Outstanding! Mike Dann — ‘The forester’s forester’

Executive Director Patrick Strauch honors Mike Dann, MFPC's Outstanding Forester of 2016.
Executive Director Patrick Strauch honors Mike Dann, MFPC’s Outstanding Forester of 2016.

MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch did something he rarely does to honor MFPC’s 2016 Outstanding Forester.

In recognition of an exceptional career in forestland stewardship, serving both small and large landowners in the State of Maine, and his dedication to promoting silviculture, research, education and the implementation of sound forest practices the Maine Forest Products Council proudly presents the Outstanding Forester Award to Mike Dann.

“I used my prerogative to nominate someone for outstanding forester of the year,” Strauch said at the awards banquet Sept. 19. “This is a gentleman that I greatly admire and he’s been a great colleague. He certainly is a forester’s forester. Let me just list a couple of things about Mike Dann. Then I’ll briefly review the criteria for this award and I think you’ll see how the story emerges.”

  • Mike Dann is a “retired forester” from Dixmont, Maine.
  • He earned a B.S. in Forest Management from the University of Maine Orono and is a Licensed Forester.
  • He served in the military from 1968-1971.
  • He has 40 years experience in natural resource management; 36 years with Seven Islands Land Company.
  • He has worked with SWOAM for four years and also is a member of SWOAM, the Maine Forest Products Council, Forest Resources Association, and Society of American Foresters.

“Mike has done a lot of things in his retirement, audits and working with FSC, SFI and the American Tree Farm program,” Strauch said. “He also is a tree farmer and he and his wife Judy manage their property in Dixmont. I’ve noticed that Mike has a lot of tools that he’s convinced Judy he needs, like a sawmill, a motorcycle – is that part of the profession? – and it’s been rumored there’s an orange side-by-side tractor/four-wheeler.

“But if we look at the criteria for this award, this person needs to demonstrate an extraordinary ability to directly apply forest management practices in a “working forest” environment on either private or public lands and the application of a broad range of silvicultural practices and the supervision of operational activities. Certainly Mike’s 36 years as a forester with Seven Islands Land Co. as their woodlands manager speaks to his working forest experience and his knowledge of silviculture.

“Another criteria is to demonstrate the ability to adopt emerging concepts and research results to improve forest management. Mike’s certainly done that by staying ahead of the curve on all the forest certification that’s been happening in the woods for the last 10 years. He’s really developed an expertise. He can be credited with working on projects that have brought about  1.5 million acres of land into certification and that’s a great accomplishment. That activity was spurred on by his knowledge of how to work with landowners.

“Mike also has worked with SFI and the American Tree Farm System is dear to his heart. Mike has contributed to Maine’s SFI, FSC, Tree Farm certification as a consultant to some landowners and auditor to others. He helped develop certification program templates for landowners an effort that increased the amount of certified lands over a two-year period of time by 1.5 million acres. Prior to that point, certification growth in Maine had been stagnant for 10 years.

“As part of that process, not only had Mike helped facilitate certification for large landowners seeking SFI certification, he organized and managed the successful third party certification of an additiona l100,000 acres to the American Tree Farm System. Mike was chair of the Maine SFI State Implementation Committee (SIC) from 2004-06.

“He’s truly stayed ahead of the curve and he’s certainly thought about emerging concepts and research and worked with that.

“Another criteria is that the winner of this award also must have the ability to mentor other forest practitioners in forest management practices.He’s been an officer in the Society of American Foresters, the Maine Tree Farm Committee, the SWOAM Board of directors, and the outreach landtrust foresters. So you can see that ongoing commitment to training and working with other foresters and practitioners and land owners.

“Finally to win this award, you must have the ability to incorporate other societal and biological considerations, such as aesthetics and wildlife, into silvicultural practices.

“I think the best story I’ve heard and I may not get this quite right, Mike, but you once told me that you prepared a management plan and you were very proud of it and you thought it was all encompassing,” Strauch said. “But you were progressive in your thinking and you handed it over to Harold Burnett to take a look at. And Harold is known for his broad spectrum and his beliefs in ecology and in management plans that encompass all these different biological considerations and aesthetics and wildlife. I think Harold said to you, ‘It’s a good plan, Mike, but it’s a little too tree-centered.’

“Don’t worry Mike, I’m sure Professor Ralph Griffen would be proud of you. But in reality you adopted a broader vision of ecosystem management and became a leader in evaluating how landowners are accomplishing that task.

“The last thought I’d mention is Mike’s involvement on the Outcome Based Forestry Board during an historic implementation of the program provides another impressive chapter in his career.

“So I would like the “forester’s forester” to come up and accept this plaque for the Outstanding Forester of 2016 in recognition of an exceptional career in forest stewardship, serving both small and large landowners in the State of Maine and his dedication to promoting silviculture, research, education and implementation of sound forest practices.”

Dann got a huge round of applause as he walked to the podium.

“Thank you all very much,” he said. “My career has always been about the people who I’ve met and worked with. I was extremely fortunate early on – right out of the service — to have Cliff Swenson hire me at Seven Islands. Working for Seven Islands and the Pingree Family and knowing not only who I worked with and being friends with them, but knowing on a first-name basis who I worked for in the Pingree Family has made that experience very good – exceptional—to me personally.

“When I think of how lucky I was in the beginning to have as friends, bosses and mentors, men like John Sinclair, Chris Swanson (former presidents of Seven Islands), Brad Wellman, Steve Schley (former and current presidents of Pingree Associates), John Cashwell, Tom Doak. I tried to keep my mouth shut and my ears open. I don’t say I was always successful – I said I tried. You can’t help but learn some pretty good thins about the Maine forest and how to treat other people and how to do business.

“So to be recognized by you, who I have shared this ride with, is really pretty special and I thank you all very much.”

(Previous winners).

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