Forest and People 4th Qtr 2015

Select Stories from Forests & People - 4th Qtr 2015

  • Maps and aerial photographs
  • Pioneering forester niche in courthouse
  • Opinion: The coastal forests of La.
  • A look ahead and beyond for forestry
  • N.O. artist replicates nature’s designs

Forestry 101:  Maps and aerial photographs

By David Lassiter
Maps and aerial photographs are important to the landowner for many reasons.  They are helpful in showing the location, boundaries, access and roads within the subject property.  
Aerial photographs are especially useful when delineating stands by age, species, use, etc.  A question that often comes from landowners is where/what is a good source for maps and aerial photographs of their property.  They may not realize that there are many sources, both online and on foot.  Since there are still some out there that do not (will not) use online resources and they just want a decent map or aerial of their property, let’s start there.
The typical route here is going to one or more of the local government offices.  A trip to the Natural Resource Conservation Office (NRCS), a federal government office, will give access to aerial photographs and various maps.  Additionally, if the property was enrolled in a federal program, there may be information specific to the property.  
The parish tax assessor will generally have good maps and aerials that the subject property will be layered onto.  The office may be able to print a clean copy of desired maps.  Certainly copies can be made.  The assessor will also have the legal description and historical information about the ownership of the property that the landowner can use in the Clerk of Court’s office to look up any recorded transactions that affect the property.
Incidentally, it is a good idea while there to check the status of the subject property and make sure the current taxes are paid up.  Suffice it to say that nobody wants to have their property taken because somebody forgot to pay the property tax.
A word of caution - most of these government offices are online and have access to relatively recent digital images.  Their hard copies of actual maps and aerials are sometimes dated.  The only way to really know what they have is to visit the office in question.
U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) topographic maps, typically referred to as “quad maps”, are accurate and useful.  The 7.5 minute series (7.5 minutes latitude by 7.5 minutes longitude) has a scale of one inch equals 2,000 feet (1:24,000).  They show topography, vegetation, natural and manmade surface features, have the sections, townships and ranges marked and show the coordinates in both degree and UTM formats for the GPS users.  They are generally available at local drafting or surveying supply houses.
Another option is the cell phone.  Smart phones now usually come with a map program installed.  If not already installed, these map apps for smart phones and tablets are readily available.  These phones and apps come with very accurate GPS capabilities, access to a large database of streets and roads and access to recent high quality aerial photographs.  
This gives the landowner the opportunity to have an aerial photograph in his hand with his current position clearly marked.  The apps are generally free, but the user does have to agree to share personal information - a drawback for the paranoid among us.  But, as they say, there are no free lunches.
One more option for those who are not averse to using computers, but have no interest in owning a computer and subscribing to an Internet access provider is the public library.  The better equipped library will have the necessary equipment and connections, plus a helpful staff.
For those with reliable Internet access there are many options.  For the inquiring mind, using a search engine, such as Google, will give several choices, which can be perused until the user finds something useful.  
Some parish assessor’s websites may offer to the public the ability to see and print base maps and aerial photographs with layers of information, such as roads, pipelines, powerlines and ownership boundary lines.  The online capability varies from parish to parish, but the user might get lucky.
A widely used online site for aerials is Google Earth, a free download that gives access to recent aerial photographs.  It is easy to navigate and use.  It also allows the user to access older photographs.  It has some rudimentary tools but it is possible get the “Pro” version for free.  This would give access to some of the more advanced features.  Regular or pro, it is well worth a look.
For access to the topographic maps that we discussed earlier, a visit to the USGS website allows the visitor to locate his area of interest and print a map for later use.  
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains soil information and it is accessible online through the Web Soil Survey (WSS).  Information available is similar to the old Soil Survey books.
The state offices for forestry and wildlife have maps and information as well.
Well worth looking into is the Strategic Online Natural Resources Information System (SONRIS) operated by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.  It will take a little while to learn to navigate the site, but there is a wealth of information, maps and aerial photographs to be found there.  If the user is interested in oil and gas activity, present or historical, this is a good site.
Louisiana State University maintains maps and aerial photographs dating back several years.  Coverage is not 100% but it is extensive.  They do charge but they may have just what a person is looking for.  
For the landowner that wants dedicated mapping software there are numerous programs.  One such program is “terrain navigator pro”.  The user can get USGS topographic maps to cover an entire state, or states, and aerial photographs to match.  The user is able to draw, measure, save, print and so on.  It can be expanded and can be used with smart phones.
As you can see, there are many sources for the landowner, particularly one with online access.  I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the most obvious…your friendly forester.  Often times he (or she) may have just what you need, or can get it for you.

