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Join the Illinois Forestry Association and get connected to fellow landowners and resource professionals who care about healthy forests.


Learn how to protect and improve the trees and forests on your property. Leave the land better than you found it through proper management. Backed by trained professionals, we're striving to be your go-to source for information about forest stewardship.


Add your voice to the chorus of people who value Illinois' 5 million acres of forests. We are advocates for the policies and programs that landowners need in order to restore and maintain the health and productivity of this vital resource.

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  • 11/21/2019 2:01 PM | Zach DeVillez (Administrator)

    The very first thing I would like to share with you as President of your IFA is a heart-felt “thank you” for your confidence in me personally. I do appreciate it! I also find myself in a rather unique position – I bring with me the valuable lessons of experience and trust to this responsibility. Having been President before and afterwards seeing how others have performed in this job, I have observed many very strong points of what to attempt to do as well as learning a few approaches that may not serve us as well at this point in time. Probably THE most important thing I bring with me is a strong TRUST in you – the IFA membership. Over the years, we have benefitted from a gradual gain of those who “get it” and a gradual loss of those who are not in IFA for what I consider the right reasons.

    This brings me to the major message I wish to present to you as we start 2020 – Membership has always been a goal of ours – each and every Past President did his or her absolute best to grow the IFA. What they did not realize as they each served in their unique ways was that they were planting the seeds of what I am fortunate enough to have an opportunity to work with. Years ago, Presidents would ask the Board of Directors “to each get 2 new members before the next meeting – if we do that we will increase our membership by X members.” We tried specific recruitment techniques that had some limited success. Probably our biggest successful program was the joint venture we have had with IDNR where we were able to include an IFA letter in their bi-annual mailing to each landowner who had a Forest Management Plan on file with them.

    Combine all these with on-going efforts to educate all of us on proper stewardship of our personal woodlands. Annual meetings have evolved to where extremely valuable and informative presentations are the routine rather than the exception. We truly LEARN about invasives, about the value of controlled burns, about the need for Timber Stand Improvements, about the need to plant a few trees if at all possible, etc. All of these individually are great and collectively, they are even better.

    Trouble is – we still are not “there”. We still do not have that special feature of what we are trying to do that really captures both new members AND success with our personal management efforts. We do our invasive control on our property; we conduct controlled burns on our property; we invest heavily in proper forest management on our property. Do you see where I am going? “ON OUR PROPERTY!!!!” The problem is our neighbors simply sit there and watch us. What we do helps us for sure but in a year or two, if we don’t keep doing it, the invasive problem returns, the forest floor concerns come back.

    There is one other idea that developed a couple of years ago that is my last piece of this particular puzzle – IFA Gift memberships. This is a program where any IFA member can give a one year membership to anyone they choose for $30. I did it with 3 of my friends and am proud to say all 3 have renewed their membership on their own. They are part of the “I get it” group because I knew they were interested and concerned about what was going on in their woods but needed some help making it all happen.

    So, you ask “Where do we go from here? Sounds like the Gift Member-ship may work if more of us do it.” Well, that may be true but I have one more idea which ties this all together –

    This Christmas, give a gift member-ship to each of your neighbors who have property bordering yours. In my case, If I did this I would have to send IFA a check for $120 since I have four properties involved. I could simply consider this a donation to the IFA and leave it at that. If even one of these is successful, then I now have a neighboring property owner willing to cooperate on management practices. We are much more likely have some success.

    If you like the idea, simply download the “Gift Membership” form, fill it out properly and send it to Dave Gillespie. He will take it from there. As a side-note, I have also given gift memberships to my kids – in an attempt to expose them in a subtle manner to what I think is important on the ground they will someday be responsible for.

    Gift Membership Form:


  • 10/11/2016 11:08 AM | Stephanie Brown (Administrator)

    Have you ever put down roots, branched out, or been out on a limb? I’m amazed by the many ways that trees and forests are used to describe everything from basic life advice to the family tree.  It’s no wonder that the Illinois Forestry Association can be compared to a managed forest.

    Getting Started.
    Like any forest established on bare land, the IFA had to be planted.  Our founders cared a great deal about Illinois forests and wanted to do something about the limited support system in place for the stewards of these lands.  Just as landowners plant or manage trees with a better future in mind, our founders had a vision for what the IFA could become.

