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Private forest owners aging, parcels shrinking with big implications for future

In this 2011 photo, Putnam “Put” Blodgett poses by a sign announcing he was named Vermont's 2011 Outstanding Tree Farmer in Bradford, Vt. Blodgett, president of the Vermont Woodlands Association, has implemented a succession plan for his 670 acres family owned forest land by forming a limited liability company and establishing a conservation easement on the land that prohibits development and mandates professional forest management. (AP Photo/Vermont Woodlands Association)

In this 2011 photo, Putnam “Put” Blodgett poses by a sign announcing he was named Vermont's 2011 Outstanding Tree Farmer in Bradford, Vt. Blodgett, president of the Vermont Woodlands Association, has implemented a succession plan for his 670 acres family owned forest land by forming a limited liability company and establishing a conservation easement on the land that prohibits development and mandates professional forest management. (AP Photo/Vermont Woodlands Association)  (The Associated Press)

Forestry officials in Vermont and across the country say the age of forest landowners is increasing and the size of privately owned parcels of land is getting smaller.

The trend is causing some to fear for the long-term health of the nation's forests because the people who own the ever-shrinking parcels might not have the same commitment to the woodlands as the previous landowners.

University of Vermont extension forester Mary Sisock says owners of smaller parcels are less likely to invest in a forestry management plans and managing for wildlife is more difficult.

She's part of a movement that is pushing for careful succession planning for forest owners to ensure the original owner's vision is passed on.