(David Lassiter is a consulting forester in Stonewall, La. and a frequent contributor to Forests & People magazine.)

Lewis Peters: Pioneering forester found niche in courthouse

Lewis Peters of Baton Rouge was a boy obsessed with the outdoors when he entered forestry school at LSU in the late 1940s. Consulting foresters were as rare as kiwi and kale in 1951 when he completed his master’s degree in forestry from Yale University.
Little did he know then that he would spend as much time in courthouses around the United States as he would in the woods of Louisiana.  Peters, now retired at age 86, can look back on his career as vice president and co-owner of Bennett & Peters, Inc. and see how he was not only a pioneering consultant but also one who made a name as an expert witness in forestry and rural real estate appraisal.
“A major part of my work was litigation,” he said during an interview at Peters Forest Resources’ office owned by his son, Warren. It wasn’t an intentional career path but one that just worked out as he represented landowners around the state.
“Most of our clients were small private landowners,” he said. “Landowners without the help of a consultant were losing a lot of income.”  Those same clients called on him for valuations, especially when settling an estate. Then companies began asking for independent valuations when buying or selling timberland.
In 1975, he did inventory and appraisal work in South Carolina when he was called as an expert witness in the valuation of a private parcel that is now part of the Congaree National Park. He won the case and his reputation grew as an expert witness.
When the government moved to expand the Redwood National Forest in California they looked to add 26,000 acres of prime old growth forest owned by Louisiana Pacific. Lewis Peters was the expert witness called in the case to value the land purchased.  How did he move around so easily and deal with forests so diverse? “I had the facts and I had to analyze the data,” he said. He worked with local experts and built his reputation from Maine to Seattle.
“Judges and juries are more inclined to listen to an outside expert with no financial interest,” he said. “I spent more years in litigation that I ever imagined.”
In 1969 he was the appraiser on what was the largest forestland purchase to date in the U.S. when Weyerhaeuser purchased 1.77 million acres from Dierks Forest in Arkansas, along with sawmills and other assets. 
In 1976 Chicago Mill hired him when purchasing 237,265 acres of mostly hardwoods in the Delta.
“It’s a pretty good feeling that people out there would put their trust in me,” said Peters.  That trust continued and he worked for nearly every company in the state. In 1985 Crown Zellerbach hired him when Sir James Goldsmith purchased 841,162 acres of timberland.  
During his career he prepared more than 400 separate appraisals involving more than 6 million acres of timberland primarily in the South. He has testified as an expert witness in five federal district courts, the U.S. Court of Claims and 12 state district courts.
“When I told my parents I was going into forestry they said it was a great and honorable occupation,” he said. “They thought being outdoors was a healthy profession.”
The son of a wholesale grocer and a schoolteacher in Baton Rouge, Lewis Peters had a twin brother who didn’t much like the outdoors. But Lewis joined Boy Scout Troop 200 and he loved camping, hunting and fishing. Summers at Camp Istrouma were part of an idyllic time for a boy so fond of the outdoors.
When he reached LSU, he didn’t know a single student. “Most all my classmates were war veterans on the GI bill in 1950,” he said. “Many of them were my father’s age.” It was a serious time to be a student––the military was “very much emphasized,” he said––and Peters was in ROTC training.
Hugh Burnham, retired International Paper forester, was a classmate at LSU. 
In his junior year at LSU he worked that summer for the U.S. Forest Service in northern Idaho, experiencing a whole different kind of outdoors. As he neared graduation, his mother advised him to continue his education and Yale was the place to do that. “It was more formal than LSU,” he remembers. The class was more diverse and many were from overseas and, again, he was the youngest. 
After graduation he returned to the South and went to work in Gloster, Miss. for the Crawford Corporation, a company that was building pre-fab homes for the growing post-war boom.  Peters estimated, appraised and negotiated purchases of timber and logs for the company but a year later he was called up for service in the Air Force during the Korean War.
 Instead of heading to the war zone, he was put into a special assignment called Project Moby Dick to plot the seasonal movement of jet streams to see if the military could help flights in their new jet aircraft save fuel.
The 24 men in his detachment used radar-tracked balloons with an altimeter  that sent back data. Tillamook, Oregon on the coastline was chosen as a good spot for the testing and later he went to New Mexico and South Georgia.
 When he came back from the service, he was hired by Frank Bennett to join his consulting business in Baton Rouge. Bennett was older than Peters but he was also a Yale graduate. The consulting firm grew and in 1964 Peters acquired an ownership interest and the name was changed a year later to Bennett and Peters. The  business grew to include 13 graduate foresters and a total of 29 employees with locations in Baton Rouge and Hammond.
In addition to forest management, the company was involved in timber inventories, plant locations, fiber supply surveys, and a variety of analyses for parties considering either buying or selling timber or timberlands.
“I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it,” said Lewis Peters. Of his four children, Warren also graduated in forestry from LSU but he had been following his father in the woods since he was a young boy. By the time he was 15 he was working every summer for Bennett and Peters.
“I remember one Sunday night when I was about eight years old going along when they were fighting a fire on the Reimers’ property,” said Warren.  It was one exciting moment of many other experiences in the woods that lead him to his eventual career. Once he was a forester in his own right, his father passed on some of the appraisal work as well. 
Warren remembers his father as an easy-going mentor. His dad handed him an appraisal to do and left him to work on it with only a word or two of direction as the project unfolded.
Consultant Gaston Lanaux of Husser also knows Lewis Peters and his work. “He is a very knowledgeable and a practical man,” he said. “He understood the legal system but he is also very knowledgeable about what went on in the woods.” 
“I remember Lewis Peters as an icon of Louisiana and southern forestry,” said consultant/attorney Bill Siegel. “When I came to Louisiana as a young forester in 1958, Lewis was already well established as one of the earliest consulting foresters in Louisiana and in the South. My boss at the time made certain that I became familiar with the then leaders of the forestry profession in Louisiana and that I had an opportunity to meet them -- and Lewis Peters was in that number.”
Lewis was a member of the Association of Consulting Foresters and  was named ACF Distinguished Forester in 2009. He also has lectured at the University of Georgia, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Washington and the University of Nevada.
Warren left the firm in 1996 and Lewis retired from Bennett and Peters soon after. Within a year “he had a desk in my office and would come in whenever he got the urge,” said Warren.
“Forestry has been my life and my dream since childhood and, believe it or  not, my dream came true,” he said when receiving the ACF award in 2009. “This profession has provided opportunities which I never thought possible….Forestry is the most honorable profession. We preserve the most life sustaining resource which God has given us… the forest!”
(Janet Tompkins is editor of Forests & People magazine.)

