Tuesday, July 29, 2008

PA DCNR Releases Guidelines for Harvesting Biomass

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has released guidelines for harvesting forest biomass as an alternative energy source.

The guidelines were prepared with comments from various stakeholder groups after DCNR's two-year study of forest biomass energy and related issues.

Among the conclusions in the report:
- Current estimates of available low-grade wood that is most likely to be sought for energy use are overly optimistic.
- Use of forest biomass for energy must first consider the many ecological, social, and practical concerns associated with its harvest.
- Harvesting forest biomass for energy production will compete with the commonwealth's forest products industry.
- The costs of harvesting forest biomass for energy production are not well understood by emerging industries.

For more information, visit:

For the complete biomass report click here: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/PA_Biomass_guidance_final.pdf

(Edited from the E-Forester, Society of American Foresters, July 28, 2008)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gas Drilling Raises Questions About Water Safety

Had this article sent to me and I thought I would share it with my readers. It was first printed in the July 22 front page of the Albany Times Union. This is an investigatory article on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York State. The article looks at some of the water quality issues surrounding the deep drilling technique and whether the NYS regulatory authorities have prepared for the actual techniques that the investigation found would be used. Many of these wells have already been drilled in Pennsylvania.
To read the full story go to:

Pennsylvania Team Finishes Third in the National 4-H Forestry Invitational

Pennsylvania finished third among the 14 state teams that participated in the 29th annual National 4-H Forestry Invitational from Sunday, July 20, through Thursday, July 24. Teams from Alabama and Illinois finished first and second, respectively.

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

The event was held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp and Conference Center near Weston, West Virginia. The Farm Credit System and the Cooperative Extension Service sponsored the invitational.

Representing Pennsylvania were Sean McGraughran of Blairsville, Sean Undercofler of Creekside, and Rebecca and Daniel Picone of Felton. The team was co-coached by Debbie Beisel of Clymer and Sheri Picone of Felton.

Steve Franklin of Alabama received the high-point individual award. Second place individual award was given to Jennifer Colbert of Illinois and third place individual award went to Robert Franklin of Alabama.

The Joe Yeager leadership award was given to Traci Byers of Texas. This award is presented to the individual who demonstrated excellent communication, management, decision-making, and interpersonal skills at the Invitational.

4-H is a youth education program operated by Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state land grant universities. More than five-and-a-half million young people participate in 4-H, and nearly 100,000 are part of the 4-H Forestry Program.

This event is sponsored by the Farm Credit System (FCS), a government-sponsored enterprise created by Congress in 1916 to provide American agriculture with a dependable source of credit. The FCS is a nationwide network of cooperatively organized banks and associations that are owned and controlled by their borrowers. It serves all 50 States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The FCS provides credit and other services to agricultural producers and farmer-owned agricultural and aquatic cooperatives.For more information on the National 4-H Forestry Invitational go to: http://www.aces.edu/n4hfi/

Friday, July 18, 2008

2009 Gypsy Moth Program Application Opens

The County officially announced Tuesday, July 15, 2008 that it has begun taking requests from County residents who want to have their properties sprayed for gypsy moths in 2009. As in 2008, Centre County will be participating in the state program, administering it at the County level. The anticipated homeowner cost-share will be $21/acre, up from $17/acre in 2008, largely due to the increase in the cost of fuel and the Bt pesticide.

County residents may request spraying on their properties until SEPTEMBER 30, 2008. After that date, it will not be possible to sign up for the spray program. As in previous years, the state program is a forested residential program spraying a 500ft area around residences and cabins. It is NOT a program to spray landowners’ forest stands. Those landowners should contact the PA Bureau of Forestry to find out about the Forest Stewardship program or arrange such spraying privately. All privately owned, nonindustrial forest stewardship lands, except those withdrawn from timber production under the stewardship plan, are eligible for spraying, provided they meet the program standards.

The DCNR has many rules on who qualifies for the state spray program. As participants in the state program, we have to follow their rules. Two fundamental rules are that there must be not less than 20 acres of forest in the minimum-size 23 acre spray block (1,000ft x 1,000ft) and that at least 50% of the spray block area must be occupied by tree canopies. Additionally, there must be new egg masses present (at least 250/acre). These are being laid now.

Inclusion in the Spray Program
If you live in a rural area, you must request participation in the spray program in order to be considered for gypsy moth spraying. The situation is somewhat different for residents in 'urban' areas that have denser housing (such as Park Forest in Patton Township or Linnwood in Rush Township). Some urban municipalities may request the County to include their forested urban areas and will cover the homeowner costs. Others will require homeowners to pay cost-shares but in such cases, requests by around 10% of the homeowners in the area will ensure that the whole area will be evaluated for spraying. If you are a forested urban area resident and have a strong desire to be sprayed next year, then please sign up, whether or not your municipality has done that for you.

