forester, Gary Gilmore. Gary was also a chestnut enthusiast and started me on a plan to reforest my barren (almost barren, the fragrant shrubs) landscape and plant a few trees to enhance the environment for wildlife. Gary informed me that the fragrant shrubs consisted of Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose and Bush Honeysuckle which were invasive species. They were forming dense thickets and should be eradicated. Gary also suggested I attend a meeting of the Clarion County Forest Stewards. C.C.F.S. is where I learned that various members were forming WOCAV and I decided to join.

In 2005 I began a project of reforesting my grassland with various conifers and hardwood seedlings and became a tree farmer by joining the American Tree Farm System. I am also trying to clear out as much of the invasive species as possible and using the slash as bush piles to enhance wildlife habitats. Part of my wildlife enchantment program includes a wetland pool, actually a giant mud hole for frogs, birds, insects, etc.

Lately I have been reading a lot about biomass and carbon sequestering. I have begun to plant fast growing hybrid poplar cuttings to see how well they will grow in my poor soil. Who knows, this may be the next cash crop for biomass in Pennsylvania. It's a shame that there is so much stripped land in Western Pennsylvania that is just growing weeds that could probably be put to better use to provide energy and also to enhance the environment. So "Think Green" and to quote George Schmader, "Trees are the answer!"

Jeff Balla

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OUR TIMBER SALE EXPERIENCE By Bob & Genevieve Benson

We bought the 30-acre property in the spring of 2001, located just outside Brockway, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. We had just retired and bought the house and 30 acres strictly as a place to retire and live for the rest of our lives. We had absolutely no intention of ever becoming involved in a timber sale. We had the property surveyed in 2003 and the 30 acres turned into 38 acres.

We paid little or no attention to the trees on the property until one day in 2005; an Amish man knocked on ¬our door and wanted to buy the timber. After examining the trees on the property, he made us an offer. Soon after that we received 2 higher offers from other people.

We had no idea that timber was worth that kind of money, so we attended a couple of seminars sponsored by one of the forestry organizations. After listening to all the pros and cons (we signed a contract with a Consulting Forester in July, 2006 for the standard 10% fee. We agreed with the consultant on the size of the trees to be timbered and, after marking them, he told us we had 863 trees to market and his estimated value was 3 times that of the Amish Man. We were absolutely shocked at that amount and really couldn't believe it.

The consultant proceeded with the bidding process and we both attended the bid opening in the consultant's office on October 6, 2006. The consultant asked us which bid we wanted first, the lowest or the highest. He gave us the highest bid (4 times that of the Amish man) and we almost fell off our chairs.

The high bidder brought in a skidder and immediately began to harvest the trees, but the ground was very soft and the skidder was making ruts over a foot deep. They decided to curtail the operation until the ¬ground was invaded by "Mr." frost. "Mr." frost finally invaded the ground, the cutting began again and the last logs left the property in February, 2007. At that point, we were hoping that the cleanup portion of the process would restore the area to where it was before timbering.

We had also requested that an oak tree in our backyard be cut down but it was not put in the contract and, as of this writing (April, 2007), it remains standing. ,p>We were very concerned about (and were unprepared for) the tax consequences of a timber sale, but the Consulting Forester had also provided a basis for the timber that was cut and, after attending a tax seminar given by Jackie Waldorf, we were assured that our tax preparer had accurately accounted for the sale.

Our timber sale was a brand new experience for us and, except for the tree in the backyard; we were very pleased with the whole procedure. However, to anyone contemplating a timber sale and interested in some advice from a couple of amateurs, we offer the following:
1. Hire a consultant
2. If you have any special needs to be accomplished, put them in the contract.
3. Know and prepare for tax consequences.

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Chuck and Fran Hillman
50930 State Route # 14
East Palestine, OH 44413
Also
H C # 1 Box 89
Vowinckel, PA 16260

I was born in Pennsylvania and introduced to hunting at an early age by my father. He enjoyed the woods and instilled that love for nature in me. I have hunted in PA every year for 65 years with the exception of a couple of years in the Air Force. In 1977 after hunting from camps owned by friends, staying in private homes, motels, etc., Fran and I decided to look for some land to build our own camp. We spent several years and explored various locations, then, finally in 1981 we found 33 acres in Forest County just across the Clarion County line near Vowinckel. Since a couple of friends were also looking for land we kept 10 acres and sold them the remaining 23 to get money to begin building. The basement was dug and the camp framed in, in the summer of 1982. We would spend our weekends at camp finishing the exterior and by deer season of 1984 our camp was ready for hunters.

Since 1984 we have repurchased 15 of the original acres and now have 25 acres at the camp location. In the summer of 1997 while doing some yard work a local real estate agent drove by, waved then backed up and stopped to ask if I would be interested in buying some land. After getting a map, finding out the price and driving down the road to look at the land we bought the 80 acres. The land does not connect to the camp property but is approximately 2 miles away and just over the county line in Clarion County on the other side of Cooks Forest.

