Bill Dorman lives in and grew up on the hilly lands of Chautauqua County. The land is definitely family land. He’s the third generation of his family to own and work the land; generations four and five — Bill’s son and his family — now live on and work the land.

Bill is employed as a Quality Engineer Consultant and Auditor. He enjoys the work and is not quite ready to retire yet, but he knows his retirement years will be spent working on his land. The family property he owns is 48 acres, 32 of which are wooded. The dominant tree species are Maple, Black Cherry, Hickory, and Hemlock. Several acres of the property are devoted to farming and hay production — Bill’s grandchildren raise sheep, goats, and chickens as part of the 4-H program.

When he was a young child, Bill started working on the land with his father. He would help pull brush as they cut wood to heat the farmhouse; he fondly remembers using a two-man saw to cut the trees. He would also help his father in the maple sugar house, which is now only a foundation, but Bill would like to rebuild the sugarhouse and make syrup once again. “My dad was a very strong advocate of stewardship of the woods and we were very protective of it. For these reasons, I had a strong attachment to the property and a desire to own it.” So in 1998, Bill bought the shares of property from his mother and sisters. Now, not only does his son live on the property, Bill and his extended family use the woods for deer and turkey hunting and they spend family time at an A-frame structure where they hold picnics and sleepovers during the hunts.

Recently, Bill worked with a Master Forest Owner Volunteer and a Department of Environmental Conservation Forester to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan. He was prompted to do this after bidding out a timber sale as part of a timber stand improvement project and realized that he probably could have saved and earned more money if he had had a formal stewardship plan and was better aware of the inventory and value of his trees. However, even before the Forest Stewardship plan was in place, Bill spent much of his time in the woods doing improvement projects, including maintaining the roadways, bridges, and drainage. He uses most of the wood he cuts for firewood for the antique woodstove he restored.

Bill has some concerns for his land. In the short term, he’s worried about finding the time to work on the many projects he has lined up related to timber stand improvement. He also worries about invasive species like ferns and American beech. In the long term, Bill is concerned about the continued stewardship of the land. In thinking about this, Bill has decided that it’s finally time to become a Master Forest Owner (MFO) and to eventually encourage his son and grandchildren to also become MFOs. He has also started thinking about starting a legacy plan for the land.

In joining the Allegheny Foothills Chapter of NYFOA about eight years ago, and then becoming a chairman several years later, Bill has gained valuable information and friends that have helped him to better manage his land and think about stewardship. His advice for other forest landowners: “Trust an MFO and a professional forester to guide you.” And his advice to anyone thinking about becoming a NYFOA member: “Do it and become active.”

Maureen Mullen is an Extension Aide at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Human Dimensions Research Unit, Cornell University. Dr. Shorna Allred is the faculty advisor for the NYFOA Member Profile Series.

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