MILAN, Tenn. - Around the year 1940, the federal government seized an approximately 25,000-acre tract of land in order to build what is now known as Milan Army Ammunition Plant. This land housed families, farms, schools, churches, wildlife, livestock and vegetation.

Through the governmental purchase of property from private families and institutions, the control of all assets and resources associated with the territory transferred to the federal government.

Fortunately, the Army, realizing the natural value of the land, has since established partnerships with state and local authorities to share the bounty of the land. In fact, MLAAP maintains an active natural resources program, regulating and monitoring the installation's vegetation and wildlife.

According to Steve Stephenson, forester for MLAAP, "Milan Army Ammunition Plant has had a professional forester on the natural resources staff continuously since March of 1973."

The Army recognizes the need for partnership between installations and state government. As a result, the federal government offers a program through which both the Army and the State of Tennessee benefit from the natural resources located on the plant.

Periodically, MLAAP conducts a timber sale, including various types of wood: firewood, red cedar, locust posts, paulownia, black walnut, hardwood sawtimber and pulpwood, and pine sawtimber and pulpwood.

"The pulpwood is typically used for paper and cardboard production," Stephenson explains. "The sawtimber products are used for dimension lumber, ties, rough construction lumber, flooring and some veneers."

The forester carefully chooses individual trees, thinning the forest rather than clear-cutting it. New trees grow in the space provided by the thinning. When the new trees reach a certain size, at about 20 years old, the forester allows the previously unselected trees to be cut. This cycle provides a more efficient cash flow.

"Planting [new trees] is very expensive," Stephenson explains. "We avoid that cost by letting new trees grow naturally where older trees have been cut."

To avoid a 20-year gap between sales, the forester keeps this system moving by logging in different areas of the plant. While one thinned-out area is replenishing, the forester cuts another area.

Through a federally-regulated program, MLAAP sends 40 percent of the proceeds from these timber sales to the State of Tennessee. The plant's income from these sales ranges from $6 per pickup load of firewood to $1,100 per thousand board feet of specialty woods.

"MLAAP's [entitlement] payment usually ranges between $2,495 and $12,000 annually," Stephenson states.

This revenue-sharing program, providing entitlement payments to the state government for more than 20 years, has capitalized on MLAAP's timber sales, which have occurred nearly annually since 1949.

"The largest sale was held in 1972 and contained approximately two million board feet of hardwood sawtimber," reflects Stephenson.

According to federal regulation, "State treasurers are use these funds to the benefit of public schools and roads."

Figures for fiscal year 2010 indicate that MLAAP contributed $2,429.42 from installation timber sales to the State of Tennessee. This money benefits the public by supplementing tax dollars, easing the burden on individuals and enhancing state programs.