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K-State Today

August 11, 2015

Kansas Forest Service profile: The Turneys

Submitted by Jennifer Williams

Roy and Carolyn Turney, Kansas landowners.

The Forest Stewardship Program is accomplishing great work through the Kansas Forest Service by providing assistance to landowners. This article highlights Roy and Carolyn Turney, tree farm landowners in Kansas.

Roy and Carolyn Turney have a good tree story. It's a long story — more than four decades long — but it's worth listening to, and Roy and Carolyn are proud to tell it. In all the years they've owned their tree farm their enthusiasm for managing trees has never waned.

"As soon as we bought our 65-acre farm we started planting bundles of trees from the Kansas Forest Service," Carolyn Turney says. "We planted 400 our first spring and then more the second year."

Initially, the Turneys kept plots for black walnuts — one for lumber and another for nut production — and for grafted pecans. They took their first steps in becoming a Certified Tree Farm in 1976, and checked in with their local district forester every few years for technical assistance, support and guidance. They did whatever they could to improve the conditions of their forested acres — tree planting workshops, watershed restoration and protection strategy workshops, and agroforestry field days.

"From those experiences and seeing other tree farms around Kansas, we continued on our journey of increasing our woodland acres," Carolyn Turney says. The Forest Stewardship Program, through the U.S. Forest Service, provides support for many of these activities, which are delivered by the Kansas Forest Service.

In 2003, the Turneys' completed a Forest Stewardship plan with the assistance of Kansas Forest Service. A dozen years later that plan serves as their guide for a number of ongoing commitments:

  • Pruning our quality trees
  • Removing deciduous trees from the Austrian pines
  • Removal and proper disposal of diseased pines from pine wilt
  • Thinning less desirable black walnut trees for canopy release
  • Controlling invasive vines
  • Eliminating competitive vegetation under trees
  • Removal of eastern red cedar

The Turneys have now become vocal advocates for forest management in their state and believe a forest stewardship plan is something every forest landowner should consider," Carolyn Turney said. "It helps you focus on individual goals and provides a guideline and resources to complete them." 

The Turneys have hosted two Fall Forestry Field Days events and in 1991 received the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. Two years later, the couple received the Forest Conservationist Award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation. Carolyn Turney was appointed to the Kansas Forest Service Advisory Council by State Forester Larry Biles.

And whenever there is an opportunity, the Turneys will talk trees with a fellow landowner.

"We hope to help others that are younger than us and wanting to establish their own lands," Carolyn Turney said. "That's what planting trees and having tree farms are all about. You don't do it for yourself; it's for the future."