PISGAH, Ia. - Brent Olson, area forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, received one of nine Presidential Field Forester Awards from the Society of American Foresters during its national convention last month in Spokane, Wash.
The award recognizes forestry professionals who displayed uncommon talent and innovative methods in the art and science of forest management.
Olson was recognized for his efforts as area forester for the Loess Hills State Forest, a position in which he helped the state forest grow from 2,000 acres to nearly 12,000 acres.
His innovative tree plantings incorporated a variety of species resulting in improved health, vigor, and diversity, and he has developed and researched many ways of implementing mast tree direct seedings over large areas.
Olson also created a prescribed burning program for the area's prairies, savannas, and woodlands. He was on the original task force to create GIS layers for the state's forest resources and is developing a trail system throughout the forest that balances recreation and environmental protection.
In addition, he obtained grants to fund timber-stand improvement projects, prairie seeding, tree plantings, land acquisition, and equipment, and has a knack for finding partners to cooperate and implement management of natural resources. To that end, he has been a leader in the Loess Hills Alliance, which works across seven counties in western Iowa to promote sustainable forest management and wise use of the forest's resources.
Olson also is credited with starting the Missouri River Foresters Group, which includes foresters and natural resources professionals from five states who meet each fall in a different host state to look at different approaches to forest management across the region.