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.