Having always wanted a piece of wooded property, Dan Anderson has never regretted his 1977 purchase of 68 acres in Chautauqua County, New York. The property, affectionately known as The Great Dismal, includes a large NYS protected wetland and small trout stream, which resembles the great dismal when trudging through it (hence the name). In addition to the wetland areas, the property has a section of hardwoods that include conifers and three man-made ponds. The area’s habitat diversity creates the perfect place for a wide range of wildlife. Ducks, geese, turkey, deer and bear (tracks) can all be found on the property, which provides for good hunting and fishing. While hunting is allowed on the property, Dan normally only hunts for turkey and pheasants with his two Labrador Retrievers. Deer are also hunted on the land, but Dan mostly enjoys the social part of deer hunting and doesn’t actually shoot deer very often.

Aside from the wetland and hardwood areas on the property, Dan has also begun creating food plots for the local wildlife. Of the three food plots created so far, two are a clover mix and growing well, while the other has Brassica in it. Unfortunately, the Brassica, which turns from bitter-tasting to sweet after freezing, hasn’t done too well on the property and will probably be replaced by buckwheat in the near future.

Dan also spends much of his time adding to and maintaining the trail system he created on the property. After his tractor got stuck in a wet area, Dan and his wife, Shauna, decided that building a bridge would be more useful than having to use a winch to extract the tractor every time it gets stuck. Thus, as part of the trail system, Dan is planning on building a bridge to minimize the time he spends spinning his tires.

Over the years, Great Dismal has also seen a couple of timber sales and continual timber stand improvements. Before moving two years ago, the Anderson’s heated their house with wood harvested from the property, but Dan still helps friends harvest firewood. Only the poorest quality trees, blowdowns, and tops from timber sales are taken for firewood.

As part of the timber stand improvements, Dan only harvests the worst third of the timber at a time in order to improve the overall quality of the leftover trees. In 1988 Dan harvested and sold most of the older red pines on the property since they tend to start uprooting and toppling over at 40 years old. The Anderson’s had a hardwood sale in 1999, during which the lowest quality of the trees were sold. The original middle third of the trees were then harvested and sold in 2007, leaving only prime timber at present.

Dan does use some of the timber for his own personal use, however. He and a fellow AFC member, Tony Pingitore, make hand-crafted walking sticks using timber harvested from both Dan and Tony’s properties. Tony carves and finishes the sticks from the original timber, after which Dan hand-paints designs. Once completed, the walking sticks are either sold or donated for raffles.

Unfortunately, the Anderson’s don’t get up to the 68-acre property as much as they would like to during the winter, though it makes for excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Luckily, Dan and Shauna are able to visit the property several times a week from spring to fall since it is only two miles away from their home.

Dan and Shauna live on a 14.5 acre property that is also in Chautauqua County, near Lake Chautauqua. The house property is mostly wooded with a network of creeks running through it. White spruce, red maple and hemlock predominate the property, though large hard maples are also abundant. Currently, the trees on the house property are allowed to grow freely as Dan is still unsure if he’s interested in harvesting timber from the property. Near their house is a recently constructed barn built by an Amish team of the Anderson’s own European Larch.

Having joined the Alleghany Foothills Chapter of NYFOA in 1991, one of the first things Dan remembers learning is the value of a management plan. Though he purchased the Great Dismal in 1977, it wasn’t until his introduction to NYFOA that he began to manage the land for timber. After having a forester walk the land with him, Dan realized for the first time just how valuable his timber was, as young black cherry trees predominated. Prior to this, Dan had been removing them as nuisances! Since joining NYFOA, Dan has acted as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the AFC Chapter and has also worked on the Steering committee. He has also hosted several NYFOA woods walks on the 68-acre property and has held an AFC Chapter pond seminar. Dan is also currently an active MFO member.


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