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Pennsylvania Tree Farm Update

Posted: January 11, 2018

Learn about the outstanding Tree Farmers and Tree Farm Inspector

The first 2018 Tree Farm invoices for membership dues were sent on October 1, 2017, and the responses have been very positive, with dues continuing to come in daily. The second notice went out in early December. We look forward to Tree Farmers’ continued commitment to Penn’s Woods with their positive responses. Please submit your dues, if you have not yet joined the effort, for full American Tree Farm System Certification.

Perkey Tree Farm: Living A Dream

Arlyn and Marial Perkey are recipients of the 2017 Tree Farmer of the Year award for their stewardship of a 77.5-acre property located along Claylick Run in Greene County. The Perkey Tree Farm in Rutan, PA includes 62 wooded acres that are enrolled in the Tree Farm program. The remaining 15.5 acres are planted with warm season grasses and forbs with ribbons of savannah and shrubs along a meandering stream.

For Arlyn, owning this property is a childhood dream come true. Arlyn grew up in central Iowa where his parents worked very hard on two farms; land they rented but were never able to own. Although this lack of ownership never seemed to bother his parents, Arlyn felt that the rights of ownership created a stronger, more complete connection to the land. Time spent in the woods along the Des Moines River nurtured his desire to own forestland.

In high school, Arlyn’s intense interest in the natural world blossomed into a land conservation ethic and a desire to study forestry at Iowa State University. After graduation in 1968, he began working with the U.S. Forest Service, but his fledgling career was interrupted by a call from Uncle Sam to serve in the jungles and former Michelin rubber plantations in Vietnam. Wounded in combat, Arlyn was discharged from the army with a modest pension and soon resumed work with the Forest Service in the Eastern Hardwood Forest.

Arlyn committed half of that pension to achieve the goal of acquiring his own land. In 1990, after approximately 20 years of saving and investing, the Iowa farm boy’s dream became reality. Situated on the site of a 1950s dairy farm, Perkey Tree Farm reflects Arlyn’s many years in the woods. Claylick Run is similar in size to Prairie Creek that passed through one of the farms his parents rented. Like the silver maple, elm, and walnut that grew along the Des Moines River, walnut flourishes on the bottomland along Claylick. The oak and hickory on the former Claylick dairy farm pastureland reminded him of the oak-hickory savannahs that were converted to intensely grazed livestock pastures in Iowa. Sugar maple on the north-facing slopes and white pine on the west-facing slope remind him of his time in New England. A small red pine planting is like a trip back to his work in northern Minnesota.
For over 27 years, Arlyn and Marial have worked tirelessly to achieve their timber, wildlife, and aesthetic goals. From the outset, increasing the volume of high value hardwoods has been a priority. Federal cost-share incentives administered by the state and implemented by Arlyn were used to accomplish pre-commercial investments. Meticulous monitoring of tree growth provides a record of progress toward this goal, as well as guidance on treatments needed for a well-managed and maintained Tree Farm.

Hands-on management increased after Arlyn’s retirement in 2002. In addition to his never-ending battle with invasive species, Arlyn is at work with his chainsaw and farm tractor whenever timber is cut. With help from a rented, portable sawmill and operator, logs were sawed and the boards kiln-dried, planed, and crafted into cabinetry and furniture for Arlyn and Marial’s house. They relish seeing their trees in the woods, but also enjoy the beauty of finished wood in their home.

Since the formation of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Woodland Owners Association (SWPWOA) in 2000, Arlyn and Marial have enjoyed the company of those who share their passion for the natural world. Whether they are hosting tours, attending meetings, or relaxing at the annual picnic, Arlyn and Marial value the warm and enduring friendships with fellow Tree Farmers as they gain and give advice, celebrate victories, commiserate over disappointments, and work to maintain the health and beauty of Pennsylvania’s forests.

Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector of the Year Award

Russ Gibbs was recently recognized as the 2017 Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector for Pennsylvania. Russ is a Service Forester in the Bureau of Forestry, Forbes Forest District, covering Greene and Fayette Counties. He assists private forest landowners within his coverage area through education and outreach. Most of his time is spent providing sustainable forest management recommendations and presenting educational forestry programs. Russ is an advisor for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Woodland Owners Association and an occupational advisory committee member for Somerset County Technology Center’s forestry curriculum. Russ graduated from Penn State University in 2008 with a BS in Forest Science and started with the state shortly thereafter.

For additional information, please contact the Pennsylvania Tree Farm Program (Pennsylvania Forestry Association Office) at 1-800-835-8065 or or visit the website.  

Contact Information

John and Maureen Burnham
  • PA Tree Farm Committee Co-Chairs