Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pennsylvania Game Commission Offers Tree Seedlings for Sale

It is time to start making your tree planting plans for spring 2012.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission's Howard Nursery is once again offering for sale various kinds of bare root trees and shrubs that benefit wildlife by providing food and cover.  However, it is important to note that the trees are suitable for a variety of other uses as well.  Some of these include: watershed protection, soil erosion control, and reclamation/reforestation of disturbed areas, such as old fields, surface mine sites, and utility rites-of-ways.

The Howard Nursery has been producing and distributing 2.7 to 6 million seedlings annually for wildlife food and cover since 1954.  Landowners who have land open to public hunting and are enrolled in one of the Commission’s public access programs are eligible to receive up to 500 free seedlings annually, as available. Contact your local Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs) or Land Management Group Supervisors (LMGS) for details.

To read the PA Game Commissions full news release click here

Friday, December 16, 2011

Modern Marvel Series on History Channel Debuts Episode on WOOD

On Monday, December 19, a new episode of the History Channel's Modern Marvels series, "Wood," will debut on History Channel at 10:00 PM EST (9:00 PM CST).  You might want to check your local listings to confirm the time. 

Here is the description of the program that the History Channel provided:
Hundreds of years before steel and plastic, wood was the building block of America. But even today, it touches every aspect of our lives. It's underneath our feet and flying through the sky, propping up skyscrapers and making burgers fry -- from the historical, to the modern, to the timeless, we explore the surprising ways we cannot live without WOOD.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Forest Certification in the US

The number of forested acres that have been certified as sustainable is growing in the US.  Forest2Market recently plotted the acres certified by state and as a percentage of total forested acres under each of the three major certification schemes, Sustainable forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and American Tree Farm System (ATFS). 

So how does Pennsylvania stack?
SFI: 0% <= 1%
FSC: 10% <= 20% (2.2 million acres of State Forest land certified)
ATFS: 1% <= 5%

Forest2Market provides forest, wood products and bioenergy industries with business solutions that support decision making and planning. This includes timber prices and cost benchmarks to price forecasts and customized resource studies.

Forest certification identifies forestland that is managed to meet agreed upon standards and to label products originating from those forests.  The goal of forest certification is to promote forest practices that are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable over the long term.  To read more about Forest Certification in North America.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Report Offers Help in Fight Against Japanese Stiltgrass

Japanese Stiltgrass is a huge problem in Pennsylvania.  Many landowners are dealing with severe infestations.  I have seen the impact stiltgrass has on regeneration and wildlife habitat.  It is spread to new areas very easily on equipment and will quickly invade following logging.  I highly recommend that folks learn to identify this grass and begin implementing control measures immediately if found in their woodlands.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (November 22) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently published a white paper that summarizes the many presentations, discussions, and research presented at the 2010 Japanese Stiltgrass summit. The agency hopes the paper will serve as a valuable resource for land managers struggling to turn the tide against this invader.  Click here to read the full news story printed in the Saluki Times.
(Society of American Foresters, E-Forester December 2, 2011)

White Paper: 2011 Stiltgrass Summit.  River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area

Penn State Vegetation Management has a very good practical fact sheet on stiltgrass control.  The factsheet was written by Art Gover, Wildland Weed Management Specialist.  To access the fact sheet click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hunters Sharing the Harvest

An Opportunity for Woodland Owner Associations and Others

With the Pennsylvania deer season upon us I thought it was fitting to share with my readers a press release from the Woodland Owners of the Southern Alleghenies (WOSA).  It concerns a partnership thier members formed with Pennsylvania Hunters Sharing the Harvest.  WOSA wanted to share this to demonstrate an opportunity for outreach that other groups may be interested in taking part in.


Woodland Owners of the Southern Alleghenies (WOSA) has made a donation to Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) to pay the processing fees for deers donated to the HSH program, which helps to feed the less fortunate.  Hunters are encouraged to bring their deer to a participating processor and identify how much of the deer, a portion or the entire deer, they wish to donate.  The processor will render the meat and make it available to food banks throughout Bedford and Fulton counties through HSH.

Participating processors are Cessna's Butcher Shop, 3327 Main Road, Bedford (814) 847-2749; Emerick's Meats, 1966 Hyndman Rd, Hyndman (814) 842-6779; and Strait's Butcher Shop, 304 Possum Hollow Rd., Harrisonville (717) 377-9223.  To find a participating processor in your area click here.

More than 1.3 million Pennsylvanians are classified as living beneath the lowest-income poverty level, with the recent economy downturn only escalating the need and requests for food assistance.  Last year HSH coordinated the delivery of nearly 200,000 meals of venison to hungry Pennsylvanians.  An average-sized deer will provide enough highly-nutritious, low-cholesterol meat for 200 meals.  "This program is an excellent way to address the deer problem and to help the less fortunate," says WOSA President Ben Tresselt, Jr.  "We are pleased to have been part of this program for the past several years."

