Jeff Rupp is a retired New York State employee where he worked for the Department of Environmental Conservation as a police officer. The Rupp's have lived in New Albion, NY in Cattaraugus County since 1973. They lived in the village for 6 years before they purchased their first parcel of 62 acres and have since added 5 contiguous parcels for a current total of 157.8 acres. Their most recent purchase was 50 acres in 2005. The property is co-owed by Jeff and his wife Diane and they recently incorporated the property into an LLC, the Rupp Family Forest, after four years of planning.

Their management strategy reflects their goal to leave the land in better condition than when the received it and to leave a light footprint. They follow a management plan developed by Bruce Robinson, a professional forester as well as gleaning advice from other sources such as the Master Forest Owners program and New York Forest Owners Association. "The forest changes every day" and they are always looking for ways to stay informed. They see the forest as a renewable resource where "we can use it in a way that benefits the forest, the wildlife, and everything else that uses it." Rupp has some concern about forest pests such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorn beetle and recently removed quite a few conifers, scotch pine and white spruce that were planted as part of a plantation 50-60 years ago. Overall though, Rupp believes that through positive management they have achieved a healthy forest and keeping it healthy will diminish all other negative issues.

The property spent 107 years and three generations as farmland with a variety of habitats. Now, it is largely forested with about 40 percent mature northern hardwood forest and 50 percent late to mid-succession forest. The last 5-10 percent is old meadow and pasture kept open by occasional mowing for the purpose of diversifying the habitat as well as providing a good edge for wildlife habitat. The property also features several vernal pools and a half-acre pond. The property is accessible both on foot and motorized vehicles by an excellent system of roads. A spring on the property is believed to have been the water source for a cheese factory and also supplies the water for their home. Their forest is predominantly sugar and red maple, although they keep their ash component to a minimum due to the emerald ash borer. Rupp cites diversity as key to a healthy forest.

The Rupp Family Forest is a hands-on operation where family members complete much of the work. Rupp has cut and skidded his own timber for sales. The house was built in 1979 largely out of lumber and logs from their property. The home is framed with hemlock and features hardwood tongue and groove paneling throughout on the walls and the ceilings. They also grow an organic garden.

Their woodlands provide them with a whole host of benefits, from timber sales and firewood to hunting, hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, ice skating, and fishing. Rupp believes that all the things that they can do in the woods would surprise many. They welcome 4-H, school, and scout groups, "People interested in forests or who want space in the woods to hike around." They lead a couple of woods walks each year.

The Rupp's find the most important reason for owning their property is the many benefits of a healthy forested landscape. Their work can pass on the benefits to others and sharing with those around them. Rupp cites the air quality as just one of these benefits, "the clean air benefits a lot of people." He suggests that forest owners "Keep their eyes and ears open. Read and learn all you can and use all the help available." They see themselves as stewards of the land and are constantly working to improve its quality.


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