In 2015 our Wisconsin State Tree Farm Committee (WTFC) underwent some changes in our leadership. Our able Tree Farm Administrator, consulting forester David Czysz, retired from his position in May and we were faced with the difficult task of replacing him. At the same time, our log time Chair, Shirley Bargander, reached the end of a long and productive career in forestry with the Wisconsin DNR. She retired from her job with the DNR and the WTFC hired her to take on the role of our Tree Farm Administrator to help us on our way. That left us without a Chair to guide the WTFC! Furthermore out long time Secretary, forester Bill Lundberg of Marion Plywood Corp., also found it necessary to step down from leadership after several decades of service on the committee! Many phone call and discussion led up to our December 2015 meeting when the WTFC appointed former Vice-Chair, forester Dan Peterson of Verso Corp. as Chair, and DNR forester Rachel McDonald as Secretary. Then Carol Nielsen, retired DNR forester, agreed to take on the role of Vice-Chair for the Committee. So, we've shuffled the deck! Our new leadership is in place and we're off together to help the Wisconsin Tree Farm program grow and thrive. But we can't do it without your support. Please give us your ideas and suggestions, and let us know how you can help!
Our Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee offices and their contact information are shown below:
As you all know, Legal Description is how we locate properties. When you get a Tree Farm to inspect, it is the legal description you look for so you can locate it in a plat book and then on the ground. Many of you have commented that complete legal descriptions do not show up on the 004 Inspection Form or on the Tree Farm report. We have been working on how to correct this issue. Part of the problem was how the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) has changed the format in the new 004 Form but the other part is how inspectors input, or in some cases don't input, the legal description correctly into the database. In the future, if you follow the procedures below, this should be corrected.
When you are entering your information for an inspection that you are working on, the first page will look like Example 1 (see attached). You will see, on the first line, "(Edit Tree Farm)" in blue. When you click on this it will take you to the page that looks like Example 2 (see attached). Scroll down to the bottom to find "Manage Contacts of the Tree Farm". Under that you should see the Tree Farm you are working on. Highlight the little circle to the left of the Tree Farm name so a dot shows up in the circle. Then click on "Next". That should take you to the "Updating Record" page, Example 3 (see attached). Again scroll to the bottom, highlight the circle and now click on "Update". This will take you to Example 4 (see attached).
This is where you fill in or correct the Tree Farm information. There are two data boxes that say Location. One is just "Location" which would be a written description of how to get to the Tree Farm. The second location box, "Location (Legal)", is where you type in the full legal description with Township first, then Range, Section and all the individual sub quarters, lots etc. Follow the format in Example 4 "Location (Legal". What you type in this box will show up on the pre-populated 004 Form. When the report for Tree Farm is run, that has all the Tree Farm information, it prints the "Location" first, followed by the "Location (Legal)" all in one column.
When you are done filling in, or updating, you click "OK" at the bottom. That will take you back to the "Updating Record" screen. Again, scroll to the bottom but this time click on "Next". That should take you to a verification screen where you check to see if it is correct in the database. If not go "Back" and fix it. If it is OK, click on "Confirm" and on the next page click "OK".
You should be back to the first page of the inspection form, Example 1.
You can also update landowner information the same way by clicking on the (Edit Owner)", in blue, after the Tree Farmer Name.
If these two are complete, Tree Farm information and Owner information, you can continue on to the next page of the inspection data input.
Updating Tree Farm and Tree Farmer information can be done any time by going directly to the drop down on the left of the database home page and select "Search/Create Record" and go to "Tree Farm Properties" for the Tree Farm data or "Individual for the Owner information.
As mentioned in Inspector's Notes #9, Wisconsin will be involved in the American Forest Foundation 2016 Field Assessment. What follows is what was noted by Mike Burn for the 2105 Field Assessment. You may have seen this before, but I thought it was worth repeating for our preparation for the 2016 Field Assessment.
"The 2015 field Assessment of the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) has not been completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and an interim draft report of the findings has been provided to ATFS. More that 250 Tree Farms were visited in nine states representing the three regional certificates held by ATFS, ensuring that a broad cross-section of the program was observed. The report cites many outstanding practices that Tree Farmers are involved in including restoration of the American chestnut, controlling invasive species, creation of wildlife habitat, and photo documentation of forest growth and changes over time."