The HSH venison sharing program is recognized as one of the most successful among similar programs in the country.  In addition to WOSA, woodland owner associations in various counties throughout Pennsylvania are participating in the program.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Hunters Sharing The Harvest program please visit http://www.sharedeer.org/, or call toll-free: (866) 474-2141.  To learn about the resources and workshops WOSA offers the public, please visit www.orgsites.com/pa/wosa or call 814 652-9150.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ATFS, SAF, and ACF Partner for Better Forests

Benefits Foresters and Forest Landowners.......

The Partners for Better Forests initiative is a collaborative effort between the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF).  The initiative aims to increase the number of engaged Tree Farm inspectors across the United States providing landowners with tools needed for on-the-ground support and promote better forest stewardship.

Because members of ACF and SAF have traditionally been those who have volunteered their time to work as Tree Farm inspectors and committee members, Partners for Better Forests is rewarding participating foresters with membership dues support to their respective professional association.

In return for completing two reinspections or two initial inspections, the program will give foresters $100 to be applied toward the annual dues of ACF or SAF. The money will be paid directly to SAF or ACF and will result in a $100 dues reduction for the member forester.

Click here for more information on the initiative.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Farm Bill Programs and Forest Landowners

There is still time to contact your members of Congress and let them know how important Farm Bill programs are to forest landowners.  The House and Senate Agriculture Committees were unable to meet the November 1st deadline to submit their 2012 Farm Bill proposals.  They need to make $23 billion dollars in cuts to the program.  We are still waiting to hear the details on what they propose to cut.

The American Tree Farm System provides a Policy and Advocacy page which may be of some assistance.  On this page you will find information relating to the next Farm Bill and how it impacts forest landowners. You can also write a letter directly to your Congressional representative letting them know how important it is that forest landowners continue to be represented.

Craig and Janet Olver, Pennsylvania Tree Farmers from Wayne County, wrote an op-ed piece to their local paper, the Scranton-Times Tribune encouraging congress not to abandon forest conservation.  Craig realizes we have to do our part to get the deficit down but his hope is that conservation does not take an unfair hit.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday Hunting in Pennsylvania?

There is curently a  bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (HB 1760), sponsored by Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford), that would lift the ban on Sunday hunting and allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to determine if Sunday hunting could take place, for what species and during which seasons.  Let's hear what you think?

Read an article entitled Should Pennsylvania Allow Hunting on Sundays? TV Smart Talk.
It was is posted on WITF and written by  Nell McCormack Abomin, on Thursday, 03 November 2011

Click here to view the Smart Talk Debate over lifting Pennsylvania's ban on Sunday hunting posted on WITF.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November PA Forests Web Seminar Center Webinar

Penn State Natural Resources Extension is proud to have Gerald Hoy, Service Forester with the PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry, presenting a webinar on Management Plans: Planning for Your Forests Future, 

The Forest Management plan is used to provide an overview of a woodland property in the context of a landowner's needs and objectives. This webinar will focus on the what, where, why, when and how of forest management plans, including short- and long-term forest planning. The parts of a plan outlined include goals, objectives, and recommendations to reach them. We will touch on where to find professionals for guidance during the planning process and possible funding opportunities for planning and implementation.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the Web Seminar Center along with a copy of the presentation and any handout materials. So, if you are unable to participate in the "live" session, a recording of it will be available for you to view at your convenience. To participate in the live seminars you must register and have a "Friend of Penn State" user ID. The "Register Now" page on the website will walk you through this process.
Tuesday, November 8th at noon and again at 7 p.m. Each seminar lasts approximately one hour.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Penn State Extension Offers Timber Taxation and Finance Course

Financial advisors, such as attorneys, accountants, financial planners, foresters, tax preparers, and small business owners encounter many questions concerning the taxation and planning for forestry operations. This one-day course focuses on those very issues and is designed to help your clients maximize their individual goals. Interested forest landowners are also invited to attend.

The course is being provided at the Clinton County Resource and Education Center in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania on Thursday, November 10 from 8:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.

Topics to be covered include:
•Forest valuation and appraisal •Cost basis •Passive losses •Operating and management expenses •Capital gains on timber sales •Depreciation methods •Cost sharing expenses •Reforestation expenses •Casualty loss •Conservation easements •Estate planning •Pennsylvania inheritance taxes

The full day course offers 8 hours of continuing education credits for: Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy, CLE Credits for Attorneys, and CFE Credits for Professional Foresters.

Register online here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it possible to turn wood into gasoline?

Clay Wheeler, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Maine, has discovered a process that does just that in two simple steps.  This is important news because, up to this point, the process for extracting ethanol from wood has been a complex and expensive one.  The simple process Wheeler discovered does not use catalysts or bacteria as most bio-energy fuels projects do.  The process produces a hydrocarbon liquid that chemically mimics crude oil.  After refined and without any upgrading it makes 82 octane gasoline.  For every ton of cellulose processed, Wheeler is able to make about 1.25 barrels of oil equivalent, a unit of energy comparable to the amount of energy produced by burning one barrel of crude oil.

