Monday, April 21, 2014

Foresters Guide the Conservation of Private Forests

Announcing the Expand Your Base Forester Workshop:
Guiding the Conservation of Private Forests

Penn State Extension-Centre County and the Penn State School of Forest Resources are pleased to be offering the 2nd annual Expand Your Base Forester Workshop: Guiding the Conservation of Private Forests. The workshop specifically targets foresters and other natural resource management professionals who work with landowners. It will be held on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 from 8:45 AM - 3:30 PM at Celebration Hall, State College, Pennsylvania.

This workshop will provide an overview of the issues surrounding forestland conservation and describe some innovative land protection tools, options, and approaches that will assist foresters and other natural resource management professionals in beginning the discussion with landowners on how to keep their forests working. Additional topics to be covered include: legal strategies, conservation easements, and taxation of land transfers.

Many resources are available that foresters can share with landowners, clients, and woodland owner groups. Many of these resources and tools will be shared during the workshop to assist foresters in beginning the conversation. Learn how to work with landowners to prevent the loss of forestland to development, subdivision, and conversion to other uses. The fate of Pennsylvania’s forestland is in your hands and the hands of your woodland owner clients.

To register go to: or call Penn State Extension-Centre County at 814-355-4897. Participants must be pre-registered by Wednesday, April 30, 2014. A $45.00 fee is being charged per person to cover program costs, including lunch. For questions please contact Dave Jackson in the Centre County Extension office at 814-355-4897 or e-mail

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  If you anticipate needing any type of special accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension-Centre County at 814-355-4897 in advance of your participation or visit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do Cold Winters Impact Hemlock Wooly Adelgid Populations?

Sarah Johnson from The Nature Conservancy's High Allegheny Hemlock Project shared some encouraging news about overwinter mortality of hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA).  This information was initially provided by Rick Turcotte, Entomologist, US Forest Service, and Tim Frontz, DCNR Forest Pest Management.

Rick shared his analysis of 2 samples of HWA:
~93% mortality of HWA in Clarion River sample
~95% mortality of HWA in Allegheny river sample

Tim Frontz shared the below data about samples from Cook Forest State Park and one Elk County infestation from DCNR lands.  HWA mortality assessments were made on foliage collected on Jan. 15 and Feb. 9, 2014 at Cook Forest State Park, PA.  You can see, the mortality rates were 97% or higher with most at 100%.  That is good news for the hemlocks of the high Allegheny Plateau.

HWA density County Live HWA Dead HWA % Mortality
HIGH Elk/ Cameron 9 306 97
LOW Forest (CF State Park) 0 47 100
LOW Forest (CF State Park) 0 94 100
LOW Forest (CF State Park) 0 60 100
LOW Forest (CF State Park) 1 106 >99

Because of the high fecundity of HWA, an overwinter mortality rate of 91% is necessary to keep the population from increasing.  So mortality rates at 91% mean the infestation will not get any larger, above 91% means a temporary decrease in the infestation size.  The entomologists have also shared a caveat – with such high reproductive rates of HWA, this winter kill would need to be repeated maybe several years in a row, or happen more often (rather than just once every 10 years) to have significant overall impact in the grand scheme of things.

PA DCNR also provided an overview in a recent news release shared below.

DCNR gauging past frigid winter’s effect on forest insect pests
The past winter of seemingly unending snowstorms and frigid temperatures has proved to be a strong ally for state woodland managers battling the No. 1 enemy of Pennsylvania hemlocks, but the reprieve could be short-lived, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials said recently.  To read the full story click here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More on Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer larvae

I had a phone call this morning from someone who thought they may have emerald ash borer (EAB) infesting a number of ash trees on their property.  They owned a 45 acre woodlot as well as a few ash trees around their house in the yard.  They noticed the bark being knocked off by woodpeckers trying to get at the larva.  I thought it would be beneficial to share a quick update with my readers as well as the below article which makes for an interesting read.

Woodpecker damage as they search for larvae under the bark 

1.  Discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002
2.  Probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material
3.  Larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients
4.  In 2013 new infestations were found in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado
5.  Has killed tens of millions of ash trees across 22 states and two Canadian provinces
6.  Now found from Colorado to Quebec and south to Georgia.

What about the cold weather this winter?  Did that have an effect on EAB populations?
The prolonged sub-zero temperatures experienced this winter in North America have raised hopes that pests like EAB will freeze to death.  Though studies suggest that this may happen to some of the EAB larvae, it looks like it may not be enough to make a big impact on the EAB population.  Click here to read what some of the experts are saying. 

For more on EAB click here to go to a series of fact sheets from Penn State Extension.
Feeding galleries made by the emerald ash borer larvae

by Dan Stiles, originally published in the Morgan Messenger
Come to find out, lots of people were aware that emerald ash borers were here in Morgan County.  It was, however, a great surprise to me.  As I look closely at my ash trees I can find some sort of emerald ash borer damage on just about all of them.

I’m reminded of an old friend that remarked about people looking, but not seeing.  I should have seen the EAB damage months ago.  EAB is now considered the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America.  Billions of lost dollars are involved.  EAB is an invasive, exotic insect that is native to Russia, China, Japan and Korea, and was first discovered in our country eleven years ago. 

As of this week, emerald ash borers have been detected in 29 West Virginia Counties, according to the WV Department of Agriculture.  This year it was detected in Colorado, so now ash borers have spread to 22 States.  To read the rest of the article click here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Are Deer Changing the Look of US Forests?

Interesting reading......I was sent the below news release by a botanist from the US Forest Service out of the Durham, NH, Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry office.  This news release is the result of two recently published studies, one from Cornell University researchers entitled "Deer Browsing Delays Succession by Altering Aboveground Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks" and another from University of Pittsburgh researchers entitled "In a long-term experimental demography study, excluding ungulates reversed invader's explosive population growth rate and restored natives." I wanted to share this information with my readers.  Much of what these scientists are documenting, with rigorous scientific research, reinforces what I have been seeing in the field.  Is deer impact reduction the only way to address invasive plants at a landscape scale, while also allowing forests to once again grow new trees?  Good question, read on....

Overgrazing by deer is changing the face of U.S. forests
by: EarthSky March 18, 2014

Scientists in the U.S. Northeast published two studies examining the impact of deer overpopulation on natural ecosystems in early March 2014. Biologists at Cornell University investigated disruptions by large numbers of deer to natural growth in developing forests. University of Pittsburgh researchers showed how large deer populations are causing an increase in garlic mustard, an exotic invasive plant, in forest understory fauna. In both instances, the root problem is overgrazing of native plants by deer that open up more growing space for invasive exotic plants that deer find unpalatable.

These studies were conducted in Ithaca, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But the problem of deer proliferation is widespread across the U.S. and Canada. Their numbers have increased dramatically for several reasons. Since the arrival of European settlers more than 300 years ago, the deers’ natural predators, wolves, have been exterminated. And, as human populations have increased, deer forest habitat has shrunk drastically, mostly giving way to suburban lawns, gardens and farms that can also provide a deer’s food sources. Compared to historical population estimates prior to European settlement, deer populations today have increased, depending on location, by four to 10 times.  Click here to read the rest of the news release.