Opinion: The coastal forests of La.

By Rudy Sparks
The coastal forest of south Louisiana, which consists of 1.0 million acres of land nestled near the bottom of the 1.2 million square mile Mississippi River Drainage Basin, is dissected by the Mississippi River and its major distributaries and their respective ridges.  
Relatively flat terrain, dropping one-to-two inches per mile as it approaches sea level, these mineral and organic soils are subject to seasonal flooding from the Mississippi River and its distributaries, and the tidal influences of the Gulf of Mexico.  This hydrologic regime historically provided alternating periods of drying followed by several months of seasonal flooding on an annual basis.  
From this uniquely balanced ecosystem evolved an even-aged, flood tolerant but shade intolerant climax forest dominated by bald cypress trees ranging from 500-1,200 years in age measuring three to five feet in diameter and 100-120 feet in height that, combined, averaged 15,000 to 20,000 board feet per acre.
Modest harvest efforts of this virgin forest began in the late 1700s and continued through the Civil War, after which time harvest operations expanded exponentially.  In 1913, the yield of bald cypress from this coastal forest peaked at just over one billion board feet annually, but by 1930 the vast majority of this forest had been clear-cut.  During this 60-year period approximately 15 sawmills produced over 15 billion board feet of cypress lumber.
While driven by economics, clear-cutting was the perfect prescription for this climax forest that was originally established on its flood tolerance, not shade tolerance, and by the 1940s most regions supported fully stocked stands of second growth cypress.
Unfortunately, during this same 60-year period many changes occurred throughout the lower Mississippi Delta that began to alter historic hydrologic patterns that were vital to sustaining this unique forest.  The Mississippi River was leveed, two of its major distributaries were dammed at their confluence, an east-to-west railroad and highway were constructed across the southern end of the drainage basin and the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway was built to harness the Atchafalaya River. 
 Additionally, channels were constructed in the 1960s to connect the ports of New Orleans and Houma to the Gulf of Mexico to better facilitate navigation.  Lastly, improvements continue to be implemented for drainage and flood protection in this region via a plethora of forced drainage projects.  
In total, these flood protection and transportation projects, coupled with the natural and man-made processes of subsidence and sea level rise, have forever altered the longstanding delicate balance between the lethargic and unbridled sheet flow from the north and tidal influences from the south that sustained this coastal forest for thousands of years.  
As a result, today this coastal forest has been segmented into five distinct hydrologic sub-basins: Lake Pontchartrain, Lac Des Allemandes, Lake Verret, Atchafalaya and Teche-Vermillion.  Each sub-basin has its unique issues and challenges, including but not limited to, saltwater intrusion, direct flooding, backwater flooding, compromised drainage, massive sedimentation and subsidence.  Consequently, significant portions of the coastal forest in each sub-basin are in severe decline with little chance of reversal, especially given the current hydrologic conditions that all but preclude any opportunity for natural regeneration.
Sadly, for the foreseeable future the highest and best use for this coastal forest will no longer be timber production.  Rather, this coastal forest must be restored to protect the residential, industrial and agricultural corridors in this region from potentially devastating storm surges.  In addition, it must be revitalized to again provide critical habit for wildlife, especially wintering waterfowl.  Finally, these forests hold tremendous potential for filtering pollutants from runoff as well as carbon sequestration. 
Fortunately, opportunities to conserve and restore significant portions of this unique and invaluable coastal forest do exist, but time is of the essence.  To be successful, we must create economic incentives that encourage private landowner participation, change the indolent attitude of government agencies, and quell public misconceptions such as “wetter is better.”