Unfortunately, at current wood biomass prices the process is not yet economically competitive with traditional crude oil refining.  But who knows, as fuel prices continue to rise this process may become competitive and a new market for wood could develop especially in wood rich states that have slowly seen their paper industry decline.

You can read the full story or watch a video on the discovery.
Edited from Ernest Scheyder, Reuters, ORONO, Maine
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heating with Wood

Rural low-income families are the new growth leaders in renewable energy production. Recently released US Census figures show the number of households heating with wood grew 34% between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other heating fuel. Electricity showed the second fastest growth, with a 24% increase over the last decade. (Kilwa Biomass Wood Energy News, October 14, 2011)

For more information on heating with wood take a look at the University of Maryland Extension publication entitled Heating with Wood in Maryland.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Webinar: Bat Biology and Their Relationship to Forested Habitats

Penn State Natural Resources Extension is please to be offering a webinar on Bat Biology and Their Relationship to Forested Habitats on Tuesday, October 11th at noon and again at 7 p.m.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour.  The webinars will be presented by Dr. Jacqualine Grant, Adjunct Biology Lecturer at Southern Utah University, and Dr. Dan Riskin, Scientist & Television Host/Producer for Discovery Channel Canada.

With approximately 1200 species, bats are the only group of mammals that rival the rodents in diversity. the webinars will discuss bat diversity and many surprising and interesting features of bats.  The second half of the webinar will focus on North American bats and their relationship to forested habitats.  Do you know how your forest management practices are affecting your bats?  Please note: the webinars will not cover white-nose syndrome.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the Pennsylvania Forests Web Seminar Center along with a copy of the presentation and any handout materials.  So, if you are unable to participate in the "live" session, a recording of it will be available for you to view at your convenience.  Of course, none of the interactive elements will be available when watching the recording.

To participate in the live seminars you must register and have a "Friend of Penn State" user ID. The "Register Now" page on the website will walk you through this process.  Participation in the web seminar does not require any special software. To view live and previously recorded seminars all you need is a high-speed Internet connection and sound.

If this one does not interest you, here are a few others that are coming up:

November 8, 2011
Management Plans. Gerald Hoy, DCNR Bureau of Forestry Service Forester, Noon and 7 p.m.

December 12, 2011
Small-Scale Logging. Peter Smallidge, New York State Extension Forester, Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, Noon and 7 p.m.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wood is Good!

UBC Forestry
On Friday, September 29, 2011, the USDA Forest Service release the findings of a study entitled Forest Service Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material.  Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, announced that based on the resultsof the study wood should be a primary building material in green building.

The authors of the report, Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction, indicate that they reviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials.

The study confirms what many of us have been arguing for years....that "Wood is Good!"  Secretary Vilsack writes, "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are white-tailed deer headed for a population crash?

A recent article in the national magazine Outdoor Life entitled  The Deer Depression by Andrew McKean claimed that white-tailed deer populations may be headed for a crash and along with it the number of hunters would greatly decrease.  I would agree that deer populations are facing some serious challenges but I don't feel as though the population is headed for a permanent population crash.

A few noted organizations including the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)and Deer and Deer Hunting have posted responses to the article.  Unfortunately, I cannot share the full Outdoor Life magazine article with you.  But, the article does point out some interesting difficulties that we are dealing with as far as deer management is concerned.  Two of the biggest threats the article points out are maturing forests and increased predator populations.  This is true across most of Pennsylvania and many other states as well.  Our forests have matured and most provide very poor habitat for carrying large numbers of deer.  We also have all time high bear and coyote populations, higher than the state has seen for over 100 years!

To read the responses click the links below.
QDMA Has the Cure for Outdoor Life's Deer Depression
Deer and Deer hunting: We Are Not Headed for a Deer Depression

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penn State School of Forest Resources Celebrates Forests

The Penn State School of Forest Resources will host families, friends and Nittany Lion fans at Pennsylvania Forest Fest, a celebration of 2011 as the International Year of Forests.  Festivities will be free and open to the public.  The event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Arboretum at Penn State, on the corner of Bigler Road and Park Avenue at the University Park campus.

Forest Fest will feature forestry demonstrations, exhibits, educational activities for children and adults, food and live entertainment. Scheduled activities include bird-watching walk, identifying the American chestnut tree and its wood, arborist tree-climbing demonstrations, mushroom-hunting walk, logging history in Pennsylvania, tree-identification walk, Penn State Woodsman Team demonstration, and the chemistry of leaf pigmentation.

In addition, musical performances will be offered on the hour, beginning with Hannah Bingman at 10 a.m. Performances by Grain, Pure Cane Sugar, Colebrook Road and Van Wagner will follow.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to raise awareness to how forests enrich our environment. The aim is for citizens worldwide to experience the forest and to understand how our vitality is linked to our ecosystem.

