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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pennsylvania Forest Industry and the Housing Slump

Came across an interesting article listed in the Society of American Foresters E-Forester featured news listings.  It really shows the tie that the forest industry has with the housing market.  It can be an interesting relationship.  In many regions we are loosing the very forest that provides the lumber to build the houses as the land becomes developed.  Yet the industry is dependent upon housing market to drive the demand for lumber.

ERIE, Pa. (AP, ROBB FREDERICK, Erie Times-News, April 5, 2011) — The recovery, when it comes, will first help guys like Billy Byler. He sells pallet boards for Brush Run Lumber in Spartansburg. Much of Brush Run's wood goes to Canada. The greenhouse people use it to ship flowers. Right now, business is good. The foxglove is budding. But there's a cycle. "Some weeks it slows up," Byler said. "Then it lets loose again. It's not steady-steady, like it used to be."

U.S. lumber companies processed 6.8 billion board feet of hardwood in 2009, according to the U.S. Forest Service. That was a foot of wood for every person on the planet that year.

Much of it came from Pennsylvania. No state grows more hardwood stock. But the business is off. That 6.8 billion board feet was just half of what the industry produced in 1999. And though there is still work — 2,200 companies cut, haul, dry and shape hardwood stock in Pennsylvania — it's harder to find. Those companies employ about 60,000 people, according to data from the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association. That's down a third from 2007.

To read the full story click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pennsylvania Forests Web Seminar Center: April Webinars

Penn State Cooperative Extension in partnership with the Penn State School of Forest Resources is offering 2 webinars the month of April through the PA Forests Web Seminar Center.
Stewardship Series: Eric Burkhart, Instructor and Plant Science Program Director, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, will be presenting Common Wildflowers of Pennsylvania Forestland on Tuesday, April 12th at noon and again at 7 p.m.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour. 

During this presentation, participants will take a virtual stroll through springtime Pennsylvania forestlands to see some of the more common, showy, and/or interesting wildflowers that may be encountered during the “ephemeral” season.  Along with identification, aspects of each species’ biology, ecology, usage and conservation will be covered.  Plants that will be discussed include: bloodroot, bluebells, blue cohosh, dwarf ginseng, garlic mustard, golden ragwort, mayapple, trillium, wild geranium and many more. Approved for 1.0 CFE credit hour in Category 2. Approved for 1 credit hour SFI® CE.

White-tailed Deer Management Series: Kip Adams, Certified Wildlife Biologist and Northern Director of Education and Outreach, Quality Deer Management Association, will be presenting White-tailed Deer Breeding Biology and Communication on Tuesday, April 19th at noon and again at 7 p.m.  Each seminar lasts approximately one hour.

Following a year in the life of a whitetail buck this presentation will discuss dispersal, home range, and movement patterns; physical changes a buck experiences from 1.5 years of age to maturity; how deer communicate during the breeding season; and how hunters can use this information to improve management.

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.