Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Biomass Industry in Review
Biomass can come from many organic sources such as crops and crop residue, grasses, and trees.  These sources are renewable and provide a clean, renewable source of carbon neutral energy.  The biomass industry is another way to encourage the "sustainable" use of our forests.  Growing and harvesting trees provides family-supporting jobs for millions of men and women across rural America.  Working forests are good for the environment providing wood products, wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon storage.  Encouraging the growth of this industry will provide forest landowners with additional markets for low grade wood and less desirable trees thus promoting proper management and healthier forests

So, where do we stack up as far as biomass generated energy is concerned?  Kilwa Biomass Wood Energy News recently posted a year end summary.  The summary was prepared by Tim Probert and posted on  The most telling part of the report illustrated the impact natural gas had on the development of biomass energy.

"... the most important factor impacting biomass in 2012 was not Washington, D.C. but natural gas prices. As a result of an abundance of natural gas from shale gas fracking, several coal plants - which may otherwise have been potential candidates for biomass co-firing or conversions - were closed, often to be replaced with combined-cycle gas turbine power plants." To read the full story click here.

What do you think about using trees, a renewable energy source "wood", to provide heat and power?  This can be as simple as burning firewood to heat your home or buring wood chips and pellets to fuel boilers that can generate both heat and electricity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Real vs Fake Christmas Trees

Cutting your own tree is a
 more sustainable option
 With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would share a story with my readers that I came across recently about the question many of us have....Should I use a fake or real tree at Christmas?  

You would have to use a
fake tree 20 years before
it matched the carbon
footprint of a farmed tree
 Much of the general public feels it is environmentally correct to use a fake tree instead of a real tree for Christmas each year.  The mindset being that it must be wrong to cut down a tree.  Steve Mitchell, a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia, referencing a life cycle study completed in 2009 by Ellipsos, a sustainable consulting company out of Montreal, indicated that a fake tree would have to be kept 20 years before it would match the carbon footprint of a tree grown on a Christmas tree farm.  He added, the most sustainable option would be to use a wild grown tree since farmed trees are sheared and many fertilized.  All of which increases their carbon footbrint.  Their study points out that most fake trees are used only 6 years before most are thrown out and end up in a landfill.

When Christmas is over don't just set your Christmas tree out on the curb for trash pick-up.  They make great wildlife habitat.  If you feed birds over the winter set them out near your feeders.  They will provide shelter for the birds and great escape cover from predators.  Following that you can pile them in brushy areas to provide habitat for small mammels, such as rabbits.  If you do have to throw them away make sure they will be chipped and composted.  That way the tree is recycled and not just tossed in a landfill.

Real Christmas trees more sustainable than fakes, forestry professor says
An artificial Christmas tree would have to be used for 20 years before its carbon footprint matches that of a farmed tree, according to a forestry professor at the University of B.C. Steve Mitchell said most artificial trees are kept only six years before fashions change and owners throw them out. Most end their life in a landfill.

"Artificial trees need to be kept for 20 years for the carbon emissions to be equivalent to using natural trees," Mitchell said, referring to a life cycle study done in 2009 by Ellipsos, a Montreal-based sustainable consulting company.

To read the full story click here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wildlife Leadership Academy Field Schools

I wanted to share with my readers a neat opportunity for teenage youth, the Wildlife Leadership Academy: Field Schools.  I was invited to be a part of the Pennsylvania Bucktails Camp for the first time last year.  It was a great opportunity and I was able to work with a fantastic bunch of young people who were passionate about learning and the outdoors.  In fact, I was so impresed by this group of folks, I have joined the planning committee this year and hope to be involved with the academy from start to finish.  There is also a Pennsylvania Brookies Field School.  Both of these schools are organized by the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education (PICE).

We are currently looking for new recruits and adult mentors to attend the schools this coming summer.  I have provided some of the details below.

Calling all wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists, and future conservationists!

The Wildlife Leadership Academy is now accepting applications for the 2013 Field Schools, a five day camp for Pennsylvania students ages 14-17 that will forever change the way they see the outdoors. Youth spend the week exploring their passions with teens from all over the state, learning how to protect the legacy of our wildlife for years to come.

Guided by the state's top biologists, professionals and sportsmen, each Field School introduces them to biology, habitat and conservation issues that impact a single species.

White-tailed deer will be the focus of the Pennsylvania Bucktails field school (June 18-22, Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County).   Brook trout and freshwater fisheries will be center stage at Pennsylvania Brookies field school (July 9-13, Sieg Conference Center in Clinton County).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Emerald Ash Borer Continues to Spread...What Do I Do?

Emerald Ash Borer Decision Guide for
 Urban and Community Trees
Our struggles to manage the forest in the face of invasive exotics continue to cause us problems.  Emerald ash borer (EAB) is spreading and will continue to spread as long as host trees are available.  I received word last week that the insect has been positively identified on the Penn State campus in an ash research plantation, in Musser Gap on the Rothrock State Forest by DCNR foresters, and by the Penn State Forestland Management office on the Stone Valley Experimental Forest in Huntingdon County.

Knowing this I think we would have to make the assumption that all stands with high densities of ash trees are under an immediate threat of attack in the Centre Region.  In other areas where populations of EAB are still more geographically isolated it is recommended to use mapping as your guidance for management prescriptions. EAB populations expand at an average rate of ½ mile per year.  Stands greater than 5 miles from EAB populations are projected to be about 10 years away from EAB impacts. Unfortunately, confidence in maps of EAB population locations is low and only serves as a guideline.

