Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

FS employee looks across boundaries and builds on partnership to achieve shared stewardship

A man in a suit and a woman in Forest Service uniform present an award to second man, also in Forest Service uniforma second man
Dennis Wilson accepts the Making Tracks award from NWTF vice president for Conservation, Ross Melinchuk, and Chief of the Forest Service, Vickie Christensen. USDA Forest Service photo.

TENNESSEE – Timber Contracting Officer Dennis Wilson was recently recognized with a 2018 National Wild Turkey Federation Making Tracks Award in the category of “Partnership Achievement-Individual.” The award highlights accomplishments in strengthening and expanding the partnership between the Forest Service and NWTF.

Dennis played an integral part in the growth of partnerships with NWTF on multiple forests for Region 8 and Region 9. Dennis’s dedication and passion for the resources and enthusiasm for building successful partnerships enabled the NWTF to expand collaborative working efforts in a four-state area.

Dennis worked initially with the NWTF on the Land Between the Lakes, where almost 700 acres  of direct habitat improvement were achieved through salvage timber sales, short-leaf pine plantings, and non-native invasive species removal. In addition, wood chips generated from the project provided a fuel source for a local hospital and school.  Dennis continued to work closely with the NWTF, conservation organizations, forest industry and others to provide education and information on forest management activities and their ecosystem benefits. 

A group of skinny trees in the forest. the floor is coveres with brown leaves
Crop tree release of oak, hickory, persimmon and cypress in the Oakwood Bottoms/Big Muddy River Area of the Shawnee National Forest completed through National Wild Turkey Federation Stewardship agreement. USDA Forest Service photo.
Group of trees in the fores surrounding a muddy clearing
Release of young planted oaks in the Oakwood Bottoms/Big Muddy River Area of the Shawnee National Forest completed through National Wild Turkey Federation Stewardship agreement. USDA Forest Service photo.

Dennis assisted with development of a collaborative shared position between the Shawnee National Forest and Land Between the Lakes, which are in two different Forest Service regions. Using a Challenge Cost Share Agreement, the NWTF hired a person to develop and implement stewardship agreements on the two forests. Because of this collaborative effort, a stewardship agreement was developed and executed on the Shawnee in 2018. This agreement was funded in part from Illinois NWTF Super Funds. The stewardship agreement is currently in progress and includes 488 acres of timber stand improvement activities on the Shawnee. 

Following discussions with the NWTF, Dennis volunteered to work with the Hoosier National Forest to expand cooperative efforts to facilitate forest restoration. This eventually led to the development and execution of a stewardship agreement, which includes 228 acres of forest management activities including 176 acres of non-commercial thinning. 

Thanks to the visionary leadership of Dennis Wilson, the projects listed above improved habitat for wild turkey, bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer and other wildlife species while providing forest products and improving stand conditions. Local and state NWTF chapters in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee provided $175,000 of funding for the projects as well as 1000+ hours of volunteer time. These partnership activities have been highlighted through public education, outreach and interpretation activities.