Area Farmer Tops In Trees
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) announced the four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year from among more than 74,000 Tree Farmers: the Eve-Cowles family of Massachusetts; Gerald and Charlotte Kann of Wisconsin; Bobby Watkins of Mississippi; and Lyle and Dean Defrees of Oregon.
ATFS, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, has honored more than 150 forest owners as Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers since the award’s inception in 1976. To be considered, awardees must exhibit the most exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve forest health, wildlife habitat, clean water and sustainable wood supplies, and must promote this stewardship within their communities.
“Tree Farmers, while private owners, provide vast public benefits for all Americans nationwide, ensuring their forests are producing the resources we all count on: clean drinking water, home for our wildlife and the sustainable wood supplies that become the products we use on a daily basis,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation (AFF), the organization that oversees ATFS. “Our Outstanding Tree Farmers take this duty above and beyond, and we are proud to honor them and share their stories and accomplishments.”
One of the four nominees is from Monroe County
Southern Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year, Bobby Watkins of Aberdeen, Mississippi has perfected the art of balancing wildlife habitat and a successful timber operation. Watkins’ land has been in his family for four generations, first being a family farm that grew soybeans and cotton. Since Watkins’ inherited it from his mother, he has spent countless hours transitioning the property back to forest. Through a continuous cycle of planting, thinning, harvesting, replanting and other management techniques, Watkins has created abundant forages for wildlife, providing them with different age stands for both food and shelter. Taking it a step further, Watkins conducts trials to learn how thinning pines at different levels of growth can affect wildlife habitat in a pine stand. Today, his 240-acre tract is known in north Mississippi as an educational model for aspiring landowners. Watkins has hosted numerous workshops for neighbors, works with Extension students on research, and hosts timber buyers for educational demonstrations.
One of these Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers, based on judging from AFF’s governance and online voting, will be chosen for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award later this year.
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