The recent Creative Silviculture Guild Gathering in the Lake States afforded many opportunities for creativity, indeed! A flexible group of presenters and attendees shifted the entire first day’s agenda to take advantage of our best weather windows. The Guild’s own Mike Lynch became cook for the evening as catering plans fell through. Attendees cooperated on carpools, beer sharing, food prep and clean up to honor a lighter footprint. And we certainly learned about many ways creativity is relevant in silviculture in this region’s north woods.

We discussed how red pine, white pine, and white spruce seed orchards are providing information and stock for management in ways we anticipated decades ago and are also being called upon to help answer new questions for climate change adaptation. Bats and the severity of the challenges they face require quick and nimble research, observations, predictions, and protections where possible. In a changing demographic landscape, we are called upon to think differently about how we engage current and future landowners, who may have needs and skills and concerns very different than their predecessors. We also looked into the historical portal that red pine fire scars have preserved for us and discussed how this data can help us interpret red pine ecosystem dynamics and inform our management of stands throughout the region. On the hardwood front we looked at a range of options within the framework of an irregular shelterwood system and how adding these to our toolbox could really help our northern hardwood management. We ended our meeting on the edge of a forested peatland – an ecosystem with far more questions than answers – that will take a great deal of creativity if we are to maintain them into the future.

I was thrilled to be a part of all the learning, discussion, willingness to grow and shift perspective at this Guild Gathering. The group consisted of long-time Guild members and partners, as well as foresters, wildlife specialists, and researchers – several of which have become brand-new Guild members! This made our discussions rich and varied, as presenters and attendees learned from each other and introduced new, creative possibilities. Plenty of challenging questions were left unanswered too, of course, but the collective efforts have been built stronger, as participants have already asked to share presentations, photos, and other information from the event. And perhaps best of all, the good will and comradery we’ve become accustomed to within our homey Guild community abounded, with new connections made at every field stop, it seemed.

You can review the agenda, photos, presentations, and more from this meeting on the Guild’s event page. Better yet, register now for the next Lake States event, which will cross even more interdisciplinary lines as we focus on Restoration Forestry as a theoretical approach to management and specifically what that means in the context of “Bottomlands, Bluffs, and Birds,” coming up September 24-25 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. You won’t want to miss it, and Peter Bundy, a long time Guild member, will be keynote!

Thank you to all who make our gatherings so professionally valuable and personally fulfilling. It makes for one easy way we can each be authentic to the values and mission we believe so strongly in and find community at the same time.