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Ohio groups join together to assist woodland owners
By MEGAN KUHN
Assistant Editor

LONDON, Ohio — A new program in Ohio encourages landowners to make informed choices about their woodlands.

The Call Before You Cut campaign puts private woodland property owners in touch with professional foresters and master loggers before harvesting trees on their land.

It is coordinated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry, Rural Action and the Ohio State University Extension. Other primary sponsors of the program include the Ohio Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy and the Better Business Bureau.

“This is a unique partnership to protect the nearly 8 million acres of privately owned woodlands (in Ohio),” said Sam Speck, ODNR director. “Those who are going to benefit the most are the woodland owners because they now have better access to resources, but the program also benefits the environment and the economy and as a result (it benefits) everyone.”

The campaign features a toll-free number - 877-4B4-UCUT (877-424-8288) - with a live operator on duty weekdays to provide quick answers to caller questions about how to find an accredited forester to help them with management options and in sustaining the long-term health of their woodlots.

More information, including a list of certified Ohio Master Loggers and suggested timber sale contract items, are available on the Call Before You Cut website at www.callb4ucut.com

More than a third of Ohio’s landscape is forested, representing an area more than 8 million acres. In the past 10 years, the number of forest landowners has grown from 320,000 to nearly 400,000, according to the ODNR.

Surveys show that 40 percent of Ohio’s woodlot owners have authorized harvesting on their lands in the last five years, but only 18 percent of those have sought the advice of a professional forester. The concept of the Call Before You Cut program is to help woodland owners get better advice and not be taken advantage of when managing their properties, according to Jane Forrest Redfern, executive director of Rural Action.

“We are proud that the Division of Forestry and our partners have found value in a program that was developed by our Forest Advisory Board and implemented by our staff with funding from many foundations,” she said. “The original goal of Call Before You Cut was to give tools to citizens of Appalachian Ohio to know how valuable their woodlands are and to make good decisions about their land. We are proud that this ‘Appalachian Grown’ campaign and our message of sustainable forestry will be able to reach more people throughout the state.”

To get the message out to Ohio woodland owners, a series of posters, billboards and radio ads were unveiled at the Ohio Farm Science Review in London, Ohio on Sept. 19.

Richard Shank, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, said that the campaign has the potential to reach all forest landowners in the state.

“(The campaign) is reaching an audience that really holds the future of the state’s woodlands, the 400,000 families that control about 90 percent of the private woodlands in the state,” Shank said. “The keys to this program are education and technical support.”

This farm news was published in the Sept. 27, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

9/27/2006