"While modest improvement was noted from previous assessments, management plans continue to be an issue as several did not cover all the core elements required by the AFF Standards (Minor Non-conformity) and others would benefit from including additional details (Opportunity for Improvement) such as soil maps and description (beyond stating "BMPs will be observed"), narrative of special sites, periodic updates and on-the-ground activities. Data accuracy was noted as another Area of Improvement from finding in prior years. While the accuracy of information regarding Tree Farmers was an issue in 2014, this assessment revealed that the property size (acres) merits closer attention. Specifically the total acres for all stands noted in the management plan should be the same as the acres recorded in the database. Acres not included in the management plan cannot be certified. Streamside management zones, inoperable acres and non-forest acres that are integral to the overall management of the wood, water, wildlife and recreation on the Tree Farm need to be accounted for."
"A new nonconformity was identified regarding the internal monitoring (re-inspections) as two state programs in the Northeast failed to complete required re-inspections in 2014. ATFS Director of Volunteer Engagement Vicki Leigh is working directly with the programs to identify needs that may have led to the finding and opportunities to remedy the situation. All other state programs and particularly those in the Northeast should note that full completion of internal monitoring will be an area of emphasis for the upcoming assessments."
The use and retention of contracts for management operations continues to be an Opportunity for Improvement as nearly a dozen instances were observed. While contacts are not required under Standard 8, the failure to fully identify the responsibilities of each party could result in non-conformities on BMPs (PM 4.1), pesticide use (Indicator 4.2.2), prescribed fire (PM 4.3), protection of occupied habitat for T&E species (PM 5.1), protection of special sites (PM 7.1), or monitoring management activities (PM 8.2)."
The Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee has been notified that, Wisconsin will be part of the 2016 Annual Assessment. Sometime this fall, the Assessment Team will be picking some of Wisconsin Tree Farms, from the Non-MFL list of Tree Farmers, to be visited in 2016. The Assessment will be to see how this sample of Tree Farms are meeting the 2015-2020 AFF Standards of Sustainability. Once the WTFC receives the list of Tree Farms in the Assessment, the Tree Farm Inspector that last performed an inspection for the Tree Farm, will be notified and a visitation schedule will be established.
It is important that, if you were assigned a Tree Farm re-inspection this year, you get it completed as soon as possible. This year 114 Tree Farms were assigned for re-inspection. Of the 114, 17 were this year's Required Sample. So far 36 Tree Farms have completed re-inspections. Of the 36, eight are part of the Required Sample.
Don't forget, in the Policy and Procedures for re-inspections: "All Required Sample Re-inspections are due for entry into the ATFS database by the end of September, unless prior arrangements have been made by the District Chair with the WTFC Administrator. Re-inspections not completed by the end of September must be returned to the WTFC Administrator for reassignment, additional landowner contact or desertification."
Optional re-inspections have until the end of October to be completed.
The 2015-2020 Standards have been out for a few months now. Along with the new Standards ATFS has produced a new Re-inspection 004 Form and a new Plan Addendum. Because of the new Standards, ATFS has an "On-line Inspector Refresher" for all Tree Farm Inspectors that were Active Tree Farm Inspectors during 2013 & 2014. This Refresher has to completed before the Inspector can do a re-inspection with the 2015-2020 Standards. There are a couple modules to the session, but you don't have to complete all at one sitting. Most inspectors have completed the refresher but there are a few that still have not. There is still time. If not done before the end of 2015, a classroom session will be required after January 2016.
So far this year, I have assigned 107 re-inspections, 17 of which are our 2015 Required Sample Re-inspections. Of those assigned, 28 have been completed. Six where part of the Required Sample. I want to thank those that volunteered to complete the re-inspections and especially those that have already completed theirs. We are getting close to getting our State Tree Farms (non-MFL) back into the five year inspection rotation.
I also want to thank those of you that have completed your re-inspections following the 2015 Re-inspection Policy outline, putting your data directly into the ATFS database. This save me a lot of time not having to re-enter all the Tree Farm re-inspection information myself.
One thing I want to remind you, is to make sure you update the Tree Farm information and the Landowner information when filling in the re-inspection information directly into the database. You can go to each section (Tree Farm & Landowner) off the first page of the re-inspection form.(see attached example) There is "edit Tree Farm" after the Tree Farm number and "edit owner" after the landowner's name. You click on these and it takes you directly to that section for updating. It is important to have these sections updated with current information, if they are not already correct. The more accurate information we have in the database the better we will do when an audit occurs. Email addresses are important to include, if they have one.