The solution is simple:  To the extent possible, we must restore historic hydrological patterns.  If so, we can conserve, restore and sustain segments of this forest for future generations.  If not, we must reside ourselves to the fact that most of this coastal forest will revert to open water, much of which will ultimately be reclaimed by the Gulf of Mexico.

(Rudy Sparks is a forester and president of  Williams, Inc.)

A look ahead and beyond for forestry

By C.A. “Buck” Vandersteen
Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek recently announced the merger of their two companies creating the largest private timber company in the United States.
Obviously, there is value in timberland! The Plum Creek name would go away and Weyerhaeuser would now manage 13 million acres of productive and diverse timberlands in the U.S. The strategic move awaits approval from their respective stockholders but it appears the move would add tremendous value to the forest products company. It doesn’t appear that much overlap exists and that is good for employees and communities dependent on the industry for jobs and support. 
There is a good message in this announcement for private landowners as well. The message is that the best minds in the timber business still believe there is value in owning timberland. Whether you own 40, 400, or 4,000 acres, a productive forest is best for your family’s interests. Owning and managing timberland in Louisiana is one of the state’s best assets and one of the most rewarding for the owners.
The Louisiana Tax Commission approved timberland values for Use Value Assessment to be used in 2016 that are only a modest increase of about 3% for Classes 1-3 and no change for timberland Class IV. This is good news for forest landowners and reflected a collaborative effort of the forest community and tax assessors to supporting landowners keeping their land in forests. 
In 2015 we saw the further development of the wood pellet industry with wood flowing into the German Pellets facility in Urania and Drax in Bastrop. Solid wood, like oriented-strand board, lumber, and plywood, were on a roller-coaster as uncertainty of jobs and the economy had people holding off on home ownership. Paper packaging held pretty steady. Biomass to liquid fuels was affected by the low oil prices with Cool Planet halting operations at the port of Alexandria. However, Sundrop fuels moved a step closer in starting up their pilot project in Boyce along Interstate 49. This mill will use small diameter wood and wood waste as its feed stock for liquid fuel.
Sen. Bill Cassidy joined three of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to introduce legislation that would address problems our industry is having bringing guest workers into the U.S. to plant trees. These guest workers are critical to forest landowner reforestation efforts. However, the Department of Labor has made it very difficult for small business tree planting companies to find labor they need to do the work. Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act of 2015 was introduced by Cassidy and other Senators to address the problem and safeguard the health and safety of the seasonal workers while on the job.  
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has disenfranchised many private forest landowners in a recently published directive “Recommendations for Specifications, Environmental Performance, and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement.” The EPA decided to recognize only one forest certification system, the Forest Stewardship Council, in its eco-labeling recommendation for lumber products used in federal procurement.
Without an opportunity for public comment or justification, EPA has disregarded the thousands of family forest owners and industry that have gone above and beyond levels of practicing sustainable forestry. Literally cutting a large segment of timber supply in private ownership out of potential markets for their products.
Why EPA is involved in eco-labeling is another issue. The USDA not long ago recognized all sustainably managed forest certification systems as preferred forest products for federal procurement. Letters have been sent to Administrator Gina McCarthy to reconsider her agency’s position on eco-labeling forest products.
We are definitely facing some challenging times in the coming year. We will have elected a new governor and state legislature. We will face the challenges of a presidential election.

