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, 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.)