In Your Words: How Small Forest Landowners are Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak

Earlier this month, DNR Small Forest Landowner Office Manager Tami Miketa penned a note to readers with tips on how to take care of their mental health and get through the COVID-19 outbreak and its subsequent fallout. In her column, she asked landowners how they are staying safe and staying sane during the pandemic. The following is a selection of their responses.

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Thanks for many good suggestions during this trying time.

My means of coping is to apply for the Forestry program in order to assure I am doing my utmost to improve the land I live on. I am applying for the deferred forestry program, as well as building a garden, which will operate as a community-supported agriculture project to include neighbors in the efforts and harvest. Community-building seems to be the appropriate response and brings much needed solace to know we are doing our best. We are strictly quarantined as I have an extremely vulnerable partner to this disease. We count our (many) blessings every day and try to do our part to build community and take care of each other.

Blessings to all … this too shall pass.

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Thank you for your suggestion for maintaining the health and wellness of ourselves, our families, and our communities. They are wise and much appreciated, but I would suggest that you missed one very obvious suggestion – get out and enjoy your forest! You can maintain social distancing, get some fresh air and exercise, enjoy the various signs of spring out in the woods – birds, plants, and wildlife – and maybe even lay out your plans for managing your tree farm!

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I appreciated your newsletter sentiments at this difficult time. You included many helpful suggestions to live each day focused on what’s truly important.

I always turn to gardening to ground myself in times of stress & when my mind is whirling with “what ifs” or “I should haves.”

Some of the wonders I witnessed this week while gardening: a hummingbird collecting dried seed fluff from my clematis for a nest, and a cascade frog, fat with eggs, I think, sunning itself on a slate flagstone.

Witnessing but a moment in the life of just two of the many creatures with which I share my garden made me feel more connected to the planet.  I also experienced a surge of joyful gratitude.

I really enjoy the DNR monthly e-newsletter — I always learn something about the natural world. It was a treat to see a slight departure in content. You hit the nail on the head and your sentiments resonated with me, and I’m sure with many other readers. Stay well in mind and body.

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WOW! Thank you for such level-headed, calm advice. I posted immediately to my Facebook friends, many of whom are in recovery programs and several of whom have expressed how stressed they are by the current situation during zoom meetings we have set up during this period. How wonderful it was of you to “step away” and focus on the important things at this time.

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In the grand scheme of things, this is the most important message you have ever written in the newsletter. Forestry will be front and center again someday, and the SFL community will go back to politicking for priorities, but people’s well-being and the kindness and serving others is more important that a few trees and some fish (forests and oceans too). I am impressed with your departure from the norm to offer some hope in this crazy time. Good for you.

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First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and compassion with everyone. I think there are many things for people to learn and adjust to throughout this process and the current events. 

I think and have shared with my wife that one of the greatest things to be gained from the stay-at-home opportunity is the reconnection with relationships. 

Most of us are a part of two family careers and generally pass through the home and are focused on the things going on at our jobs. Many people have a relationship but are not in a relationship. It can only be good to get reacquainted with those closest to us. I believe it will make all of us stronger. 

Additionally, we will all realize what we really need to survive comfortably and what we can live without.  I believe that will also make us all stronger. 

Finally, developing a sense of community will most likely be a part of the final picture of this time. People helping people and, also, people feeling comfortable asking others for help when they need it. Asking for help is sometimes viewed as a weakness instead of a strength. 

Even with all the negative side of this virus, I generally search and acknowledge the positive parts and look forward to those things as we all process our fears, stresses and concerns over the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks again, and stay safe and healthy.

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