Insecticide controls are avaialble for individual ash trees and trees in urban/suburban settings.  Purdue University has done a great job at pulling this information together.  You can find their information here.  Their suggestion for making management decisions is as follows: If EAB has been found in your county or within 15 miles, you should start protecting your ash trees.

Also, recall that in April of 2011 the quarantine restricting the in-state movement of all ash materials and hardwood firewood was lifted by the PA Department of Agriculture.  To my knowledge, the federal quarantine has remained in effect to help stop the spread into other states.

Below are silvicultural guidelines that were developed by the Michigan DNR you may find them helpful in making management desicisions.

Ash resources within 10 miles of EAB populations:
These stands are at high risk of EAB caused ash decline and mortality within 10 years. Reduce ash basal area, if ash comprises greater than 10% of total stand basal area. If the ash resource is of poor vigor, the risk of EAB caused decline and mortality is greater. Where ash resources are generally of poor vigor, retain a minimal or no ash component.

Ash trees in upland hardwoods: Generally, it is not advisable to reduce stand basal area below 70 square feet per acre. Remove the largest ash first, leaving vigorous pole sized trees.  Limit canopy gaps to 60 feet in diameter or less if possible.

Ash resources > 10 miles of EAB populations:
These stands may have greater than 10 years before EAB arrives. Use conventional forest management practices to increase tree species diversity and decrease ash components, as outlined above. Ash reduction is a higher priority the nearer an ash resource is to EAB populations. (Note: Watch for newly discovered EAB populations established via artificial movement of firewood or other ash products which place stands < 10 miles for EAB populations.)

Tree species diversity and stand regeneration: The EAB mortality or ash pre-salvage/salvage harvests may lead to under-stocking, conversion to undesirable tree species and/or to areas of non-forest cover. This is especially true where American beech and ash comprise a significant proportion of the total stand basal area. In such cases, active treatment of ash regeneration through cutting and/or herbicide application may be necessary to keep the ash component to an appropriate level and to encourage tree species diversity. Under-planting and/or planting canopy openings may be necessary to attain the desired stocking and mix of tree species. Select tree species which are matched to the habitat type and which improve species diversity.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Update on Chronic Wasting Disease in PA

In an earlier post I provided an update on captive deer that tested positive at a deer farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania (see Friday, October 26th post).  In that post I mentioned that a captive deer from the farm escaped while they were in the process of euthanizing the animals that may have been exposed to the disease.  I have some good news to share, apparently that deer has been killed by a hunter in the area.  The doe was easily identified by it's pink ear tag and the number 23.  This is very good news for deer and deer hunting in Pennsylvania as this disease could devastate wild deer populations.

Below is the news release from the PA Department of Agriculture, November 26th.

Agriculture Department to Test ‘Pink 23’ Adams County Escaped Deer
A doe that escaped from a quarantined Adams County deer farm in October was shot by a hunter today and is now being tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The deer, known as "Pink 23" because of its pink farm tag, was shot and killed this morning on a farm at 1305 New Chester Road, New Oxford. The doe escaped as officials removed the herd for testing from a farm at 1491 New Chester Road, New Oxford. Both farms have been quarantined since October when the first case of the disease was discovered in Pennsylvania.

"The department has been working to prevent further spread of the disease," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "The capture and testing of this escaped deer will allow the department to close this chapter of the investigation." State veterinarians identified the doe by its pink farm tag. Testing for Chronic Wasting Disease will be done at the Pennsylvania State Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg and will take up to two weeks.

To date, two deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. As a result, the agriculture department quarantined 27 farms in 14 counties associated with the herd where the deer that tested positive for the disease were found. Deer cannot be moved on or off those quarantined premises.

Chronic Wasting Disease attacks the brains of infected antlered animals such as deer, elk and moose, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. Animals can get the disease through direct contact with saliva, feces and urine from an infected animal.

For the rest of the story click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Invasive Species App for Your Smart Phone Available

I thought I would share with you the new app that was launched by Ohio State University, the University of Georgia, and several other entities across the region. It is called the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN).  It is currently availabe in the Android version and plans are in the works to release an iPhone version soon, probably December or January.

GLEDN allows you to use your smart phone to help discover non-native invasive species early in their infestations. The app allows you to upload location information along with images for verifiers to confirm. Data is then added to the EDDMapS site to help track these invasive species across the country.

Check it out and see if it meets the need.  This has some real possibilities for tracking new insect infestations such as Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, and hemlock wooly adelgid.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Guide to Forestry and Natural Resources Programs Now Available

For those of you who may be thinking about a possible career in forestry and natural resources, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) has recently completed a booklet entitled Guide to Forestry and Natural Resources Programs.  The guide is an excellent source if information where you can learn about SAF-accredited programs at colleges and universities all across the United States.  Each program is highlighted giving you an opportunity to learn what they have to offer and helping you choose the one that is right for you.  There are many options to choose from.

Penn State University
Forest Resources Building

Click here to visit the Education page on the SAF website.

