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Renee Bouplon is the associate director at the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA), which is a non-profit land trust that works to conserve working farm and forest lands in Rensselaer and Washington Counties. Bouplon started at ASA in 2007 but she has been working in the conservation field since college. What started as a summer internship at a local river conservancy before grad school, led her to a conservation career for the past 14 years. She has been a NYFOA member for 10 years and served on the State Board of Directors from 2004-2010 even though she doesn’t own forest land herself. While working for another land trust in 2000, Renee participated in the Master Forest Owner Program (MFO) taught by Gary Goff and Peter Smallidge where she learned about NYFOA. At the MFO traning, she met NYFOA members and one invited her to participate on a steering committee that was putting together an all-day forestry workshop in the Catskills. Bouplon once again met more NYFOA members and foresters and became active in the local chapter. Mike Greason had a particularly significant impact on Renee and many others. "He was a terrific mentor and friend and his knowledge and generosity were unparalleled." Mike recently passed away and Renee remembers him and states that "we lost a true friend for New York forests. The greatest thing that we, as NYFOA, can do to honor him is to continue to provide opportunities for forestry education and spread knowledge of good forestry practices."
Not owning her own forested land has clearly not stopped Renee from becoming involved and learning more about forest management. She believes "everyone is a forest owner if you’re a New York resident because we all have a stake in New York forests. We all want clean water, clean air, open space, forestry-related jobs, wildlife habitat, a strong economy, and recreational opportunities and they’re all tied to forestry." She uses the knowledge that she has learned through NYFOA and works with landowners interested in conservation and it allows her to be a resource to others. Her training makes her better able and equipped to read forestry and timber harvest plans which allow her to have informed conversations with foresters and loggers.
Bouplon credits her career and direction to focus on conservation to experiences on farm and forestland as a child. Her family owns 95 acres of land in Washington County. She recently moved back to her hometown and lives about 4 miles away from the family property. The land features fields, forest, pastures, rocky outcrops, a stream and a wetland. Her great-grandparents who initially owned the land had a small dairy farm and the farm has been passed down through the generations. In her youth, Renee’s family was involved in harness racing and used the farm for pastures and the fields to make hay. Her father now owns the land and keeps a few beef cattle and hunts deer on the property. There are also trails and the family enjoys picnics on the property. Renee has a history with the land; she explored the woodlands as a child and enjoyed searching for newts in vernal pools and looking for wildlife, haying with her family, sledding, learning to ride mini bikes and ATVs, and ice-skating. "It’s a place I’ve always gone to," Bouplon states and it’s a place she still goes to and brings her dog on walks.
The northern part of the property where the majority of the woods are located is more steeply sloped. There are a variety of trees including pine, black cherry, maple, oak, hickory, birch and ash. Right now there are not many management actions being taken on the land. Her father was working with a forester to conduct a potential harvest but due to a sluggish market decided to postpone the project. The harsh winter has caused several trees to fall and Renee looks forward to using firewood from her family property to heat her home next winter.
She advises forest owners to utilize professional foresters whenever possible because "they have great insights, outside perspective and background." She also suggests that forest owners should "never stop learning about your woods and good forestry practices and to pass that along to others. There are so many who aren’t forest landowners and they need education too because they have a stake in it." She believes that "any day you can take a walk in the woods is a good day because nature is therapy for the soul and can be very entertaining if you are observant."
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