We own some of the best pristine native lands in Wisconsin. Many have never been privately titled and provide people with a unique place to recreate and enjoy nature in peace.
While we do harvest trees, we do so in an ecologically responsible manner. We’re permanent fund managers. Unlike private equity groups, we don’t churn our portfolio every 7 to 10 years. As long as we have land holdings, it makes sense to manage those lands in a way that protects and preserves those lands for future generations of beneficiaries (and land stewards). During harvests, we intentionally leave some big trees in place to hopefully provide a good genetic source of seeds to replenish the surrounding area. We also plant some trees to replenish our stock.
For those school trust lands that have special natural area qualities (or high conservation values), we have worked hard to sell or exchange those lands to the DNR, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service, counties and local land trusts that have a conservation mandate. We are proud that our efforts have resulted in more than 15,000 acres of land being conveyed to such groups. This provided us with the funds to purchase a commensurate amount of other timber lands to manage for our beneficiaries.
We have not only jumped through the hoops of having our organization and processes certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, but we have also worked hard at being good neighbors and good partners to the other stakeholders in our land holding areas.
- We have reached out to the tribes soliciting their input regarding upcoming timber sales
- We have made a greater effort at communicating our upcoming timber sales to loggers through email, snail mail, ads in newspapers and trade magazines and improving the transparency of our website.
- We have supervised our loggers to make sure that timber harvests are conducted in a responsible manner
- We have welcomed people to enjoy outdoor recreation on our lands. Our lands are not open to the public by statutory edict, they are open because of board policy.
We have worked hard to build larger blocks of productive timberland to make it easier to manage. Having 2000 scattered parcels across the Northern Part of Wisconsin had left our small staff with an almost impossible management mission. It was hard enough to visit all those parcels, much less manage them. We are not yet halfway done, but it is already evident that we have moved the needle on revenue production and cost containment.
Finally, we are working on developing a RFP for selling carbon credits. In accordance with our goals and priorities, we have taken a good long honest look at our land portfolio and determined that the highest and best use for some of the lands is in fact as carbon offset revenue generation. Developing that plan with enough flexibility to still sell some land and still harvest timber requires a careful and thoughtful approach. We are convinced that there is a path to success which includes that flexibility, and we are looking forward to completing that plan and sharing it with the board.