 Have to put a plug in for Penn State here....vist the "new" Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State, University Park, formerly kown as the School of Forest Resources.  You may find the degree program you are looking for!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Captive Deer in Pennsylvania Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

As the disease progresses, infected
 animals appear to be in poor body
 condition and some become emaciated.
 Many of you may have heard, a captive deer in Adams County Pennsylvania was found to have Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  The positive test was announced on October 11th.  This is a very serious matter as it could have a huge impact on our wild herd if the disease were to get into the population.  It is important to note that to date, CWD has NOT been found in wild whitetail populations anywhere in Pennsylvania. 

Before I get into some of the news releases that have been sent out, I thought it important to first provide all with a site where information about the disease can be found.

In January 2002 the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance was established by a number of non-profit groups to address the occurrenc of CWD in a number of western states.  Their mission was to promote responsible and accurate communications regarding CWD, and to support strategies that effectively control CWD to minimize its impact on wild, free-ranging cervids.  The alliance is still in existence today and their web site is loaded with a lot of information on CWD, including a video series called Shedding Light on CWD.  They also have an informational bulletin entitled: Questions and Answers on Chronic Wasting Disease for Hunters.  I copied the first question and answer below.

What is CWD?
CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) diseasefound in deer, elk and moose (collectively referred to as cervids) in certain geographical locations in North America. The disease belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases.  CWD attacks the brains of infected cervids and is always fatal.  Though CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, there is no known relationship between CWD and any other TSE found in animals or humans.

The Pennsylvnaia Game Commission has also set up a CWD informational page with plenty of good informaiton including an overview of the disease and a map of the Disease Management Area.

Lastly, I thought it would be important to provide you with links to the news release that have been coming out, in chronological order.  This way you can see how things have began to unfold here in Pennsylvania.  I am sure there will be more to come.

October 11, 2012
First Case of Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Deer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

October 15, 2012
Veterinarian: State should consider deer-feeding ban to combat CWD, Penn State Live, The University's Official News Source

October 17, 2012
Game Commission Designates Disease Management Area In Response to CWD Confirmation on Deer Farm in Adams County, Deer feeding banned in DMA; check station established for hunters in DMA,  Pennsylvania Game Commission

October 22, 2012
Captive deer from CWD-positive farm roaming free, Trib Live Total Media by Bob Frye

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wood Energy Resources

With the high cost of energy today many folks are considering using wood as their primary source of heat.  Many homes and some schools in Pennsylvania have already installed wood fired boilers that now provide all their heating needs and possibly their hot water needs as well.  Pennsylvania has a sizeable energy resource in its forests. If this energy source is going to be developed it is essential to understand how to harvest trees sustainably with minimal impact on other forest attributes such as soils, water, and wildlife.

Woody biomass resources can be utilized in a number of ways; firewood for residential heating, pelletizing, combined heat and power, or wood based ethanol are just some of the current alternatives.  Pennsylvania’s forests and land resource base has considerable potential to produce woody biomass for energy.  But, many factors will affect how much and how effectively this resource can be utilized:
1.  Understanding the different ways wood resources can be utilized, for example in pellets, in district heat and power projects, or as wood ethanol;
2.  Development of potential resources with minimal impacts on other wood product industries;
3.  Understanding the sustainable forestry practices associated with harvesting trees for woody biomass;
4.  Land ownership issues and the economic returns to harvesting are critical consideration.

Mike Jacobson, associate professor of forest, resources, and Daniel Ciolkosz, extension associate, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering both at Penn state University prepared a publication entitled A Primer on Woody Biomass Energy for Forest Landowners.

Maryland Extension Service has also created a number of great wood energy resources that you may find useful as well:
The Wood Stove Checklist
Buying and Storing Firewood & Pellets
Buying a Second Hand Wood Stove
Buying a Clean Burning Wood Stove
Considerations for your Wood or Pellet Stove Installation
Heating with Wood

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

American Chestnut Restoration, the international weekly journal of science, recentently provided a thorough overview of the American chestnut tree.  The article covers everything from the chestnuts demise to the current restoration efforts.  The article was written by Hellen Thompson and released on October 3, 2012.  I have provided a link to the full article below.

In addition, you may also be interested in the chestnut restoration efforts of the American Chestnut Foundation.  The foundation works to restore the American chestnut by combining modern technology and tools with top scientific tallent including geneticists, tree breeders, and biologists.  Their research efforts focus on backcrossing blight resistant Chinese trees with pure American trees.  In time, the project takes 6 generations or more of trees, they hope to have a blight resistant tree with the classic appearance of American chestnut.

Plant Science: The Chestnut Resurrection
Once king of eastern forests, the American chestnut was wiped out by blight. Now it is poised to rise again.
Helen Thompson
October 3, 2012
Until a century ago, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was the cornerstone tree species of eastern North America. With long, straight trunks and bushy crowns, it carpeted the forest floor each autumn with prickly brown nuts. But the arrival of chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) from Asia wiped out almost all the stately trees, leaving only a few, isolated stands. Since then, a faithful fan club of scientists and citizens has sought to tame the blight.  To read the full story click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tax Tips for Forest Landowners

When getting ready to prepare your 2012 income tax return be sure to review the "Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2012 Tax Year" bulletin.  The fact sheet is compiled by US Forest Service employees Linda Wang, National Timber Tax Specialist, and John Greene, Research Forester, Southern Research Station.  The information sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.  For all your timber tax questions go to:

"Federal income tax law contains provisions to encourage stewardship and management of private forest land. The primary goal of this bulletin is to assist forest landowners and their advisors with timber tax information they can use to file their 2012 in-come tax returns. The information presented here is current as of Sept. 15, 2012."

