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July 14, 2014

Purdue publication expert resource for urban woodlots owners

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The Purdue Extension publication Indiana’s Urban Woodlots provides expert advice on how property owners can manage and care for such important urban natural resources. (Photo courtesy of Acres Land Trust)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A new Purdue Extension publication gives owners of Indiana urban woodlots crucial information they need to best manage and care for these environmentally important forest areas.

The free, 24-page booklet Indiana's Urban Woodlots is meant to make owning and managing urban woodlots less intimidating and help owners enhance their experiences with their land while reaping the benefits of the property. The publication covers topics such as the benefits of trees, laws and zoning, stewardship planning, management, and planting and renewal.

"Woodlots are dynamic, vital ecosystems in the urban and suburban landscapes of the Midwest," said Lindsey Purcell, urban forestry specialist at Purdue University and co-author of the publication. He noted that people own small wooded lots in urban areas for a variety of reasons, including for timber and firewood production, recreation, wildlife habitat and alternative forest products or simply to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment.

"Many owners who keep and nurture these natural areas are motivated by powerful, non-economic motives based primarily on aesthetics and environmental protection," he said.

Other co-authors are Lenny Farlee, Extension sustaining hardwood specialist at Purdue; Pamela Dunn-Louks; and Jason Kissel, executive director of Acres Land Trust.

The publication points out that most Indiana woodland is privately owned and fragmented into lots of 10 acres or less. The acreage is declining for several reasons, including development of business and residential sites, highway expansion, management of utility service and vegetation, cropland expansion, storms, pests and diseases.

"Good management and stewardship will help protect and improve this dynamic environment,” the authors say. "Many woodlot owners want to be good stewards and protect and enhance the woodlots they own. To reach their goals, they must plan and manage their woodlots carefully."

Included in the publication is a guide to developing a management plan that enables owners to achieve their objectives for their woodlots, whether they are to be used for improving wildlife habit, producing lumber or firewood, hunting or other endeavors.

"Writing a management plan helps you create a vision and determine a schedule of activities to achieve the vision," the authors say.

In addition to a management plan, the authors recommend that every woodlot owner have a forest stewardship plan, prepared by a professional forester or other qualified natural resources professional. A stewardship plan matches the land's capabilities with the landowner's objectives in a customized document. It addresses wildlife habitat, water resources, recreation, forest protection, soils, timber, wetlands, aesthetic values, cultural features and endangered species.

Stewardship, the authors note, "is the desire to leave the land better than how you found it."

"Use your plan to guide you as you maintain or expand your woodlot," they write. "The most important aspect of ownership is to enjoy nature and take pride in the contribution you are making to a cleaner, more attractive environment."

The publication can be downloaded from Purdue Extension’s The Education Store at http://www.the-education-store.com. Search for publication number FNR-489-W.           

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu  

Source: Lindsey Purcell, 765-494-3625, lapurcell@purdue.edu 

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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