Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wisconsin Family Forests

Appleton, Wisconsin -

Gerry Mich is the executive director of Wisconsin Family Forests, but in a previous lifetime used his other bit of knowledge, in the form of an M.D., as a general family practitioner in town. These days he spends his time caring for the environment in differing capacities, and not always in traditional ways. Besides being involved in foresting, he is involved in tree planting initiatives and does work with the Department of Natural Resources for fun (see goose banding photos below).

The goal of Wisconsin Family Forests (WFF) is a bit philosophical in nature in that they ultimately seek to educate and assist forest land owners in around different parts of Wisconsin including Oshkosh and Door County areas. The eventual hope is establish chapters throughout the state. The organization is still growing and looking for more advocates. Getting in touch with the right people is a difficult part. Funded mostly by grants thus far, they are continuously on the look out for new funding avenues that doesn't conflict with the interests of their organization. For them to provide a free service to landowners costs them money.

On the surface WFF may seem like any other forestry consulting service, but they have different motives than some. WFF, as a non-profit, seeks to gain nothing but the increased appreciation of forests by the landowners. What the WFF does is offer an advocate program to local residents, in which they send out an advocate for the organization and most times an expert in the form of a forester to help land owners realize the true potential of their forest and to help them tailor the land to their goals, all while keeping sustainable forestry in mind.
These are people that love the woods, period. They love the aesthetics, they love the space, they love the rural lifestyle. They want what's best for the woods in general, and that starts with helping the landowners realize what they have, and how to take care of it. Wood is a renewable resource, especially when dealt with properly. Often times this includes suggestions such as cutting down, or thinning out parts of the forest with dense growth, or old mature trees, so as to let newer trees thrive. "Everything's short term these days" says Mich., but WFF is in it for the long term health and benefit of Wisconsin forests and landowners overall.

Gerry is a living example of the philosophy behind the organization he runs and I wish them success in the future.

Forester Kim Quast checks the density of pine growth while evaluating a landowner's forest on a WFF advocacy outing.

The invasive autumn olive plant is discovered.

Landowner Dale Hempel waits in the rain during the middle of an advocate visit.

Forester Kim Quast and WFF folks Gerry Mich and Judy Newland joke around in a pine woods side during an advocate visit.

DNR folks and associates including Gerry Mich (left) carry panels through a prairie while searching for geese to band. Geese banding is the catching of geese during their annual molt, while they cannot fly, and attaching metal, numbered bands around their feet so that their origin can be identified either by hunters or DNR folks from different regions who come across the geese in another year.

Gerry's 7th grade neighbor Michael Daniels came along for the banding for the second year in a row.

Pilot Luke Wuest (left), DNR Biologist Mark Randall (right) and Gerry Mich (center) band geese at a local park near Fon du Lac.

Gerry Mich poses for a portrait along the side of Highway 10 near Appleton, Wi.

Mich mowes the area frequently because he spearheaded a tree planting effort there a year ago, and needs to make sure the trees don't get swallowed up by the tall prairie grass. Parallel to the highway is a recreational path in which joggers, cyclists and horseriders can often be seen. "Hopefully, some years down the road, this path can be shaded and not in plain site of the highway" said Mich, who figures he'll be mowing for three or four years. The stretch of trees he and volunteers planted was a mile long.

Mich's backyard prairie, with some tree seedlings.

Have a happy 4th of July Weekend! Next up you might see some pictures from Ashland, Wisconsin up in the far north near Lake Superior. I'm hoping for a few less mosquitoes there but somehow I think it will be the opposite ....

No comments: