MADISON – Imagine a beautiful fall Saturday. Add a mix of colorful woodlands, families, children, good food, and lessons from “Mother Nature,” and you have the makings of the 2015 Fall Forestry Festival, scheduled for Oct. 17. The festival will be hosted at the Dean Family Tree Farm, about 17 miles south of Emporia, or 3.5 miles northeast of Madison.

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m., and it will offer a variety of outdoor educational sessions targeted toward landowners, farmers, ranchers and natural resource professionals interested in protecting and managing the magnificent natural resources of Kansas.

The Dean family has been improving the woodland and grassland resources on their Greenwood County tree farm for more than 40 years, following the recommendations of professional foresters and wildlife biologists. It was on this land that Paul Dean first learned the values of forest and wildlife conservation from his father, Kenneth. Recipients of the 2012 Forest Stewardship Tree Farmer of the Year and the Kansas Wildlife Federation Forest Conservationist of the Year, the Dean Family Tree Farm provides a model of environmental stewardship.

From the time Paul was a boy, his father involved him in timber and wildlife habitat improvement projects, including the marking of 21,000 board feet of timber in 1971 for thinning and harvest. In the early 1980s, the health of an additional 20 acres of woodland was improved by removing undesirable trees, such as honey locust and Osage orange, and releasing higher quality trees such as black walnut and bur oak. This led to increased acorn production for deer and other wildlife.

Most recently, thousands of black walnut and bur oak trees were planted on eight acres, and another six acres of woodland were improved. The Deans also established grass buffer strips adjacent to a neighboring creek for water quality and wildlife habitat.

Paul, fellow tree farmers and Kansas Forest Service foresters will all be on hand at the festival to facilitate a variety of educational sessions. Specific topics on tree planting, managing woodlands, wildlife habitat creation, pruning, rangeland management and harvesting lumber from your own trees will be offered. There will also be a special session to introduce landowners to the Kansas Tree Farm Program and how to become involved.

Additionally, environmental education interpreters will lead a variety of special inter-generational activities for families and children such as: hiking the trails to identify birds, trees and signs of wildlife; fire safety demonstrations; photo-ops with Smokey Bear; sawmill demonstrations; learning how to identify woodland animals, furs and skulls; scavenger hunts; the soil tunnel trailer; learning how trees grow; stream exploration; and snacks around the campfire.

A hot catered lunch will be provided, along with refreshments. A $15 registration fee will be charged for participants 15 and older; however, children 14 and under can participate in the event and enjoy lunch for free.

Additional information about the festival may be found on the Kansas Forest Service website at www.kansasforests.org under “News and Events.” Also, those on the Kansas Forest Service mailing list should look for a brochure in the mail in late September.