"It's Not Ours, It's Just Our Turn"
15 years ago I was working with Wisconsin DNR forester Mike Finlay in the "Big Woods" of the Duren Farm. Three previous generations of Durens had managed the woodland on our farm in a balanced and thoughtful way, providing logs for our family sawmills and many others, while nurturing young trees for future harvests. The time had come to plan and implement a harvest in the area Mike and I were reviewing.
After much consideration, an Oak Regeneration/Shelterwood harvest was decided on and scheduled. A successful Shelterwood harvest requires a commitment to an aggressive pre-harvest, harvest and post harvest strategy. It meant the time had come to harvest this 30 acre area of even aged, mature oak trees, dramatically changing that section of woods. The intent of the Shelterwood harvest is that 100 years from now, Red and White Oaks, children of the giants we would remove, would once again tower in this woodland.
As we finished our work and review of the harvest strategy, we paused to consider these beautiful trees, the work ahead and what the woods would look like going forward. Mike complimented my Duren ancestors for their good stewardship and my generation for the present and future. "Not everyone is able to see the long view and is willing to make this kind of commitment to forestry and regenerating oaks, an important species we're losing in the Driftless." As I considered his comment, I thought of my Great-grandparents, Grandparents and Parents. I felt like they were there with me and in the moment I said, "Well, I guess we realize... it's not ours, it's just our turn."
Mike smiled and said, "That's good. I like it. You should write that down" So I did.
Since that day "It's not ours, it's just our turn" has become my conservation outlook and message. Not just for our farm, but for our area, our state, region and beyond.