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Story Archives: Riley named Future Forest Winner
|Riley named Future Forest Winner|
You have to drive through a lot of corn, cotton and soybeans to get to Larry Riley's home and forestland near Winnsboro. The former farmer has become very knowledgeable about growing trees in the last eight years and his success has garnered him the Future Forest Award for Louisiana.
The award is given annually to a private landowner who does a good job reforesting land after a harvest or planting a forest on land that had been in other uses. Riley accepted the award at the Lou-isiana Forestry Association annual meeting held today (Aug. 26) at the Capitol House Hilton Hotel in Baton Rouge.
Riley's dad farmed the old homestead part of the land from 1962-69 and then Riley himself moved there in 1970 cultivating cotton and soybeans on the property. "There are a lot of rolling ridges here," said Riley, who is a broker for his real estate company specializing in land for sale. "It's highly erodible soil and I even tried contour farming for awhile."
In 1980 when a farmer wanted to lease his land for farming, Riley completed the deal.
By 2001 he had a new plan in place into grow a forest on his land with the advice of the local Natural Resource Conservation Service. The first 45 acres near his home were enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. He continued to plant more acreage in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
"I've learned a lot over the years," Riley said. He now has 630 acres in forestland, some pine, some hardwood and some mixed stands.
His objectives are clear: to provide future family income, to provide wildlife and recreation, to conserve the soil on highly erodible rolling ridges and to clean the water running into Deer Creek on his property.
District Conservationist Jason Hardie said he nominated Riley because the landowner "wants to address all the resource concerns" on the property. "Back before funding was available he was dedicated to doing any type of conservation," said Hardie. "He wanted to take care of the land and he was dedicated to getting the most out of every acre of land. He was conservation-minded and production-minded. He wanted them both to mesh."
His projects includes acreage enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) along with the Lower Mississippi Watershed Project.
"I bought this land when I was a kid," said Riley. "The land became a part of me."
Riley is very involved in the forest work and even paid for extra plantings under the federal programs that paid for lesser amounts.
Hardie said agriculture is still king in Franklin Parish but other landowners are showing some interest in forestry as well. Part of that reason is the success exhibited by their neighbor Larry Riley.
The Louisiana Forestry Association is a 4,000 member group devoted to promoting the health and productivity of Louisianaís forests through the practice of sustainable forestry. For more information, see the website at www.laforestry.com.