In 1940 the westward expansion and divesting of corporate land opened the doors to individual landowners settling on large tracks of land. Education and support for landowners on forest management and other issues such as dealing with wildfire was not yet readily available, yet the demand on the forest products industry for wood supply continued to grow.
To meet these demands, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) was established, which became a forestry movement founded on the concept of recognizing landowner who practiced good forest stewardship and would encourage others to do the same. This conception quickly began to take root.
On June 12, 1941, the nation's first tree farm was dedicated near Montesano, Washington. Owned by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, the 120,000-acres Clemons Tree Farm launched a nationwide movement. Over the next few decades the American Tree Farm System would expand across all 50 states.
On August 16, 1955, Wisconsin included all classes of private ownership with a ceremony on the property of Fred Grunwald, Jr. in Waupaca County to become the first Wisconsin Tree Farmer of the Year. Prior to the expansion to private woodland owners, Wisconsin's program was restricted to industry ownership.
Today the American Tree Farm System remains a strong and essential program to conserve our State's forests and their benefits, with more that 48,00 individual and family members who own and manage more that 2.8 million acres of woodlands in Wisconsin.
The American Tree Farm System, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is made possible by volunteers from the local small woodlands associations, conservation organizations, forest products companies, university extensions, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.