Thursday, April 8, 2021

Control Invasive Shrubs in Spring

Shrub honeysuckle leafing out early
Basal bark herbicide applications are targeted treatments you can make year-round yet are particularly effective and simple to apply in spring. Most common invasive shrub species are easily controlled with these applications. They include Japanese barberry, shrub honeysuckles, autumn olive, multiflora rose, privet, and many others. These species are common invaders of woodlands and natural areas across the mid-Atlantic region.

Most invasive shrubs tend to leaf out early in the spring, well before our native tree and shrub species do and before most perennial plants have emerged from the ground. By leafing our early, they can be easily spotted by scanning across the woodland understory or an early successional meadow. This characteristic makes them easy to find and identify as invasive thus allowing you to identify where these invaders are located.

Basal bark herbicide applications permit you to be very specific and targeted in your control efforts. This application allows you to place the herbicide directly onto the stems of the invasive shrubs when native trees and shrubs are still dormant. In addition, because most perennial plants have not emerged yet, applications to lower stems can be made very easily and efficiently. Making applications this time of year greatly minimizes the possibility of damaging desirable native plant species.

Basal bark herbicide applications are made using a low-pressure backpack sprayer to wet the lower 12–15 inches of the stem using a solid cone or flat fan nozzle. To be effective, it is important to wet the entire stem, root collar area, and any exposed roots. Basal bark herbicides use an oil carrier (commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, no. 1 or no. 2 fuel oil, or kerosene) to penetrate the bark. Commercially available basal oils come in either mineral or vegetable-based formulations.

To make basal bark herbicide applications there are a few pieces of equipment you will need, including a backpack sprayer; my preference is a Birchmeier backpack. Birchmeier’s are a commercial grade backpack with viton seals that will hold up to oil-based formulations. The wand that comes with the sprayer will work but I would suggest changing the nozzle to a Y1 or Y-2 brass adjustable cone. If making basal bark applications to large acreage you may also want to consider investing in the B & G Extenda-Ban low-volume basal wand. This wand in a commercial grade wand with a shut off valve built into the tip. This prevents over-applying and dripping product from target to target. It will save you money in the long run.

Numerous products are labeled for basal bark applications. The ester formulation of triclopyr is the active ingredient of choice for woodland applications. It is found in a number of different products and in ready to use formulations. The herbicide is mixed with basal oil at a 20% rate for low-volume applications. This means each gallon solution will contain a mixture of 20% herbicide and 80% basal oil. Note, this is the low-volume application rate where you are applying a concentrated solution to the stem but NOT to the point where run-off at the groundline is noticeable.

Japanese barberry controlled with basal bark herbicide

Triclopyr ester formulations are general use herbicides, meaning in Pennsylvania they can be purchased and applied by the landowner to their own property. They contain 61.6% triclopyr-ester active ingredient unless using a ready-to-use formulation, which are only 13.6% active ingredient. Triclopyr ester is a systemic herbicide absorbed by the plant through the bark and translocated throughout the plants vascular system.

Triclopyr works by disturbing plant growth. It accumulates in plant meristems, cells where growth takes place, causing uneven cell division and growth. Triclopyr binds to soil organic matter and clay particles, which limits its movement in the soil and prevents root uptake by desirable plants. It biodegrades quickly with half the active ingredient degraded by soil microorganisms and sunlight within 30–45 days. The herbicide is classified as only slightly toxic with a CAUTION signal word on the product label.

Basal bark herbicide treatments allow for targeted invasive shrub control in spring with little danger of off-site and nontarget species damage. They are well suited for treating small-diameter stems. Basal bark herbicide applications provide year-round application flexibility but are particularly effect at controlling invasive shrubs in spring when they are just starting to leaf out. Triclopyr ester herbicides control a wide range of species including the most problematic invasive shrubs. It is a general use herbicide, meaning landowners can purchase and apply it to their own properties without certification in Pennsylvania. Be sure to read and follow the herbicide label, it is a legal document.

To read the full article and view a short video visit the Penn State Extension web site.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

American Chestnut Videos

Below you will find links to three videos on the American chestnut. The videos provide valuable updates about the restoration of the species following it's demise from the blight.  

These first two videos, from the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, are on restoration of the American chestnut in the southern Appalachians. The videos feature information on the Southern Research Station’s chestnut research, the National Forest System’s silvicultural program, The University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program, and The American Chestnut Foundation’s backcross breeding program.

Video: Restoration Research ofthe American Chestnut (Part 1 Intro)

The American chestnut was once a common and abundant tree species that occupied 200 million acres in the eastern hardwood forests of North America. The species had a cultural significance and was a keystone species, providing wildlife with food and habitat sources. Two non-native pathogens led to the chestnut's extirpation in the 20th century, but efforts are underway to conserve and restore this iconic tree.

Video: Restoration Research ofthe American Chestnut (Part 2: Science in Action)

The USDA Forest Service, The University of Tennessee, and other partners showcase their research on the American chestnut (Castanea dentata), a species that was extirpated by a non-native pathogen (Cryphonectria parasitica) that causes chestnut blight disease. Over 4,000 hybrid chestnuts that were bred for blight-resistance were planted on three national forests since 2009, and research is still ongoing.

This next video is by Dr. William A. Powell.  Dr. Powell is the Director of the American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. His team has focused on enhancing blight tolerance by adding only a couple genes to the approximately 38,000 gene pairs in the chestnut genome using the tools of genetic engineering (GE). This is important because these GE tools retain all of the American chestnut genes required for its adaptation to its forest ecosystem.

