Tuesday, April 19, 2011

‘Owner’s Manual’ for Landowners Available Free

When you buy a car or a refrigerator, you receive an owner’s manual. But when you buy a piece of land, you’re on your own. Until now, that is. A new owner’s manual is now available for New York landowners, and it’s free.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is working with the publishers of Northern Woodlands magazine to distribute this new publication that will provide New York landowners with essential information for taking care of their land and getting the most out of it. The guide, called The Place You Call Home: A Guide to Caring for Your Land in New York, is being distributed free of charge to people who own 10 or more acres in New York.

Copies of Place You Call Home are available at all the county offices of Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as the regional offices of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. You can also order the publication online, but those will require a $3.00 shipping and handling charge. Stop in at your local Cornell Cooperative Extension or DEC office and pick up a free copy, and while you’re there, meet the experts who can help answer your questions about forest insects, wildlife, and earning income from your woodlot.

Peter Smallidge, the NYS extension forester, is excited about the publication. “This publication will provide an educational resource that contains a depth and breadth of well written articles. Most private woodland property owners will find articles of interest that will help them understand and care for their land.” One of the stories features Smallidge’s work on controlling the invasive plants that are trying to get established on his own woodlot. Given the incursion of many invasives species around the state, this story will be of great use to people trying to stop their spread.

Place You Call Home focuses on the many animals, trees, smaller plants, and insects that live in New York forests. It covers logging and forest management and how to evaluate your woods for wildlife habitat. Stephen Long, the guide’s editor and a native of Syracuse, said that over the years he’s met many people who were looking for guidance in what they could do with their land. “It’s so easy to make poor choices when you don’t have good information. We put this guide together to help people make good choices with what happens on their land,” he said.

In one of the stories in Place You Call Home, Hugh Canham writes: “Even though New York is home to significant public lands such as the Adirondack Park, the Catskill Park, and many others, it is still the case that individuals, families, and other private owners control the great bulk of the forests: 15 million acres, or 85 percent of the total forest area is privately held. Their actions and plans for the future affect all New Yorkers from New York City to the villages of the Adirondacks.” Canham notes that our forests are an important part of the economy, and the wood-using industry employs over 57,000 people with annual payrolls of over $2.1 billion.

There are hundreds of timber harvests going on in New York at any time. Long said that in an economy that is struggling like ours is now, landowners might be more likely to turn to their forestland for income.

“When it’s done well, a logging job not only provides some immediate income but also increases the value of the land by removing the poor-quality trees and improving conditions for the valuable ones. Even better, it can also enhance the diversity of habitat for wildlife. So there’s a lot of potential for good. But if it’s done poorly, if short-term financial needs are the only concern, it can cause lasting damage. There are things you can do to ensure that the work is done well, and a good first step is to get in touch with a forester,” Long said.

Place You Call Home was produced with the support of the New York Forest Owners Association, New York Tree Farm Program, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Easter Foundation, International Paper Company Foundation, Robert Barnes, Mike Greason, Society of American Foresters New York Chapter, Robert H. Wentorf Foundation, Finch Paper, LLC, Forecon, Landvest, Potter Lumber, and Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

To pick up a copy, go to your local Extension or DEC office. To order a copy of Place You Call Home, visit www.pych.org.

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