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Bass Farms wins area forestry honor

MONTICELLO – The passion for growing and sharing land of aretired lineman and his wife have earned them the 2009 MississippiForestry Association’s Southwest District Tree Farm of the Yearaward.

Henry “Bubba” and Hortense Bass of Monticello recently receivedthe designation for their work growing pines for profit and theircommunity involvement on 360 woodland acres of a certified AmericanTree Farm.

“We got it because we do a lot for the kids,” Bubba said. “It’snot all about how pretty (the farm) is, but what you do withit.”

The farm is now eligible to win at the state level.

“This area has never won state, but we’re hopeful,” Hortensesaid.

Bass Farms was also recognized in 2007 and 2008 as the LawrenceCounty Tree Farm of the Year.

The Basses have owned the property for 33 years, but it wasn’tuntil 18 years ago they began making the land work for them byproducing timber for profit.

“Since then, it has paid for itself more than four times over,”Bubba said. “To get the most from it, you have to take advantage ofall the programs out there. The public is not taking advantage ofthis and they need to.”

It was by working with various educational and governmentalagencies to take advantage of existing management programs that thefarm became so successful, he said. In addition, they hired aprofessional timber consultant, who provides them advice onday-to-day management and manages the sale.

“Selling your timber without a consultant is like playing thestock market with no knowledge of how it works,” Bubba said.

The Basses encouraged other community members to manage timberand utilize the local forestry commission, Lawrence CountyExtension Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service foreducational information and management assistance. They frequentlyassist local landowners in locating resources and services toassist them in better managing their forests.

The benefits of a successful tree farm, however, have been moreworthwhile than the profits, Hortense said.

Proper management has allowed for improving wildlife habitatsand to share the land’s recreational benefits with the communityand local school children.

Every year since 2001, the Basses have sponsored a NaturalResource Field Day for Lawrence County students enrolled in thegifted program. Through partnerships with the USDA Natural ResourceConservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation District, MSUExtension Service, Lawrence County Forestry Association and others,the field day has evolved to include an Indian arrowhead dig,wildlife demonstrations, archery and other hands-on events thatpromote nature through recreational exercises.

The 2009 Field Day was held over two days and reached 228Lawrence County students in grades 2-8. The children learned aboutpond management, forestry, soil science, beaver habitat andcontrol, paper production, archeology and archery, among othertopics.

The Basses have already begun planning a 2010 field day and havereceived confirmations from many of the 2009 volunteers.