The School of Forest Resources in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences provides professional education and research dedicated to the management of forest resources and their use by society.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Penn State Extension Offers Invasive Weeds and Pests Workshop

Ailanthus altissima
Invasive weeds and pests are a major threat to our natural and cultivated landscapes, spreading quickly and displacing or killing native plants. Invasive species (plants, insects, and animals) are costing the United States more than $138 billion each year, due to their economic impact on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, waterways, wildlife, and ornamental landscapes. Ecologists now rank invasion by exotic plants, animals and pathogens second only to habitat loss as a major threat to local biodiversity.

On Thursday, October 6th, 2011 a workshop titled “Managing Invasive Weeds and Pests in the Landscape” will be held at the Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre from 8:30am – 3:45pm. Experts from Penn State University and the Department of Agriculture will discuss landscape weed identification and management; exotic invasive plant identification and control, safe use of herbicides and pesticides, and control strategies for emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that is in Pennsylvania. Participants will learn how to control invasive plants  and insects.

PDA Pesticide Applicator Credits will be assigned in Core, Category 5, 6, 7, 10 and 23.

Fore more information and registration details click here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PA Forests Web Seminar Center - September Presentation

Penn State Extension's PA Forests Web Seminar Center will be starting up again this September with their first webinar on Teusday, September 13th.  Below is a brief description and instructions on how you can join the webinar which will be provided live at noon and again at 7:00 PM.

The Landowners Guide to Tree Planting Success
This presentation will guide you through the steps to take to make the most of your tree planting project.  The presentation will cover the steps to take to get the right trees in the right place and increase their growth and survival.  The trees you plant today can change the long-term attractiveness, wildlife value, and even the financial equity of your land.  With some pre-planning and thought your trees will serve the purpose you had intended and provide all the environmental benefits trees can.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the Web Seminar Center along with a copy of the presentation and any handout materials.  So, if you are unable to participate in the "live" session, a recording of it will be available for you to view at your convenience.  Of course, none of the interactive elements will be available when watching the recording.

To participate in the live seminars you must register and have a "Friend of Penn State" user ID. The "Register Now" page on the website will walk you through this process.  Participation in the web seminar does not require any special software. To view live and previously recorded seminars all you need is a high-speed Internet connection and sound.

To register and take part in the live seminars or to view the upcoming seminars schedule, visit the Pennsylvania Forests Web Seminar CenterWe look forward to having you join these discussions and learning experiences. "See" you there on September 13.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Biological War Being Waged on Emerald Ash Borer

Came across this news story in the Society of American Foresters e-mail update.  The story was written by Mike Seilski and posted in the Wall Street Journal on August 23.  The article is very well written and gives a great overview of where scientists are at with the introduction of tiny wasps being used for biological control against the emerald ash borer.  Bio-control measures such as this may be our only hope of saving the ash tree.

The Bugs Rescuing the Baseball Bats
LAKE KATRINE, N.Y.— A blue beer cooler at his feet, John Vandenberg stood at the lip of a grove of ash trees here earlier this month and clasped his hands together in anticipation. The next phase of a great conflict was about to commence at his word. Inside the cooler, beneath a bag of Styrofoam peanuts, rested four clear plastic soda cups, and inside those cups buzzed 482 bugs that might just rescue an iconic instrument of American sport: the baseball bat.

Soon, Vandenberg, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would release the insects—two species of wasp, to be specific—into these Hudson Valley woods. By doing so, he would initiate an entomological tete-a-tete between the wasps and the emerald ash borer, a green-winged, torpedo-shaped beetle that looks at the gleaming shaft of wood in Alex Rodriguez's hands and sees a scrumptious meal for its children.

To read the full story click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Assessment of Available Natural Gas Resource in Marcellus

On Wednesday, August 23, the USGS posted a news release greatly increading the potential amounts of undiscovered and recoverable natural gas and natural gas liquids.  The estimates were increaded by 4100% over previous estimates...from 2 trillion to 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas!! 

The Marcellus play is found in the following states: KY, MD, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, and WV.  What does this mean for landowners in the Appalacian basin?  How will the resource be accessed and removed with roads, pipelines, and other infrastructure?  What about the potential impact on water quantity and quality?  How about interior forest habitat lost?  Will the timber industry become secondary?  Will landowners still be interested in selling timber?  There are lots of implications here and something that will play out for many years to come.  It is important that things are done right and with much forethought.

To read the full release click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pennsylvania Dealing With Exotic Woodland Pests

Pennsylvania woodland owners are dealing with numerous forest health issues including, insects, diseases, invasive plants, and overabundant deer.  Now one more forest health concern may be added to the list.  While landowners figure out how to deal with hemlock wooly adelgid and emerald ash borer another exotic insect pest is knocking on our doorstep, the Asian longhorned beetle.  The State's Department of Agriculture is scrambling to keep this insect from entering the state.

