Working Woodlands — Investing in the Land
Janice Stalsberg grew up about 3 miles from the beautiful 160-acre wooded farm that she would one day own. She was renting a piece of the land for raising horses when the chance arose to buy the whole property. "It was one of those things—the opportunity just presented itself."
Janice has contracted several harvests on the property, which helped pay for the land and her management activities. "Any money that I've ever got from timber sales always went right back into the land. It's kind of like a separate account," she says. Two of these harvests yielded valuable oak and walnut lumber for veneer and other products. She also had woodland stand improvement harvests, where the contractor removed invasive plants such as Japanese barberry, buckthorn, honeysuckle, and multi-flora rose, along with competing native trees and vines to open up the woods for growing the next generation of high-quality hardwoods. Janice hired a forester to advise her on her harvests. "Normally I'm the kind of person that will not pay a fee for anything," she jokes, "but I did feel in this case, there's so much at stake it was worth paying a professional."
Janice also enjoys working in the woods herself. "The more you can do yourself, the more of a vested interest you have in your woods and the easier it is for you to want to maintain it." She and her husband built a fence to keep the horses and cattle out of the woods and installed a series of trails that Janice uses to access the furthest corners of the property. Earlier, she would travel these trails to search for work that needed to be done. She has since learned to adjust her perspective: "It's become a mindfulness thing to go through the woods and just appreciate the trees, and the space, and the wildlife."