Monday, August 22, 2016

Pennsylvania Team Competes at National 4-H Forestry Invitational

Pennsylvania was one of 17 state teams that competed in the 37th annual National 4-H Forestry Invitational from Sunday, July 31, through Thursday, August 4. Teams from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida placed first, second, and third respectively. Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin were also represented at this year’s Invitational.

The invitational was held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp and Conference Center near Weston, West Virginia. The event is sponsored by Farm Credit System, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., USDA Forest Service State and Private Southern Region, West Virginia University Extension Service, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest Foundation, Southern Regional Extension Forestry, Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals, and National Woodland Owners Association.

While at the Invitational 4-H members competed for overall team and individual awards in several categories.  Events included tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, insect and disease identification, topographic map use, forest evaluation, the forestry bowl and a written forestry exam.

Pennsylvania was represented by Hilary Fernandes from Millerton, Ella Miller from Galeton, Eve Olofson from Galeton, and Riley Roslund from Butler. The team was coached by Deborah Beisel from Clymer.
Left to Right: Kathleen England, Stephanie Miller, Eve Olofson, Hilary Fernandes, Riley Roslund, Ella Miller, Deborah Beisel (Coach), and Kari Roslund
Kyle Weiner from Tennessee received the high point individual award. Second place high individual award was given to Cade Wilkerson from Arkansas and third place high individual award was given to Henry Keating from Florida.

The Joe Yeager “Spirit of the Invitational” award was given to Holden Doane from Indiana.  This award recognizes an outstanding 4-H contestant at the Invitational. It is presented to the individual who takes initiative, is enthusiastic, and is eager to lead academic and social situations.

4-H is a youth education program operated by the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the state
land grant universities. More than six million youth, 540,000 volunteers, and 3,500 professionals participate in 4-H nationwide, and nearly 100,000 are part of the 4-H Forestry Program.

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Turn: Sustainable truth about biomass

Came across this article, an opinion piece, referencing biomass harvesting in New Hampshire's forests. Very well written and to the point. I wanted to share it with my readers.

For the Monitor
Monday, August 08, 2016

Recently, National Public Radio broadcast a segment on its popular Morning Edition program that was critical of using biomass – wood and pulp chips and other scrap wood – to generate electricity. Biomass power plants have been described as “carbon neutral” in an amendment to the energy bill now being debated in Congress, meaning the carbon emitted by these facilities is offset by regenerating forests. NPR quoted one academic who claimed biomass is not carbon neutral, calling burning wood for energy “unsustainable.”

This statement is not seeing the forests for the trees. Here in New Hampshire, we have a long history of sustainable forestry. Our forests continue to produce abundant hardwood and softwood lumber, wood chips and firewood, and they support a large and thriving forestry industry.

According to the most recent forest inventory statistics, the Granite State’s forests are getting older and increasing in volume. Indeed, the state is approximately 84 percent forested, including both public and private land ownership. We are, in fact, the second-most forested state in the nation, and as a state, we continue to grow more wood than we harvest.

Moreover, even as we are using biomass to produce energy, research from the U.S. Forest Service shows the amount of carbon stored in the above-ground portion of trees has increased in New Hampshire by over 4 percent between 2006 and 2012. Clearly, the use of biomass in our state is more than just carbon neutral; our forests are providing a positive benefit.

Biomass power plants are an important part of that sustainability. For one thing, they provide an important market for wood chips. In fact, with the recent closures of several paper mills in New England, biomass plants are often the only low-grade market available to many, if not most, of our tree farmers – professional foresters, loggers and landowners performing sustainable forestry.

These are not lumber-quality trees that are being used to produce energy but rather low-quality products, such as diseased or malformed trees, the upper branches and the wood scraps that result when sawmills produce lumber.

Strong markets help keep land in forests versus converting the land to nonforest uses, as it provides a source of income to the landowner. Keeping forests as forests is one of the most important things we can do, not only for carbon storage, but for a host of other good reasons, too.

Moreover, biomass plants here help support more than 1,000 New Hampshire residents, and according to a recent study, they generate more than $170 million annually in economic activity for our state’s economy. Most of those dollars stay local, too.

Let us also remember that New Hampshire has good forestry and best logging practices, which help sustain a healthy forest. Biomass power generation is a great New Hampshire success story. It’s one of the best ways we can become energy-independent using a renewable resource that’s right here in our backyard.

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where trees grow prolifically and are very quick to reclaim any opening. While forest sustainability for energy may be an issue in some parts of the world, it is absolutely a viable, renewable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels here in the Granite State, and should continue to be an important component of our renewable energy plan.

Thus, we should celebrate and support our biomass energy plants, which not only give us electricity but, in turn, support forestry and best forest management practices for the forests we love.

(Brad Simpkins is the director of the Divisionof Forests and Lands at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and EconomicDevelopment.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

DCNR, DEP Offering Grants to Plant Trees Along Streams to Improve Water Quality

Harrisburg, PA – The departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection today are announcing that grants are being made available to assist landowners with planting trees along streams in Pennsylvania to improve water quality.

Pennsylvania has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of streamside buffers by 2025.

“One of the best practices to improve the quality of our waterways is to plant trees along them to prevent sediments and nutrients from the land from entering them, and to provide shade to help keep water temperatures cooler for trout and other stream life,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said at an event at the Bridger Farm in Crawford County today. “To assist landowners with plantings, DCNR is dedicating $500,000 to a pilot grant program this year and will give some priority to buffer plantings in our future grant rounds.”

The DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program grant round led by the DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation will open on Aug. 1 and close Sept. 15 for this year.  These new grants are in addition to DEP’s Growing Greener grants, which also include funding for forest buffer plantings.

To expand on the existing streamside buffer options for landowners, DCNR is piloting a multi-functional buffer option that is eligible for grant dollars to provide greater flexibility in landowner eligibility, buffer designs, widths, plant species and offer the option of planting some income-producing crops in the buffer zone. 

“Thousands of acres of buffers have been planted in Pennsylvania over the past 15 years,” Dunn said. “This new option is intended to expand the landowners who are eligible for grant assistance, and also offer farmers the option to continue to produce some income from the stream buffer zone by incorporating some crop plantings of specific trees and plant species.”

“Like all good solutions, streamside buffers offer multiple benefits and solve multiple problems at once,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell at a meeting of the State Conservation Commission in State College today. “Streamside buffers improve local water quality and habitat, and improve the quality of the water downstream. This program will pay benefits far beyond just where the trees are planted.”

With assistance from the Crawford County Conservation District, the DCNR Bureau of Forestry, and local high school students, John and Amy Bridger planted about 2.5 acres of forest buffers along a tributary to French Creek next to the barnyard of their farm in Cambridge Springs.

“Planting stream buffers allowed us to reduce erosion and create a clear pathway for drainage along our hayfields and pastures, which is critical for overall health of the farm ecosystem,” Amy Bridger said. “We also were thrilled that local students were involved in the planting which raises awareness of the role of farming in food supply and conservation efforts as well as the wonderful life that farming can offer.”

Dunn noted that DCNR Bureau of Forestry service foresters located in each of the 20 forest districts statewide can assist landowners with information about planting forest buffers.

Forest buffers along stream banks provide critical barriers between polluting landscapes and receiving waterways. Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings filter the runoff of sediments and the fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops; control erosion; improve water quality; reduce flooding; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Novak, DCNR, 717-772-910

July 27, 2016