To sign up, just click on 'Request Spraying in 2009' on the front page of the Centre County Gypsy Moth web site and follow the instructions. If you have several parcels which you would like included in the spray program, you will get a chance to enter them during the sign up process.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Forest Tax Update

The USDA Forest Service is hosting a Forest Tax Update session from 10:00am-12:00 noon on August 6, Wednesday, 2008 in the Yates Building of USDAForest Service in Washington D.C. Tax researchers and specialists from the USDA Forest Service, PurdueUniversity, and the IRS will explain the latest development in timber tax law and rules. New tax legislation's from 2007 to 2008, proposed IRSregulation, tax policy, and forest transaction with example of filled-inForm T will be covered.

This 2-hour session will be provided livearound the country. You will be able to listen to it in your office if you can not attend it in person. The cost of this event is FREE.

You may register by email to: Neal Bungard, USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Specialist, at: nbungard@fs.fed.us (613-868-7719) or Linda Wang, USDA Forest Service Tax Specialist, at: lwang@fs.fed.us (404-347-2067)

Please see details in the brochure at:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tree Shelter Comparison Study

This May, TNC outreach forester Mike Eckley and Penn State Cooperative Extension forester Dave Jackson began a three-year cooperative research project on the West Branch Research and Demonstration Forest. The study will help determine what differences, if any, occur in the growth and survival of northern red oak seedlings when using traditional four-foot tree tubes versus the new Tree Sentry Tree Incubation and Protection (TIP) System shelters. Summit Environmental Group of Ohio is the manufacturer and distributor of the new and innovative TIP System tree shelter; however its design was influenced by local Centre County Tree Farmer, Jim Walizer, who is known for his passion in tinkering on his family woodlot and he serves with Dylan Jenkins on the PA Chapter board of The American Chestnut Foundation.

The Tree Sentry TIP System is essentially a 4.5 foot black mesh with an inserted 18” plastic cone that, similar to traditional tree tubes, surrounds the young seedling offering protection from wind, competing vegetation encroachment, and wildlife damage. Furthermore, the plastic cones mimic the effects of a micro-greenhouse, magnifying and retaining more radiant heat, often resulting in accelerated root development and growth.

Approximately 180 northern red oak seedlings were planted within the Cabin-East Restoration Treatment Unit which had received a prescribed fire in 2007 and mowing of competing vegetation in 2006. The unit is located southeast of the Whetham Cabin on relatively flat sub-mesic plateau ground. Roughly half (90) of the trees were assigned traditional tree tubes and rot-resistant black locust stakes and the other half were planted with the new TIP System shelter and bamboo stakes. Jackson is particularly interested in evaluating the use of bamboo stakes, which if proven a viable option, could be a significant cost-saver in tree planting and forest restoration projects involving tree tubes/shelters.

As the first growing season for this project progresses, preliminary field data show that approximately 86% of the seedlings are alive and doing well. When comparing establishment/survival rates between the two shelter types, interestingly, there was a 93% survival rate associated with the traditional tree tubes and an 80% survival rate for the TIP System shelter. Furthermore, it was noticed that black bear damage has occurred, mainly in the form of knocking over tubes along with an occasional biting of the plastic or mesh. A total of 12 tree tubes/shelters were either bent over or pulled out of the ground. Surprisingly, 10 of the 12 bear damaged tree tubes were of the TIP System shelters. Overall, the extent of the damage was minimal and easily fixed with a few minor repairs. It was documented that the bamboo stakes did not brake, however they splintered, twisted, and cracked, therefore the damaged sections were cut off and the good portion of the bamboo stems were reused for staking.

Additional field notes taken on factors that may influence the results of this research include increased vegetation encroachment of hayscented fern and blueberry which is being monitored and will be treated with a glyphosate type herbicide when appropriate. Furthermore, gypsy moth impacts are severe as the overwintering population has expanded dramatically, likely to result in severe canopy defoliation of West Branch and surrounding forestland.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Quebec

OTTAWA, June 26, 2008 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of the emerald ash borer (EAB) in the Montérégie region of Quebec.
EAB does not spread quickly on its own. I n fact, it is most commonly spread when people move materials which it has infested. Moving these materials even just a few kilometres away can spread the emerald ash borer to new areas.

We all have a responsibility to protect Canada’s forests and area residents can play a key part in helping to control the spread of EAB by not moving firewood, logs, branches, nursery stock, chips or other ash wood. The Government of Canada is working hard with provinces and municipalities to limit the spread of the EAB and safeguard our valuable forests.

The CFIA will be carrying out increased surveying of trees in the area to determine the extent of the infestation and affected property owners will be notified. Regulatory measures to control this pest will be taken based on information obtained through the surveys. The CFIA continues to work with its partners and stakeholders toward the goal of slowing the spread of this destructive pest.
Additional information is available on theCFIAweb site at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/