Foster, Rhode Island
Dick Went, NACD’s second vice president from 2015-2017, has served as president of the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Districts since 2008. He is also a board member for the Rhode Island Forest Conservators Organization, and a member of the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District; the Rhode Island Farm, Forest, and Open Space Committee; the Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership; and the Rhode Island Raised Livestock Association.
Went and his wife Deborah currently reside on a 50-acre American Tree Farm in Foster, Rhode Island, where they use a number of conservation practices to improve timber stands and create forest trails, landings, and wildlife habitat. They cut about 11 cord of wood a year to heat their home, and harvest witch hazel as a cash crop. They are also active participants in the Conservation Stewardship Program.
“The Northeast has segmented forests due to urban creep,” Went told NACD. “We have been trying to keep what we have together.”
Went uses a practice called “wildlife cuts” to spur forest regeneration and provide wildlife habitat. The practice helps enhance the soil’s nutrient balance and water holding capacity. The trails and landings he has installed have helped to isolate soil erosion and compaction to specific areas. To promote regeneration, Went leaves slash and tops on the ground.
“The interesting thing about forestry is that any practice you do is good for soil health,” Went told NACD. “I have done timber stand improvement for years to help open the canopy to sun, stimulating undergrowth regeneration.”
So far, Went says his experiences using conservation practices have all been good. One of his biggest challenges is managing deer. “Some states are taking a better look at their hunting laws to help control the deer problem,” he said.
Went grew up on a farm raising cows, steers, and hogs, and farming hay, vegetables, and a small orchard. He holds an undergraduate degree in health and physical education and a Masters Degree equivalent with an emphasis on agriculture. He taught high school for 29 years in Rhode Island.