This Guide was developed to provide landowners with a list of resources to assist in managing woodlands with their goals in mind.
Managing Your Woodlands begins with creating a management plan. It will identify your goals and list the management activities to keep the woods healthy and productive. It is highly recommended that you seek the input of a professional forester to help you determine your goals and write your plan.
State/District Foresters are available for free consultation and advice on woodland management. Find your district forester at www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/private- forestland-management/district-foresters/
Professional Foresters have the knowledge to help you manage your woodlands in the manner you wish. They are available for consultation and will do the work for you for a fee. Go to https://www.FindIndianaForester.org to find a forester in your area.
Timber Harvesting is a good management practice that may include improvement cuts or selective harvesting to remove mature and poor-quality trees. Plus, the expenses of woodland ownership can be offset with timber sale income. But woodlands’ quality and value can be hurt by poorly-managed timber harvests. Contact a professional forester to determine if a timber sale makes sense, and to get the correct trees marked for harvest. A forester can also help you get top dollar for your sale. See the links to find a forester. Go to www.callB4Ucut.com to get further information before considering a harvest. To find a licensed timber buyer, go to www.INForestryX.com.
Tree Planting is an option when fields that were in row crops are no longer viable for that activity. Converting fields to trees is the easiest way to get the trees you want. A professional forester can help you choose the right species, spacing, and method of planting. For a series of publications on tree planting and care see www.purdue.edu/fnr/ extension/resources/publications/.
Recreation in the woods is great! However, damage to the ecosystem and future timber values can occur. ATV and heavy equipment can create ruts and soil erosion and damage your high-value trees. Choose your trails carefully based on your management plan, maintain them, and keep visitors on marked trails.
Classified Forest & Wildlands Program is an Indiana Division of Forestry program that provides assistance to help manage and maintain your woodland while reducing property taxes. Learn more at www.in.gov/ dnr/forestry/programs/classified-forest- and-wildlands/.
Wildlife Management can be an integral and rewarding part of owning woodlands. See www.purdue.edu/fnr/extension/ area-of-interest/wildlife/ or www.in.gov/ dnr/fishwild for information on wildlife management. For information on birding, see www.indianaaudubon.org.
Hunting can reduce the harmful effects wildlife, especially deer, can have on woodlands when their populations are out of balance with the ecosystem. Hunting helps keep numbers in balance, but clearly communicate your wishes to hunters so they treat your property with respect. IFWOA has sample hunting permits. If your friends or family are not interested in hunting, consider a hunting lease to help control populations while earning income.
Invasive Species negatively impact woodlands by taking over and forcing out existing trees and plants. If there are invasive plants on your property, they should be controlled. Professional foresters can help identify plants and recommend treatments. Learn more about invasives at www.invasive. org, www.in.gov/dnr/3123.htm, www.mipn. org, and www.sicim.info.
Native Plants and Trees should be considered when adding vegetation to your woodlands. Check out Indiana Native Plant Society at www. indiananativeplants.org for recommendations as well as resources for plant identification.
Maintaining Healthy Trees is a good first step in keeping diseases out of your woodlands. Thinning promotes tree health by allowing sunlight into the trees you want to maintain. Contact your forester to get professional help to keep your woodlands healthy.
Water Quality can be enhanced by healthy woodlands which are great filtering systems for our water supply. Learn what can be done to protect the land, especially during and after timber harvests. Best Management Practices information is available at www.in.gov/dnr/ forestry/2871.htm. County Soil & Water Conservation District offices also have programs addressing water quality, see www.in.gov/isda/ divisions/soil-conservation/swcd-directory/.
Liabilities of Woodland Ownership can be reduced through liability insurance on your land. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have appropriate coverage. Indiana has a law protecting landowners from liability. Check out the specifics on the law at www.ifwoa.org.
Controlling Trespassing on Private Land helps to reduce damage from trespassers by limiting access to your property. Make sure to post “no trespassing” signs where appropriate, and keep your boundary lines clearly marked.
Harvesting and Sawing Your Own Timber can be a good option for those woodland owners with proper equipment. A great source of information is ForestryForum.com.
Secondary Income Potential from woodlands can include the harvesting of products like firewood, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, grapevines, ginseng, and many others. These products can provide extra income from your woods. See forest-farming.extension.org for more information.
Tax Consequences of Owning Woodlands can be complicated due to the various tax laws, and timber has special rules. Find out how to minimize the tax burden on your woodlands by consulting your tax advisor, or see www.timbertax.org.
Conservation of Woodlands is important to the future. Pressure from developers, infrastructure, and invasive species decrease the amount of forestland in Indiana. If you are interested in having your land protected in perpetuity, there are many options, including donations or conservation easements. Contact Indiana Land Protection Alliance at www. protectindianaland.org for land trusts in your area.
Publications to Help Woodland Owners are available at no cost. These help the landowner manage their land to achieve their goals, whether for profit or pleasure.
Join an Organization to Assist Landowners. This is a great way to connect with like-minded woodland owners. Guidance and networking are available from Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association (www.ifwoa.org), American Tree Farm System (www.treefarmsystem.org), Walnut Council (www.walnutcouncil.org), and National Woodland Owners Association (www. nationalwoodlands.org).