Today, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) announced the 2018 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. This year’s honorees are Randy and Koral Clum of east central Ohio. The Clums have been sustainably managing Hepatica Falls Tree Farm, their 152-acre certified forestland in southwestern Harrison County, since they purchased the property in 1993.
While Randy and Koral Clum had spent much of their careers in forestry, they hadn’t managed their own property until they acquired their tree farm. Since then, they’ve been dedicated to creating a working forest that produces high-quality timber while managing for water, wildlife and recreation, as well as using their woodland to educate others about the benefits of the forest and good management principles.
“It’s an amazing honor and I feel blessed to have worked with all the people that we’ve worked with. We are honored to be recognized in this way,” Koral Clum said.
Randy Clum added, “What’s been important to us about the American Tree Farm System is the education component. It’s a way to meet other tree farmers, to expand their knowledge, to expose them to bigger and better things, and to what other tree farmers have been doing for the last few decades. It’s good principles. It’s good standards. It’s what tree farming’s all about, clean air, clean water, timber, recreation, aesthetics all rolled into one package.”
Randy and Koral Clum are frequent speakers on forest management during seminars, field days, and other educational workshops. The couple also has served on numerous advisory boards and held officer positions for organizations such as Ohio Society of American Foresters, Ohio Tree Farm Committee, Ohio Farm Bureau, and the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. Sharing their love of forestry has grown over the years, and recently Randy has adopted social media to engage and educate others who want to know more about family forest ownership and best management practices.
“The Clums are model landowners who have done great work on their land, for sustainable wood, clean water, improved wildlife habitat, and recreation,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, the non-profit conservation group that manages the American Tree Farm System. “Randy and Koral have been terrific stewards of their land and have also taken that a step further to reach out to their neighbors and their community to all work together to make our forests healthier. This type of sharing and education is a key value of ATFS.”
The Clums were nominated for the award by Jeremy Scherf, Service Forester for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and 2016 National Tree Farm Inspector of the Year.
“Hepatica Falls Tree Farm is one of the best managed properties around. So, when you think of forestry in Ohio, it’s hard not to think of Randy and Koral Clum. While they are foresters by profession, they are generous educators at heart,” Scherf said. “The Clums volunteer a lot of their time to educate others about forestry, both locally and statewide. The countless hours they spend donating their time to help teach others about our forests is remarkable.”
Managing their land for timber sales, the Clums have adhered to the high standards of ATFS certification. This requires tree selection with consideration for forest health, spacing, risk, markets, aesthetics, wildlife, and long-term productivity. These best management practices and their love of the land have ensured erosion control near Stillwater Creek and they have protected and improved habitat for many wildlife species, including bobcat, coyote, river otter, deer, spring peepers, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, wood duck, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, pileated woodpecker, woodcock, barred owl, kingfisher, wren, towhee, scarlet tanager, goldfinch, hummingbird, and Louisiana water thrush.
“Some people feel that cutting trees is hard on the wildlife, but in this part of Ohio, the missing component for a lot of wildlife is the early successional forest, the young trees,” Koral said. “We also leave cavity trees for birds, squirrels and other species.”
Each year, ATFS recognizes four Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers out of the 73,000 Tree Farmers nationwide. This year, ATFS is proud to also recognize the regional awardees: Russell Black from Maine; Jon and Carol Gould from Florida; and Dan Kingsbury from Washington, along with the Clums.
“Our past timber sales have been a blessing from the standpoint of creating more diversity as far as food and habitat. It has introduced so much diversity with edge effect and young successional stage for so many different species of not only animals, but also bird species, insects—pollinators. It just worked out better than we ever imagined,” Randy said.
Individuals considered for the award must demonstrate exceptional efforts to preserve and enhance their woodlands, which conserves and enhances clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreational activities, and the wood for homes and paper products that come from their land, all of which are exemplified on the ATFS sign.
To learn more about the 2018 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, visit: https://www.forestfoundation.org/2018-outstanding-tree-farmers .