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John Wallin chosen Tree Farmer of the Year

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John Wallin was honored for his lifetime of sustainable forest management work by recently being chosen the 2013 Minnesota Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year.

The annual award recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on family-owned woodland property. Wallin is also one of the few lakes area residents to win the award, said Dean Makey of the DNR forestry office in Brainerd.

“I knew when I started working with John that he was a perfect candidate for the award,” said Makey. “Not only has he done a good job of managing his land, but he also allows people to use his land. He’s willing to share his property to promote forestry management.”

Wallin also appreciated that Makey nominated him for the award.

“It’s an overwhelming honor that I never expected,” Wallin said. “I have Dean to thank for supporting me.”

The Nisswa man was one of eight finalists from four regions of the United States out of 89,000 tree farmers to be considered for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award, which will be presented July 27 in Minneapolis. Wallin was eliminated as one of the final four, but according to the judges, it was a close decision.

“Trees have always been an important part of my life,” Wallin said Thursday, May 23, before helping a group of Nisswa Elementary School students plant trees on his property east of Nisswa. “When I was young my family heated our home with wood, used wood in building, and used sawdust to keep ice in the icehouse.

"We cut a lot of jackpines & Norways, so it was important to replace those trees.”

Wallin, along with his son, Jeffrey and daughter, Jodi, have planted more than 75,000 tree seedlings and transplants since 1977 on his 343 acres of certified tree farm land. Both clear cut and harvesting methods have been used as appropriate for managing a variety of tree species. His tree farm land also features wood trails and field roads for recreation like hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.

At the local level, Wallin is a member of the Central Minnesota Small Woodlot Owners Association and President of the Brainerd Chapter of the Minnesota Forestry Association. Wallin represents non-industrial private forest landowners on the Minnesota Forest Stewardship Committee.

“I want to leave a legacy for others,” Wallin said about the importance of tree management.