While we try to keep the longhorned beetle from entering our state, many landowners are trying to figure out how to deal with their ash resource and emerald ash borer.  The state of Minnesota is dealing with the introduction of the ash borer just as Pennsylvania is.  The University of Minnesota has recently published an excellent resource that appears to be an excellent management guide.  

State Working to Keep Longhorned Invader Out (WHPTV 21 8-16-11)
Agriculture Secretary George Greig today asked the public to help keep the Asian Longhorned Beetle from entering the state, saying the non-native, invasive wood-boring pest could severely harm Pennsylvania’s $25 billion hardwoods industry.

To read the full story click here.

Emerald Ash Borer and Your Minnesota Woodlands: Management GuidelinesAsh Management Guidelines for Private Forest Owners is a new resource for family woodland owners in Minnesota who have ash trees on their land. This guide book is a thorough overview of the ash resource in Minnesota including: ash’s history on the landscape; ash tree identification; information on the emerald ash borer (EAB); how to identify native plant communities on your property; wildlife impacted by ash; and other related implications of ash forests and EAB. (University of Minnesota)

To read the full release click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Experienced Insight Into the Deer Management Issue

Came across a well written article on Outdoor Life's Big Buck Zone.  The article was written by Craig Dougherty and is entitled "Are We Killing Too Many Does."  It provides some great insight into the current deer issues many states, including Pennsylvania, are currently facing with their deer management programs.

Craig is a well known authority on deer management.  During his 25 years in the hunting industry Dougherty has held senior management positions at the Crosman Corporation, Golden Eagle/Satellite Archery and Bear.  He and his son Neil founded NorthCountry Whitetails a wildlife consulting and recreation real estate company.  He has published in numerous outdoor publications, co authored a book and served as a hunting TV consultant and has consulted with numerous hunting industry companies.  He served on the Board of Directors of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, The Archery Trade Association, and recently stepped down as Chairman of the Board of the Quality Deer Management Association after four years of leadership and growth.

I would like to share one quote from the article that to me says a lot about where all hunters need to work towards in understanding the issue:
"The possibility of too many doe tags being issued for a given area is very real. But, no one is forcing hunters to squeeze the trigger. Ultimately it is the hunter who makes the final management decision to take the numbers down, leave them as is, or let them increase. Hunters can count, hunters can see if deer are eating themselves out of house and home and hunters can figure out how to impact herd dynamics. We can’t lay this all at the feet of the professional deer managers."
Hunters need to be the managers at a given property level not the broad brush of the wildlife management units.  If we could apply this simple management strategy to our own hunting grounds, wether they be public or private, many of the deer problems we face would be erased.  I encourage all deer hunters to seek out information and educate themselves to the level that they become the managers.

Are We Killing Too Many Does?
Deer harvest numbers have been trending down in recent years and some hunters aren't at all happy about it. While deer herds are healthy and bucks are plentiful around most of the country, there are certain pockets where whitetails seem to no longer exist. "The deer just aren't there" has become the battle cry of more than one sportsman's group nationwide. As one Pennsylvania hunter lamented, "There were no deer when my grandfather was a kid, so nobody shot does. We grew the herd and were told to start shooting does; everybody had a pocket full of doe tags. Now we're back to where my grandfather started. What the heck happened?"

To read the full article click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

10th Annual Central PA Woodlot Management Workshop

Penn State Extension-Centre County in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy is pleased to be offering the 10th annual Central Pennsylvania Woodlot Management Workshop. It is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, 2010 at the Nature Conservancy’s West Branch Forest located in northern Clinton County, not far from Hyner View State Park. The workshop is scheduled from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM.

This full day workshop will tour the West Branch Research and Demonstration Forest. The Forest is situated within the Pennsylvania Wilds Region in the heart of the High Allegheny Plateau. The Forest serves as one of the Conservancy’s primary research and demonstration properties and is used extensively for developing and demonstrating sustainable forestry techniques.

Morning presentations will provide an overview of the property and introduce the landowner’s objectives. Two driving tours will examine various aspects of the property, including woody biomass harvesting, rehabilitating degraded timber stands, herbicide treatments, laurel control, mowing & burning, tree planting & protection, deer management program, and American chestnut restoration.

This workshop will assist forest landowners in making good decisions about the management of their woodland. The information provided will help them achieve desired outcomes when implementing land management practices for both forestry and wildlife. The day will be spent outdoors learning from natural resource management professionals and discussing specific aspects of forest land management. Come prepared to be outdoors in the woods rain or shine.

