Tree Farmer of the Year 2024: Myles Lumber Company

On Monday, January 29, 2024, Senator Karnes of Randolph County presented and read Resolution 17 acknowledging Myles Lumber Company (MLC) as the West Virginia Tree Farmer of the Year. Andy Swecker, Forester for MLC, accepted the Resolution on behalf of June Myles, Owner.

MLC has managed almost 10,000 acres of high quality hardwoods since the 1950s. The Tree Farm was one of the earlier ones recognized in West Virginia. George Myles, June’s father, owned a sawmill near Beverly in Randolph County and established the Tree Farm to help provide a sustainable inventory for the mill. Since 1951, MLC has been dedicated to taking care of the land that it has acquired using sound forest management practices.

Several reputable foresters have been employed, such as Randy Allen, Dave Mullenax, Dwain Leech, and Andy Swecker, among others. Andy currently oversees forest management operations. After the closing of the sawmill, Ms. Myles continues to manage the land with emphasis on forest management, wildlife habitat improvement, and maintaining water quality. She contracts the logging and employs a staff to oversee timber harvests and to maintain road infrastructure, a log yard, and storage facilities. Ms. Myles, through MLC, has provided many jobs by practicing sound forest management and merchandising different forest products. According to Terry Jones (Consulting Forester) who has inspected the Tree Farm since the early 1990s, “the MLC Tree Farm exhibits some of the most intensive forest management of any large landowner in West Virginia.”

MLC property consists of 58 parcels that are divided into 10 tracts located in Randolph and Upshur counties. Of the 10 tracts, nine are in Randolph County. Most of the forestland is considered moderate to excellent quality with over 25 miles of well maintained haul roads, along with 90% of the lands having permanent skid road systems. There are over 10 native brook trout streams on MLC lands that are buffered from any potential sediment and erosion degradation. Stream Management Zones and buffers are maintained in these high quality watersheds. Most of the timber stands have received 2–4 cutting cycles while under MLC management resulting in well-designed haul and skid road systems. Ms. Myles insists on using the latest silvicultural techniques to satisfy the goals of resource sustainability, sufficient wildlife habitat, economic principles, hunting and fishing availability, and recreationally/aesthetically pleasing watersheds.

MLC has maintained healthy, resilient and vigorous growing timber stands for over 70 years. Individual timber harvests are implemented only after extensive inventories have been completed. Staff time and labor is routinely dedicated to maintaining forest roads for wildfire control, preserving water quality and forest management. Other duties include boundary line maintenance, mapping and upgrading the MLC growth plot program. In addition to being President of MLC and owner of the Tree Farm, Ms. Myles is currently Chair Emeritus of Davis and Elkins College, Director of Davis Trust Company, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Augusta Heritage Center.