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.