To register click here or call Penn State Extension toll free at 877-489-1398. Participants must be pre-registered by Monday, September 19th. A $25.00 fee is being charged per person to cover lunch and other program costs. For questions or additional information please contact the Penn State Extension office in Centre County at 814-355-4897 or e-mail CentreExt@psu.edu.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Penn State Extension Offering Training Opportunity for Women Forest Landowners

Women and Their Woods: Building a Network of Women Forest Landowners

Throughout our region, women are increasingly responsible for the care and stewardship of private forestlands; they outlive spouses, inherit forestland from parents, or just seek their own woodlot. Yet these women may often lack the confidence, knowledge, and access to resources that allow them to be successful. Anecdotally, resource professionals report few interactions with women landowners until after something adverse has happened to the land. This puts women at higher personal economic risk, which results not only in poor management of resources, but high likelihood of the sale and conversion of working land to a non-forest use such as development.

Click here to read the full story.

If you are interested in being involved with the Women and their Woods group, contact Allyson Muth at Penn State Extension (814-865-3208, abm173@psu.edu) for an application or for more information.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Insects Leading Threat to U.S. Forests

Gypsy moth egg masses
Marauding insects have become a leading threat to the nation's forests over the past decade, a problem made worse by drought and a warming climate, a federal report says.  Bark beetles, engraver beetles and gypsy moths are the primary culprits behind a threefold increase in forestland mortality caused by insect attacks between 2003 and 2007, according to the 2010 National Report on Sustainable Forests.  In recent years, Pennsylvania has seen gypsy moth, hemlock wooly adelgid, and forest tent caterpillar.  Now we are beginning to see emerald ash borer spreading across the state.

2010 National Report
 on Sustainable Forests
The volume of forests in the lower 48 states killed by bugs totaled 37 million acres during the period, up from 12 million during the previous five years. Millions of additional acres have perished since.  Despite the threats, the report says overall U.S. forest acreage has remained stable at about 751 million acres over the past 50 years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farm Bill programs working for Pennsylvania forests

In 2008, Congress made important changes to USDA conservation programs—opening them up to family forest owners and improving the health of America’s woodlands. Forest Landowners and Tree Farmers now have the tools needed to do right by the land—whether it’s growing timber, managing for wildlife, improving stream crossings, or protecting against invasive plants and insects.

To learn how Farm Bill programs are working for families across the country view the American Forest Foundation’s report that was recently released entitled: Forests in the Farm Bill Progress Report: 2011 Updated Edition.

Congress just started rewriting the Farm Bill, which could change how the programs work and affect forest owners. Please share the report with your member of Congress and let know how important Farm Bill conservation programs are for the health of woodlands in Pennsylvania. Also share the report with your local forestry department staff and NRCS offices, your state forestry association and anyone else you think would be interested.

Nearly 40,000 families with woodlands participated in Farm Bill programs last year, including the Pionke’s who used the Conservation Stewardship Program to restore and diversify their Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania Tree Farm after a devastating gypsy moth infestation. Read their story and others in the report.

Despite the success of the programs, some members of Congress have proposed deep cuts to the programs, which would make it difficult for USDA to provide technical assistance and management tools to family forest owners for years to come. While we understand that cuts must be made, and conservation programs must be a part of any debt solution, the budget cannot and should not be balanced on the back of conservation.

If you have any questions about the Progress Report or Farm Bill programs, please contact the American Forest Foundation.

(Edited from Dan Conant's news release dated June 22, 2011.  Dan is a Public Affairs Manager for the American Forest Foundation.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Technology & Website (Free) Assists With Tree, Insect, and Forest Identification

Great Resource for Landowners, Teachers, Community Forestry Groups, and Others

A new technology for creating and viewing stunningly high-resolution panoramic images is becoming a powerful research tool. It's called GigaPan. Developed as an outgrowth of NASA research on Mars, the technology has now been brought home to Earth. GigaPan uses a digital camera connected to a microprocessor to create fine grained panoramic pictures of any subject - an insect, a tree, a forest - with a resolution 1,000 times that of HDTV. According to Panning for Science - "It's like viewing nature through a huge magnifying glass."

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands in partnership with the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University and NASA, Maine's Bureau of Parks and Lands is a beta-testing agency for a new technology that allows users to take incredibly high-resolution panoramic images. Using a robotic camera mount that sits on a tripod, the Gigapan system automatically takes dozens or even hundreds of images and "stitches" them together to form one high resolution image that allows viewers to zoom in on tiny details or move around the "virtual" environment.

Adapted from "Panning for Science," by Karen A. Frenkel. Science 330:748.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Asian Longhorned Beetle Found in Ohio

We certainly have heard a lot recently about the emerald ash borer.  In fact, my last post included an update about the insect.  We have not heard much in the news about Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  Well, that just changed, the insect has now been discovered in Bethel, Ohio, 30 miles southeast of Cincinnatti.  For the complete June 17th news release from USDA APHIS click here

This is not good news for Pennsylvania.  This insect strongly prefers maples.  ALB was first detected in Chicago and New York with a severe infestation now occurring in Worcester, Massachusets.  To see a complete listing of tree species preferred by ALB click here.

Tunneling by beetle larvae girdles tree stems and branches. Repeated attacks lead to dieback of the tree crown and, eventually, death of the tree. ALB probably traveled to the United States inside solid wood packing material from China. The beetle has been intercepted at ports and found in warehouses throughout the United States.

