Congratulations James, you and your partner must be so excited! I inherited some woods when I bought my property too. When I first moved in, I was kind of gung-ho to start clearing things out. But luckily I didn't, and now I am so glad! I encourage you to invite someone out to walk your property with you- perhaps your friendly local NRCS (natural resources conservation service) representative, or an arborist, or a master naturalist, or just a friend who can identify trees really well. Make notes about all the trees and plants that you currently have. Google each one of them thoroughly, making sure to check out their PFAF profiles (pfaf.org) and their USDA plant profiles (https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PRAM
). You might be surprised and delighted, as I was, about the fantastic useful trees and plants that you already have. In addition, the species already present on your land can tell you a lot about your soil and your microclimates, which will be really useful to you when choosing which new species to add to the forest. My woods came pre-loaded with wonderful beech nuts, hickory nuts, walnuts, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, and many other species. If you're itching to begin cleaning it out, start with the invasives that are likely present and hogging a large amount of space. Learn how to identify bush honeysuckle, and clear cut all those bad boys. If you have Autumn Olive and White Mulberry, those are both problematic invasive plants too, but they do provide food, so I would probably wait to remove those until I was ready to replace them with something better. You'll probably want to start ridding your place of irritating plants like poison ivy and virginia creeper. If you don't know what kind of briers you have, make sure to get an ID before removing them. They might be great edible plants like raspberry, blackberry, greenbrier, etc. Walk your woods regularly to see what kind of mushrooms grow there and where they grow, and learn how to identify the useful ones. That'll keep you plenty busy the first year or two, especially if you have day jobs. If you're itching to start growing something right away, perhaps consider inoculating some mushroom logs! By the time you're done with those tasks, you'll be so much wiser and you'll have a clear understanding of your land and you'll be able to make a much better plan than anyone could help you make right now.
After you identify the parts of your woods that you plant to keep permanently shady, you could look into planting things like ginseng, ramps, and ostrich ferns for a start. And maybe growing a lot of mushroom logs, after you've practiced growing a small number of them. They're a little harder than you might expect them to be, because you have to remember to water them regularly for a really long time before they fruit. But if you learn to do it well, it can be a great crop.