The most promising gene tested to date comes from bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) and encodes an oxalate detoxifying enzyme, called oxalate oxidase (OxO). This gene is a common defense gene found in many plants and it can confer enhanced blight tolerance in American chestnut. The original blight tolerant trees have been outcrossed to susceptible American chestnut trees through three generations to date, increasing genetic diversity and local adaptation. Environmental impact experiments have been completed and these trees are currently under federal review before being released to the public and to restoration programs. This video describes the program and its current progress toward restoring this keystone species.

Video: The Chestnut Tree: Bringing Back an American Icon

Billions of American Chestnut trees used to grow in America—and then a fungal blight spread throughout its native range. By the 21st century, this population had all but disappeared. Using revolutionary technology, the American Chestnut Research & Restoration Project aims to resuscitate the Castanea dentata. In this Stories of Impact video, William A. Powell (SUNY ESF) and Rex Mann (The American Chestnut Foundation) discuss the American chestnut and their goal of restoring the iconic tree to its former glory. Supported by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, this first-of-its-kind project is engineering a blight-resistant chestnut and reintroducing it to its native habitat.

Monday, March 22, 2021

How to Talk About Hunting Webinar Series

How to Talk About Hunting Webinar Series to Provide Research-Based Communications Instruction 

Responsive Management, in partnership with the Hunters’ Leadership Forum of the NRA and the support of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, will conduct a free webinar series covering material from the new book, How to Talk About Hunting: Research-Based Communications Strategies.

Humans have hunted for almost 2 million years, and more than 11 million Americans continue to hunt today. In addition to providing numerous cultural and ecological benefits, hunters contribute the bulk of state-based funding for wildlife conservation in the United States. Additionally, every fish and wildlife agency across the United States is legislatively mandated to manage and provide opportunities for hunting. Despite these facts, legal, regulated hunting remains vulnerable to the volatile nature of public opinion. The future of hunting and an integral portion of conservation funding in America depend on cultural support. This means that wildlife professionals must use language that resonates with non-hunters and those unfamiliar with hunting.

The How to Talk About Hunting webinar series includes four separate sessions devoted to individual areas of focus from the book. Webinar presenters include Mark Damian Duda, founder and executive director of Responsive Management and senior author of How to Talk About Hunting: Research-Based Communications Strategies; Sam Nelson, founding partner of A-Game Speech and Debate Consulting and a senior lecturer at Cornell University; and Armands Revelins, researcher and consultant with A-Game Speech and Debate Consulting and Assistant Director of Speech & Debate Programs and Director of Policy Debate at Cornell University.

The webinar series includes the following sessions:

Webinar 1: Why Communicating About Hunting Is Important (Thursday, April 15, 2021, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT). The first webinar will explain why communicating about hunting is important and focus on the implications of effective communications about hunting (agency mandates, conservation funding, etc.). This webinar will also provide an overview of the fundamentals of effective communications. The webinar will be presented by Mark Damian Duda and Sam Nelson.

Webinar 2: Attitudes Toward Hunting, Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, and Dominionism (Friday, April 16, 2021, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT). The second webinar will focus on content and major takeaways from Chapters 4 (“Attitudes Toward Hunting”) and 5 (“Attitudes Toward Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, and Dominionism”). This webinar will provide participants with a thorough overview of the latest research that underpins the communications guidelines. The webinar will be presented by Mark Damian Duda.

Webinar 3: Communications Strategies (Thursday, April 22, 2021, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT). The third webinar will provide extensive instruction on formal and informal communications strategies, including persuasive tactics and effective messaging. Content in this webinar will draw on Chapters 9 (“Debating About Hunting”) and 10 (“Developing Formal Communications Programs in Support of Hunting”) of the book. The webinar will be presented by Sam Nelson and Armands Revelins of A-Game Speech & Debate.

Webinar 4: Talking About Hunting: Don’ts and Dos (Friday, April 23, 2021, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT). The final webinar will present the most important “don’ts” and “dos” for communicating about hunting, drawing primarily on the final chapter of the book. This webinar will focus on the core guidelines and best practices for effective communications about hunting. The webinar will be presented by Mark Damian Duda and Sam Nelson.

Click HERE to register for the webinars.

By taking a proactive approach to communications, hunters, conservationists, and members of the wildlife profession will become more effective proponents of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. In doing so, they will help to build the public support for hunting that remains essential in today’s society.

For questions or additional information about the webinar series, please contact us at

Webinar participants will receive a free copy of How to Talk About Hunting thanks to the generous support of Hunters’ Leadership Forum donors. If you do not already have a copy, please email Peter Churchbourne at

Thursday, March 18, 2021

USDA Seeks Input on Climate Smart Ag and Forestry

The USDA is currently seeking public comment on President Biden’s Executive Order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” As you all know, Pennsylvania is a forest and forest products industry leader, so we should ensure that our voices are reflected in the comments.

“USDA wants to understand how to best use their programs, funding and financing capacities, and other authorities, and how to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change and result in additional, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions and sequestration and that source sustainable bioproducts and fuels. This public input will be considered as USDA prepares recommendations to expand climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices and systems. The feedback requested through this Executive Order is far-reaching; it encompasses the best use of USDA programs, funding and financing capabilities, authorities, and encouragement of voluntary conservation adoption.”

There are four main categories on input, each with specific questions that the USDA wants public comment on:

1.            Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry

2.            Biofuels, Wood and Other Bioproducts, and Renewable Energy

3.            Addressing Catastrophic Wildfire

4.            Environmental Justice and Disadvantaged Communities

The public comment period is open through April 30. Comments can be submitted online via under Docket No. USDA-2021-0003. Additional information is available on the USDA website. Please feel free to share this email with stakeholder, members, and others who would like to provide comment.