For the complete USDA (Forest Service and APHIS) Pest Alert fact sheet click here.

I encourage everyone to report any signs of ALB activity and avoid moving firewood.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Emerald Ash Borer in Peak Flight

Emeral ash borer (EAB) adults are on the wing in Pennsylvania!  Adults were observed on the wing next to a large, infested ash tree by Dr. Greg Hoover, Penn State University Extension Entomologist, while doing a program on EAB for a local TV station this past week.  He was at an EAB site located in northeastern Union County in Central Pennsylvania.

The EAB peak flight period in Pennsylvania is June through mid-July.  So, while in your travels be on the lookout for adults, especially on the sunny side of ash trees.  Additionally, look for any marginal notching on the ash leaflets, especially on leaflets associated with epicormic shoots around the base of infested tree.

Dr. Hoover has compiled a number of fact sheets with high quality images on his Emerald Ash Borer Web Site.  There are fact sheets on Identification and Damage, Ash Tree Identification, Borer Look-Alikes and others. 

On another note....biological control measures are moving forward.  Scientists in Wisconsin made their first release of tiny wasps (Tetrastichus planipennisi) collected from China this past week.  The wasps have show promise at killing the borer.  Now the research will attempt to find out if the tiny wasp will control ash borer populations.

In Battle Against Ash Borer, Wasps May Be the Saviors (The Northwestern.com, June 7, 2011)
MADISON — A battle of insects is coming to Wisconsin as scientists look for ways to save the state's ash trees.

On one side is the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees and, scientists say, threatens billions more. On the other are tiny species of wasps that, in China, have shown they will kill the borer. Scientists are now starting to release the wasps in an experimental effort aimed at controlling the borer.

Read the full story.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Backyard Forestry Webinar

Are you a homeowner with acres of lawn you would like to convert to natural area?  Do you have a small patch of woods you'd like to manage or improve for wildlife habitat? You are not alone.  Many homeowners find themselves with the home of their dreams and acres of lawn that take time and money to maintain.  Or, a small patch of woods that they love, but don't know how to care for.  This session will explore ideas and approaches for caring for a small or even a large piece of property to have less maintenance, healthier trees, and diverse plants and wildlife.

The PA Forests Web Seminar Center will be providing a webinar on backyard forestry on Tuesday, June 14th as part of the monthly forest stewardship series.  The webinar will be presented by Dr. Jim Finley of the Penn State School of Forest Resources live at noon and again at 7:00 PM.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the Previous Webinars page along with a copy of the presentation and any handout materials.  So, if you are unable to participate in the "live" session, a recording of it will be available for you to view at your convenience. Of course, none of the interactive elements will be available when watching the recording.

To participate in the live seminars you must register and have a "Friend of Penn State" user ID. The "Register Now" page on the website will walk you through this process.  Participation in the web seminar does not require any special software. To view live and previously recorded seminars all you need is a high-speed Internet connection and sound.

The webinar is based on a 139 page full color manual entitled "The Woods in Your Backyard."  The publication, written by Jonathan Kays, Joy Drohan, Adam Downing, and Jim Finley, promotes the stewardship of small parcels of land from 1-10 acres.  It is a for sale publication and can be purchased off the NRAES site.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is Woody Biofuel a Carbon Neutral Source of Energy?

Dr Chuck Ray, Penn State School of Forest Resources recently posted to his Blog, entitled Go Wood, a story clarifying the issues surrounding the use of woody biomass and carbon neutrality.  I thought I would share it with my readers.  It brings to light some flaws in the findings of the recently published Monamet study in Massachusets.

In short, the inaccuracies lead to flawed findings, which have prompted sweeping policy changes in Massachusetts that threaten to wipe the use of woody biomass off the map in the state (Kilwa Biomass, Wood Energy News, Vol. 181, May 20, 2011).

Wood Biomass and Carbon Neutrality(Dr. Chuck Ray, Go Wood, May 19, 2011) For those of you who learned about the carbon cycle back in high school or college, you probably knew that the harvesting and use of wood is fundamentally a carbon-neutral process. Or you thought you knew that, until the concept of using biomass for energy became a topic of heated debate.

Now, we have claims both for and against the carbon-neutrality of wood energy almost daily in the news. There are stories like these, that make woody biomass out to be as bad or worse than fossil fuels. For the rest of the story click here.

Study points out inherent flaws in Manomet woody biomass study(Lisa Gibson, Biomass Power and Thermal, May 19, 2011)  A new study contradicting the findings of the well-known 2010 Massachusetts biomass study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences points out inherent flaws and incorrect assumptions in the Manomet authors’ methodology. In short, the inaccuracies lead to flawed findings, which have prompted sweeping policy changes in Massachusetts that threaten to wipe the use of woody biomass off the map in the state.  For the full sory click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

National Walk in the Woods Day!

