Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Timber Harvesting and the Public

Harvesting timber can be a very controversial subject, especially when the ugly word "clearcut" is involved.  It is one of those "not in my backyard" things.  We all use forest products every day, and we should.  Trees are a renewable resource, wood products are biodegradable, and a young growing forest is an invaluable carbon sinc sequestering tons of carbon annually.

But, talk of cutting a forest down never seems to sit right with most folks.  Many are more comfortable saying I will use plastic rather than paper.  The fact of the matter is if we don't use trees, if we don't have markets for trees, if we don't find value in maintaining forests, forestland will not be managed and in many cases the land will be converted to other, more valuable, uses. Or, worse yet, we will simply import products from developing nations. This was articulated very well by Patrick Moore in his book "Trees Are the Answer."

Below is an interesting article concerning a timber management controversey occurring in South Carolina.  The fact of the matter is it could have occurred anywhere and is a contoversy many places.  The question arrises how is our public land to be managed?
We all have the opportunity to provide input into public land management.  All state and national forest systems provide opportunities for public input.  In most, if not all, there is very littel public support for increased timber harvesting. 

Here is the article.  Let me know what you think and if you agree.  I honestly can see both points of view, having worked in eastern Virginia for years I know exactly the type of forest they are dealing with and fully understand what it means to "start over" following decades of high grading.

Lawyers: Clear-cutting hurts Wee Tee Quality
The overcup oak is one of those hardwood swamp bottom trees that most people couldn't even name. Hollow and stringy-fibered, the tree is considered worthless for timbering. The oak grows huge, though, and it gets in the cutters' way. Its sweeping crown is massive, and drops a lot of acorns, so the tree dominates the bottoms and attracts animals. Wildlife, outdoors enthusiasts and hunters are drawn to it.

In the remote Wee Tee State Forest, that's the stuff of conflict.

By Bo Petersen
The Post and Courier
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Top Family Forestry Issues for 2012

With the new year upon us I thought it would be appropriate to share with my readers the Top Family Forestry Issues for 2012.  There were recently published by the National Woodland Owners Association (NWOA) in their National Woodlands magazine special issue featuring family lands and conservation (Fall 2011).  The NWOA has been rating the top issues since 1986.  The issues are selected and ranked by the leaders of the Alliance of Landowners Associations which is made up of 36 individual state organizations affiliated with NWOA.  So here they are.

1. Fair Income, Inheritance, and Property Tax
NWOA believes federal and state income taxes on forest resources should be based on a fair benefit/cost evaluation, that death taxes for woodlands must not be based on the concept of wealth redistribution, and local property taxes should reflect the benefits to society of well managed forests.
2. Timber Markets, Biomass, and Free Trade
NWOA supports fair access to world markets, measures to maintain local markets, and advancing the national renewable energy initiative.
3. Right-to-Practice Forestry & Private Property Rights
NWOA believes private property ownership rights and responsibilities should be carefully protected.
4. Extension Education and Service Forestry
NWOA recommends an increase in the Renewable Resources Education Act funding level and encourages all state forestry agencies to maintain effective service forestry programs.
5. Keeping Forests as Forests
NWOA believes that all forests regardless of ownership should be recognized as valuable, productive, and sustainable ecosystems.
6. Water Quality and Quantity
NWOA recognizes that clean water in reliable quantities are in some regions already considered to be the most imporatnt product of woodlands and supports the use of voluntary Best Management Practices and "bad actor" enforcement clauses.
7. Stewardship Incentives: Cost-Sharing & Tax Credits
NWOA supports forestry in the Farm Bill programs such as EQUIP and Forest Legacy.  They encourage each state to develop incentives to assist exceptional stewardship by landowners.
8. Certification of Forest Practices & Practioners
NWOA recommends the use of certified loggers and foresters as an indication of their education and skill.
9. Wildfire Suppression & Early Detection
NWOA recognizes the difficult choices facing fire managers in dead and dying forests and the conflicting goals within the wildland urban interface.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Are there any they missed?  Let me know what you think are the top issues facing forest landowners in your area.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Deadline Extended: 2012 Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-Up

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that the fiscal year (FY) 2012 ranking period cutoff for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to January 27, 2012.  Interested farmers and landowners have until Friday, January 27, 2012, to complete the initial application form to compete for a spot in the 2012 enrollment class for the program.

To sign up, producers should visit their NRCS local service center.

