When they had the opportunity to retire Maine Woodland Owners members Steve and Jo Laurich decided that their next move would be to realize a life goal: becoming stewards of their own woodlot. Their pursuit of a home on several acres of land isn’t a typical story of seeking rest and relaxation at the end of a career. The two were committed to spending this next stage of their lives working in the woods – but it had to be the right property.

The Laurich’s search lasted five years and spanned five states. In 2000 they put an offer on a historically significant 68 acre property in Bremen that now serves as their home. Once owned by the Poole family their meticulously-restored 18th century-era house overlooks Muscongus Pond (officially Webber Pond). At the the time of the sale they pursued the purchase of two abutting parcels to re-create the plot that the Poole family originally owned. They now hold 155 acres – 145 of it wooded.

“Our bid competed with a developer who offered more money but was going to subdivide the lot and build multiple homes.” Steve explained. “The family wanted to know that the next owner would take care of their family’s legacy and so I believe they picked us for that reason.”

During Steve’s working years the family lived in the Chicago suburbs with occasional time spent in a family woodlot in Ohio. Consequently, Steve and Jo were pretty new to forest management. Soon after the the purchase in Bremen they had a visit by then–district forester Patty Cormier (now the Maine Forest Service Director) who recommended they retain the services of a forester to help provide the expertise needed to determine a long–term plan to support a healthy woodland. Warren -based licensed forester Mitch Kihn was hired to help develop their management plan – but Steve was very involved in the process. As a result, the Laurich’s woods resembles much of what the plan had intended.

Once the implementation started they invited other specialists to see the progress made including district foresters Mort Moesswilde and Keith Kanoti. Steve and Jo’s primary efforts were to thin out dense sections and erraticate invasive species. And while they thought they were removing an enormous number of trees and shrubs, each visiting forester told them that they could probably thin some more.

“Everything we are doing on our land is a result of learning as we go.” said Steve.
Laurich is grateful for all of the resources made available to him to become a better steward of his land – including the Maine Woodland newsletter. He and Jo plan to continue spending each day in the woods as long as they can. For them, it is truly their happy place.


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