Category Archives: News

News about Kentucky Woodlands and their owners

KWOA Board discusses strategic planning, timber theft and river basins as quarterly meeting

The KWOA/F Board of Directors convened its quarterly meeting on August 8 in Frankfort. Several guest presenters attended the meeting:

Aleta Botts – Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development

Bill McCloskey – Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy

Chris Osborne – Kentucky River Properties, LLC

Perry Thomas, DOW Watershed Management Branch

Aleta Botts, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD), described the services provided by this 501(c)(3) organization which works closely with GOAP. KCARD provides planning assistance for Kentucky agricultural organizations. Representatives of KWOA will be meeting with them to help clarify and further develop goals and plans.

Bill McCloskey, Deputy Director, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), explained the role of the Kentucky Agricultural Fund, which at the state level annually distributes about $16 million in tobacco settlement funds. Increasing farm income is the purpose of these investments. Funding requests that require additional development are often referred to KCARD.


Strategic Planning: Jack Stickney reported on the idea of applying for funding through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund in order to significantly expand the activities of KWOA. This would entail an increase in efforts to encourage woodland ownership, and the hiring of an executive director. After a lot of discussions, the group concluded that KWOA may not be ready to take on this level of additional activity, and as an alternative, might advocate for funding for woodland management activities through organizations with infrastructure already in place. As noted above, the intent is to review these plans in more detail with KCARD.


Chris Osborne, Forester with Kentucky River Properties LLC, said he was speaking on behalf of his employer as well as other large woodland owners in Eastern Kentucky in outlining a need to change timber trespass laws in order to protect the interests of landowners as well as the timber industry. In order to reduce the incidence of unauthorized logging, Chris suggested that the notification requirement to adjoining landowners should become mandatory for all logging operations. Industry groups, including KWOA and KFIA, will be asked to provide representatives to a group that will work toward this change. For a detailed report on the issue…


Woodland Assessment: Jim Corum reported that Jeff Harper, Director, Public Affairs Division, Kentucky Farm Bureau, has said he will meet with the Governor’s Office after the 2019 legislative session to discuss KWOA’s proposed changes in the woodland assessment.

Read the Background on the Corum’s case regarding timber property valuation.

On May 15, 2019 the Kentucky Claims Commission declined the Corum tax appeal.

On-going discussion on fair and equitable assessment and taxation of managed woodlands will utilize a White Paper by Jeffrey Stringer, Professor and Chair, UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension.

2020 Annual Meeting: The meeting will be held March 24-25 at Lake Cumberland State Park. Recreation is the theme.

Health Task Force:  Joe Ball and Don Girton discussed efforts to obtain woodland owner federal financial relief from the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer disease. Both believe that in light of the $16 billion in federal aid being provided to farmers in connection with tariffs, EAB help in the near future is unlikely. (Bob Bauer, KFIA, noted earlier that red oak markets in Asia are down by half.) Joe Ball noted that the reluctance to fund EAB disaster relief is just one example of the lack of recognition of timber as an agricultural commodity. However, Girton and Ball will continue to work on their report.


Perry Thomas and three associates from the Nonpoint Source & Basin Team Section, Watershed Management Branch, Kentucky Division of Water informed board members about their work and its connection with silviculture and watershed plans. KWOA will be working with this agency in the future on water quality issues related to woodlands management.


Funding requests approved:

Kentucky Conservation Committee – $200

Sand County Foundation (Aldo Leopold Award): $500

UK Forestry Scholarship: $1000

UK Forestry Leadership Program: $400 for scholarships for two students


Future board meetings will be held 11/14/19, 2/13/20, 3/25/20, 5/14/20, 8/13/20 and 11/12/20.


Top Ten Family Forest Issues for 2019

Since 1986 the National Woodland Owners Association has ranked the top ten family forestry issues with an annual vote by the leaders of the 42 state affiliates. For the third year in a row, Markets remain the #1 issue with woodland owners.

#1  Markets: timber, biomass and industry viability

#2  Extension education and service forestry

#3  Invasive species and forest health

#4  Income, estate and property taxes

#5  Right-to-practice forestry and regulatory creep

#6  Stewardship incentives: cost sharing and tax credits.

#7  Keeping forests as forests

#8  Water quality and quantity

#9  Wildlife management, funding and climate

#10 Wildlife management

Source:  National Woodlands, Spring 2019, pp. 10-13.