* Continuous Sign-Up, But if You Miss the Cut-Off You Wait a Full Year -- While CSP is a continuous sign-up program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year.  Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2013, so if you want to enroll in 2012 you must get an application filed by January 27.

Process and Timeline
The application form, available at local NRCS offices, is a fairly short and simple one. Producers will also need to fill out the NRCS-CPA-1200 form.  It is the same short generic two page form that is used for all the NRCS conservation programs offering financial assistance to farmers and landowners.  Prior to submitting the CSP application (or an application for any other USDA conservation assistance program) you must have a farm record number established with the Farm Service Agency.  If you do not currently have one, go to FSA first to establish your farm record.

All producers who have submitted their completed short conservation program application form by January 27 will then have until early to mid March 2012 to sit down with their local NRCS staff person and fill out the CSP Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) which will be used to determine program eligibility, environmental benefits ranking, and CSP payment amounts.  The CMT session will generally last an hour or more.

NRCS currently expects to complete the ranking process by sometime in March.  Farmers and landowners with the highest environmental benefits scores on the CMT will be chosen for enrollment.  NRCS will then schedule on-farm verification visits and develop a CSP plan and contract for each enrollee. The agency currently expects that process to last through mid to late April.  The first annual payments for five-year contracts awarded in this round will be made on or after October 1, 2012 and then every October 1 thereafter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Announcing the Central Region Forest Landowners Conference

Forest Landowner Conference Being Offered

Penn State Extension, in partnership with Penn State School of Forest Resources, Woodland Owners Association of Centre County, DCNR Bureau of Forestry, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are pleased to announce the 2012 Central Region Forest Landowners Conference. The conference is scheduled from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturday, February 25, 2012, at the Penn State School of Forest Resources Building, University Park, PA.

This year’s conference provides valuable updates and information for Pennsylvania’s forest landowners. Some of the topics include: the young forest initiative by the Wildlife Management Institute, a closer look at the American Tree farm System by the American Forest Foundation, how to manage openings for wild turkeys and other wildlife by the National Wild Turkey Federation, how to pass your forest on to your heirs by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, how to interpret the forested landscape by the Penn State School of Forest Resources, as well as many other informative topics.

Pennsylvania has nearly 17 million acres of forests covering 60% of the state’s land area. The largest share of Pennsylvania’s forest is privately owned, accounting for more than 70% of the forested acres (12.5 million acres). Estimates put the number of private forest owners at more than 600,000. That’s approximately 1 in 8 households! The decisions these owners make today will greatly affect all the benefits we receive from our forests now and in the future.

Pennsylvania’s forests support a forest products industry that is a key component of the state’s economy. They also provide habitat for a diversity of plants and wildlife, serve as a place to recreate, and are a source of beauty. Our forests also help to purify the air we breathe and the water we drink. The forests of Pennsylvania are a renewable resource. Please plan to attend this year’s conference to learn how you can properly manage your forest to ensure it provides continued benefits into the future.

To register click here or for more information contact the Penn State Extension office in Centre County at 814-355-4897 or e-mail The registration fee is $25.00 per person and includes presentations, a luncheon, and educational materials. The deadline for registration is Monday, February 17th. Participants must be pre-registered. To view program information and register on-line go to:

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

PA Forests Web Seminar - Wild Turkey Biology and Management

The Penn State Extension, PA Forests Web Seminar Center is pleased to have Mary Jo Casalena, Wild Turkey Biologist, PA Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, presenting a webinar on wild turkey biology and habitat management on Tuesday, January 10th at noon and again at 7 p.m.  Each webinar lasts approximately one hour.

Her talk will cover a turkey's life cycle from egg-stage to adulthood, as well as how habitat requirements of wild turkeys vary with the seasons.  This webinar will also include information on managing openings in forested landscapes and the types of plantings suitable for wild turkeys.  Each webinar is approved for 1.0 SAF CFE credit, Category 2 and 1 Pennsylvania SFI® CE.

Each session is recorded and loaded onto the PA 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.

Here are a couple of upcoming webinars provided by Penn State Natural Resources Extension.

February 14, 2012

Emerald Ash Borer. Ned Karger, Forester, The Collins Company, Kane Hardwood Division and Timothy G. Pierson, PhD, Extension Educator/Forester, Penn State University Extension, Noon and 7 p.m.

March 13, 2012
Regenerating a High-Graded Stand. Jim Finley, Ibberson Chair of Forest Management, Penn State School of Forest Resources, Noon and 7 p.m.