The Andersons of Rhea County, Tennessee

Chris and Christina Anderson of Rhea County, Tennessee were named the 2016 Tree Farmers of the Year.

For Chris Anderson of Rhea County, it was a pine beetle infestation. For Alex Richman of Moore County, it was an interest in carrying on her family’s legacy.

Anderson and Richman are but two property owners in Tennessee who have acquired large tracts of forestland with the intention of making an income while practicing good stewardship. Both have become advocates for healthy forests, working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry to meet their conservation goals.

It’s a livelihood born of passion. “We’re pushing hard for healthy forests and habitats, and definitely quality wood products,” Anderson says of the forest he owns with his wife, Christina, near Spring City. “Our premise isn’t just about the wood product industry. It’s more about the forests, the habitats, making sure the watershed is protected, as well as the wildlife and people in the community.”

Tree Farmers of the Year

The Andersons came to the state from North Carolina after Chris’ parents acquired 140 acres in Rhea County in the mid-1990s. They bought it to have a place where the family could enjoy recreational hunting and family gatherings.

The pine beetle devastation of the early 2000s led Chris Anderson to seek advice from Area Forester Shannon Gann, who helped the couple establish a management plan and set forest stewardship goals. “That’s really what got me interested,” says Anderson, whose property is now known as CRC Stewardship Ridge. “That’s what led me into where we are now.

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forestryI took it upon myself to clear away the property, and we did some replanting at the time. Everything now is on track.”

The couple acquired additional bordering properties as they lived and worked on what developed into a tree farm, practicing the values and standards of Tennessee’s Best Management Practices and the values of the American Tree Farm System: wood, water, recreation and wildlife. For their efforts, the Andersons were named the 2016 Tree Farmers of the Year by the Tennessee Forestry Association.

“We’re doing everything we can to make this a really green spot in Tennessee,” Anderson says.

Family Pride

Richman knew from a young age that she wanted to one day take care of the forestland property her great-grandfather had founded for the income it would provide. The land, known as Cumberland Springs Land Company between Lynchburg and Tullahoma, has been passed down through the family and is now in the hands of Richman, the relatively young chief operating officer of the company. “I grew up playing on the land, and I watched my mom manageit for the family,” says Richman, ja 2005 graduate of the University of the South and now a forestry graduate student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

“I went to school with the idea that keeping the forestland was a big priority for me,” she adds.

Cumberland Springs Land Company, which comprises some 6,000 acres, gets most of its income from timber sales. It also leases land for wildlife hunting and more, and hopes to expand in commercial land leases.

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Richman is passionate about good stewardship of forests. She serves on the Tree Farm Committee of the Tennessee Forestry Association.

“My education and work experience have all been to help other forest owners and families like mine stay on the land, make an income from it, and also be good stewards of the land and the forest,” she says.