A number of tree farms grow in New Hampshire

Have you ever noticed a green and white Tree Farm sign posted on a property along the road? Do you know what that signifies? Many people think “Tree Farm” means rows of Christmas trees, or something similar, but it is so much more than that!

Tree Farms range in size from small family 10 acre woodlots, to properties as large as 10,000 acres in size. They are managed for anything from personal firewood harvesting, wildlife habitat, and/or recreational management to large commercial operations which could include all of the above.

What these proud landowners all have in common is their certification in the American Tree Farm System.

Part of the American Forest Foundation, the American Tree Farm System is a national program started in 1941 to recognize private landowners who manage their forestland sustainably for wood products, wildlife habitat, recreation, and water quality. Forty-two of the 50 states in the United States have state Tree Farm programs, including New Hampshire, which was started in 1950 and today is one of the strongest programs in the country.

The ATFS has evolved from a recognition program to a third party certification program where specific standards of forest management are met. People buying Tree Farm wood or wood products know they are purchasing from forests that are sustainably managed for the multiple benefits that forests provide.

Tree Farm certification signifies that a landowner’s forestland is harvested in a way that will not deplete the forest, but will enable it to continue to be healthy and to grow – it is managed sustainably.

A sustainably managed forest not only provides wood and wood based products. It protects wildlife habitat, water quality (by buffering water supply source from pollutants and providing flood control protection) and air quality (by sequestering carbon dioxide).

There are more than 1,400 certified Tree Farms in NH encompassing more than 450,000 acres of land, including some in Bedford. Dave Coughlin owns Yankee Kingdom Tree Farm, chosen in 1989 under the ownership of Helen Evans as the Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year in both New Hampshire and New England.

Evans placed a conservation easement on the land in 1986 to protect the land and make sure it would never be developed. Since 1979, over 500,000 board feet of white pine logs have been selectively harvested from the land under the guidance of a professional forester. Much wildlife has been seen on the land, such as coyotes, deer, moose, turkeys, hawks, and many other birds.

Evans and our other New Hampshire Tree Farmers proudly display their green and white signs signifying that they are part of the American Tree Farm System. They deserve to be recognized as responsible managers of what is perhaps New Hampshire’s most valuable and renewable resource – trees!

Keep an eye on the Bedford Land Trust website (www.

bedfordlandtrust.org) for a hike to be offered at the Yankee Kingdom Tree Farm sometime this fall. You will not only have the opportunity to enjoy a walk in a beautiful healthy woodland; you can learn about sustainable management of our NH forests!

– Rita Carroll and Dave Coughlin,

Bedford Land Trust Trustees