Shortly after that I read in the Pennsylvania Game News about the Forest Stewardship Program and after writing for more information and talking to the then District Forester, John Portzline, I hired a Forester to write a plan for us. The plan was approved by the state but unfortunately the Forester who wrote the plan didn't follow it when it came time to implement the plan. Our relationship with this person was terminated and I learned from John of a group being formed called WOCAV. John thought that this group being comprised of local woodland owners would be a good source of information and networking for us.

I started working with John to plan some food plots and examine the possibility of a timber stand improvement cut. About that time John was transferred and a new District Forester, Lee Swoger came to the area. Lee has been every bit as helpful and knowledgeable as was John. A timber stand improvement cut was marked and as of March 2007 the cutting was completed. Through working with John and Lee I have met Bernie Spozio and Trudy Alexander of the Clarion County Conservation District. We have discussed the possibility of having a Wetland Improvement Project completed on the Clarion County land. As of a few weeks ago I understand that the project has been approved in Harrisburg and should be completed this summer.

We, Fran and I along with our family, 2 children, 12 grandchildren and one great grand child enjoy all four seasons at camp. The support systems available through WOCAV, District Foresters, The Conservation District, etc, are available to all and could not be more helpful. It is our intent to keep and improve our little bit of Penns Wood for our children, grandchildren, great grand children and hopefully many more generations to come.

Chuck & Fran Hillman
August 9, 2007

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A WOCAV member’s tale by Dennis Waldorf

Once upon a time on the outskirts of a small city there lived a prince and princess. They were not born to the purple but on a world scale they lived a magic life. Their children were grown and they lived in a house that seemed to have grown large but they used it all and were very happy. They had dreams of sailing off into the sunset on their sailboat which they kept on a wonderful estuary called the Chesapeake Bay. Life seemed to float along while they worked and played and thought themselves lucky indeed; far too lucky for any spell to befall them.

The princess began to have problems. She had muscle cramps and felt very tired. None of the physicians in their realm seemed to be able to help and the problems persisted. The princess struggled valiantly against the unnamed threat; the prince wanted to believe that there must be a wizard in the realm that could strike his wand and banish these problems from there idyllic life but alas he was not found.

One day the prince’s mother called to ask if he would take on the responsibility of caring for a small rather well worn farm that she owned with her sister. The prince and the princess knew that this piece of dirt would be an anchor far too large for their boat but decided that they could manage and they felt obliged to comply with the request.

Undaunted the prince and princess continued to take there boat on shorter and shorter sails the princess spent less and less time on deck and more and more time in her berth. Soon a wheelchair was part of the scene lashed to the lifelines on deck yet the prince clung to their plans. Even when the princess was in the hospital, the prince would still take the boat out for the day, swim in the cool water and nap while the boat gently rocked at quiet anchor.

After some time even the dull-witted prince began to realize that this was never going to work out. No wizard had been found; the remote patch of dirt needed attention. The tropical islands of dreams grew dim. The boat was sold, new dreams would be dreamed, money would be thrown in the direction of the farm. Plan B would need to be hatched.

There must be some adventure that was still within grasp. A plan began to unfold, the princess no longer worked and the princes’ mother had died. The prince and princess felt less imperial, more ordinary and more grateful for what they had but they had no direction. There were some things that were a given. They would not spend more than a couple of weeks in the summer at the farm. They would not continue to live where they were after he retired, There would be no more cold winters! But where would they live?

If not by sea then by land: they will travel the country and find that ideal place to live where they could regain their courtly status.

Good fortune prevailed. The company he worked for was going to downsize. There was going to be a deal; life was good.

After some casting about, it was decided to travel by motorhome. Hasty plans were made a motorhome was purchased; the house was sold to the son. They were off!

That was that! They were going to find Nirvana. Yes, they needed to spend some time at the farm to repair some things and attend to relatives that still lived there. Anyway there were too many people traveling during the summer. What were they going to eventually do with the farm? Whatever it is it will not involve cows or any other animals. They could make it a campground or a golf course or maybe they could plant it in trees. Trees are just there; they wouldn’t have to be there.

Nirvana was not in Arizona or California; maybe in Texas.

They had to return to the farm in the winter because of an aunt’s ill health. So they decided to talk to a forester.

Gary Gilmore was excited about trees and a lot of other things as well. How strange. Ok, a stewardship plan could be good. What could be so hard about planting trees. He had planted a lot of pines when he was a kid. They just jumped up out of the ground.

Nirvana was not in Texas, not in New Mexico, not in South Carolina & not in Florida. It was certainly not in Louisiana, Alabama or Georgia. There were not many warm winter places left! Western Pa was not looking so bad. Things had changed. A new drug had been started several years before and it was starting to improve the princess’ health; not exactly a cure but wow what a difference! They decided to sell the motorhome after four years traveling the country and move to the farm.

In the fall of 2001 they had herbicided rows for panting. They had hired a crew to plant the first batch of 5000 trees. All they had to do was put on the shelters. This turned out to be a lot of work for two people who had done very little since the boat was sold. It took 20 days for 1000 shelters.

Slowly they have made the place livable. They have planted an additional 5000 trees. They have become involved PAFS, WOCAV, CCFSC and the Tree Farm Program.

They hope to live happily ever after even though they had to give the crowns back. They were too damn heavy anyway


 
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