By Denise Seghesio Levine
This year we are doing something a little different. Our Forest Landowners of California Conference in Tuolumne April 28-29 will be a collaboration with the California Tree Farm System. And you will have a chance to meet Lois Kaufman, a member of both organizations.
I was surprised when I discovered Lois grew up in Michigan, right outside of Detroit. I had assumed she was a California girl, probably a graduate of Humboldt State. In fact, Lois attained her degree in forestry from Michigan State University.
For as long as she can remember, Lois loved being out amongst the trees, a love shared and nourished by her dad. So it seemed natural she would end up choosing forestry as her life work. As Lois puts it, “There was never an “aha!” moment. I just always knew I wanted to do something outside, and forestry was it.”
Lois’ career was spent in California, building relationships with California’s Tree Farmers. Lois brought not only professional expertise, but personal understanding of the challenges tree farmers face, since Lois and her husband are tree farmers themselves. In 2010, after a satisfying career in forestry, Lois was asked to take on the duties as Executive Director of the California State Tree Farm Committee and has been serving in that capacity since then.
A working partnership between FLC and California Tree Farmers isn’t new. The two organizations have co-existed and supported each other since 1993. But this year seemed like a good time to highlight the special relationship and synergies our organizations have and start to explore the strength in numbers we can exert if we combine some of our efforts. Lois understands the challenges facing landowners on the ground, environmentally and in the regulatory world, and strongly feels our memberships need to work together to make sure our voices are heard and our experiences heeded.
We all know the world has changed and people are owning what was once considered timber land for different reasons. This means we need to start to talk to landowners outside of our comfort zone and need to relook at our demographics. Timber production is not the primary reason for buying forest land anymore. Now more people are buying land for recreation, privacy, beauty. Often times new property owners have no plans to try to generate income from their properties. Personal enjoyment, wildlife, wildfire protection, recreation … generating income comes in at #5. It is often a surprise to new landowners that maintenance costs money and thinning trees not only pays for that maintenance, but produces a healthier habitat.
Lois described Project Learning Tree to me, an educational endeavor that helps landowners learn good forest management by achieving their personal goals for their properties. Lois recalled one client who wanted to attract more woodpeckers. After educating the landowner on what would be needed to meet that objective, and provide fire protection for the habitat they wanted to encourage, the landowner came to the conclusion by themselves that they would need to manipulate their landscape. That was a big step from “leaving it just the way it is.” Another example, Save the Redwoods, in Calaveras, wanted bigger trees on their land and accomplished their goal by selective thinning, at the same time generating revenue to maintain and improve their properties. Landowners are beginning to realize that doing nothing is not an option and that land CAN be sustainable.
Forest Landowners of California works at the state level, and the Tree Farm System is a national organization. Some of their accomplishments have been to reclassify timber as an agricultural product for the USDA and to raise the exemption for forest land for estate tax purposes. As you can see, their objectives are our own.
On Thursday, April 27 from 9:00am-12:30pm, Lois will be recruiting and training inspectors for the California Tree Farm System. This session is open to all attendees of the Annual Meeting. Come to the workshop/training and learn about this opportunity.
Lois will be attending the entire conference, so take a little time to introduce yourself and get to know her. Lois Kaufman is a wonderful asset to both of our organizations and a valuable resource for us all.