Items covered by the bulletin include the following:
Personal Use, Investment, or Business Property
Timber Basis and Timber Depletion Deductions
Timber Sales
Installment Sales
Timber Management Expenses
Reforestation Costs
Depreciation, Bonus Depreciation, and Sec. 179 Expensing
Cost-share Payments on Form 1099-G
Timber Casualty and Theft Losses
Filing Form T (Timber)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Family Forest Owner Toolbox Available

The toolbox is a series of 11 fact sheets developed by the Great Lakes Forest Alliance.  The sheets highlight new and emerging opportunities for landowners as there are fact sheets on ecosystem and carbon markets as well as the traditional forests products and non-timber forest products.  There is even a fact sheet on woody biomass for energy.  They were written for the lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan but are certainly applicable for any of the Great Lakes states including Pennsylvania.

With support from a grant awarded by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, the Great Lakes Forest Alliance (GLFA) developed this series of fact sheets to provide information and resources to family forest owners.

You may own woodlands because they offer you a quiet retreat, opportunities for recreation, supplemental income, or all of the above. Regardless of your reasons, the 21st century has brought new and exciting opportunities for meeting family goals and for making forest ownership a sound, long-term investment.

The forest that brings you so much pride and pleasure also benefits society as a whole. We believe that by working together, private landowners and forest professionals can enhance the personal and financial rewards of family forest ownership while maximizing the benefits of forests to your community.

We developed this toolbox of resources to support landowners who want to enhance forest management and/or get involved with “emerging markets,” such as bioenergy, certified products, and green building. Whether you own woodlands for lifestyle or recreational reasons or for financial gain, tapping new opportunities may be a way for you to maintain your land the way you want and secure its future.

Fact Sheet 1 provides essential background on family forest ownership. Fact Sheet 2 gives an overview of key terms and concepts that is critical for understanding emerging opportunities. Subsequent fact sheets delve into different opportunities in more detail, from government payments and tax incentives to a variety of potential markets. The series concludes with a summary of where landowners can go to connect with others and find additional resources.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Bill in Congress to Reduce the Estate Tax for Forest Owners

Received this today from our friends at the American Forest Foundation/American Tree Farm System.  This is good news!  I urge you to get involved and urge your House member to support this bill.  Reducing the estate tax burden on family forests and farms is so important.  It will help to keep them working and providing the services we all benefit from.

Melissa Moeller
Manager, Public Affairs
American Forest Foundation
September 20, 2012

Do you know if your kids and grandkids may face an estate tax bill when your woodlands are passed down? Many family forest owners may be surprised to learn that they are at risk of facing an estate tax bill. Often, families are forced to sell their woodlands or harvest timber prematurely just to pay the tax.

Today, several members of Congress led by Representatives Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Mike Michaud (D-ME-02) introduced the "Keep the Forest and the Farm in the Family Act, H.R. 6439" to help reduce the estate tax burden on family forest owners, farmers and ranchers.

Urge your Representative to cosponsor "Keep the Forest and the Farm in the Family Act" and to maintain the current estate tax levels set to expire in December. Please act today and urge him or her to sign on to H.R. 6439 before Congress leaves town at the end of this week. (If your member has already agreed to cosponsor, you'll have the opportunity to thank them.)
  If passed, H.R. 6439 would allow forest owners --and farmers and ranchers---to pay a significantly lower estate tax (or no estate tax at all!). The legislation also removes penalties for timber harvesting in current law, allowing landowners who use this estate tax reduction to harvest timber sustainably. Timber harvesting can provide a landowner with income, and it is one of the tools that helps prevent damage from wildfires, pests, and diseases.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Invasive Plant Management Workshop

There is still time to register for the Invasive Plant Management Program sponsored by the Pinchot Chapter of the Society of American Foresters.  The workshop will be held at Nescopeck State Park in Drums, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, September 26th from 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM.  Pesticide and Society of American Foresters credits have been approved for the program.  Pesticide credits will be available in categories 5, 10, 18, 23 and core.  The cost of the program is $18.00 per person and includes lunch.  To register send a check made out to "Allegheny Society of American Foresters" and send to Robert Remillard (treasurer), 103 Maple Court, Milford, PA 18337.  If you have questions about the meeting contact Todd Hagenbuch at 570-401-7098.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Urge Congress to Pass the Farm Bill

Join the American Forest Foundation's - American Tree Farm System (ATFS) in urging Congress to pass the Farm Bill.  The 2008 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of the month.  In addition, Congress goes on recess in just 6 days!  The Bill has yet to receive a vote with the full House.  Time is of the essesnce if this Bill is going to receive a vote.  You may want to urge your US Representative to move forward with this legislation as it provides important benefits for forest owners.

I copied below a message from the American Tree Farm System's public affairs manager, Christine Cadigan.  In it you will find a link you can click to bring you to the ATFS site for Policy and Advocacy.  You can write your Representative directly from that page.

"We know how important Farm Bill conservation tools and resources are for forest owners. These programs leverage forest owner time, energy, and investment to implement forest conservation practices for the betterment of our families, our rural communities and our country--all who depend on healthy forests and wood products.

The House Agriculture Committee's bipartisan Farm Bill streamlines conservation programs, improves forest owner access to conservation tools, opens forest product markets, and strengthens programs to combat invasive species. Additionally, both the House and Senate Bills provide America with billions of dollars in savings--meaning passing a Farm Bill now is fiscally responsible and good governance.

