BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – Across the road from the south edge of David Wilmot’s Cuyahoga County farm is a new housing development sporting homes starting at $300,000.
Turn 180 degrees to face north and you see the same landscape: upscale new homes crowded together where there was once open space.
The 89-acre Wilmot family farm is a green oasis in this widening desert of subdivision blacktop and driveway concrete.
Large impact. Last week, the chief of the U.S. Forest Service visited the Wilmot farm to see the impact private landowners can make on the nation’s woodlands, whether 30 acres on the fringe of suburbs or 3,000 acres in remote regions.
While in Ohio, Chief Dale N. Bosworth announced a $1 million grant to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry for emerald ash borer control efforts.
Nearly 80 percent of Ohio’s forests are owned by private, nonindustrial landowners. Nationally, more than one-half of U.S. forests are privately owned.
Woodland management. David Wilmot’s father, Carter, has actively managed the farm’s woodlots since 1968, working with the state division of forestry on several projects.
The farm’s first recorded harvest was in 1980.
Today, roughly a third of the property is a certified tree farm, and another 30 acres are in crop and forage production for the farm’s sheep flock.
Led by Ohio service forester Mark Wilthew and John Dorka, chief of the Ohio Division of Forestry, Bosworth walked one of the farm’s woodlots, looking at selective thinnings, planned openings and hardwood reforestation efforts.
“It’s really reinvigorating to see the work that you do,” Bosworth told Wilmot.
Few private landowners see their forests as a valuable resources, forestry experts say. Many woodland owners have no objectives for their stands and few have a formal management plan.
Bosworth said he would like to find more ways to encourage private woodland management, including developing carbon credit payments or more funds for implementing environmental protection measures.
The Wilmots, for example, created a “no cut” buffer zone around creeks that flow through the woodlot to minimize soil disturbance and potential soil erosion. The impact goes beyond their farm to benefit the while watershed.
The Wilmot farm includes frontage on the East Branch of the Rocky River.
While at the farm, Bosworth became a temporary inspector to recertify the Wilmot farm as a certified tree farm.
Protected. In 2001, Carter Wilmot donated a permanent conservation easement on 27 acres within the family farm to the Medina/Summit Land Conservancy. A second easement covering a similar area is in the works, according to David Wilmot.
The easements protect the land from future residential or commercial development.
“It was his vision that, as long as his three sons agreed, he’d like to try to preserve what he’s got,” David Wilmot said of his father’s decision.
His brothers, Scott and John, live out of state. In addition to the farm, David Wilmot is president of Prince & Izant, a metal brazing alloy company in Parma.
“We didn’t want or need to develop,” Wilmot added.
Between 1990 and 2000, Broadview Heights experienced one of the largest increases in population of all incorporated cities in Cuyahoga County, according to the county’s planning commission. The city grew from 12,000 people in 1990 to nearly 16,000 in 2000, an increase of slightly more than 30 percent.
(Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 1-800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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