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Wallin named state's Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year

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The Minnesota Tree Farm Program and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) have named John Wallin of Pequot Lakes as the 2013 Minnesota Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on family-owned woodlands. The John Wallin and Family Tree Farm is a family-owned tree farm in Crow Wing County.

Every year, ATFS, in partnership with STIHL, Inc. recognizes tree farmers who demonstrate efforts to enhance and sustain their forests and who encourage the practice of sustainable forestry. The Wallins have shown an outstanding commitment to responsible forest management and superior stewardship, forestry officials said.

As the Minnesota winner, John Wallin and family are contenders for the 2013 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award which will be given July 27, 2013 in Minneapolis at the Annual National Tree Farmer Convention. He is one of eight finalists for that spot.

“It’s just quite a roll I’ve been on,” Wallin said of the award.

The retired teacher, who was named Pequot Lakes Teacher of the Year in 1983, said he harvests more than 1,000 cords of aspen each year.

John and Carolee Wallin purchased their tree farm land 40 years ago. It consists of 343 acres, most of it heavily wooded with oak, aspen, birch, and pine. A few small wetlands are interspersed within the wooded acres. One natural feature is an osprey pair that nest annually on one of the power line poles nearby the Wallin home. John documents their activities and nesting success every year. The Wallins have actively managed their land since their first forest management plan was developed in 1976. The Wallins have completed many forest management practices on their tree farm since then.

Many acres of mature timber have been harvested from the tree farm to use the wood and to generate income. Both clear cut and selective harvesting methods have been used as appropriate for managing the tree species.

Wallin ensures that all final harvest areas are regenerated adequately. Both natural and artificial regeneration methods are used. The Wallin family has planted nearly 76,000 tree seedlings since 1977. If a seedling dies, John is out there interplanting and replacing the dead ones, so nearly every possible spot has a tree. A variety of trees and shrubs are planted to enhance the visual qualities of the land and to attract a variety of wildlife.

The Wallin Tree Farm has a system of woods trails and field roads, about 5 ½ miles in all. Family and friends use the trails for recreation. Hiking, horseback riding, ATV riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, bird watching, and hunting are some of the many uses. Wallin allows the local snowmobile club to use two miles as Grant-in-Aid trail for use by the general public during the snowmobile season.

At the local level, he is a member of the Central Minnesota Small Woodlot Owners Association and President of the Brainerd Chapter of the Minnesota Forestry Association. On the statewide level, Wallin represents nonindustrial private forest landowners on the Minnesota Forest Stewardship Committee. He often reminds his neighbors and relatives to practice good forest management.

Outside of his Tree Farm work, Wallin is involved in his community. John and brother Calvin have served as volunteer firearms safety instructors for more than 40 years. Wallin is involved with his church, from teaching youth, to taking photos, to completing work projects. He is part owner and operator of “Wallin’s Berry Farm,” a pick-your-own operation growing several berry and fruit products. Wallin has served as a volunteer firefighter and fire department chief. He has served on many local and county government boards and commissions.

Dean Makey, inspecting Department of Natural Resources forester of the John Wallin and Family Tree Farm said, “John exemplifies the meaning of tree farming. He is a good steward of his forest land. He allows others to share in its uses. He promotes forestry on the local and state levels. He is a community leader. He is well deserving of being the 2013 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year in Minnesota!”

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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