Courtesy of Maine Woodland Owners TOP TREE FARMERS -- Jessica Leahy and Bob Seymour are the 2020 Maine Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year for their efforts with their woodland in Sebec and will host the 2021 Forestry Field Day event on Sunday, Sept. 12.

Maine has the distinction of being the most forested state in the country, with 89 percent of its area covered by woods. Among those 17.6 million acres, over 5 million are made up of small, family owned parcels often stewarded by families who manage their woods for wildlife and enjoying nature while growing high quality trees for the timber market. The Maine Tree Farm system is a certification program that promotes good forest management among small woodland owners and almost every year since its start in 1952, Maine Tree Farm has recognized a Tree Farm that demonstrates superior practices by bestowing upon them the Maine Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year award. Many of the winners of this award are also members of Maine Woodland Owners, a group that provides expertise, resources, and representation specifically for this segment of the forest community.

Maine Tree Farm recognizes the winners with a grand celebration at the recipient’s woodlot, usually in the fall, and recently, Maine Woodland Owners has been a co-sponsor of this annual event and together the organizations host Forestry Field Day. After a hiatus in 2020, Forestry Field Day will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12 at Wicopy Woods Tree Farm in Sebec, as the owners, Jessica Leahy and Bob Seymour, are the winners of the 2020 award. 

Wicopy Woods Tree Farm is a 130-acre forest that has been skillfully managed to produce high quality timber while embracing the forest ecology. In 1968, forester Ron Locke began work to transform this overgrown parcel into an example of exemplary forestry and in 1984, Locke was awarded the Maine Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year for his stewardship of Wicopy Woods. Leahy and Seymour purchased the property from Locke in 2015 and have strived to build upon and expand his efforts.

Forestry Field Day is an all-ages event, open to the public, filled with forest education programs and opportunities to connect with forestry experts and woodland owners and stewards. Attendees can join Seymour for an extended walking tour where he will showcase the various management approaches used to keep Wicopy Woods healthy and productive. Leahy will lead a shorter tour where she’ll show visitors various projects conducted in their woods, funded by Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additionally, Amber Roth, a professor at University of Maine, will lead a tour focused on her research at Wicopy Woods that makes a significant connection between silviculture practices and the enhancement of bird populations.

“We are honored to be recognized for something that we really enjoy doing — spending time in the woods and working to make our forested acres as healthy and productive as possible,” said Leahy and Seymour. “Our goal for the field day is to make sure everyone who comes has a great time in the woods.”

In addition to tours, there will be information stations that participants can visit to learn about important forest stewardship topics. One will be on how to monitor invasive forest pests where an ash serving as a “trap tree” will be examined for signs of emerald ash borer. Another will be how to identify and slow the spread of invasive plants. Lighter discussions are planned  including “What makes a tree a Maine Champion?” and “What is a wicopy?,” the shrub that is the property’s namesake. There will be an education tent next to the lunch area containing exhibits and demonstrations throughout the day. 

Event sponsors include the Maine Forest Service, Pleasant River Lumber Company, Sappi, Prentiss and Carlise, Stihl, Weyerhaeuser, Lumbra Hardwoods, Sheldon Slate Products, and Scythe Supply. Food will be available for purchase courtesy of the Brownville American Legion Post 92,  and during the lunch hour, Leahy and Seymour will be honored with words of congratulations from elected officials, as well as, leaders of the Maine Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Maine Woodland Owners, and the American Tree Farm System. Door prizes and music will be among the day’s entertainment.

To learn more, including directions to the event, visit www.mainewoodlandowners.org/forestry-field-day. Registration is not required but is encouraged.