Partners in Forestry Cooperative (PIF) is a land owners’ cooperative that has been instrumental in the direct protection of thousands of acres of forestland in and around Vilas County. The organization has long been educating and informing legislators and landowners about the legal tools and benefits of sustainable forestry and conservation through tours, workshops, newsletters and direct networking since 2001.
PIF’s approach to conservation employs economic rationale as much as ecological. They believe an income stream helps a landowner further connect to the value of their investment. The organization helps private land owners with a vast array of management and conservation strategies, including the Managed Forest Law (MFL) program. This program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, discourages fragmentation while promoting sustainable forest management. In this way, landowners can derive wealth from their property without dramatically altering it. “Without PIF’s education and outreach efforts, many landowners would not have had the knowledge or incentive to take advantage of many worthy opportunities including the MFL program,” says Rod Sharka, a Vilas County resident and PIF Board Member.
Recent PIF efforts resulted in the permanent conservation of over 1000 acres and two miles of Wisconsin River habitat near the river headwaters, by utilizing the Forest Legacy Program, and MFL enrollment. PIF’s advocacy, direct action and investment were crucial to this conservation success story. The property had been owned by a real estate professional who showed a desire to sell. As PIF offered insights into the advantages and the means to accomplish this conservation project, the landowner became a willing partner.
PIF assists with and strongly advocates for sustainable forest management, on privately held lands and protected lands, and as a tool for conservation. “PIF newsletters and workshops have included tree species life-cycle requirements, sustainable forest management practices, recognizing and treating invasive species, forest impacts from a changing climate, tax implications of harvesting timber, federal land exchanges, managed forest law, edible plants, information on unique forest animals and the list goes on and on,” says Matt Dallman, Director of Conservation at The Nature Conservancy, “They are very thorough.”
Without Partners in Forestry Cooperative, large swaths of working forest would have met different fates. PIF is demonstrating that having healthy environments, and even public access, can be conducive to stimulating economic activity, and one doesn’t need to take preference over the other. For these great achievements, we are honored to present Partners in Forestry Cooperative with the Rod Nilsestuen Award for Work Lands Preservation award. The organization will receive its award on November 5th during its annual meeting in Conover. Stay tuned for more details.