Landowner Leaders – Minnesota Tree Farm Program Member
The sounds of heavy machinery whir in the background as Dave Krampitz fields calls from his customers. Dave owns an auto repair shop in Waseca just a few miles from he and his wife Paulette’s Tree Farm. When he’s away from the noise of the shop, Dave enjoys finding some peace and quiet in his woods. “I’ve been always kind of obsessed with wildlife, and woods, and hunting, and fishing,” he says.
The America Tree Farm system (ATF) is a program of the American Forestry Foundation. Dave joined the program in 1997 on the advice of his local DNR forester, as a way of getting woodland management information. To become a certified American Tree Farm, a landowner must adopt the Standards of Sustainability. The standards require getting a woodland management plan and carrying out sustainable practices such as protecting special natural sites, monitoring your woods for problems, and fighting invasive species.
ATF offers learning opportunities for landowners. Dave once attended a weekend‑long workshop on woodland topics. “There was logging, different seminars on how to market your timber, invasive species,” he lists. He described there also being a workshop on ‘direct seeding,’ a reforestation strategy that involves spreading seed instead of planting seedlings. This information was useful to Dave when he started his own direct seeding project in an old field that he wanted to return to woodland. In addition to hosting workshops, ATF also organizes the Tree Farm Field Day, which involves touring local Tree Farms so that members can learn from one another. “It’s a whole day, you’ll go to 8 or 10 different places,” Dave says. “You actually see what people have done.” Dave feels it is important to see woodland projects—like direct seeding—before trying them yourself. “It’s worth your time before you invest in anything to go see what other people have done.”
The ATF program also requires having a management plan such as a Woodland Stewardship Plan. Dave has had his stewardship plan for years, and has encouraged neighbors to get one as well. “The stewardship plan works because they’ll come in and they’ll tell you what you’re supposed to do, and then you can modify it from there. They set a 1‑year goal, a 2‑year, a 5‑year, a 10‑year, a 15‑year goal; I mean it’s all in your book,” he says.
The Krampitz’s direct seeding is approaching its 10‑year mark now, and it is thriving. “It’s neat to see the trees grow,” Dave remarks. “My grandpa was a big ‘woods guy’. He had 60 acres on the edge of the Oak Savanna. As a kid, we’d go out there. And he always took pride in keeping his woods really nice.” Dave carries that pride for the oak savanna today, noting his concern over the slow disappearance of the once expansive ecosystem of rolling grasslands and scattered oak trees. “There’s not much left and they keep whittling away at it,” he says. “People look at southern Minnesota and think it’s farm ground. They gotta’ protect the little bit of woods that’s here, you know?”
To learn more about The American Tree Farm organization, please visit www.treefarmsystem.org or visit mntreefarm.org to learn more about Minnesota’s ATF chapter. Jennifer and Alan continue to benefit from the network of folks they met through MLEP. “I think the people you meet is probably the most valuable thing,” says Alan, noting that natural resource agency employees and private foresters often attended classes in addition to the loggers and landowners; “you get to build relationships with other people you would never interact with otherwise.”
For more information on MLEP, please visit: www.mlep.org