For this Louisiana businessman, GreenTrees Carbon Removal means fun, friends and a family legacy | Sponsored by: Acre Investment Management

“Anytime we can take land that should never have been clearcut during the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and put it into reforestation, it undoes a lot of damage, and that’s only positive.”

Chad Soprano, a kind investor with a sweet-as-warmed-up molasses accent, owns 900 acres of farmland near the island of Sicily, Louisiana, and his enthusiasm for working with GreenTrees is palpable.

Looking around Soprano’s extravagant hunting and outdoor lodge on a scorching mid-September afternoon, I got a strong impression that this guy knew what he was talking about. A self-made businessman who launched a successful regional grocery chain, Soprano’s heartfelt ties to this leafy property are three-fold: growing financial return through carbon credits, fun for family and friends, and hunting and hunting. wildlife observation. “We’re very selective about what we shoot here,” he told me. “I am a hunter, not a killer.”

We were accompanied by Bickham Crooks, a three-year GreenTrees forester whose expertise in forest management plays a major role for landowners like Soprano, who usually come eager to learn more (“I’m a learning”, assured us Soprano). “GreenTrees prepays and landowners receive checks, not invoices, for the property,” Crooks says. “It’s expensive to have carbon credits verified yourself, and we’re helping small landowners who otherwise couldn’t afford to participate, some with properties as small as seven acres.”

Crooks said he became a forester because “I wanted to work outdoors on improving forest management, but I was also interested in technologies such as geographic information system (GIS) mapping. ). So it’s a good balance. When I asked what it meant to him personally to work for GreenTrees, he replied, “This program gives families the opportunity to nurture their land over generations, and that’s huge for communities. It’s not just an environmental benefit; it’s also social.

“Forest hunting property is central to Southern culture,” Soprano said over my shoulder. “The land ties it all together in a way that wouldn’t happen with bean fields.” I turned around and asked him how he overcame what I had heard, the initial reluctance of some landowners in the Delta to sign up for a program like Nature-Based Carbon Removal, which few people have. inhabitants had, until fairly recently, been aware. “I was 100% convinced it was too good to be true,” Soprano recalled. “But I built a relationship with GreenTrees, mostly through Bickham, although they were originally recommended to me by a friend from the Louisiana Forestry Association. I still had my doubts, but with GreenTrees paying the upfront fee and no out-of-pocket for me, what did I have to lose?” Grabbing a few bottles of cold water for us, Soprano motioned for me to go to the garage out back. help rehabilitate this land for free? It’s not too good to be true, it’s real!”

We said goodbye to Mr. Crooks, strolled outside in the humid air and climbed into Soprano’s 4×4 to have a look around the property. When asked if his farm had a name, he chuckled, “I don’t know, I guess it’s Soprano’s sanctuary.”

The landscape was flat and methodical, with long strips of mowed grass marked by dark ‘gumbo’ rich soil bordered by vast expanses of hardwood which in a few years will produce abundant masts – acorns and other nuts to dazzle the native fauna. “We planted about seven different hardwood species,” Soprano told me above the roaring engine. “We are returning this land to a natural state, not a monoculture.”

Not that journaling is completely irrelevant. “It won’t be a static forest,” Soprano advised. “With hardwoods, it usually takes 40-60 years before logging begins, and the focus should be on solid wood products (unlike softwoods like pine, which are usually turned into chips and sawdust Of wood). Long-term carbon storage and selective logging go hand in hand,” he said, and with the long duration of hardwood logging, “what we’re really looking at here is the overview “.

We continued, the 4×4 relentlessly scribbling my notes on the page on my lap. Healthy hardwoods planted through GreenTrees bordered shrunken bean fields and scorched patches of switchgrass, the latter a way to grow fresh food for the property’s large deer population, celebrated locally for its trophy bucks, with elegant supports for hunting game strategically placed at deliberate points on the grass pavements. A flock of sandhill cranes, grazing in a swampy area, heard us coming and soared powerfully skyward.

“I never intend to sell this place,” Soprano said as we drove towards the garage. “Everything I do is for this property…it’s sustainable and fair. GreenTrees has really been a good relationship; I get a $25,000 check from them tomorrow for carbon removal, and it all goes back to the property. I had nothing to lose by signing up with GreenTrees, no upfront costs, a 40 year commitment and the potential for big checks…it’s a no brainer. They couldn’t pay me a million dollars to clean up this place! »

As I thanked Mr. Soprano for his time and the great tour, he shook my hand warmly and, in his musical brogue, said he hopes one day, aided by his payments for the carbon sequestered by his wood stand, expand this wonder of a de facto wildlife refuge by hundreds of additional acres purchased from its cotton and soybean-growing neighbors, especially in areas that are often flooded, making it ideal acreage for hardwood forests as a replacement for crops in ranks. Turning to leave, waving me goodbye as I started my engine, Chad Soprano called out to me, as if he needed confirmation, “It’s heaven here…it really is!”

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