FOREST RECREATION: “Be an Outsider”

Fall 2017

The concluding words of a current L.L. Bean television commercial showing people recreating outdoors says, “Be an outsider.” Of course, you can guess the brand of clothing these attractive models chose to wear.

Most forest landowners cite recreational activities, along with wildlife, as a major reason they own their forest land. Does your forest management plan, either the one on paper or the one in your head, include recommendations for improving forest recreation on your forestland? If not, the best way to develop some ideas is with your boots on your ground. Be sure to carry a few essentials as you take that walk or ATV ride:

• A roll or two of flagging will come in handy to tie around the occasional tree that should come down, perhaps for firewood. The mystery on a future visit will become why you hung that flagging in the first place?
• Take a tip from the Christmas tree growers – never leave home without hand pruners. You may discover a white pine sapling that could use pruning to reduce the risk of white pine blister rust. Or, one of your planted seedlings may have developed a double leader (top) that would benefit from pruning.
• A folding pruning saw will take care of bigger limbs that hang over trails that get in the way of your hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding or ATV riding. Although not the most efficient tool for the job, you can also thin that dense clump of saplings that you’ve ignored in the past.
• Bring along a little notebook to scribe notes ranging from adding to your “to do” list or chronicling your birding observations. Better yet, explore your creative side and keep a nature journal. Allow the poet in you to jot down an inspired verse or your artistic eye to sketch a memorable scene. No one other than yourself ever has to see your handiwork. But, perhaps, a grandchild may come across it years from now and gain an appreciation for your devotion to your forestland.

Don’t dismiss nature journaling as one of those touchy-feely activities that only appeals to poets and artists. Remember that Henry David Thoreau kept meticulous notes on the flowering dates of lilacs surrounding Walden’s Pond. These records have now been maintained for over a century and a half, and provide important insights to seasonal climate changes.

Now don’t get too carried away with packing these items every time you step into your forest. Most importantly, leave your chainsaw in the pickup. Remember, recreation is your primary objective for this visit. But for some of us, we consider hanging some flagging and pruning a branch a fun part of being in our woods.

With the cool and colorful days of fall approaching, get outdoors and enjoy your forestland. As my wife, Marianne, summed up a recent horseback ride through our small forest, “The best part: when I’m out there enjoying nature on top of my horse, all the hatred, the conflict and woes of the world seem a whole lot further away. And, that is good these days.”

“Be an outsider.”