    Professional Planning Assistance.
    You might say we started with something like a tree planting plan.  A steering committee put together the guiding documents for the IFA and selected our first official leaders, with government agencies assisting in our start-up.  Board members became trustees or stewards of the Association, and began to recruit the trees - members like you - that would make up the “charter forest.”
    Once the IFA was established, technical advisors continued to be available for support as our efforts “took root.”  In fact, the ongoing assistance of professionals has been instrumental to the IFA’s growth and success.  Their professional guidance set us on a path to a well-managed association.  Sound familiar?

    We care about our trees (and forests).
    If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we care.  The IFA aspires to connect members with the resources they need to grow as forest stewards.  We’re monitoring for problems and taking action to protect member interests.  We are also aspiring to serve the members who don’t own or manage a forest.  Tree lovers who support what we are doing to conserve the forests of Illinois are welcome, too!  Our members are able to see the forest and the trees.

    Toward an adequately stocked forest.
    Forests can have too few or too many trees per acre.  Good management leads to just the right balance to make the best use of the resources the site has to offer.  Retaining members and recruiting new ones will enable the IFA to cover more ground.  We need “enough” members to be viewed as a significant voice by those we want to influence.  Like a managed forest, progress can seem slow, and there is the occasional setback.

    Aiming for a good mix of desirable species and age classes.
    Illinois landowners are as diverse as the forests they own.  We need to reach as many as possible to encourage more conservation on the landscape.  The IFA needs men and women of all ages, with varied perspectives, diverse situations, and unique management goals.  We need the veterans and the rookies -- all connected by a functional “ecosystem” that respects individual differences while doing good works that make the whole better than the sum of its parts.

    Getting and staying healthy. 
    Good forest stewards strive to control invasive plants, manage insect and disease outbreaks, and favor the trees that show the most promise.  A healthy forestry association monitors and responds to threats, too.  We focus our limited resources on the efforts that produce the best return.  It’s not all wine and roses, though.  Sometimes it seems like the IFA is like a little oak seedling on a shady forest floor, longing to be released from the conditions that limit our growth - earnestly seeking the resources needed to reach great heights as an organization.  Let the sun shine in!

    Ours is a working forest. 
    Working forests produce a variety of goods and services.  They earn their keep depending on how they are managed and for what landowner-driven outcome - be that timber, wildlife, recreation, or all of the above.  The IFA has to be well-managed in order to be all it can be, too.  We extend value to our members while advocating for a good cause:  healthy and productive forests throughout the state.  We act on issues that impact rural and urban forests and promote forestry in Illinois.  Like most forests, we continue to be a work in progress.  We produce what we can.  It helps to be patient.

    Harvest time.
    It’s not a perfect analogy.  We don’t harvest members who are past their prime in order to make room for new ones.  We do, however, make good use of the dues and donations that members contribute.  Volunteer board and committee members also give their time and energy to the cause.  Without you - and them - we couldn’t afford an IFA.

    Sadly, mortality can be a factor when a member quits or passes away.  Hopefully, we will always be bringing new members into the fold so that the IFA forest can be renewed for generations to come.

    There’s an old Greek proverb that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”  Forestry is a long term endeavor, carried on by dedicated stewards who have a legacy to impart.  The same can be said of the IFA.

Illinois Forestry Association
P.O. Box 224
Chatham, IL  62629
Dave Gillespie, IFA Secretary
Email: dandgisp@aol.com
Phone:  (217) 494-6982
Program Coordinator
University of Illinois at Dixon Springs
Email:  ilforestry@gmail.com
Phone: (618)695-3383 office

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Illinois Forest Landowners

care about
maintaining clean air and water, stopping erosion, storing our carbon, providing lumber for our homes, harvesting renewable energy, enhancing wildlife habitat, preserving native plants, conserving bio-diversity, 
and planting for someone else's future.

Our Illinois Forests provide

recreation             fine hardwoods              edibles                wood products                  beauty                              habitat

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Photos: Banner: David Maehr; Home page: Birdwatcher: Diligent Terrier, Fine Hardwoods: Michael Johnson, Morel & Logs & Showy Orchis: Jerry Misek,
     Deer: Joe Kosack, PGC

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