Owning a piece of property can be one of life’s most rewarding and satisfying endeavors. Regardless of its size, whether a new acquisition or passed down for generations, a prudent landowner should always have a plan for the development and management of their property.

The first step in developing a plan is to decide on well-defined and attainable objectives. Defining these objectives provides direction and will allow for progress to be measured over time. There are many different reasons for owning property, but landowners must decide what is most important to them. One common objective is to enjoy outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, hiking, trail riding or wildlife observation. Another common landowner objective is investment potential and return. Others may simply want to make the property beautiful and enjoy the aesthetics of their land. It is important to note that many objectives are not mutually exclusive and can be pursued simultaneously. Once primary and secondary objectives have been established, a clear plan of action is necessary to achieve those objectives.

After objectives are established, landowners will be well-served to seek professional assistance. Professionals such as foresters or wildlife biologists can provide direction and step-by-step guidelines to achieve the landowner’s objectives. Alabama has developed a multi-agency group of resource management professionals called the Alabama Landowner Technical Assistance Team (ALTAT). ALTAT combines the expertise of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The ALTAT group can provide assistance from professionals within each agency to assist in developing detailed plans for landowners and their properties.

Once natural resource professionals have designed a plan for achieving the stated objectives, it is important to adhere to the plan. Landowners should not hesitate to be in frequent contact with these natural resource professionals and schedule visits on the property as necessary. Over time, land management plans require some level of modification as conditions change. Proactive landowners spend a considerable amount of time on their property and pay special attention to forest conditions, habitat composition, boundaries, roads and the occurrence of invasive plant species. This type of due diligence ensures that necessary steps can be taken to address changing conditions on a property and that existing plans accurately reflect appropriate management actions.

For more information on developing a plan for your property, contact the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife Section. Telephone numbers and emails are available at www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/contacts/wildlifesec.cfm.

Logo courtesy Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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