The Oklahoma Woodland Owners
Association (OWOA) had its inception in 1994 as a joint effort between
Ms. Patt Nelson, of Tulsa, and Steve Anderson and Champe Green of the
Department of Forestry at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Ms. Nelson
was to become the organizations first President. The Oklahoma Department
of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF), often represented by Kurt Atkinson,
also became involved in this partnership at an early stage. All of the
founders recognized the need for an organization that would represent
the interests of timberland land owners and provide members with both
educational information and a voice in Oklahoma's forest industry.
During its 21-year stand-alone history, past presidents of OWOA included
Ms.Nelson, Dale Wilson, Broken Bow, John Ahern from Minnesota and, most
recently, Dr. Craig McKinley of Stillwater. Membership was evenly divided
between in-state landowners and those from out of state, including several
from Texas and as far away as Minnesota and California. Through the years,
OWOA maintained an affiliation with the National Woodland Owners Association.
Although membership never exceeded 100, OWOA maintained a strong presence
in forestry matters. It was instrumental in the Oklahoma State Legislature's
adoption of the Oklahoma Right to Practice Forestry Act and consistently
supported the concept of forestry Best Management Practices. Members paid
dues of $25.00 a year and received periodic news bulletins and opportunity
to participate in many woodlands activities.
For many years,
OWOA held its annual meeting in conjunction with the annual Forestry on
the Grow Conference, sponsored by the Ouachita Mountains Resource Conservation
and Development, held at the Western Hills Guest Ranch, just outside of
Wagoner. This three-day conference brought OWOA landowners together with
industry representatives, exhibitors and various subject matter experts.
OWOA always sponsored the hospitality room at the conference. A typical
list of presentations (taken from the 2008 conference) included “Planning
Today for the Different Forests of Tomorrow,” “GPS Applications
for Small Forest Landowners,” “Estate Planning for Landowners”
and “To Do List Before Selling Your Timber.” In addition,
there was usually a session aimed at helping landowners understand the
complexities of federal tax laws and their impact on timber ownership.
to the annual meeting, there has always been a second event, usually sponsored
by OSU and ODAFF, during which OWOA members would meet for a morning of
educational topics, followed by an afternoon field experience. Many of
these events were held at ODAFF or OSU facilities in Southeast Oklahoma
or at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Poteau.
In October, 2015, it became apparent that OWOA could no longer survive
in its stand-alone capacity. After exploring several possibilities, the
OWOA membership voted unanimously to accept an invitation from OFA to
merge and become an integral part of that organization. Details of the
merger were completed in May, 2016 when OWOA's financial resources and
membership list were merged with those of the Oklahoma Forestry Association
(OFA). Landowners will still pay dues of only $25.00 a year and will continue
to receive all former OWOA benefits as well as the opportunity to interact
with the leadership of Oklahoma's timber industry. OFA has set aside a
substantial amount of funding for landowner education and specifically
established one appointed OFA Board position (currently Miles Schulze)
for landowners. Dr. McKinley was also recently elected to the OFA Board.
The merger is off to a successful start as the first landowner workshop,
held at Idabel in May attracted more than twice as many people as had
attended the final OWOA workshop in October, 2015.