N.O. artist replicates nature’s designs

By Melanie Torbett
“Trees have a yearning to live again, perhaps to provide the beauty, strength and utility to serve man, even to become an object of great artistic worth.”   — George Nakashima, American furniture designer

Paul Troyano may live in the heart of New Orleans, only steps away from the hubbub of Canal Street, but the natural world is never very far from his mind nor fingertips. 
This talented craftsman doesn’t often get a chance to roam Louisiana’s forests, yet he has spent a lifetime working with wood and fashioning unique products that replicate Mother Nature’s designs.  One look at Troyano’s tables, with their sinuously-curved legs that mimic vines and branches, and you know this is no ordinary woodworker.
“I do live in the city, but take my inspiration from nature,” said Troyano as he lifts a small table to better show legs curved like tree branches. Shunning the straight legs that most tables and chairs sit upon, he focuses on the question, “how would nature suspend a table?” His response: Mother Nature would craft asymmetrical supports made of thin strips of wood, glue them together and bend them to suit her fancy. 
So Troyano has done just that, and customers from all over the country find their way to places like Ariodante Gallery and RHINO Gallery in New Orleans, as well as regional craft shows and festivals to see, touch and buy the artist’s wares, which also include lamps, chairs, bowls, utensils, boxes and even finely-carved, wearable wooden bow ties.
Free-form, irregular shapes typify Troyano’s creations, and that’s by choice.  “Nothing in nature is perfectly round or perfect,” he says. “I like imitating nature.”
Troyano also likes using wood from trees that are indigenous to Louisiana. “Louisiana has a good variety of trees to choose from,” he says. “I prefer domestic woods, as they contain a wide range of beauty and workability.”
An inveterate recycler, Troyano says he often “picks up wood” from all around New Orleans; downed trees, wood reclaimed from old homes, discarded furniture, even trashed pallets are transformed into fresh, functional products under his hands. 
Working in his small backyard shop with an array of both hand and power tools, the craftsman uses myriad species of both soft and hard woods, including pecan, cherry, walnut, mulberry, cypress, pine and others. Tallow, avocado, pear, magnolia and camphor are also put to use, depending upon the project.  Stacks of lumber fill spaces beneath his house as well as along the walls of his workshop. To help keep track of the wood inventory, Troyano’s son Daniel made a map of the wood that lies underneath the house; he’s also learning his father’s craft and helps with sanding and heavy lifting around the shop.
Often, multiple wood species go into a single product; for example, bowls and cutting boards often get a layered treatment.  Troyano says he “loves contrast,” and may combine pieces of up to five different kinds of wood to make one bowl, typically favoring a shape that is rectangular or oblong rather than round, which is then finished off with a smooth lip. 
The idea of bending and laminating wood strips together to fashion furniture legs was first introduced to Troyano when he attended a Colorado workshop years ago conducted by Sam Maloof, the renowned American woodworker and designer who People magazine once called the “Hemingway of Hardwood.”
“He used his eye to shape a chair and also showed us how to use laminating as a technique for bending wood,” recalled Troyano. He points to another 20th century contemporary furniture designer, George Nakashima, whose legacy as “father of the American craft movement” has similarly influenced his own design ethic and style. 
To make the elegantly styled legs for his tables, Troyano uses a band saw or table saw to cut six or seven 1/8-inch strips of wood, which he then glues together and, using templates as guides, bends and clamps the legs into the desired shape on a jig.  With an eye on what a vine or branch would look like if nature made it, the craftsman finishes sculpting the leg  by hand and applies shellac or polyurethane. The legs then are attached to the table, chair, or coffee table that awaits their support.
