Bruce and Charlene Revette

by Maureen Mullen

Bruce Revette is an assistant professor at Morrisville State College and teaches Wood Products Technology and Construction. Bruce’s wife Charlene works from home where she raised their five children and is now helping to raise their grandchildren

The Revettes were married in 1973. They knew that they wanted to own woodlands, so shortly after tying the knot, they began their search for a property they could call their own. It wasn’t until 1979 that they found and bought a 65-acre parcel in DeRuyter, a small town in southwestern Madison County. The property was used as farmland in the early- to mid-1900s and the forested areas were logged in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The forest consists mainly of hardwoods: hard and soft maples, cherry, ash, and beech.

When the Revettes bought their woodland parcel, they began making small management decisions, such as improving the roads, marking their property boundaries, and becoming a Certified Tree Farm under the American Tree Farm System. In the mid-1980s, they worked with Richard Pancoe, a local DEC forester, to develop a management plan for their parcel. Then in 1986, the Revettes bought an adjacent 40-acre parcel of farmland and woods to expand their property (a small sliver of state land runs between the parcels). Since that time, the properties have been recertified as Tree Farms and they have developed and implemented management plans with Jeff Denkenberger at FORECON, Inc. in Cortland. The Revettes have completed five timber stand improvements, typically in 5- to 10-acre sections, with support from a Farm Bill program.

The majority of their land is wooded, except for a 2-acre section where the Revettes’ home is located and 15 acres of farmland that they lease. Bruce says, “I just really enjoy cutting [firewood] with a tractor and a wagon. It’s just one of those goofy things that I like to do.” But they not only use the woods for income — through larger timber sales and smaller roadside stand sales — they’ve also established about three miles of tractor and hiking trails on their land. They say that their woods are great a place to enjoy nature: the parcels are surrounded by state land, so there is no noise from neighbors; Charlene enjoys searching for interesting bits of wood to make sculptures from; there are opportunities for hunting; and the creek that runs through the property has exposed some shale that provided hours of fossil hunting for their kids and now the grandkids.

The Revettes take pride in the successes they have achieved on their land, each with distinct perspectives. Charlene said, “I know when we go walking, Bruce is always looking up at the value of every tree in terms of timber, but I look at the beautiful blooms that are coming up in the floor and the violets and we have two different perspectives… and my joy of the forest is more from an artistic point of view.” Bruce is most proud of the timber stand improvements they have done on the land and how healthy the forest has become: “Improvements in the size of the trees and how they take off after you eliminate the cull and you 2012 deer harvest from our farm. Oliver wanted it as a pet. CNY chapter president Ralph Meyer (foreground) pointing out issues on the “Restore N.Y. Woodlands” woods walk we hosted on our farm in May of this year. get firewood as a result, so it makes a big difference in the overall health of the forest.” In 2005, they commercially logged 25 acres and removed a lot of beech. Bruce has spent the last several years trying to eliminate as much beech as possible; “I’ve become a beech terrorist!” Because he’s able to spend so much time on the land, Bruce has managed to keep most of the invasive species — such as wild rose and honeysuckles — under control. Charlene is most proud of the time they’ve spent on the land. “We’re like a king and queen in the middle of this forest and it’s really been wonderful to have it for so many years.” Charlene talked of the time when they had just bought the property, they were building their home, she was pregnant with their first child, and she planted a row of pines,“they’re now 40 feet tall! So that’s really quite the scene to look out the window and see how long we’ve had them.” She also lists the “value of feeling independent” as a success. She says Bruce loves cutting firewood for heating and hot water and being able to use their lumber for walls and furniture.

The Revettes credit their forest management achievements to support from NYFOA members and NYFOA resources, such as Ralph Meyer, the current director of the Central New York chapter, and the magazine’s informative articles. Bruce and Charlene do their best to attend the NYFOA meetings and join the woods walks. “It’s a great organization; easy to join and the people are great to talk with!” said Bruce. They also get their information from the professionals at FORECON and also from NYS DEC foresters. Bruce says, “They’re always willing to share their knowledge and anytime they come to do their inspections or timber stand improvements, I like to quiz them and they’re always very helpful.”

Bruce and Charlene recommend that other forest owners join NYFOA, do their best to control invasive species, and build tree forts! Charlene says, “As a child, I loved building tree forts and I’ve built one with each of my five children, and look forward to building one with all the grandchildren. Bruce also loves building tree forts, which he uses for deer hunting; another part of his forest management planning.”

Maureen Mullen is an Extension Aide at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Human Dimensions Research Unit, Cornell University. Dr. Shorna Allred is the faculty advisor for the NYFOA Member Profile Series.

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