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COLUMBIA – On May 21, named National Walk in the Woods Day by the American Forest Foundation, people will be walking in the woods of Dave and Gunilla Murphy, hosts of the 2011 Missouri Tree Farm Day.
“The Murphys’ farm is a great example of the value of actively managing private forestland, whether the goal is profit, conservation, outdoor recreation or scenic enjoyment,” said Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri Extension state forester.
At the event, the Missouri Tree Farm Committee will honor Dave Murphy as its 2010 Tree Farmer of the Year for his practice and advocacy of good woodland stewardship.
After just a few years of woodland management, the Murphys significantly increased the value of their 376-acre farm in southern Clark County, boosting the productivity of its timber stands by about $100 per acre per year and increasing the amount and variety of wildlife, including deer and turkey.
Attendees will be able to go on mule-drawn wagon tours to see the Murphys’ forest management practices at work.
Dave Murphy said the key to their success was careful planning with the help of professional foresters.
When Dave and Gunilla became sole owners of the Murphy family farm, they hired consulting foresters to inventory and map their woodland, then worked with the foresters and the Missouri Department of Conservation to develop a sound management plan. They fenced off the farm’s pastures to keep livestock from grazing on saplings and seedlings, and thinned overcrowded timber stands to promote robust growth and get rid of unwanted species.
Murphy says the long-term payoff is well worth the short-term costs for consulting, labor and herbicides.
There are millions of acres of woodland in Missouri with similar potential, he said. “The estimates of the positive benefits of bringing more of Missouri’s forest under management are staggering. Billions in revenue every year. Thousands of additional jobs statewide.”
Stelzer hopes the event will help other woodland owners realize more of that potential.
“Only about 5 percent of Missouri’s 14 million acres of privately owned woodland is under planned management,” Stelzer said.
In 21st-century Missouri, unmanaged woodlands are under threat from invasive tree and plant species; disease and pest problems; overgrazing by livestock from nearby pastures; “logging the best and leaving the rest” timber harvests; damaging wildfires; and problems with erosion and water quality, he said.
In addition to showcasing forest management practices, presenters will discuss selling timber and developing habitats for quail and turkey. Live demonstrations will show the use of a portable sawmill and provide an opportunity to learn about beekeeping and air-drying lumber.
A number of organizations will have informational booths, including the MU Center for Agroforestry, Missouri Consulting Foresters, the National Turkey Federation, the Missouri Walnut Council, beekeepers Dadant & Sons, and the Missouri Forest and Woodland Association.
The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts, followed by opening remarks. Two concurrent wagon tours begin at 10 a.m. and will be repeated at 2 p.m. The event concludes at 4 p.m.
Registration is $20 per person. Online registration and directions are available at http://www. moforest.org/education/treefarmconference.html.
Conference sponsors include the National Tree Farm System, Missouri Tree Farm Committee, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Forest Products Association and MU Forestry Extension.
For more information about National Walk in the Woods Day, see the American Forest Foundation website at http://www.affoundation.org/.