Black named one of nation's top tree farmers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Russell Black of Wilton has been named one of the nation’s Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year by the American Tree Farm System.

He was chosen from among 73,000 tree farmers.

The American Tree Farm System is an internationally known recognition and certification program designed specifically for small family and private forest owners, according to a written statement from the organization.

“Forests across the U.S. are facing a wide array of challenges — wildfires, insects, invasive weed species, the rising costs of forest management and more. Yet, tree farmers take on these challenges and work incredibly hard each and every day to keep their forests healthy and sustainable,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, in a written statement.

Named Northeast Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year, Black has shown a lifelong commitment to forest stewardship, beginning with working on his family’s land at the age of 10 and assuming ownership of the then-200-acre property in his early 20s, according to the ATFS.

Over time, Black acquired several surrounding tracts of land, bringing the total acreage of his tree farm to 500 acres.

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The property is an active tree farm, cattle farm and maple syrup producer.

In addition to his stewardship of the land, Black has served as a state representative for nearly eight years, using his experience to help inform the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He also is active in numerous local associations, and opens his property up for tours, education and recreation.

Black will compete with 2018 outstanding tree farmers from other regions of the nation for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award, based on judging from AFF’s governance and online voting. The winner will be announced later this year.

Russell Black in a photo when he was named Maine Tree Farmer of the Year in 2017.

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