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A Management Acre, One Acre at a Time
By: Marge and Gene Bieraugel
When we decided to pass our land to our sons, we wanted a way to involve them in the day-to-day and yearly decision-making processes. Since our sons live far from us and are busy with careers, family, and so forth, we noticed that the next generation spent more time here than their dads. The light bulb popped, and we got the idea to assign an acre of woodland to each grandchild. As a result, granddaughter Kelly told us she likes “having an infl uence on what happens to the management acre.” Our goal is for the kids to learn about silvaculture and to feel empowered as managers.
When the kids turn 8, they pick an area along an improved access road where they are able to see it every time they drive by in the Kawasaki Mule; also, it’s an easy walk. Using a compass and a hundredfoot tape measure and plenty of fl agging tape, each kid measured a 200 x 200 foot area, approximately an acre.
This initial step was a challenge because they needed to work their way through fir thickets and around large trees. Like little old-time land surveyors, they marked the corners. Grandson Carson’s experience in Boy Scouts helped him, and he loved it. One of the other kids was pretty frustrated with the whole experience but overcame the scratchy plants in her way. It wasn’t long before the Management Acre became the M.A. to each of them.
One of the acres had a logging deck from 1994, so one year when the big kids were here for Spring Break, they inter-planted about 50 P. pines that we’d ordered from PFLN. When their other grandma passed away, we planted 200 trees in her honor, and the grandchildren agreed that we should plant 10 pines in each of their Management Acres. When they came to visit, they helped put stakes and rigid nets on the 1 + 1 trees. When two trees died in Carson’s acre, he approved removal of the logs for fi rewood giving them to a neighbor. Another year, the church asked for fir trees to decorate at Christmas, so once again, they made a
management decision to cut fi r thickets. More thinning is needed, so the next time they come to visit, we’ll work on that.
Suppressed trees are an adult-led job with Grandpa chain sawing the culls into rounds for hog fuel, but as the kids mature, they learn to lop the limbs and scatter them, thereby learning that the woody debris decomposes.
Bird nesting boxes grace each acre. At Ladd Marsh Youth Day, the little girls built a nesting box, and with Grandpa’s help digging in the post, they assisted in mounting it. Whenever we drive past, they try to spot the box and see who is using it. Mountain chickadees and nuthatches nest successfully each year. Kate’s acre is across from a homestead orchard, and she has ahunting blind in a large tree flanked by brush, complete with camouflage fabric to hide the huntress.
To have some fun and spend some time in the acre, we had a picnic lunch on a level spot. First, they set up a little folding table and chairs, then chowed-down on sandwiches. Chloe noticed a pile of bear scat a few feet from the table. After Grandpa identified it, the girls marveled that a bear had walked where they were having their picnic. Awesome was their reaction.
Due to current prices, no timber sale is on the horizon, so the kids cannot mark trees for sale, but they can learn to measure them and fi gure out which ones to harvest. When a neighbor logged a few years ago, Grandpa took Carson to the site as part of his BSA merit badge in forestry, and he took a fi rst-hand look at the process. Although the kids are not always here during prime planting time, they watered and fertilized and mulched newly planted trees in our current project, a 750-foot windbreak consisting of several rows of trees and shrubs.
We want our descendents to feel a tie to the land, to hold a sense of stewardship for the forest, and guarantee that it goes beyond one generation. Although the kids don’t own the acre, they feel ‘ownership’ of it. As each succeeding grand child turns 8, we want that kid to measure an acre, begin to learn how to manage forested land and as Kelly said, to ‘influence’ it. That’s perpetuity!
The following came in after press time, and is too darling not to share.
This might be a little late but, I think my M.A (management acre) taught me that nature brings many wonderful things including tree stumps to sit on while having a picnic. I think having a whole acre of land and nature is a HUGE blessing. It also taught me to respect nature and care for it.