article written by Rusty Walker, NRCS District Conservationist

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A Forestry Field Day was held at the Miles family farm in Giles County on September 30th.   A crowd of over 70 foresters and area landowners gathered at the Miles family Poplar Ridge tract to see what is probably one of the best managed stands of poplar in Southern Middle TN.

Farm owners Rex and Nancy Miles purchased  the tract of land back in the 70’s and immediately began working with then Area Forester Tony Shires on developing a management plan. “From the early 70’s until 1992 Tony worked with us on our first stand, according to Rex, and he brought Nancy and me the first few poplar seedlings we planted out here. That was over 35 years ago and the rest is history”. After attending a forestry meeting with UT Forester Larry Tankersley, Rex found even more information and guidance on how to properly manage hardwoods.  “Tankersley worked with me on how to cruise timber and calibrate volumes, what we needed to look for within the forest and how to manage for long term production”, says Miles.  Spending time in his forests is a priority for Rex. “When Rex is not at a business meeting, doing volunteer work or attending to his Angus Cattle operation you can probably find him somewhere out here in the forest”, according to NRCS District Conservationist Rusty Walker. “Rex has been an active member of the Giles County Soil Conservation District Board for about the past 20 years. He will tell you that timber is like having a bank account, it’s an investment that grows on the stump”. The best thing about timber is you can control a lot of the aspects on your rate of return.  It is unfortunate that more landowners don’t understand how to best manage these assets for the long term. Most folks think about what will happen in their lifetime, how they will benefit. We need to be more focused on how it will help our kids and grandkids. What will your grandchildren say about how you managed the farm? Will they say granddaddy didn’t know anything about forestry and didn’t care so we have nothing to hold on to on this land or will they say my granddaddy was a great forester, we have the best stand of timber in the county and we are proud of this land and will never let go of it? That’s something to think about according to Miles.

“The quality of timber does have a direct impact on the land and resale value of the property”, Walker said.  Removing cattle from a stand of timber, for instance, can make the difference in whether a timber buyer will pay top prices for veneer or if he will even look at it. The species of timber will also have a big impact, will the timber be used for quality veneer, furniture or flooring or will it only be salvageable for cross ties or chip wood.  Walker spoke at the field day on utilizing a federal program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to improve management on timber land. The EQIP program offers financial assistance to eligible forest owners in developing management plans. Once approved, the USDA will work with you on hiring a certified professional private forester to develop a management plan that meets your goals as a landowner, whether that is timber production, wildlife habitat, or aesthetics. Management plans should be written to meet your objectives as the landowner and include the things you may encounter in meeting those objectives. If that is doing a timber harvest, you need to know where your property lines are, what legal requirements there may be with riparian zones, offsite damages, liabilities, etc. You also want the best return on your investment so working with a forester is similar to working with an investment counselor at a bank.

After Walker spoke the group went on a hike through the woods guided by Miles and UT Forester Larry Tankersley. Larry covered a lot of good information about marketing and measuring timber. He also covered the importance of knowing what you have and how to sell it. If the timber is going to inheritance it is important to know what is out there and the value in terms of capital gains. All of this can have a big impact on your taxes if you inherit a stand of timber. Again, this is an issue most timber owners don’t consider. Anyone who has attended one of his meetings knows Tankersley will mix in a little humor which made for a great field day! All of those attending seemed to enjoy the perfect fall weather and beauty of the cabin and campsite setting.

The event was hosted by the Southern Middle Tennessee Forestry Association in cooperation with the UT/TSU Extension Service, USDA-NRCS and the Giles County Soil Conservation District.

The meal was sponsored by Rex and Nancy Miles, Richland Trace Market, 1st National Bank and the Giles County SCD. It featured Richie Roses Barbeque Ribs, 1st National “Grillers” cooking burgers and Becky’s Country Fried Pies.

Anyone interested in timber management should call the TN Division of Forestry, the UT Extension Service or local USDA -NRCS/Soil Conservation District office. Each agency offers specialized assistance in targeting resource management issues related to forestlands.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

Giles County Soil Conservation District is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer.