This summer, members of the NCX team visited with Gary Gilmore, landowner and forester enrolled in the NCX program. It was a great opportunity to learn more about Gary’s history, land, and motivations to participate in the Natural Capital Exchange.
Gary Gilmore owns a 133-acre property in Pennsylvania, roughly two hours northeast of Pittsburgh, beside the hillside where he grew up in the heart of coal country. In the late 1940s, the local mining industry transitioned from deep mining to surface mining. The area surrounding Gary’s family’s home was completely cleared, and draglines began popping up across the landscape.
His parents eventually sold the property, but when the land next door came up for sale years later, Gary purchased it. Despite having worked as a blacksmith until his late 30s, Gary’s love for the forest inspired him to return to school to get a degree in forestry. This passion turned profession has shaped Gary’s management of his own property.
Gary’s woods are quiet and offer a reprieve from the direct Pennsylvania sunshine. There is a peace that radiates from Gary’s property, called “Pine Swamp”, as well as his ease within it. Each turn along the lightly worn path has a story, each branch a historical anecdote.
Since owning his land, Gary has managed it with the quality of the forest as his primary goal and motivation. He completed salvage projects on areas impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer, a devastating beetle, along with conducting Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) on tracks with red oak and sugar maple. With great management comes even greater value.
Gary harvests maple syrup and firewood and creates biochar for the utilization of mulch from the forest. He built his home with the lumber from his land, which he described as a busy place where you can find his young grandchildren’s toys scattered around.
Fellow landowners joined NCX on the tour of Gary’s property and shared their own childhood experiences about the land they now manage. The land is a fabric of generational opportunity and connection within the community. It strengthens the bond between members, creating pathways and intersections across one another’s lives.
As a career forester, Gary has always explored ways landowners can better manage their land. He believes that the ecosystem services of forests go way beyond timber; however, there hasn’t been a means to measure and pay for those values. He knew some programs would pay forest owners to sequester carbon, but they were for the “big players” and prohibited small landowners from participating.
Then he discovered Silviaterra, now NCX, and was attracted to the one-year contract terms, no requirement for a land management plan, and the remote sensing technology. In his experience, very few landowners in Pennsylvania have formal land management plans, so NCX is a forest carbon program he can recommend to friends and clients, and they can still enroll.
Gary shared, “Land has an expense — you need to pay property taxes to ensure it remains yours. So, how can forest landowners get an income from their land to cover these costs? Typically it’s through the sale of timber. Now NCX offers an alternative for helping folks generate some revenue from their trees to help offset the costs of owning it.”
Gary recognizes that carbon buyers help make this program possible. He noted, “I would like to say ‘thank you’ to carbon buyers for providing an alternative source of income so I don’t need to liquidate my trees to pay for the upkeep of my property. There is always pressure to cut down your trees, and now, through NCX and its buyers, the pressure is reduced by providing some income to let my trees continue to grow.”
It was a special opportunity to tour Gary’s land and to learn how he was able to let his trees grow. The NCX program is built to fuel climate benefit across the landscape and when you get to meet a person contributing to this effort, the impact feels that much more palpable. NCX is thrilled to connect American landowners with corporate leaders to create a net-zero future.