By Mike Beacom
The NACD Forestry Resource Policy Group (RPG) recently met in Deadwood, South Dakota, in conjunction with the National Association of State Foresters’ (NASF) Forest Resources Management Committee.
The Forestry RPG heard from a variety of presenters during the three-day meeting, including:
- Assistant State Conservationist for Technology Kory Bossert discussed how South Dakota NRCS has coordinated outreach with private landowners to educate them about beetle outbreaks. Convincing landowners to cut their trees can be a challenge. “Forest management isn’t so much about the forest itself,” he said, “it’s about convincing people what the forest should look like.”
- Tami Moore and Tina DeHaii of the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts gave a joint presentation on forestry outreach efforts in the state. The state association has helped plant more than 350,000 acres of trees since records first began in 1944, mostly windbreaks. The installations are more diverse today than ever before, protecting structures, wildlife habitat, and enhancing countryside aesthetics. Soil types help to determine each windbreak design. Districts in South Dakota also help install fabric around streambank plantings. It’s an income generator and creates a moisture barrier for maximum growth. Moore and DeHaii showed a video of a brush management vehicle local conservation districts use to help landowners manage brush and invasives efficiently.
- Sarah Anderson, program manager for Wyoming’s Crook County Natural Resource District, shared how districts in her state work with partners to combat mountain pine beetle and establish a more resilient forest. Wyoming and South Dakota work across state boundaries through the Mountain Pine Beetle Working Group in the Black Hills Region, where Ponderosa Pine has been a perfect host for the pests. According to Anderson, resource managers in the area have experienced better success ‘baking’ beetles than the more commonly accepted practice of relying on cold weather. “Bringing all of the partners together was not easy,” she said, “and conservation districts helped to make those connections and break down the red tape.”
Partners from the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Agroforestry Center, American Forest Foundation, and National Wild Turkey Federation also provided organization updates during the meeting.
During the field tour, attendees visited a number of sites that showcased ways in which conservation districts in South Dakota and Wyoming are working with state forestry agencies to address forest resource concerns.
The Forestry RPG held its annual business meeting on the final day of the conference. The group reviewed progress from its strategic plan and its nationwide conservation district forestry network.
“It’s always great to see conservation district forestry in action in some part of the country,” Forestry RPG Chairman Steve Hedstrom said. “And we appreciated the opportunity to meet jointly with our state forestry friends and shared partners. It brought many perspectives to this meeting.”