Click here to write your members of Congress today and help us spread the word so we can reach our goal of 100 messages for every day Congress is in session. We need them to understand that passing a Farm Bill now is the right thing to do."

Christine Cadigan
Manager, Public Affairs
American Forest Foundation

Project Learning Tree® and the American Tree Farm System® are programs of the American Forest Foundation.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

2013 Forest Landowner Conference - Hold the date!!

May 10 & 11, 2013
Blair County Convention Center
Altoona, PA

Pennsylvania’s private woodlands make this state green. As a woodland owner, you are the future of Penn’s Woods. Your decisions are important for sustaining our trees and forests.  
Penn State’s Center for Private Forests and partners are hosting the first-ever comprehensive conference for private landowners in Pennsylvania. Whether you own 5 or 500 acres, you are one of nearly 740,000 Pennsylvania woodland owners who together make decisions about the health and care of nearly 12 million acres of private forests.

This conference is about learning and coming together as a community. We will cover virtually every topic affecting your property with dozens of presentations on woods, wildlife, water, conservation, taxes, timber sales, invasive species, and much more. Exhibitors with informational and resource displays and demonstrations will be present to showcase tools and services available to help you tackle your forest projects.

To learn more about THE FUTURE OF PENNS WOODS conference visit: If you would like to receive notices about the conference as details develop, send an email to

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Webworm Prevalent in Central PA

In driving around the region we see a severe infestation of fall webworm showing up......more than in most years.  This pest is easily recognized by the tent-like webs they make at the ends of branches while they skeletonize and consume the leaves.  The webs provide protection from predators.  The caterpillars feed on almost 90 species of deciduous trees, most commonly attacking hickory, walnut, birch, cherry, and crabapple.

Fall webworm is a native pest but entomology experts aren't sure why we are seeing so much of this insect this year.  They suspect it may be due to the very early spring and mild winter we had as this insect has to overwinter in the pupal stage.  Luckily fall or late summer defoliators are much less destructive and stressful on the tree than spring defoliators, like gypsy moth.  The tree has already set a bud for next years growth and as long as the bud is not disturbed the trees will generally refoliate just fine next spring.

The webs can be pruned out or manually removed.  There are also a large number of insecticides labeled for webworm control.  To be most successful treatments need to be made when webs are small in late June through July.

To read the full Penn State Extension Entomology Fact Sheet click here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Biomass Energy Gaining Ground

It appears as though woody biomass continues to gain ground.  Biomass energy produces heat and/or electricity from the direct combusion of plant material.  Penn State's own Tom Richards, Director of the Biomass Energy Center, is quoted in the article.  See news release below.

Area Business Energized by Green Initiatives, Biomass

Utica Observer-Dispatch (August 15) - Upstate New York is leading the way in the biomass industry, and local businesses are tapping in.

Old Forge Properties-including Enchanted Forest/Water Safari and Water's Edge Inn and Conference Center-recently announced a biomass-heating project and anticipates receiving a grant to cover 75 percent of the $2.2 million endeavor, President and CEO Tim Noonan said.

And earlier this month Griffiss Utility Services Corp. broke ground on an $18 million biofuel project to supply heat and electricity for tenants of Rome's Griffiss Business and Technology Park. 

Click here to read full story.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ash Borer Now in 28 Pennsylvania Counties

As I hear of updates I have been trying to get them out to my readers.  Below is the latest news on the Emerald Ash Borer.  This was reported in the Philly Daily News on August 4th.

If you want proof for how the emerald ash borer can leap across the landscape, check out the latest map from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The small insect, an Asian invasive that was first detected in Michigan in 2002, kills ash trees. As it moved through Detroit, the streets became lined with dead or dying trees, and municipalities were strapped for funds as they realized they had to cut the trees down to avoid a public safety problem.

To read the full story click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

For Those Interested in Tree Identification

Don Leopold, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY-ESF, and Christopher Baycura, ITS office at ESF, have a total of 135 short tree vignettes described on this You Tube site.  Each video is typically about 2 minute long, in HD video, and briefly summarizes how to identify each tree, its ecological characteristics, importance, and whatever else came to mind.

They've covered most of the trees that one would encounter in the woods or in landscapes in upstate NY and throughout the Northeast, that are cold hardy in Central New York.  They include both native and non-native species as well as many western US tree species. These vignettes are also all available for free on i-Tunes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Landowner Workshop: Conservation and Wildlife Habitat

John and Catherine Smith of Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, are proud to be hosting a landowner workshop entitled Conservation Programs and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Practices.  The workshop will be held at ChicoryLane Farm, 246 Brush Mountain Road, Spring Mills, Pennsylvania from 9:30 AM-3:30 PM on Saturday, August 18, 2012.

Information will be provided as participants tour numerous habitats and conservation projects. Tour leaders include numerous natural resource management professionals from many different conservation agencies including: Penn State Extension, Centre County Conservation District, DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania Game Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Clearwater Conservancy. Financial sponsorship of the event is provided by the Wildlife Management Institute, Headwaters RC&D Council, and the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

The day will be spent outdoors learning from natural resource management professionals and discussing specific aspects of land management. The workshop will include information, discussion, and a tour of numerous conservation and habitat improvement projects including: developing cool and warm-season grasslands, establishing a pollinator field, controlling invasive plants, designing and building vernal pools, managing streamside and early successional habitats to encourage wildlife, and planting and maintaining a new hardwood forest. Come prepared to be outdoors rain or shine.

