The Pierce Tree Farm
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Name:           The Pierce Tree Farm

Address:       Josiah and Kathy Pierce

                      The Pierce Tree Farm

                      9 Pierce Place

                      West Baldwin, Maine 04091

Phone:           207-625-8330


What Makes The Pierce Tree Farm Unique?

How exciting it was to discover that people from throughout the United States have learned about the work of a family Tree Farming operation from Maine. The Pierce Tree Farm in West Baldwin was recognized as the “National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year” in 2007, out of the 87,000 family forest owners in the American Tree Farm system.

Josiah and Kathleen Pierce traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, to receive their award at the 14th Annual National Tree Farmer Convention in 2007.  They had been nominated for the award by Rene Noel, a forester from Windham, who has advised the Pierce family on best forest management practices.  The American Tree Farm System (who recognized the Pierces and Noel) is a program of the American Forest Foundation. It was founded in 1941, to promote the sustainable management of forests through education and outreach.

The Tree Farm that Josiah and Kathleen run is an impressive operation with a fascinating history.  Josiah is part of the sixth generation of the Pierce family who has made their home on the West Baldwin farm. 

Josiah’s great, great, great grandfather (also named Josiah) established a sawmill operation on his 350 acre farm in Flintstown Plantation (now called Baldwin) 228 years ago, back in 1785.  It was the beginning of a unique sustainable forestry tradition in the Pierce family that has been proudly carried forward to the present time.

Josiah discussed how a large portion of the woodlands were cut on the Pierce farm property in the late 1800’s.  In his History of Baldwin, Maine, George Varney explained that because of its proximity to water sources, (Saco River and various brooks) Baldwin was home to several mills which produced lumber and barrel staves.

A second large phase of harvesting took place on the Pierce property in West Baldwin between 1917 and 1920, when any of the growth that exceeded four inches in diameter was harvested and cut through the use of portable saw mills.

In 1961, the Pierce Tree Farm became a certified Tree Farm with a sustainable forest management plan.  Every ten years they are required to update their forest plan.  Because their forest land is classified as being in “Tree Growth” they are able to take advantage of a reduced tax rate on their land, but with such a significant amount of land, it is challenging to pay the property taxes.  There are also daunting estate taxes that will have to be paid when the land is transferred to a new generation.

A third cycle of forest harvesting has been taking place on the property since the 1980’s.  Rene Noel, a forester from Southern Maine Forestry Services in Windham, has served as a consultant for the forestry plan for the farm.  He has tagged the trees.  Ricky Day and his crew are the loggers.  Josiah explained that he would like to see a constant supply of wood for harvesting by cutting certain areas approximately every fifteen years.

Pine, birch, maple, hemlock and beech trees are some of the species of the trees found on the Pierce land.  Josiah discussed how red oak trees are now highly valued, because as a hardwood, they translate into a much higher payback. Some of the wood harvested on the Pierce Tree Farm is used for woodchips and pulp.  Some is sold to sawmills and Josiah harvests many cords for firewood for the outdoor wood burning furnace that provides heat for their home.

By buying additional woodlots, the acreage of the Pierce Tree Farm has increased to over 2000 acres.  Curtis Pierce, Josiah’s father, purchased woodlots and formalized plans to ensure that the property would remain in the family. 

The all-important presence of family is quite remarkable if one has the opportunity to view the various gravestones in the family cemetery that is situated on the farm.  Buried at the Farm are Pierce relatives who fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War and several prominent American citizens known for a variety of accomplishments and service to the country.

Josiah and Kathleen lived in Rhode Island, where Josiah designed jewelry, for many years.  They were drawn back to the family land in 1994, and they have become fully immersed in the tasks of protecting and profiting from their forested land.

Josiah and Kathleen are active members of the Maine State Tree Farm Committtee and the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM).   Josiah served as past president of SWOAM.  He was appointed by Governor Baldacci to the Maine Governor’s Task Forces on Woodland Certification and Public Use of Private Land.  He also served on the Baldwin Planning Board and the local School Board. The Pierces are members of the local Grange.

Josiah and Kathleen have followed Curtis Pierce’s method of forward thinking.   This focus on the value of planning for the future seems to be ingrained in the Pierce family.  Josiah talks about a management philosophy centered around “one hundred year thinking” where the land can pay for itself through logging that has been carefully planned and managed.

The strong connection to the forests and the land has transferred to Dan Pierce, the youngest son of Josiah and Kathleen.  He established the Cairn Leadership School, on part of the Pierce property.  It is a corporate retreat for individuals interested in finding a place of relaxation that would offer unique surroundings for team-building, trainings, workshops, and meetings.


In addition to a focus on forestry, the Pierce family has been committed to conservation issues.  They have become educated about such topics as invasive plants, tree diseases, and insect infestation.  They have been involved with wildlife conservation projects dealing with wild turkey and cottontail rabbit restoration. An island in the Saco River that is part of their property has welcomed canoeists and campers.

Josiah explained that he harvests his land for the timber, but also evaluates how the harvesting will affect wildlife and plant diversity.  He has enjoyed sharing the wonders of the woods (wildflowers, plants, animals, etc.) with his children and grandchildren.  Noah and Emily, their grandchildren, spend each afternoon after school with Josiah and Kathleen, so they already have received quite an introduction to the importance of the woods and the various ecosystems found on the property.

Josiah and Kathleen live in the beautiful Federalist-style home that once housed a general store that was operated by Josiah’s great, great, great, grandfather.  Its exterior reminds one of an elegant mansion of days past and it has been known as  “The Pierce Place” over the years. 

At their farm the Pierces raise Tunis sheep, poultry, and pigs.  They also gather sap to produce maple syrup and are members of the Southern Maine Maple Sugarmakers Association.  They have gardens and Josiah keeps busy cutting hay during the summer.

Josiah also keeps active with advocacy for family Tree Farms.  He has attended many American Forest Foundation Fly-ins and discussed forestry issues with the Congressional representatives from Maine in Washington, D.C. and attended several scheduled advocacy training sessions.   He was in favor of the Silvicultural Regulatory Consistency Act.

Josiah and Kathleen’s passion and deep emotional connection for their land is clearly obvious.  Josiah lights up when he sees the signs of natural reforestation on his property.  He values the aquifers on his land and how his trees help to filter the water that supplies area residents.  His love for the woods has been shared with his children and grandchildren, just like his father and grandfather left him with a deep appreciation for the land.  It appears that Josiah and Kathleen Pierce were most fitting recipients of a national award that recognized Tree Farmers for their advocacy, stewardship, and outreach efforts.