Jerry Michael owns a tree farm in Whitney Point, NY and while he now lives about half an hour away from the property his daughter, her husband and their two sons live on a three acre parcel of the original forty acres. Jerry’s grandsons are the fourth generation enjoying the property. Jerry graduated from Cornell University in 1959 and, after serving in the Army, he worked for IBM in Human Resources Management. He has been a member of NYFOA for 23 years and has served as the Newsletter Editor and Program Chair for the Southern Tier Chapter for most of that time. Jerry also served two terms as Director-at-Large and Treasurer on the State Board. He became a Master Forest Owner Volunteer in 1995.

In 1972 he purchased his parents’ 40-acre tree farm, which at the time consisted of 20 acres of hardwood forest, 15 acres of plantation pine, and 5 acres of Christmas trees. His parents purchased the property in 1955 and planted the red pine plantation and Christmas trees. He has been very active in managing the land and currently spends at least one day a week working on the property.

Each of three distinct forest stands on the property have unique management practices. Jerry ran a small Christmas tree operation for 35 years, selling about 300 trees each season. Although he stopped planting new trees about 10 years ago his daughter’s family has since decided to resume the operation so Jerry has been training them in planting and pruning.

Thirty years ago Jerry consulted with a DEC forester on a timber harvest of the 20 acre woodlot and more recently, he harvested large ash trees to supply hardwood floors for his new home. He started killing weeviled pine and diseased beech from the woodlot five years ago and was able to harvest the remainder of the marketable trees in a competitive bid sale two years ago. The additional light resulting from intensive timber stand improvement has encouraged good natural advanced regeneration, which is thriving under protection from brush piles and scattered small deer exclosure fences.

The pine plantation blew down in an ice storm in 2003 and, after harvesting the trees for pulp, Jerry decided to let the 15 acres revert to early succession forest. In order to maintain a good representation of valuable hardwood species he planted seedlings of sugar maple, red oak, white ash and black cherry. Some readers may remember an article in the New York Forest Owner in March/April of 2010 about this regeneration project. He planted 800 seedlings within a three-acre deer exclosure fence and another 600 seedlings outside of the exclosure but protected by plastic tree shelters. The stand is now a thriving young forest although he has concluded that the deer exclosure fence is more effectively used to protect advanced natural regeneration than planted seedlings.

A member of a hunting club, Jerry helps to manage the 1650 acre club-owned forest in Delaware County. The property has been enrolled in the 480A program for 33 years and Jerry works with the consulting forester on harvest and timber stand improvement activities.

Jerry considers his property to be a working laboratory and often tries different silvicultural and regeneration practices. He encourages his neighbors to hunt on the property and keep the deer population at a sustainable level. The family uses the trails for cross-country skiing and hiking. Jerry’s parents built a seasonal cottage now owned by his daughter that has been a retreat for family reunions for more than 50 years. The forest has been his main recreational activity since his retirement 20 years ago. He recommends that all forest owners first identify their objectives and then write a management plan that can be worked on in small increments because experiencing success on a few acres can be a motivating force.


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