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)."