On May 3, 2016 the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and Minority Landowner Magazine co-hosted a forest and landowners workshop in Meridian, Mississippi. About 70 people, including landowners, extension agents, university staff, and consulting foresters, participated in the free workshop.
The goals of the workshop were to:
- Introduce minority and limited resource landowners to Forest Service scientists and current research, as well as to existing research data that might be of use to them;
- Introduce Forest Service scientists to minority and limited resource landowners so that scientists can hear first-hand if the research being done addresses landowner needs, and if not, to gain input on what is actually needed; and
- Demonstrate how Forest Service research is adopted by resource professionals such as state and private foresters and then applied on the ground to help meet landowner objectives.
Speakers from different sectors — Victor Harris, publisher and editor, Minority Landowner Magazine; SRS researchers Phil Araman, Andy Hartsell, and Johnny Boggs; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist Kelvin Jackson; and Mississippi State University associate extension professor James Henderson — presented on topics that ranged from an overview of SRS to land ownership, forest threats, non-timber forest products, forest inventory and analysis, and financial assistance programs.
“I was excited to take part in this workshop,” said Boggs, biological scientist with the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center. “It was a great opportunity to share with minority landowners how our research has improved land management and forest health and productivity across the South.”
Landowners seemed to resonate with the information presented, offering comments to the presenters during and after the workshop such as: “So spacing the trees a certain distance can make them grow better — I want to learn more about that,” “Growing ginseng (a non-timber forest product) might be of interest to me,” and “I need to make sure my land is passed from generation to generation.”
For many years, minority landowners have wanted to take steps to maximize the benefits of their forested land but have not known how to go about doing it. This workshop provided the first step for many of the landowners to move beyond this limitation and begin actively managing their forests and generating a regular income.
“I have heirs’ property in my own family, so I could certainly relate to many of the landowners in the room who want to know more about how to generate revenue from their land, how to retain land across generations, and how to work through family dynamics when trying to sell timber,” said Boggs.
As next steps, the Forest Service and Minority Landowner Magazine will follow up and continue to work with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and Mississippi State University to ensure that landowner knowledge gaps and concerns about land retention across generations, timber and non-timber productivity and profitability are addressed. A second workshop was held June 4, 2016 in Sylvester, Georgia.
For more information, email Johnny Boggs at email@example.com.