The event is appropriate for anyone interested in conservation and wildlife habitat improvement practices. It is designed especially for landowners interested in starting a conservation program or who have a "problem spot" on their land they wish to address.

There are two ways to register for this workshop. You may register online with any major credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express).  Or call, toll-free: 877-489-1398, and your registration will be taken over the phone. The fee for attending the workshop is $15 per person (Includes lunch and educational materials). Pre-registration is required by Monday, August 13, 2012. Attendance is limited to 50 participants so please plan to register early.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Growing Shrub Willow for Fuel

There is growing interest in planting woody biomass crops to be harvested specifically for fuel production.  Penn State University has a project up and running looking at hybrid willow cultivars to determine which grow best on Pennsylvania soils and under our growing conditions.  This project is funded through a Sun Grant Initiative and reflects a Northeast partnership with Cornell, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Michigan State and West Virginia.   The project will provide a robust network to evaluate new cultivars in marginal sites across the Northeast.

Our neighbors to the north have been experimenting with willow hybrids for quite some time now.  Shrub willow is a short rotation woody crop and can produce large amounts of woody biomass through coppicing harvests that allow for repeated cuttings of wood from each shrub. The technology reflects 25 years of research and development spearheaded by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry's willow biomass program.
See the Woody Biomass Program at SUNY-ESF.

The USDA Farm Service Agency has announced that it will continue to support NY farmers growing shrub willow as an energy crop through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).  Up to 3,500 total acres are approved for the shrub willow plantings in central and northern New York State.  These producers are eligible to receive establishment and annual payments to grow shrub willow for biomass conversion to bioenergy.

To read the full story go to: NY farmers encouraged to grow willow for fuel.
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 5, 2012.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

PA Inheritance Tax Eliminated for Forest Landowners

Dr. Mike Jacobson, Professor of Forest Resources at Penn State University, sent this notice on Monday, July 2nd.  As part of House Bill 761, Forest landowners in Pennsylvania will not have to pay PA inheritance tax if their land passes to a sibling or child of the deceased.  This is great news for Pennsylvania landowners!  Previously in Pennsylvania, children who inherited farm or forest land from their parents paid a 4.5 percent inheritance tax and if the land was left to a sibling, the inheritor paid a 12 percent tax.  Landowners will still be liable for Federal estate tax which as you know will likely change by year’s end.

Click here to read the relevant passages.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Carbon Emissions and Heating with Wood Pellets

I wanted to share the findings of an interesting report posted in the Kilwa Biomass: Wood Energy News dated 6/29/12.  The article provides a telling summary in regards to carbon emissions and pellet fuel.  The study states, "As a result, switching from fossil fuel heating to a wood pellet stove or furnace could lead to a 60% to 90% reduction of carbon emissions."  The findings are based on a joint research project between The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam.  As many of us already suspected, wood pellets can be a very low carbon source of heat as long as certain conditions are met, in particular, strict adherance to sustainable harvesting practices.

A Carbon Life Cycle Analysis of Wood: The Republican Journal, April 2012.

Click here to go directly to the complete study published by the Alliance for Green Heat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012 Farm Bill Passed

On June 21st your Senators passed the 2012 Farm Bill, also known as the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, with a bipartisan vote of 64-35.  Programs for forest owners were protected in this bill.

The Senate's Farm Bill includes:
• Consolidated, streamlined working lands programs that make sense for forest owners
• Improved access to important conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program
• Continued support for programs that combat invasive species
• Continued support for cooperative forestry and extension programs
• Strengthened direction for the forest inventory and analysis program, which researches market and forest health trends
• A Fix to the Biobased Markets Program that allows the inclusion of forest products, strengthening markets for home-grown, American products.

Access to conservation tools and technical assistance is very important to helping you keep your forests healthy, intact, and working.  Farm Bill programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and Forest Legacy provide important technical and financial assistance to forest owners, giving them the tools they need to implement important forest mangement practices on the ground.

For more informationon the 2012 Farm Bill go to the American Forest Foundation's web site.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beech Control: Options for Management

I had the opportunity this week to meet with a number of foresters from Land Vest in NW Pennsylvania.  The meeting was to discuss options for American beech (Fagus grandifolia) control in black cherry stands.  Beech is a shade tolerant, root suckering species that is dominant in northern hardwood forest understories.  With beech bark disease moving south across Pennsylvnia it has only compounded the problem.  The disease kills the parent tree increasing the amount of root suckering.

We were particularly interested in manual herbicide methods of control, in particular using a method called "Hack and Squirt."  This method uses a hatchet to chop frill cuts through the bark at a convenient height conpletely around the tree.  A concentrated herbicide solution in then squirted into the frills.  By leaving spaces between our cuts or essentially leaving phloem cells intact the thought was that we might get better translocation to the roots thus increasing our success at controlling understory root suckers from the parent tree.

Here is a link to a short video we produced demonstrating the method while at the site.
Beech Control, Three Trees, With Hack and Squirt

We hope to collect some preliminary results from these applications by the end of the growing season to determine if a more detailed study is waranted.

