AFF 2020 National Leadership Community Conference

Baltimore, MD - The American Forest Foundation (AFF) hosted their 2020 National Leadership Community Conference February 25-27, 2020. The conference is an annual event for volunteers and leaders in the AFF and its partners to collaborate and develop ideas for the future of American forestry.

The conference also has designated meal times for breakfast and lunch to bring forest owners together. The conference is a great opportunity for networking among forest owners and operators around the country while creating a more connected partner network in forest stewardship.

The Community Conference also offers an extensive educational opportunity for forest stewardship as well. Workshops, informational presentations, and other learning opportunities are available at the conference. Activating Cultural Competence and Inclusion in Forestry Work, Strategies to Overcome Landowner Barriers to Action, and Utilizing Tree Farm Programs to Achieve Conservation Outcomes in the Northeast are a few presentations among many that are offered during the event.

The American Forest Foundation would also like to recognize the federal and state agencies, companies, foundations, and individuals that assist in the completion of the AFF’s goals. With their generous support, the AFF has worked hard to bring together forest landowners and promote a sustainable future. The list of agencies, foundations, companies, and individuals can be found here.

For more information about the American Forest Foundation and the annual National Leadership Community Conference, visit You can also contact the Forest Foundation by email at

Take a Walk in the Forest Saturday May 16

Be part of a national program for informing friends and neighbors
about good forest stewardship


The third Saturday in May each year is designated as National Walk in the Woods Day™ by the American Forest Foundation. In 2020, National Walk in the Woods Day™ will be Saturday, May 16. The American Forest Foundation invites its network of family forest owners and Tree Farmers recognized by the American Tree Farm System to offer tours of their managed forests or simply take their own families and friends for a walk in the woods. 

The goals of National Walk in the Woods Day include:

  • informing the public of the many benefits of trees and forests,
  • increasing public awareness of the dynamic nature of the forest, and
  • informing the public that private family forestland owners have multiple and diverse objectives and that their investment in forest management results in benefits that we all enjoy.
The American Forest Foundation has teamed up with the Society of American Foresters to make it easy to be sure that a walk in the woods is enjoyable and educational. The two groups have jointly published a free publication, entitled Walk in the Forest: a Guide for Promoting Forests and Forest Management, which includes a number of engaging activities for walkers of all ages and interests. The guide also contains tips for pre-walk planning and suggestions for post-walk follow-up activities. There is a section in the guide dedicated to students and educators. 

There are many landowner benefits to promoting a walk in the woods. By sharing their woodland with other people, landowners are able to explain the important forestry benefits of clean water, wood products, and wildlife. Landowners also are able to share their woodland improvements and show their commitment to sustaining America’s forests.

Before taking a walk, there are a few boxes to be checked off:

  • When do you want to schedule your walk? Decide on a day.
  • Who will be walking with you? Will it be family? Friends? Maybe you are considering taking a larger group or kids from a local school or homeschool group. The guide reminds forest owners, “if you can’t plan a walk for National Walk in the Woods Day™, consider another spring date to tie in with Arbor Day or Earth Day.” 
  • What to do? Perhaps take your group on your favorite trail. Do you have any recent accomplishments, such as tree planting or restored wetlands, to show off? Or are there any unique qualities to your land? 
  • Develop a plan. Where will you meet everyone? Do you have maps or other handouts with basic information about your property? Don’t be afraid to contact the foresters who help manage your property. They are a great source of information. 
  • Next let's talk about safety. Make sure there are no low-hanging limbs. Check for anything that might be blocking your pathway. Take a walk before inviting others, just to double check that the trail is clear. 

Now it is the day of the walk! Welcome people as they arrive, and show them safe places to park. Ask questions about natural resources and sustainable forest management to get people thinking. Answer questions people may have, allow them to take pictures, and try to start a discussion with your group. 

After the walk, think about how it went. Was there much discussion? Were you able to start a dialog with your group about forests? What did your group think of the walk? Were they engaged and interested? 

Let’s get out and take a walk! And remember to send photos of your walk to the NY Tree Farm Program office to share with other forest owners.


