Friday, November 14, 2014

How best to help Pennsylvania’s woods?

One of our very own Pennsylvania Forest Stewards, Nancy Baker, was interviewed by State Impact NPR recently. They wrote a very interesting story that I wanted to share with my readers. Nancy is a forest landowner in northeastern Pennsylvania in Bradford County. She is active in many forestry based organizations including the PA Forest Stewardship Volunteers and the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

Changing climate changing forests: How best to help Pennsylvania’s woods
November 7, 2014
By Susan Phillips

In a 19th-century farmhouse deep in northern Pennsylvania’s Bradford County, Nancy Baker is looking at family photos dating back four generations.One shows her grandfather with a team of horses on clear cut land. Another shows her mother and aunt on the same farm as a small child. Baker also has a series of aerial photos going back to 1939, which show how the forest cover has evolved in the past 70 years.

Her home was built by her great grandfather, Joseph Morrow Gamble, a Scots-Irish immigrant who cut timber from the virgin forest and shipped it down the Susquehanna River. The story of how Baker’s family used its land to make a living was replayed up and down the East Coast after European settlers arrived. Her great grandfather cut down woods for timber. Then he turned to farming, yanking rocks from the stony soil to mark out cow pastures. His children inherited the land. But in the 20th century, their children left for better jobs in town. Baker’s own parents became teachers.

With the land left to itself, the forests returned. So Baker grew up playing in the woods and learning how to fell a tree ambidextrously with an axe.
“When we inherited this land from my mother I said, ‘OK, it’s our turn to steward the land,’” said Baker. “But how are we going to do this?”

To read the rest of the story click here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Does Going Paperless Really Save Trees?

So what do you think about this statement? Save Paper. Save Trees. Save the World. 
Print Media Centr

If any of you have received an email form me and read my bye line you know exactly how I feel on this subject.  It states:
Notice:  It is OK to print this e-mail.  Paper is a renewable product made from trees.  Growing and harvesting trees provides family-supporting jobs for millions of men and women.  Working forests are good for the environment providing wood products, wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon storage.

So, when I saw this article in the Society of American Foresters e-news I wanted to share it with my readers. I have felt strongly that the wise use of our forest resource is what is going to save them, it is what is going to keep forests working as forests. When forest owners have markets for the products they produce, owners are less likely to sell and/or subdivide. When markets are good, forest land is more likely to stay as forests providing all the benefits they provide including; wood products, wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon sequestration. Without strong local markets there is little incentive for owners to maintain their forest land and often times it ends up getting sold, developed and otherwise converted to non-forest use.

Another fact to keep in mind is that we are still going to be using paper and other forest products, that demand is going to continue.  Would we rather see those products harvested from well managed and often times certified "sustainable" local forests or from foreign 3rd world countries with no regulations or management based on science? It is also important to keep in mind energy inputs.  One that comes to mind is when I see electric hand dryers in restrooms claiming they are eco-friendly by NOT using paper towels to dry your hands.  Are they really?  Where is the energy source coming from to create that electricity?  Hmm...interesting. Does going paperless really save trees? Be sure to read the bulleted points below. In reality, there is a place for both paper and e-media.

Thirty Leading North American Companies Remove "Go Paperless – Save Trees” Claims
by: Phil Riebel 11/03/2014
CHICAGO (November 3, 2014) - Today, Two Sides North America, Inc. announced that over 30 leading North American companies have committed to remove “anti-paper” based claims being used to promote electronic billing and other e-services as more environmentally-friendly. The Two Sides campaign is engaged with top Fortune 500 organizations in the banking, utilities and telecommunications sectors as well as digital service companies.  Alan Anglyn, Sprint’s Director of IT Care & Billing Services Business Management notes, “One of the benefits of our relationship with Two Sides has been the opportunity to reflect on how we communicate our efforts.  This caused us to review Sprint’s messaging about electronic media across multiple touch points.”

