Beartown Family LP, Tree Farmer of the Year 2012

Centre County, 2087 Acres

The Pennsylvania outstanding Tree Farmer of 2012 is Beartown Family LP. The 2087-acre property is located in Snow Shoe and Union Townships, Centre County. Since purchased by their grandfather, Carey Shoemaker, in 1943 the property has been providing timber revenues and recreation opportunities for their family. In the mid - 1970's their father, Lewis Shoemaker, installed a 00 Frick sawmill. The entire family worked in the woods and on the mill. In 2000 Lewis Shoemaker implemented a forest stewardship plan to improve the sustainability of their timber harvests. Lewis Shoemaker passed away in 2006. The property is currently managed by Susan Benedict, Carey Shoemaker and Michael Shoemaker. In 2007, after the passing of their father, the children had a forest inventory completed to ensure timber harvests continued to be within sustainable parameters. In 2008 the entire property was entered into the American Tree Farm System.

Forest treatments have included herbicide treatments, timber stand improvement work, installation of food plots, planting of cover on log landings and forest roads to minimize erosion, annual plantings of 500+ seedlings of mixed varieties, a 16 acre crop tree release and enhancements for riparian buffer zone, standing snags, downed woody debris, and pollinator habitat. In the 1999/2000 time frame a 62 acre deer exclosure was installed. This was the 3rd fenced area on the property. These areas are still fenced to protect seed sources in the aftermath of the severe gypsy moth infestation of 2005 to 2008 with a secondary infestation of armalaria root rot which followed. Quality deer management has been practiced since 2007. As a result, there is impressive advanced forest regeneration.

The family has two habitable structures, one on the grid and one off and they maintain approximately 6 miles of main roads and 8 miles of boundaries. Over the last 3 years they have installed a shooting range which includes rifle, shotgun and handgun components. This has provided hours of fun for the entire family as well as numerous scout groups. They are currently investigating improvements to a high value trout stream. Perhaps most important the current generation has begun work on an intergenerational transfer plan and all involved are working together to develop and maintain a plan that ensures the property stays whole and in the family.