Walk in the Forest: a Guide for Promoting Forests and Forest Management

8 Documents Every Tree Farmer Needs

What should you keep? Although each Tree Farm has its own unique paper trail, here are eight documents every Tree Farmer should hold on to:

  1. Deeds: A property deed doesn’t just record your ownership of your land — it also records the land’s exact location and boundaries. This can be critical information, says forester Michael J. Burns, program resource manager for the Family Forest program at the American Forest Foundation. “In my experience, most people don’t know where their property boundaries are,” he says. “They say good fences make good neighbors, but if you don’t know where your boundaries are, you won’t know where to put the fence.”
  2. Management plan: A complete and up-to-date management plan offers many advantages: it serves as an inventory of what’s on your property, a work plan for its future, and proof that your Tree Farm is a business if you’re claiming a profit or loss at tax time. If you don’t already have a plan, a consulting forester can help you craft one. offers help in finding a qualified forester as well as useful planning advice.
  3. Property map: This map shows not just boundary lines but also everything you value about your woods. Special sites, historic structures and stone walls, and changes in vegetation—for example, an area where pines give way to hardwoods — all should be recorded on your map. Hiring a professional surveyor to map your woods can prove especially valuable, says Jordan. offers a mapping tool to assist woodland owners in identifying important features on their land.
  4. Permits: Keep permits for any activities that require them — whether it’s harvesting or planting trees, building roads or stream crossings, using pesticides, or conducting controlled burns. They provide you with a reference for the next time you need to file for a permit, and they can protect you if the agency that granted you the permit loses it or claims you weren’t issued one. “Permitting agencies tend to have short memories and long reaches,” Burns says, “so you want to keep permits forever.”
  5. Contracts: Make sure to keep all your contracts, along with proof of insurance and other contract requirements, for any contractors you hire. Spoken agreements won’t cut it; get any agreement to do work on your woods written down, and hold on to it.
  6. Landowner liability insurance policies: “You’ve worked hard to acquire your property and improve it,” says Burns, “so you want to protect it.” And protecting it means keeping records of any insurance you have for yourself, your property, and any structures on it, as well as anyone working on your land.
  7. A copy of your state Best Management Practices (BMPs): Copies of your state BMPs are usually available for free, and they offer you useful guidelines for working on your property. They can also help highlight parts of your land or facets of your management activities that could be improved.
  8. Receipts, warranties, and instruction manuals: If you purchase supplies or tools for use on your Tree Farm, keep all the documentation that comes with them. These records can come in handy for replacing or repairing your purchases, logging your expenses for tax-deduction purposes, and ensuring that other family members can correctly use your Tree Farm equipment.

A little common sense goes a long, long way, particularly when it comes to record-keeping. So when in doubt about a document, file it away. After all, each piece of paper chronicles life on your Tree Farm — recording, for your own satisfaction and for future generations, everything you’ve accomplished in your woods.

Given the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the American Forest Foundation and the American Tree Farm System would like to inform you of the steps we are taking to minimize any potential risk to our staff, partners and network members and how these steps may affect our operations in the coming weeks. We are also taking steps to help our network stay engaged during this difficult period by making available tools for virtual work. This situation is evolving daily, and AFF will continue to re-evaluate our policies and guidance in consideration of the latest recommendations and the safety of all. We will update you as we make adjustments based upon the most current information. 
Read the full message from Tom Martin
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The Department of Agriculture intends to keep all offices open amid the coronavirus outbreak. This includes USDA Service Centers, which are comprised of both Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). If the outbreak worsens, workers in both FSA and NRCS offices are equipped to telework to perform critical functions. The Forest Service is continuing to execute important shared stewardship practices. We will alert you if any changes should occur.
Read USDA’s Press Release on Their Dedication to Serving the American People
Forest Image
Congress remains in session, passing and introducing new legislation related to the coronavirus. Among the various packages, Senate Republicans revealed a $1T coronavirus aid package on Sunday March 22, S. 3548, providing loans for small businesses and payments to Americans and other industries. The various packages do not contain any form of relief to landowners; however, AFF is evaluating how the coronavirus is negatively affecting the Tree Farm community and will act with legislators accordingly.

