Community, The Braxton Democrat

Kevin Gregory, 2022 Tree Farmer of the Year, Recognized by WV Senate

On Monday January 30th, Senator Karnes representing Randolph County read a Resolution acknowledging Kevin Gregory of Braxton County as Tree Farmer of the Year.
After presenting the resolution and reading Senate Resolution 17, Senator Karnes thanked Kevin for his hard work and dedication to conservation in the state. Gregory, who owns property in both Lewis and Braxton Counties, participates in several Natural Resource Conservation Service programs and provides wildlife habitat management consulting services across West Virginia.
While speaking at the West Virginia Forestry Association’s 37th Annual A.B. Brooks Memorial Forestry Symposium, Gregory focused on the variety of programs offered to the states’ landowners, “ how West Virginia landowner’s with defined property goals which can include: Improving habitat for Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, Woodcock, Wild Turkeys and Cerulean Warblers, can qualify and earn a future income from commercial timber sales, culling invasive species of plants (like Multi-flora Rose, Autumn Olive and Grapevines), improving stream and water quality, and abating soil erosion. Any landowner with over 10 acres can apply for financial assistance.”
Part of being Tree Farmer of the Year is to highlight the work and passion involved in spending time improving your forest through wildlife habitat and forestry practices. Gregory spent the evening of his visit to Charleston talking with numerous elected officials about the states’ forestry and wildlife programs. Currently, the forestry industry is facing the same issue as the education system is with teachers – not enough foresters in the state and not enough students in our state schools to cover the open forestry positions. In order to improve our numbers of both, recruiting programs and increased incentives is required.
Gregory highlighted, “while I retired from a military career, my passion has always been wildlife and our WV forests and mountains. I really enjoy spending the day transforming the landscape into something that promotes increased wildlife capacity and can vastly improve our forests and streams. There is just something special about a cold, crisp morning in the mountains of West Virginia and I was very fortunate my wife, from Oklahoma, loves the mountains as well and supported our dream of returning to West Virginia one day.”. Gregory’s passion also has him supporting the states’ wildlife in other ways such as writing wildlife and forestry articles for the Braxton County Citizens News to supporting state vulnerable species programs by reporting bird sightings, box turtle reports and other species as needed.
Here in West Virginia, Gregory mentioned, that the WV Division of Forestry works with The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U. S. Department of Agriculture under the Farm Bill offering voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial aid and technical assistance to help manage forests and pastureland for residents of our state.
There are Environmental Quality Incentives Programs (EQIP) that can help landowners and agricultural producers improve agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers can receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits when working agricultural land.
EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application “cut-off” or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities
Gregory also spent time talking with Lori Dittman, District 63’s Representative, who sets on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is classmate of Gregory’s from Braxton County High School.
For landowners interested in NRCS programs, Braxton County residents can contact Andy Seitz at the Gassaway Farm Services Office at 304-564-5103 and if you are in Lewis County, you should contact Tom Wilsoncroft at 304-269-8431 Ext 3 who is a USDA-NRCS Representative.
If you are interested in NRCS but not sure if it is right for you, can also contact Kevin Gregory. Gregory owns and operates Eagle Land Transformation which specializes in wildlife habitat management consulting and practices. Kevin is more than willing to provide free advice and assistance to point the landowner in the right direction to get started. Kevin Gregory can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].
Remember, you can be considered for financial assistance whether your farm is small (10 acres plus) or large with hundreds or thousands of acres.