In looking into this a bit further I came across a research paper put out by a number of US Forest Service research foresters.  The researchers utilized two manual chemical treatments, hack & squirt and basal bark, to study their effectiveness and cost at controlling beech.  The results showed that both treatments were very effective at controlling beech.  However, when comparing the cost of application they found the basal bark application to be much more expensive in labor and chemical costs.
Preharvest Manual Herbicide Treatments for Controlling American Beech in Central West Virginia

Lastly, here is another great publication put out by the same US Forest Service researchers.  This publication illustrates the many methods of manual herbicide applications and provides herbicide specific treatment information.  It is a very useful publication for any land/vegetation manager.
Manual Herbicide Application Methods for Managing Vegetation in Appalachian Hardwood Forests

If anyone had experience in managing beech root suckers using the hack and squirt method please let me know what your experience has been and if you felt it was effective.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Impacts of High Grading Your Forest

High graded forest with inferior
 quality oak left following harvest
What is high grading?  High grading is harvesting only those trees that will give the highest immediate economic return; harvesting those trees with the highest economic value.  It is also often referred to as select cutting or diameter limit cutting where all trees above a specified diameter are harvest.  Whatever you call it the effect is the same....a decline in long term forest health and productivity.  High grading removes important seed sources and decreases long term income potential.  No concern is shown for the species composition, quality, and density of the remaining forest.

Extension has been telling this message for years, yet the practice continues.  I just came across an article that was published on-line by the University of Missouri Extension.  The article provides information on the impacts of high grading and how we need to be marketing low value, small diameter trees from our timber sales.  The author also provides valuable input on how to select a reputable forester and logger to guide you through the timber sale process.

High Grading Brings Down Health, Value of Woodland
by Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri Extension
May 25, 2012
Unsuspecting woodland owners selling timber often fall victim to a practice known as "high-grading"—cutting the best trees and leaving the rest.  "It’s like a rancher selling a prize-winning bull and keeping the losers for breeding," said Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri Extension state forestry specialist. "You’re cashing in your best assets and investing in your worst."

To read the full story click here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sunday Hunting in Pennsylvania?

The battle over whether or not to allow Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania continues.  A grassroots group has formed calling themselves Hunters United For Sunday Hunting (HUSH).  They have decided to take the fight all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  You can visit their web site at:  Below is a news blurb that just came out today.  Let me know your opinion about Sunday hunting?

Group Taking Sunday Hunting Battle to Pa. Supreme Court,  By Bob Frye

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The fight to bring Sunday hunting to Pennsylvania is not over yet.A grassroots sportsmen’s coalition called Hunters United for Sunday Hunting is preparing to take the battle to the courts rather than the legislature.The group expects to sign a contract with an attorney within a few weeks, with the intention of going to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with its case no later than July.“We seek to re-establish hunting as a constitutional right and abolish the Sunday hunting ban at the same time,” said Kathy Davis of Speers in Washington County, one of the group’s volunteers. “That is our goal.The was also the goal of the National Rifle Association, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and others last year when they put on a major push to convince state lawmakers to pass a bill that would have allowed the Pennsylvania Game Commission to decide if and when to include Sundays in hunting seasons. But the bill never even came up for a vote.That seemed to be the last chance for Sunday hunting advocates, at least for a while. But Hunters United for Sunday Hunting isn’t giving up.In fact, the group is optimistic long-standing law and some more recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions make this the perfect time to take on the Sunday hunting ban. The fight will be expensive, though.

The group estimates it will need $70,000 to $150,000 to wage a legal battle. It’s asking sportsmen to foot the bill. “We want this to be a grassroots movement, and we want every Joe Hunter who contributes to have as much say as the next, whether they contribute $5 or $500,”

Davis said. The group collected more than $7,000 in its first two weeks. That’s enough to get started, and Davis and her fellow volunteers hope the suit will succeed where proposed legislation failed.“Lawmakers had 25-plus years to act on this and they did not, so we’re going to take it out of their hands and go straight to the courts,” Davis said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Women Owning Woodlands Web Site

I'm pleased to share with you that there is now a new Women Owning Woodlands website up and running.  There are lots of resources for all forest landowners, but with a special focus on women who own or are active with forest lands.  Check it out!

Women Owning Woodlands
Welcome! On this website you’ll find accurate and timely information about managing your woods sustainably and with your goals in mind. Here are some tips for using the site.

You can search for posts that relate to a specific topic (say, taxes or improving wildlife habitat) by selecting that topic from the dropdown list at the top of every page. Many posts are cross-listed, so you may find some of the same posts in a search for “taxes” and in a search for “estate planning.” Over time, we’ll add more and more information about all the topics on the site, so we also recommend checking back regularly, or setting up a web reader that will alert you to new posts on the site.  Read more.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Penn State Extension Offering Woodlot Management Course

Penn State Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Penn State School of Forest Resources, DCNR Bureau of Forestry, and The Nature Conservancy are proud to provide you with an opportunity to learn about sustainable forestry through our Caring For Your Woods I: Essential Principles course. This is a two part course. To complete the entire course attendance at two evening sessions is necessary.

The course will be held at the Susquehanna County Courthouse Annex, Montrose, PA on the evenings of June 20 and 27, 2012 from 6-8:30 PM. This course is designed for private forest landowners, professional timber harvesters, sportsmen and women, and other outdoor enthusiasts interested in learning the essential principles about how to care for woodland. This is an opportunity to talk to natural resource management professionals who have experience in managing forest resources.

