After two years of debate and planning, a new Kansas Forestry Association has emerged from the combined memberships of the Walnut Council of Kansas and the Kansas Tree Farm Committee.
Bob Atchison, rural program coordinator for the Kansas Forest Service, said the single voice for forestry created by the merger allows the new group to aggressively compete for funding opportunities and facilitates complete access to information.
Individual Kansans own 95 percent of the state's 2.1 million forested acres, Atchison said. The USDA Forest Service´s official census - the National Woodland Owner´s Survey - puts the number of Kansas forest landowners at 103,000.
"In addition to their timber, the forests are a vital natural resource in Kansas because of their impacts on water, soil, wildlife, air temperature, wind and even recreation. As a result, the collective stewardship of private owners is truly important for everyone in the state," Atchison said.
That's true for other states, as well, he said, where owned forests are larger in size and number for 359,000 forest landowners in Missouri, 498,000 in Michigan and 225,000 in Indiana. But, the actions of each Kansas forest landowner tend to be more important because such owners are fewer in number, their woodlands tend to be in environmentally sensitive areas, and their combined impact can be far-reaching.
So far, dues for new members are $10 per person or $50 per organization. Interested landowners can learn more about the association´s efforts by calling 785-532-3310 or e-mailing [email protected].