2011 is recognized as the International Year of Forests by the United Nationas General Assembly.  It is a time to understand and learn to appreciate the role trees and forests play in our daily lives.  In conjunction with the Year of Forests, the American Forest Foundation is coordinating National Walk in the Woods Day on Saturday, May 21, 2011.  Their site provides some fun and exciting activities you can lead or participate in.  To seach for an event you can attend in your state click here.

I hope you will consider helping youth and adults alike to discover a forest and learn about its importance by participating in, or leading, a “walk in the woods.”  Be sure and share this day with others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Guidelines for Upland Hardwood Stands With an Ash Component

With the impending emerald ash borer potentially impacting the entire state of Pennsylvania I thought I would share this with my readers.  We are often asked whether we should cut the ash now or wait.  Well, now we have some guidelines to go by thanks to the Michigan Society of American Foresters.  They have released a guide entitled "Silvicultural Guidelines for Upland Hardwoods with an Ash Component." 

This is a two-page PDF document, developed by the Michigan DNR, advises landowners to prepare for the emerald ash borer by working with forestry professionals to obtain a forest management plan that prescribes harvest practices designed to reduce, but not eliminate, the ash component of their upland hardwood stands.

(The Society of American Forester's E-Forester, May 6, 2011)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conserving Working Forests

The Penn State Extension PA Forests Web Seminar Center will be providing a webinar entitled Conserving Working Forests.  The webinar will be provided on Tuesday, May 10 live at Noon and again at 7:00 PM.  The webinar will be recorded and posted to the seminar site in case you miss the live presentation.  To view previously offered and recorded webinars click here.

As Pennsylvania’s forestlands change ownership, they often also see a change in use.  What are some of the tools you can use as a private forest landowner to help ensure your forestland remains a working forest, even after it leaves your ownership?  This presentation will provide a very brief overview of who owns Pennsylvania’s private forestland, and some of the tools that are available to private landowners.  Presentation by Renee Carey, Executive Director, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Participants of the online seminar program must be registered and have a "Friend of Penn State" User ID and password.  To register click here.  If you already have a friend of Penn State account you can simply log into the site at the time of the webinar by clicking here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Woody Biomass for Renewable Energy

Came across a couple of stories related to using wood for energy.  I thought I would share them with my readers.  Pennsylvania has tremendous potential in this area not only to provide low grade wood from our forests but also to grow more short rotation woody crops on marginal crop land.  Essentially we are looking at using woody biomass to produce heat and power through direct combustion.  This is a great option for small businesses, hospitals, schools and government buildings.

Is Woody Biomass an Economic Elixer?
(Beaverton Valley Times, April 21, 2011)
To hear some tell it, using woody biomass to make energy represents a panacea for many of Oregon’s economic woes. Its political proponents – everyone from the governor down to county commissioners – believe it will help create good jobs, improve forest health, make up for lost timber revenue and provide a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Not everyone is so optimistic.

To read the full story click here.

Firing Up Willows!
(American Agriculturist, May 2011)
Today, close to 1,000 acres of fastgrowing willow are in commercial production in New York, mostly for biomass energy. But the potential is there for many more — a renewable energy industry.

Nurseryman Dennis Rak and Cornell University biomass researcher Larry Smart have a big stake in this budding bioenergy industry. In 2008, Rak began developing the 150-acre Double A Willow nursery, Fredonia, N.Y., with more than 28 willow varieties.
To read the full story click here

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wood: The New Green Building Material

During the more recent "Timber Wars" wood was hardly seen as GREEN.  But with improved timber management practices, increased access to forest certification programs, and amid carbon sequestration concerns and global warming wood is getting a second look.  Groups like the American Forest Foundation support the use of "green" forest products coming from certified lands, in particular from certified American Tree Farm System lands.

Public policies at the federal, state, and local level are croping up supporting incentives for the use of certified green building products.  It is important to understand that these policies can help keep family forest owners on the land and keep these lands forested.  If family forest owners are unable to access these growing markets, they will potentially forego the added income so important for helping families to contiinue growing these products.

Came across this article in the New West Politics that demonstrates the federal administrations, in particular Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, support of wood as a green alternative.  The article is by David Frey, April 10, 2011.

Is wood  a green building material?
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chose an unusual way to celebrate the International Year of the Forest – unusual, at least, if you’re a tree. Vilsack announced plans by the Agriculture Department and the Forest Service to use more wood in its buildings – part of a three-year plan to step up the department’s green building practices. “Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials,” Vilsack said.

Just how green is wood, though?
For decades, it was demonized by environmentalists who complained about logging companies clear-cutting acres of forest, polluting rivers and destroying wildlife habitat. Logging supporters jabbed back, saying environmentalists who lived in log cabins shouldn’t throw stones. But with the Pacific Northwest’s timber wars mostly quiet, and amid growing concerns about the carbon footprint of other building materials, wood is finding a new place as a green material.

Read the full story.