Years ago, Troyano seemed headed for a career using his hands when he began disassembling clocks at the age of six or seven, he recounts. Aided and encouraged by his father and older brothers who used and taught him how to use hand tools, he started making small  wooden items like bowls and giving them away as Christmas gifts.  Having spent a fair amount of his childhood playing in the woods near his New Jersey home, Troyano’s affection for the natural world grew.  His carpentry and construction skills also advanced, thanks to the time he spent in an apprenticeship with a carpenter and cabinet maker in New York City. 
He met his wife Sue, a native of New Orleans, in New York while they were both working in a Catholic Worker hospitality house serving the urban homeless.  “It was a heck of an experience, and had a big impact on my life,” he says of the simple existence they lived in that Christian community. There he cooked and served meals for hundreds of people, had supervisory duties and helped renovate a five-story homeless residence in Manhattan. Troyano also crafted a number of functional items for churches in the city, including an altar.
A desire to be nearer Sue’s family eventually drew the couple and their children to New Orleans 24 years ago, where they continue to live in the Mid-City area. Both Troyano and Sue work at a Metairie Park Country Day School not far from their home, where she is employed full-time in daycare and Paul teaches students in  woodworking classes part-time.
Troyano not only teaches his students how to make simple wooden objects, but he also brings them outdoors on “tree walks” around the school campus to recognize tree species and learn more about the wood they handle. 
“I try to challenge the kids and get them to be creative.”
The woodworker’s own creativity is easy to see in his finished pieces. For example, an October visit to the RHINO Gallery, a local artists’ cooperative shop on the second floor of the downtown Canal Place mall, reveals a chess table you won’t find at any furniture store. For this piece, Troyano has inlaid cherry and holly and trimmed it in maple for the game board, then set it atop a small cherry and pecan table supported by four gracefully-curved legs.  The game pieces are no less unique:  for this $3,000 table Troyano has hand turned and carved a dozen round wooden peace signs and an equal number of small, cylindrical “weapons of mass destruction.” 
Nearby stands a Troyano floor lamp made of cedar salvaged from a discarded armoire once used in a New Orleans home, topped by a free-form rice paper shade made by Sue Troyano. The base of the lamp looks like a highly-polished chunk of wood picked up off the forest floor, while the post resembles a slender tree trunk. A number of Paul’s smaller pieces like bowls, cutting boards and utensils, are offered at the RHINO gallery as well, at lower price points.
The fine-grained wooden bow ties that Troyano makes typically draw curious looks from shoppers at RHINO, as well as at craft shows and festivals like this fall’s Blues and BBQ Festival in New Orleans where he displays and sells his creations.  He says he started making them after a  fellow often seen riding a tricycle and wearing big bow ties around town asked him whether he could make a wooden tie for him.  Troyano took the challenge, and now chisels and hand-sands smaller versions out of a variety of wood species, pricing them at $50 to $70.  His daughter Ruby makes the adjustable elastic straps that fit neatly into a slot in the back of each tie.
“They are pretty fun, and they get a lot of attention,” he said. “I’m always looking for new ways to create.”
Other unusual items are the rough-hewn log boxes that Troyano makes from small, four to six- inch  tree branches. To fashion each box, he cuts off the bottom and two ends of a branch to get the size he wants, cuts off the top, hollows out the piece and adds a hidden hinge in the box top. The result is a functional box that appears to be a little bark-covered log. 
And what could be more natural than that?
In addition to his pieces that can be found in galleries or at festivals, Troyano accepts commissions or custom orders for furniture. 
(For more information, he can be contacted at or through the website:
(Melanie Torbett is a forest landowner and frequent contributor to Forests & People magazine.)