“Many in the graphic communications industry, from family forest owners to paper mills, printers, mailers and related businesses, are tired of seeing misleading environmental claims about print and paper.  Our campaign has been focused on educating corporate marketers on the unique social and environmental benefits of print and paper, and to ensure that claims used to promote e-services are based on credible science and facts,” states Two Sides North America President Phil Riebel.
Two Sides’ main reasons for challenging “Go Paperless – Save Trees” claims are:
  • They do not meet guidelines for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Competition Bureau of Canada.
  • They are damaging to the North American economy and threaten jobs.   In the U.S. alone, a total of 8.4 million jobs that generate $1.3 trillion in sales revenue depend on the U.S. mailing industry, which includes paper production, printing production, related suppliers, graphic design and the handling and distribution of mail (Envelope Manufacturers Association, 2013).
  • The income landowners receive for trees grown on their land is an important incentive to maintain, sustainably manage and renew this valuable resource. If the market for their wood products is lost, there is little incentive for owners to maintain their forest land (which is then sold to developers and converted to non-forest use).  
  • Print on paper originates from a renewable resource – trees grown in responsibly managed North American forests, is recyclable, and is the most recycled commodity with recovery rates of 63% or higher (American Forest & Paper Association, 2014). 
  • In North America, we grow more trees than we harvest.  Over the last six decades, total net U.S. forest area has increased by over 3% and the net volume of trees on timberland has increased by 58% (U.S. Forest Service, 2012).  In Canada, the forest cover has remained stable over the last two decades and harvest has been 44% of annual growth (Conference Board of Canada, 2014).
  • The environmental and social impacts of switching from paper to e-media are not properly or adequately considered - and they are far from negligible.  The trade‐off between the two platforms depends on conditions such as use frequency, source of energy, and end‐of‐life management of the products (P. Arnfalk, 2010).
  • Consumer surveys found that 50% or more of U.S. respondents don’t believe, feel misled or question “Go Paperless – Save Trees” claims, and that over 80% agreed that e-billing and e-statements are being promoted to save costs (Toluna and Two Sides, 2013).
 To read the rest of the story click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 Tax Tips for Forest Landowners Released

Linda Wang, National Timber Tax Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service has released her 2014 Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2014 Tax Year.  This is a very helpful quick sheet that is produced annually.  Clear examples are provided for such things as timber property, basis, sales, and management expenses as well as reforestation expenses, cost-share payments, and timber casualty and theft losses.  For all your timber taxation questions go to the National Timber Tax Website located at

Tax laws on timber transactions are very specialized knowledge that are not commonly known. Yet they are important to timber owners in terms of the ongoing cost of owning and managing timber, forest stewardship and compliance to the tax law. This bulletin reviews the major federal income tax laws to help forest owners in filing their 2014 income tax returns. The information presented here is current as of September 30, 2014.

For the full tip sheet click here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Climate Change Educational Materials Released

Need to engage teachers in learning about the carbon cycle? Trying to explain the evidence for climate change? Want to help forest landowners think about growing resilient forests, sequestering carbon, or understanding why using wood products removes carbon from the atmosphere? 

You can find engaging activities and teaching resources for these topics and more in a new educational module produced by the University of Florida environmental education team with Project Learning Tree (PLT). The module, Southeastern Forests and Climate Change was produced for PINEMAP, the USDA/NIFA-funded integrated research-education-Extension project focusing on loblolly pine and climate change. This secondary module is designed for educators to use in middle and high school classrooms and is framed on the research activities associated with PINEMAP, but explains these concepts in the broader context of southern forests. Adaptations to select activities are being developed by Extension educators in Kentucky to feature Appalachian hardwoods, and this information will be available to others as well.

The website makes these activities and supplemental resources (videos, slide presentations, answer keys, etc.) available to interested educators: Feel free to share this resource with your networks.

The collection of 14 activities helps biology, agriculture, and environmental science teachers focus on the interactions between climate and forests and the ways we can manage forests to adapt to and mitigate future change. It has also been used with 4-H youth and forest landowners in workshops and presentations. It is a great regional complement to PLT’s other secondary modules including Focus on Forests and Forests of the World. This module retains the tried and true features of PLT’s materials:  engaging activities, teacher background, step-by-step instructions, interdisciplinary focus on a controversial issue, science-based perspectives, critical thinking skills, data analysis, modifications and enrichment suggestions for adaptations, and correlations to national science standards. The module also offers some new additions to PLT materials:  a systems thinking connection in each activity and supplemental activities on the website, a research connection and videos with researchers explaining their work, and quotes from the pilot test teachers that provide encouraging words of wisdom on each activity.

This material can be defined in terms of several current buzzwords--STEM education or Education for Sustainability, for example. It engages learners in understanding science, using math skills, applying technology, integrating economics and justice, building skills in systems and critical thinking, enhancing group process and communication, and considering how we can approach the challenges of the future together. It is just good environmental education!

Between now and December 2015 copies of books will be available at no charge through the PINEMAP grant and mini-grants available to southeastern PLT Coordinators who wish to distribute this module in workshops. Extension faculty can use the resource and/or assist their state PLT coordinator with workshops. PINEMAP researchers are also available to assist.