The course will cover such topics as forest history, ecology, management techniques, and best management practices. It includes both indoor lecture and outdoor discussions. This course will strengthen your knowledge of sustainable forest management. Without sustainable management forests will not provide future generations with the same quality resources we have today. A follow-up course entitled CFYW-II: Making Good Decisions will be offered in the near future.

For more information on progam contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension office in Centre County at 814-355-4897 or e-mail To register go click here or call toll-free 877-489-1398. The registration fee is $20.00 per person and includes refreshments and educational materials. The deadline for registration is Friday, May 15th. Participants must be pre-registered.

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of special accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Centre County Cooperative Extension at 814-355-4897 in advance of your participation of visit.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Conservation Funding Aimed at Bog Turtle and Golden-winged Warbler

The following news release came out of the Harrisburg USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service office last week.  The program looks to restore wetlands and early successional habitat for bog turtles and golden-winged warbler respectively.  Both of these types of habitat have been degraded or are in decline and both provide critical habitat for many other species as well.  In particular we are seeing a big push to create early successional habitat to favor other species like woodcock.

Harrisburg, PA, April 23, 2012

Golden-winged warbler
 Pennsylvania farmers and forest landowners are being urged to sign-up now for assistance to protect and restore habitats for the northern bog turtle and golden-winged warbler through the Working Lands for Wildlife partnership.

Working Lands for Wildlife is a new partnership between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to enhance natural resources by improving and protecting wildlife habitat.

Bog turtle
Working Lands for Wildlife is funded through USDA’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), which will share the cost of conservation practices with landowners in areas known to support one or both of these selected species. Examples of conservation practices that improve habitat for bog turtles include wetland restoration, prescribed grazing, brush management, and fencing; and for golden-winged warbler, early successional habitat management.

Bog turtles and golden-winged warblers are two of seven selected species nationally that are being focused on because of their declining populations. One of the smallest turtles in the world, the bog turtle has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1997, when it was listed as a threatened species. The golden-winged warbler is a migratory song-bird that is at-risk for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Applications within priority Bog Turtle and Golden-Winged Warbler habitat areas will receive the highest consideration in Pennsylvania. To view a map of these areas: Bog Turtles or Golden-winged Warblers. Interested producers and landowners in targeted areas can enroll in the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) on a continuous basis at their local NRCS field office, but are encouraged to apply now while funds are available.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Deer Populations Publication and Hunter Survey

A couple of things to share with my readers.......The first is the Spring 2012 Research Review publication put out by the US Forest Service Northern Research Station entitled Deer Can Be Too Many, Too Few, Or Just Enough For Healthy Forests.  This 6 page booklet provides an excellent synopsis of deer populations and their interactions with forests.  The booklet is ideal for distribution to general audiences.  The publication also contains several references and websites for additional information.

Second, the Pennsylvania Game Commission surveyed Pennsylvania deer hunters in 2011.  The preliminary results of the survey were released today.  To view the complete report visit the Game Commission’s website (, select the “White-Tailed Deer” photo button on the homepage, and click on “2011 Pennsylvania Deer Hunter Survey Preliminary Results under “Deer Hunting.” Below is the news release.

Age strongly influences attitudes and perceptions of deer hunters

By Joe Kosack
Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist
Pennsylvania Game Commission

HARRISBURG – Deer hunters have long been recognized as Pennsylvania’s most devoted hunters and their commitment to hunting has helped keep wildlife management afloat in this state for almost 100 years.  But who are these people? How and where do they hunt deer? Do they support or oppose the agency’s deer management program? The results of a recent Pennsylvania Game Commission survey of 5,892 randomly selected deer hunters now sheds light on their preferences.

“Hunters returned 3,572 surveys, which resulted in a response rate of 61 percent,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “We were pleased with hunter participation in the survey, because it improves substantially the accuracy of responses hunters provided in this important periodic survey.”

To read the full news release click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Update: Hemlock Wooly Adelgid in Pennsylvania

Centre County Pennsylvania Tree Farmer
Jim Walizer shows a hemlock branch
covered with adelgid.
Pennsylvania's state tree, the eastern hemlock, is threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid in about three-quarters of the state's counties.  Last week on April 10th a forum of proffessionals met at Penn State University Park Campus to examine the problem more closely and discuss current research attempts and trends.  The below article appeared in the Centre Daily Times.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Pennsylvania’s state tree — the eastern hemlock — is threatened by a bug in about three-quarters of counties.  Local farmers hope to draw attention to the problem, and Penn State researchers are working to find a natural enemy to combat the bug — the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Landowners and Penn State, state and federal forestry officials gathered on campus Tuesday for a public forum on the issue, hosted by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township.  Thompson, chairman of the subcommittee on conservation, energy and forestry, organized the forum after retired farmer Jim Walizer approached him for help with the insect.

Walizer, a retired farmer who lives in Walker Township, bought forest land in 1984, then attended a forestry session with Penn State’s Cooperative Extension, and became involved with various groups, including the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

To read the rest of the story click here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

From Tree to Baseball Bat

With today being the opening of the baseball season, I thought it would be fitting to share with you a video that records the process of a tree being harvested and processed into a bat.  Take a few minutes and enjoy this intro segment by ESPN.  It features the creation of a Louisville Slugger bat from a tree harvested in Warren, Pennsylvania all the way through the process until it is put in the hands of a player.  It is well done and well worth watching.
To watch click here.