New York’s Outdoors Are Open

During the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health. Scientific studies show that time outside in nature, especially among trees, significantly reduces stress and anxiety; lowers blood pressure; improves mood, energy, and sleep; and boosts the immune system.  

person hiking

While indoor spaces and restrooms at DEC environmental education centers, hatcheries, and other public facilities are closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, our grounds and trails are open to welcome visitors during daylight hours, seven days a week. Any entry fees are waived. Public trails in the Adirondack and Catskill parks and State Forests throughout the state are also always open (please note: there is still snow in many areas, please check local conditions). Find a location near you on our website,  As always, State Lands and facilities are being monitored by DEC Forest Rangers and other staff, though interactions with visitors will incorporate social distancing to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Families with children at home during this time are encouraged to visit DEC’s education webpage to find activities to help explore nature and fun outdoor activities under “Kids G.O (Get Outside)” and “Nature Activities,” plus lesson plans on a variety of topics for different grade levels in “Educator Lesson Plans” and “Hudson River Lesson Plans.” In addition, students can read about nature in “Conservationist for Kids.”

In addition, New York State sporting licenses for anglers and hunters are available on DEC’s sporting license webpage.

DEC will provide updates periodically via email, social media, and at We will also be available to respond to questions or concerns regarding visitation opportunities at

While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to follow the CDC'd/NYSDOH’s guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
  • Wash hands often, or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.

DEC recommends avoiding busy trailheads. Find the trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy during daylight hours. Remember to always be safe and sustainable when recreating outdoors. Learn more about how you can protect natural spaces when exploring outdoors by following the seven principles of Leave no Trace. Please note that campgrounds, boat launches, and other gated facilities that do not typically open until late spring or early summer will open and operate as usual. Visit our campground and day-use area webpage for more information.

Please visit nature and the outdoors responsibly and stay safe.

DEC Announces Residential Brush Burning Prohibited in New York State
March 16 Through May 14

Annual Burn Ban Has Decreased Spring Wildfires 42.6 Percent Since 2009

Ban Reduces Wildfire Risks, Protects Lives and Property

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced a statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning began March 16 and runs through May 14. With spring approaching, DEC is reminding residents that conditions for wildfires are heightened in springtime when most wildfires occur.

"While many associate wildfires with the western United States, the start of spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increase the risk for wildfires in New York," Commissioner Seggos said. "To protect our communities and natural resources, New York prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the potential for wildfires. The burn ban has effectively reduced the number of wildfires over the last decade, and we're encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first."

Even though areas of the state remain blanketed in snow, warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise. DEC will post a Fire Danger Map rating forecast daily for the 2020 fire season and the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App, on DEC's website. Currently, fire conditions in most of the state are low risk.

Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall's debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

Every spring as the snow melts and vegetation dries out, New York's partnering local first responders all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal spring debris fires. DEC Forest Rangers respond to and assist local agencies with the larger and more remote fires. Complying with the burn ban prevents unnecessary burdens on and dangers to state resources and local first responders.

New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution. The regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires occur. Since the ban was established, the eight-year annual average number of spring fires decreased by 42.6 percent, from 2,649 in 2009 to 1,521 in 2018.

Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York website.

Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack and Catskill parks, are designated "fire towns." Open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a permit from DEC. To find out whether a municipality is designated a "fire town" or to obtain a permit, contact the appropriate DEC regional office. A list of regional offices is available on DEC's website.

Forest Rangers, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), and local authorities will be enforcing the burn ban. Violators of the state's open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC's website.

DEC's Forest Rangers prepare in a variety of ways for wildland fire response. Last June, DEC and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) conducted a multi-agency tabletop training exercise on Long Island that helped prepare local, state, and federal agencies for a rapid response in the event of a fire in the Central Pine Barrens, the expansive 100,000-acre ecosystem that is Long Island's largest natural area. Prescribed fire is also a tool regularly used to manage fire-dependent ecosystems like the Pine Barrens and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve in a manner that develops a resilient natural balance of fire in the desired vegetation.

— Upcoming Events —

National Walk in the Woods Day
May 16th
Plan your walk today

NY Tree Farm Field Days
Upper Hudson Region
Details coming soon
The four sides of the Tree Farm sign: Water. Wildlife. Recreation. Wood.
The mission of the NY Tree Farm Program is to promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands in New York State while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry. 

Contact us at the NY Tree Farm Office: PO Box 24, Washington Square, Greenwich, NY 12834, (518) 854-7386,
Copyright © 2020 New York Tree Farm, All rights reserved.

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