The next generation of Pioneer Forest staff has taken over the art and science of a half-century of sustainable, uneven-aged forest management.
Pioneer Forest Manager Jason Green, Salem, and Chief Forester Brandon Kuhn, Licking, are carrying on the tradition started by past Pioneer Forest staffers. Green replaced Terry Cunningham in July when Cunningham retired after four decades in forest conservation and management.
The Pioneer Forest vision, started by founder Leo Drey, is good stewardship and land ethics.
“The focus has always been to maintain the forest’s character with low impact practices,” Green said.
Green and Kuhn agree that Pioneer Forest has always shown excellence in demonstrating good, sound forest management in the Ozarks and expertise on uneven-aged forest management.
It is the largest private forest and land holding in Missouri and has been under professional forest management for more than 50 years, including forest in Dent, Shannon, Texas, Reynolds, Carter and Ripley counties.
Green said Pioneer Forest harvests six timber sales that yield about 6 million board feet of timber a year.
“Our philosophy is good, sound forest management and to try to use the art and science of Un-Even Aged Forest Management in a manner that is an example to private landowners,” Green said.
Green, a native of New Haven, has been with Pioneer Forest for six years. He completed his Master’s of Science degree in forestry at the University of Missouri and began working for Pioneer Forest in 2007. He and his wife, Sheri, have a son and a daughter.
Kuhn, a Licking native, has been a Pioneer Forester for nearly five years. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries, wildlife and forestry. He was previously employed by the Current River Timber Company in Licking. Brandon became Chief Forester in July. He and his wife, Brooke, have three sons.
Green said the forestry team currently is working on property line maintenance, marking lines, a necessary part of timber management, which is often done in the fall.
“We are seeing a white oak decline, mostly in the forest hollows,” Green said.
The Pioneer foresters said there is no definitive cause for the white oak decline and they are doing damage control and maintaining the healthy white oaks.
The Pioneer Forest manager is responsible for everything that happens in Pioneer. Duties are varied, including supervising all personnel, working with staff to develop operating budgets, conducting forest inventory, planning annual sustainable harvests, preparing timber sale contracts, record keeping, paying bills and filing quarterly tax bills.
The chief forester assists the forest manager and works closely with other technician/district foresters.
Both Green and Kuhn take pride in being part of the Pioneer Forest's show of excellence in demonstrating good, sound forest management in the Ozarks.
“I want to be proud of our timber efforts and I enjoy looking back at what we’ve done,” Kuhn said.
The Salem office also has two district foresters in Bunker, 37-year veteran district forester Danny Skaggs and third-generation forester Matt Skaggs. Veteran district forester Mike Adams works in Eminence and intern Dusty Smith of Summersville is also on the Salem office team.
Pioneer Forest contains about 143,000 acres in six southeast Missouri counties on the Current and Jacks Fork River Watershed, including about 600 miles of property lines. Its headquarters is located on Highway 19 North in Salem.