Forester plans for trees and wildlife
By Sarah Smith
A privately employed forester is like a starving artist.
Stan Grossman of Nevis is a self-employed forestry expert who moves from job to job, doing timber sales administration and forest management planning.
“My boss is tough on me,” he grins. “I put in a lot of hours in my home office. It’s not for everyone. I always have to hustle but I’ve found a way to stay busy.”
Grossman might have been pre-ordained for his livelihood.
“I’ve always loved trees,” he said. “I was always planting trees in my mother’s back yard. I honestly didn’t know what a forester was until I got to college.”
Using a variety of mapping software, some free and some costly, Grossman puts together land plans for property owners, large and small. They come with detailed maps.
But he also performs fire risk assessments within those land management plans.
He graduated from Vermilion Community College in Ely and has been involved with forestry work since 1988. He began privately consulting in 1996.
Some of his clients are absentee landlords who want to maintain healthy forest land in northern Minnesota as an investment.
He looks out at a forested landscape and remarks on how the “aspen and oak are really coming back.”
Conversation turns to the Green Valley fire, which burned 7,100 acres in Hubbard and Wadena counties last spring.
“Fire is a good regenerator of the woods” up to a point, he noted.
He follows the global timber markets and local trends so that he can advise clients.
Globally, paper sales are down, which is no surprise due to online communications.
“It is a concern for me,” he said. “We used to be geared toward paper.”
With demand down, he turns to other markets such as biomass.
But the lumber industry was drastically affected by the housing crash that began five years ago and is slowly recovering today.
Inflated prices in 2005-2006 preceded the bust.
Though the housing market is slowly recovering, timber prices “are at a 10-15 year average,” Grossman said.
Landowners sell timber for a variety of reasons including forest health, wildlife management and just plain cleaning up the woods. Grossman said there are financial incentives to hang onto forest land and keep the taxes up.
It’s a busy time of year for a forester, he said. Grossman has been known to trek into remote areas with snowshoes during winter, so he’s not desk-bound.
He meets with the landowner to map out goals for the property. Many of his clients are deer hunters that want to enhance their land so a sustainable number of deer will inhabit the property, since hunting land is a family generational situation most want to preserve in perpetuity.
Those landowners want to know what they can do for deer habitat, and what forest management practices will enhance wildlife habitat, Grossman said.
If landowners harvest their timber, should they seed the land to clover or make it a food plot for deer?
“Everyone has their own idea of a good forestry plan,” he said diplomatically. “I’m here to serve the client. Most of my clients care about nature, too.”
Those various schools of thought are include leaving forest land alone. But wood tends to dry out, he said.
Each plan entails a risk-benefit analysis. Do you want to attract moose? Leave a large clear-cut area.
But when old growth forests are cleared, songbirds tend to leave with the wood, Grossman said.
Lands must have a balanced approach, he suggested. Having a forester on your side is akin to having a realtor advise you in a property sale, he said.
“You need an ally who knows the business,” he said. A forest ally “can streamline the harvest and make the process smoother,” he said. “Loggers like it, too.”
Quality Deer Management Association
Grossman is a consultant for, and member of, this non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring white-tail deer habitat.
“Founded in 1988, the QDMA has nearly 50,000 members in all 50 states and several foreign countries,” the association’s website says.
Educating the public and aligning volunteer and professional wildlife groups has resulted in a more stable deer population and a better hunting experience all around, Grossman maintains of QMDA.
Herds of primarily young deer can decimate a forest, so herd should be mixed of adults and fawns, Grossman said.
A large part of that is bringing younger generations into the fold as tomorrow’s wildlife stewards.
“It’s for those who wish to be more involved,” he said.
Grossman’s business, Itasca Woodland Services, can be reached at 252-8572 or at email@example.com.