Kirk and Cindy Dahl of Eau Claire have been named the 2020 Wisconsin Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year by the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee.
The award is presented annually to owners of woodland property who have demonstrated an outstanding level of commitment to woodland ownership and forest management. Selection is based in part on demonstrated ongoing involvement in such activities as tree planting, timber harvests, wildlife management, soil and water conservation projects, and educational outreach endeavors.
The Dahls own woodlands in Eau Claire County and Trempealeau County, and they have been active managers of tree farm property since 1982.
Kirk, a city boy who grew to love the outdoors and the natural world, eventually decided that he might be better suited to live in a more rural area.
He established himself in Eau Claire in his profession as a physician. On his way home from the first day of work, he began looking at rural properties. When he happened upon 80 acres at a good price just 13 miles from town, he purchased. That was 38 years ago, and he still regards the purchase of “The Branch Office” as one of the best purchases he ever made.
With the purchase of his first property and his interest in forestry, he and his wife, Cindy, continued to purchase additional property, implementing many steps to improve their property along the way, including becoming involved with forestry organizations, conducting timber sale harvests, hand- and machine-planting thousands of trees, maintaining wetlands and creating diversity for wildlife, aesthetics and recreation.
They purchased a 395-acre tract in Trempealeau County in 1997. When an adjacent 100-acre parcel came up for sale, they bought that, too.
The couple has involved their children, and Kirk has been active in the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association, written numerous articles for the Woodland Management magazine and been a speaker on several occasions at different conferences. They have held field days on their property and are able to showcase their hard work as well as educate others on principles of sound forest management.
Ownership for the Dahls has been a source of pride and has proven to be an interesting hobby, a rigorous physical challenge, and an outstanding investment.