Dedication … and a True Hero

How can someone we never met be so dedicated to the forest, landowners, and Tree Farmers and give his life serving us?

An Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot, Jake Harrell, did not check in with the AFC Central Dispatch on January 31, 2014 while flying along a regularly scheduled wildfire detection route in south central Arkansas.  On the afternoon of February 11th his body was found in the wreckage of his plane.  Jake’s funeral was February 15th, and flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff that day by Governor Mike Beebe.

Jake was flying for and helping each and every landowner in Arkansas, and Jake, along with other AFC employees who died on duty, is a true hero.  As landowners we never say thanks enough to those that help us protect our lands from disasters that can severely impact our timber and lands.

But the real impact is on Jake’s family.  He leaves behind a wife and a two year old son.  A scholarship fund for Jake’s son has been established, and please join us in contributing what you can.  The Brayden Harrell Scholarship Fund has been set up for Jake and Jaime’s son at all Simmons First National Bank locations.  If you would like to mail in a donation you can send it to Simmons First National Bank, 2401 Crestwood Road, North Little Rock, AR 72116.  Please indicate the fund by name so it is credited to the correct account.

Jake was 34 years old and along with flying with the AFC since 2005, he was in the Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing and employed with the North Little Rock Police Department.  Truly a hero that will be missed by many and respected by countless others for his sacrifice.  Thank you Jake for your service and sacrifice.

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You know you are a Tree Farmer when . . . .

After reading an article about why someone felt their occupation was important, I began to think about why we are Tree Farmers and part of the American Tree Farm System.

Those thoughts were compiled into a list of reasons you know you are a Tree Farmer when:

…  your heart rate drops 10-15 beats per minute the instant your foot steps on “your” ground.

…  you stop and watch wildlife in their native habitat and maybe even talk to them until they run off.

…  a stream’s flow and sediment impairment are important observations you make.

…  most of your “work” clothes are torn and tattered from pushing through briar patches, climbing over logs, stumbling up stream banks, or climbing through barbed wire fences.

…  you give directions not by streets, but by “places” such as the “Jones home place” and other landmarks.

…  the fingers on your gloves are colored with paint from marking boundaries or trees to be harvested. Continue reading

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Not a lot to do on your Tree Farm when it is cold and wet?

While the weather might limit some operations, below are things that should be on your “to-do” list for wintertime work on your Tree Farm.  They are on our list!  Some may be limited by weather, but most are easier done when it is cool and vegetation is not as thick.

        • plan and layout any new roads, ditches, and log sets
        • consider any boundary issues
          1. walk every boundary at least once every two years
          2. repaint as needed
          3. take pictures of corner markers
          4. take GPS readings at appropriate locations
          5. replace ‘no trespassing” signs
          6. replace / repair any fences
        • evaluate landowner plots
          1. conduct survivability estimates in recently planted plantations
          2. measure heights and / or diameters in older stands
        • spray privet with Roundup when weather is suitable
        • look around for things not noticed when foliage is thick; take pictures as needed
        • check for presence of:
          1. beavers / feral hogs
          2. endangered / threatened species
        • take flowing stream / pond water samples
        • check on hunting leases
        • reevaluate and mark as appropriate any special and / or sensitive areas
        • collect soil and needle samples for analysis
        • update management plan and records

No matter what or when you do these things, be careful during hunting seasons when in the woods.  Wear hunters orange to increase your visibility.

Don’t forget that involving members of the family with different responsibilities for those items on the list are an excellent way for the them to learn and to develop a legacy with the land.

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Members of Your Intergenerational Transfer Team

In order to be sure you have a positive experience with intergenerational transfer, please consider using a team approach. Not only will the team members be a benefit in their own areas of expertise, but this will also help develop a strong working relationship between the team and family members. Below is a suggested list of members that we feel should be a part of your team:

  • Family members need to have intergenerational buy-in to make the process work. Family members not involved in the process from the get-go will likely be hesitant at some point. They need to “buy-in” before other team members are contacted.
  • Family communication facilitator works with the family to establish family goals, family meeting organization, and may facilitate the first few family meetings. This is the second team member to engage. Continue reading
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Proud to Announce the Newest Addition to the Next Generation!

As I have done previously (see post), I am proud to introduce the newest addition to the next generation of our family. Wesley Abram Nipper was born on November 21, 2013, and he was 20.5 inches long and weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. He is the seventh “W. A. Nipper” in our family dating back to the mid 1860’s.

Wesley, his mother, Elisabeth, and his father, William, are doing well. Allen and I are also doing fine, and as many of you know, it is great to be grandparents. His big sister, Abigail, seems to be adjusting well to her new brother. Abigail’s Aunt Em (Emilie) and Uncle Well Well (Weldon) were also able to see Wesley soon after he was born.Wesley

I am sure we will spoil him just as we have with Abigail. As soon as Elisabeth will let us, we will take Wesley to the woods to see his tree just like we did a few weeks ago with Abigail!

For Christmas, one of his gifts will be the “My Little Corner of the World” book by Beth Burch Smith. The book tells the story of a child as his grandfather teaches him the wonders of trees and what they provide.

If you would like a copy of “My Little Corner of the World,” contact Susan Stutts (email her or 936-632-8733) at the Texas Forestry Association.

Please excuse the bragging, but that is what a proud MamMaw and Big Daddy are supposed to do!

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