2011 Tree Farmers of the Year Named

The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), has named Steve and Janet Funk of Coeur d’Alene as the 2011 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the year. They were recognized at the National Tree Farmer Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico for their outstanding sustainable forest management on privately owned woodlands.  The award is sponsored annually by Stihl Inc.

The Funks’ Edgecreek Tree Farm is a 369-acre woodland that has become a valuable tool in demonstrating sustainable management of degraded forests and the pathway to a healthy and thriving forest.

In 1974 Steve and Janet Funk bought 80 acres in Wolf Lodge and obtained an additional 55 acres a few years later. The Funks’ have been a certified tree farm member of the Idaho Tree Farm Program through ATFS since 1974. Through the program they received advice on forest management and wrote their first management plan – a basic, self-use plan with short-term goals. In 1989 the Funks’ added 240 acres and managed the forest by conducting small harvests of dead/dying trees, road and culvert maintenance, and planting several hundred seedlings at a time. From this Steve and Janet began to see a healthy forest emerge from what used to be an unhealthy forest.

The years of family efforts have resulted in a healthier stand of trees that provide growth potential, a stable water absorption/run off mechanism, habitat for a diverse wildlife population, and a place to share with hikers, hunters and others just wanting to commune with Nature. They also built a pond with a small island for wildfowl nesting. Today, Douglas fir, larch & ponderosa pine flourish on the sunny, drier, south and west-facing slopes with stands on the north and east-facing slopes, with more shade and moisture, mostly consist of grand fir, white pine, hemlock and red cedar. Many types of brush have thrived creating excellent browsing grounds for wildlife.

Steve and Janet Funk say that living near a stream in the forest far surpasses their old dream of being able to camp in such places occasionally. “We have found more than enjoyment – we have found ourselves.”

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