Book Review: Venerable Trees

Venerable Trees

History, Biology, and Conservation in the Bluegrass

Tom Kimmerer

University Press of Kentucky, 2015

229 p


Book review by Michael Rich, EKU Associate Professor and KWOA Board Member


This is the book I wish I had read when I bought my first woodland acreage in Kentucky. The author gives a detailed description of the differences between the subregions of the Bluegrass and the reasons for the various vegetation patterns found in these subregions. His description of the Nashville Basin provides an excellent comparative perspective in understanding how urbanization and other land use changes have affected ancient woodlands.

Kimmerer also makes specific suggestions for current and future management of these unique ecosystems which are under threat. The barometer of this threat, according to Kimmerer, are the “venerable trees,” trees which predate European colonization of the region. Surveys going back decades indicate that the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin have lost significant numbers of venerable trees due to urban development, soil compaction, lack of root space, intensive lawn maintenance, and outright destruction. Because venerable trees in the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin are not regenerating, we must understand the factors that led to the creation of these ecosystems if we wish to preserve and restore their unique features.


Kimmerer introduces a useful concept of the “woodland pasture” to describe the vegetative features of the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin. Contrary to my own preconception, fire, in contrast to the “savannah” of the upper Midwest, was not an important factor in the formation of woodland pasture. Rather, drought augmented by the rapidly draining karst topography is the main factor in the creation of the “woodland pasture.” Maintenance of the woodland pasture, originally created by giant cane which shaded sprouting trees, and occasional intense grazing by bison, can be recreated by grazing animals and creating protection zones for trees. Furthermore, he recommends planting with seedlings from native stock rather than genetically identical cuttings.


In addition to prescriptions for preservation and restoration, Kimmerer gives thoughtful descriptions of the main tree species of the Bluegrass and their unique aesthetic and ecological benefits. The book is generously illustrated with informative maps, charts and photographs that enhance understanding of Kimmerer’s main arguments. The fruit of decades of research and observation, Venerable Trees offers insight and guidance on important principles for anyone seeking to manage, preserve or restore land under their stewardship. For further information, including other reviews of the book, I recommend a look at the author’s website

(Photo credit: Venerable Bur Oak at Parklands Woodlands Gardens. Photo by Portia Brown)


Reducing Fire Risk on Your Forest Property

Is your forested property in a condition that could survive a wildfire? Have you reduced the slash to the point that it’s not a hazard? Could firefighters easily get to a wildfire on your property?

Although Reducing Fire Risk on Your Property is a Pacific Northwest Extension Publication, it provides relevant suggestions for making forested property more fire-resistant and provides references that specifically address the area of defensible space immediately around homes, cabins, or other structures.

Strategic Planning for KWOA/KWOF

KWOA/F board members participated in a strategic planning session following their May 9, 2019 board meeting. Dr. Dan Kahl of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of the University of Kentucky led the session for the group.


Dr. Kahl, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, leads strategic planning session with KWOA/F board members at May 9 meeting.

The board members divided into three small discussion segments: Structure, Finance, and Membership and Outreach. Each group identified what activities are working well, what aren’t working well, and what activities need to be preserved and improved. Each participant assigned priorities of 1-3 to the activity categories identified. These scores will be tabulated and distributed to assist the organization in better defining and furthering its mission.

Mapping microbial symbioses in forests

Data collected from over 1 million forest plots reveals patterns of where plant roots form symbiotic relationships with fungi and bacteria.


In and around the tangled roots of the forest floor, fungi and bacteria grow with trees, exchanging nutrients for carbon in a vast, global marketplace. A new effort to map the most abundant of these symbiotic relationships – involving more than 1.1 million forest sites and 28,000 tree species – has revealed factors that determine where different types of symbionts will flourish.

The work could help scientists understand how symbiotic partnerships structure the world’s forests and how they could be affected by a warming climate.

Stanford University researchers worked alongside a team of over 200 scientists to generate these maps, published May 15 in Nature.

The group used their map to predict how symbioses might change by 2070 if carbon emissions continue unabated. This scenario resulted in a 10 percent reduction in the biomass of tree species that associate with a type of fungi found primarily in cooler regions.

The data behind this map represents real trees from more than 70 countries and collaboration between hundreds of researchers who speak different languages, study different ecosystems and confront different challenges.

“There are more than 1.1 million forest plots in the dataset and every one of those was measured by a person on the ground. In many cases, as part of these measurements, they essentially gave the tree a hug,” said Brian Steidinger, a Stanford University researcher. “So much effort – hikes, sweat, ticks, long days – is in that map.”