Butler Hendricks of Lake Butler, is a man who loves trees, but at the same time is a confirmed burner. He practices controlled burning annually and has one of the best tree-growing reputations in the state. In fact, this year his is the best, for he has been selected as Florida’s “Tree Farmer of the Year” by the Florida Forestry Association. “If you get a stand of timber and get it big enough. . .it’s good to burn,” he said. “I let it burn against the wind. I call it `back it up`. I’ve never done any great things, “Hendricks said in reflecting on his 50 years of tree farming, “but I’ve had lots of fun
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Son, David, in 2018 still following in his Dad's footsteps by using the same management methods he learned from his dad.
Probably Butler Hendricks most famous quote is: “If you take care of your trees when you’re young, they’ll take care of you when you’re old.”
Hendricks is 80 years old and living comfortably on his 340-acre tree farm near Lake Butler. He is one of 730 tree farmers in Florida.
In 1973, he was the Florida Forestry Association’s Tree Farmer of the Year, and so far, shows no signs of letting age slow him down.
He has been growing cedar and Christmas trees on his land since 1927, and if you want a tour of his place be prepared for a long and tiring hike. He is energetic and very enthusiastic about his tree crop.
There aren’t many who tree farm full time because of the length of time it takes to get any investment return. But independent growers own about 8 million acres of the state’s forest land from which they supply 70 percent of the trees used by the pulp and paper companies. The annual return is about $8.2 million.
For Hendricks, who celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary last year, tree farming has certainly paid off. Today, his trees are taking care of him.