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Although retired from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) after 33 years as a service forester, Steve Warne continues to put his knowledge and experience to use doing a small amount of forestry consulting for friends and family. The majority of his time, however, is spent volunteering with various organizations and managing his two woodlot properties. When not volunteering or working on the woodlots, he can also be found salvaging buildings or refurbishing his 1954 Chevrolet Bel-Air. Steve jokes that he felt sorry for the car after he saw it sitting alone in a field for sale and now he’s been sorry ever since! After spending a considerable amount of time and energy on the car, however, he is confident that he could jump in it today and take it anywhere without a hassle.
Steve has only refurbished one automobile to date, but he is currently in the process of reconstructing his third salvaged building. In 1989, he began his first reconstruction when he took on the ranger cabin at the base of Crane Mountain in the Adirondack Park Reserve. The cabin became surplus property and a nuisance when the fire tower was removed from the summit. Instead of burning the cabin, the State was convinced that it should be auctioned off and Steve won it. He then proceeded to dismantle the cabin board by board and quickly learned that wood is not regularly salvaged because half the time is spent pulling nails! Once the structure was finally dismantled, Steve stored the lumber until the following year when he reconstructed the cabin on his Warrensburg property. It is now used as a headquarters for Steve's LaShantee' Tree Farm.
As a certified Tree Farm, the Warrensburg property is actively managed for forest products, wildlife and recreation. Steve purchased the 12.5 acre property in 1989. Located at the end of a 3/4 mile-long right-of-way in North Warrensburg, the parcel was originally subdivided out of a 120 acre farm in the 1960’s. Formerly agricultural and pasture land, abandoned around 1910 due to thin, rocky, sandy and nutritionally depleted soils, half the property is now mostly northern hardwoods, such as beech, sugar maple, ash and basswood. The other half, originally hay meadow, has grown into a combination of white pine and mixed hardwoods.
Steve has had two timber sales on the property to-date and cuts four to five standard cords of firewood annually. The first timber sale was held in 1991, when he sold white pine sawlogs and pulpwood. He then harvested approximately three dozen mature hardwood sawlogs for his second sale in 1993. Steve marked and tallied the trees he wanted to sell for both sales and, due to their small size, the terms of the sales were negotiated instead of bid upon. During the hardwood sale, Steve asked that the grade three logs and pulpwood be left in the woods and he later used the material for firewood. Though he jokes that the timber sale only lasted two days, Steve did net enough money to pay a sizeable portion of one semester’s tuition for his daughter, Shannon.
Steve also utilizes about 3/4 of an acre to grow Christmas and apple trees. At the time he bought the property, that site was entirely forested. As such, the timber had to be cut and the slash and hardwoods removed before the Christmas and apple trees could be planted. While neither operation has been a roaring success, as one quickly learns about pales weevil and apple borer, Steve has gone through a couple cycles of Christmas trees, which he gives away to family and friends.
In addition to the Christmas and apple trees, Steve also grows ginseng on the property. Steve became particularly interested in cultivating ginseng after attending an agroforestry conference led by Bob Beyfuss and sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension in 2000. As part of the conference, participants were given mushroom plugs, goldenseal rhizomes, and ginseng roots and seed, which Steve shared with other interested landowners and used to establish a “garden” on his own property. Though he discovered a wild ginseng patch on his property just a year after purchase, thieves have visited the patch every few years and have stolen the valuable plants. Unfortunately, now that he has some very nice ten year-old plants, the thieves are expected to visit again soon. While Steve does believe in the efficacy of ginseng (one cannot argue with 2000 years of Asian medicinal practices), he enjoys growing it and has no intention of harvesting the plants for sale.
Though not as diverse as the Warrensburg property, Steve owns an additional 10 acres in Orleans County, which was gifted to him by his maternal grandfather in 1973. The Porter family, who settled in Orleans County as pioneers in the 1800's, added the 10 acre woodlot to the family farm in 1989. Though the farmhouse still stands and the adjacent land continues to be used for agriculture, only the woodlot is still in the family.
Located a half mile off the town road, the Orleans woodlot affords a restful atmosphere that Steve enjoys whenever he camps on the property. The camp site, approximately one acre of upland, is the only area of the forested wetland that doesn't flood each spring. Swamp hardwoods, including red maple, silver maple, green ash and the occasional swamp white oak, populate the area, accompanied by an understory of spice bush and poison ivy.
With lots of deer, coyote and song birds there is never a dull moment. People are free to use the property for various activities; however, dirt-biking is not allowed. Steve also utilizes the property to provide firewood for relatives still living in the area. Lately, wind and snow have done all the tree selection that needs to be done to make, and exceed, the firewood requirements.
When not working on either of the two properties, Steve volunteers as advisor, chaperone and instructor with the 4-H Adirondack Guide Program sponsored by CCE of Warren Country. Recently, he received his thirty-five year certificate as a CCE volunteer. Steve was also a Scout Master in the mid-1970's and will occasionally help teach map and compass, tree identification and other natural resource topics to youth groups. As a Tree Farm Inspector Steve also volunteers to visit and inspect Tree Farms in the area.
Although he is also an active member of the Southern Adirondack Chapter of NYFOA, Steve has never held office in the organization. He has, however, led occasional woodswalks on various properties, including his own. Steve’s own woodswalk was held on the Warrensburg property.
As a retired service forester still active in forestry-related projects and organizations, Steve advises all forest owners to have their timber property evaluated by an experienced professional before taking any action. Asking a DEC forester to inspect your property and make management recommendations is, according to Steve, the best place to start. Volunteers trained in the Master Forest Owner program are also a sound source of management advice. As he often tells people, though it only takes a few minutes to cut down a tree, it will take nature between 80 and 120 years to replace it!
PO Box 541 Lima, NY 14485
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