We have such great customers who do such great things! Take the Hall family in Mississippi who just donated a 245-acre parcel of timberland to Mississippi State University (MSU). The parcel, now known as the Hall Timberlands Forest, will be used as a living laboratory for forestry students and faculty and will be managed by MSU to maximize income for forestry major scholarships. “It gives MSU a long-term investment for future students,” says David Hall, President and CEO, Hall Timberlands, a proud alumnus of MSU. “As an employer, we do our best to encourage other businesses to hire MSU graduates because of the excellent reputation of the forestry college and its graduates,” Hall said. “The Hall Timberlands Endowed Forestry Scholarship will allow us to ensure the best students are provided with financial assistance.”
The Hall family knows something about long-term investment in good healthy forests. They are third generation timberland managers and foresters with nearly 60,000 acres spread out over 7 counties in Mississippi. Managing the Hall Timberlands not only requires good forestry and business practices, but also passing the legacy on to future generations. “It’s important even within our family,” says Hall, “We gather the family at least once a year to give everyone an emotional attachment to the land. It’s a challenge in a family business to ensure that upcoming generations are involved and dedicated. When kids grow up with a personal connection to the land they’re more likely to put in the hard work it takes to manage a forest as a long-term investment.”
10-Year Sustainable Management Plans
Hall Timberlands works off of 10-year management plans that are continuously being reviewed and revised according to things like market condition and climate. “You’ve got things like hurricanes coming in and changing what you’ve got to do next and you’ve got to adapt,” says Hall. “Good silviculture involves watching to make sure you know what’s happening out there – whether it’s mid-rotation spraying or thinning or storm damage – you just keep an eye on things and stay ready to react when you need to.”
Good management also means knowing where to plant what for maximum return on investment. “We plant the best trees for the site and soil type. If it’s low-quality soil, we’ll go with the better genetics open pollinated seedlings. In the high-quality soil, we’re starting to plant Varietals. The quicker you can get a stand to sawtimber, the better. And with any type of soil, site prep and the first two years are the most important. We want to keep the site as clean as possible, whether it’s with herbicides or burning, to give the seedlings good sunlight and water and the best chance to get a good start. Combining herbicide and burning has a dual benefit – it keeps the root competition down and it’s great for the foraging wildlife.”
Sustainability is a goal of managing Hall Timberlands. “We plant way more trees than we harvest,” says Hall, “and what a lot of people don’t understand is that most people who are managing forests as a business investment are doing the same thing. The business end of it can’t be sustainable if the forest isn’t being managed for sustainability.”
Building Great Teams
David also believes in building the best teams possible. “We’ve worked with most of the folks on our teams for years, like Scotch Land Management, LLC and our loggers, who we have a lot of faith in. Your loggers are merchandising your trees on the ramp and they can get you the best price for every log you’ve got. ArborGen is also part of our trusted team. We’ve been very happy with the seedlings from the early days of IP – we’ve planted SuperTree Seedlings for as long as I can remember. There’s a lot of benefit in our relationship. They follow up. They want to come see what we’ve planted and how it’s doing. They ask our opinion on everything from the seedlings to how delivery is working. They’re always asking questions in order to make doing business simpler and more beneficial. I can call on any one of the people I know there and I’ll get a quick response and a solution.”
We are proud to have served the Hall family over the years and congratulate company founder, the late Maurice Hall Sr., Maurice Hall Jr., his sister Mary Cheek Hall Davis, David Hall and the other members of the third generation on their lasting legacy, both in their successful family business and in their donation to MSU’s continued forestry education efforts. We know that this legacy will last for many generations to come.
Thanks to Russ Houston, MSU photographer for the photo and to Amy Cagle for information from her article Growing a Legacypublished in MSU’s “foundations” Spring 2013 edition.