Oklahoma Woodland Owners Association

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.

In addition 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.

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