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The New Hampshire Tree Farm Program is proud to honor Ben and Debbie Kilham as the 2012 New Hampshire "Outstanding Tree Farmer's of the Year"!

The Kilham’s own 210 acres of forestland in Lyme, NH and they manage their property with a strong emphasis on wildlife habitat. Ben has a very “hands-on” approach to management of the Tree Farm. He is implementing a majority of the management and harvesting on his property himself and is also managing neighboring properties for wildlife habitat.

The Kilham’s purchased their property in 1976 and began sugaring in 1982 when they built their sap house. Family and friends help out with the sugaring and the Kilham’s have between 1,000 to 1,100 taps. They sell their maple syrup through local stores. They have thinned 95% of their sugarbush removing poorer quality trees and trees competing with the crowns of the desired sugar maple trees. The Kilham’s use 16-20 cords of wood from their woodlot improvement and management work for making their maple syrup and another seven cords to fire the wood boiler they use to heat their house. They have a small sawmill on their property and are making an oak floor for their home using wood from the property.

Ben is most well-known for his observations and research on black bear behavior. The Kilham’s have created an 8-acre bear enclosure where they raise orphaned cubs. He works closely with NH Fish and Game and takes in and raises the orphaned bear cubs so they can be released back into the wild. So far he has raised and released approximately 85 cubs. Through his work with the bears, Ben has gained great insights into their behavior which he shares with others through programs, his book and videos. For more information on Ben's work with bears visit his website.

Their timber harvesting focuses on favoring trees and shrubs that are good food sources for wildlife. The Kilham’s have also created food plots on their land as Ben has found they are important to bears in the early spring and between berry and nut periods.

Ben and Debbie Kilham’s Tree Farm exemplifies the principles of sustainable forest management and managing for the multiple benefits of wood, water, wildlife and recreation that are the foundation of the New Hampshire Tree Farm Program.

As New Hampshire's Tree Farmer's of the Year, Ben and Debbie hosted the annual Field Day on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at the Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme with over 150 attendees. Events for the day included tours of the Tree Farm, educational programs, a pig roast/chicken barbecue, and many other activities to educate and entertain children and adults alike.

Caption: Ben and Debbie accept the New Hampshire Tree Farm of the Year plaque at the February 2012 New Hampshire Farm & Forest Exposition in Manchester, NH. Photo left to right: Debbie and Ben Kilham, Brad Simpkins, interim State Forester and Director of the Division of Forests and Lands, and Andy Fast, Chair of the New Hampshire Tree Farm Committee present the Parody's with their award.




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