Monday, March 25, 2013

Young Forests Equal Healthy Habitat For Wildlife

White-Tailed Deer are the most recognizable game species in Pennsylvania. They are also the species that often ranks the highest on the list of objectives in woodland owners management plans. On the other hand, clearcutting is usually not on woodland owners lists and is often frowned upon. However, clearcuts can be beneficial to white-tailed deer and many other species of wildlife that benefit from young forest conditions. 

Forest clearcut year 1 immediately following the harvest

Same site just 2 growing seasons later

Currenty, there is an initiative to create more young forest conditions across the landscape, see blog post dated April 30, 2012. Over the past 50 years the number of acres of young forests in the north east and upper mid-west have declined dramatically and with it, the wildlife that depended on young brushy forest conditions. Species like the golden-winged warbler, woodcock, ruffed grouse, easter towhee, brown thrasher and others. The list of wildife that need young forest is great and includes at least 89 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. For a complete listing go to the "Who Lives There" page of the Wildlife Management Institutes Young Forest Project web site. Current conservation plans call for creating more than 600,000 acres of young forests annually in the northeast to restore populations of these wildlife species.

The Northeast Association of of Fish and Wildlfie Agencies recently published a booklet entitled Talking About Young Forests. This is a great resource for anyone interested in helping to create or maintain young forest habitat on their property or for those that just want to learn more about the initiative. Another useful site is which speaks more specifically to the plight of the woodcock, also known as the timberdoodle.  Timberdoodle populations have declined about 1% each year since 1960 as a result of young brushy forests growing into mature timber.   

Recall that I opend this post talking about white-tailed deer.....well what about deer? Deer need young forests too. Young forests provide important components of deer habitat including food and cover, with food being the number one limiting factor across most of Pennsylvania. A 2000 Clemson University publication pulled together a literature review of past research on white-tailed deer and clearcutting. The findings are quite telling. 

Here is a quick summary of just some of their results:
1. Clearcuttings have been found to enhance deer habitat in most regions, even in the snowbelt portions of the northcentral and northeastern states, providing that nearby shelter against cold winter winds is available.
2. The first few years after clearcutting, deer foods increase to their highest level of abundance and availability.
3. Without forest disturbances deer become overly dependent on acorns, a food source that often is unreliable.
4. Following canopy closure, a decade or two after clearcutting, the forage supply declines and remains scarce until another regeneration cut is made. To avoid such a feast or famine situation, an even flow of deer foods can be maintained by making clearcuts smaller and more frequent.

Read the full publication: Effects of Clearcutting on White-tailed Deer

Talk to your forester or wildlife biologist about providing habitat for deer and other wildlife species today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pennsylvania's Forests in Need of Regeneration

Received and e-mail today from Cornell Cooperative Extension concerning an initiative in New York entitled "Restore New York Woodlands."  The initiative is in recognition of the New York Forest Owners 50th anniversary celebration.  The initiative will include editorials, public woods walks, and lobbying at a forestry awareness event at the state capital.

I found the article quite interesting and wanted to share it with my readers.  Along with the article is a nice 4 minute radio spot you can listen to as well.  Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same issues here in PA.  The last forest inventory and analysis data that I have from the US Forest Service indicates that regeneration (new trees froms seedlings and sprouts) is lacking across much of Pennsylvania. 

Here are the numbers for Pennsylvania.
When looking at only desirable species of trees only 40% of the sample plots met the regeneration criteria.  If we add in all woody species it is not much better at 54%.  To say this another way, almost 2/3 would likely fail to regenerate to desirabel tree species and about half would likely fail to regenerate when looking at all woody species.

This is a very serious issue in Pennsylvania and speaks to the sustainability of our forest resource on all levels.  Forests must be able to regrow with desirable species following tree mortality from natural disturbances and timber harvests or they are not sustainable.

Below is the article from Cornell.  It was published on WRVO Public Media and written by Sidsel Overgaard.  Let me know what you think or if you have had similar experiences.

New York's forests in need of healthier regeneration

Imagine a New York autumn with almost no red or orange -- just brown, brown, brown. Experts say that could be the scene 50 years from now if people don’t start paying more attention to what’s going on with the shrubs, bushes and saplings in the forest. 

Sarah Stackhouse and her husband Charles live in the forested hillsides of Yates County. It’s beautiful up here among the trees, and to an untrained eye, the forest looks perfectly healthy -- an ideal place to look for wildlife. It doesn’t take long before Stackhouse stops and points.

"There’re several deer out in the field here," she said.  Charles Stackhouse says 100 years ago, this encounter would have been just short of miraculous.

To read the full story and listen to the radio spot click here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Basal Bark Herbicide Applications Fact Sheet

Penn State Extension Releases New Forest Science Fact Sheet Series

Penn State Forest Resources Extension has just released the first publication in a new Forest Science Fact Sheet Series. The series will provide in-depth practical information on a wide variety of topics. Forest landowners will be able to use the information to implement practices on their property to increase timber productivity, improve forest health, or provide beneficial wildlife habitat.

The first in the series in entitled Using Basal Bark Herbicide Applications to Control Understory Tree Species. The fact sheet was written by Forest Resources Educator Dave Jackson. The information provided is based upon applied research findings from a basal bark herbicide rate study conducted by Jackson from 2008-2010. The findings of the study are published in the fact sheet along with a wealth of information that can be utilized to control competing or less desirable understory tree species.

The latest U.S. Forest Service forest inventory and analysis data indicate the tree species composition of Pennsylvania’s forests is changing. One indication of change is understory composition. Recognizing and treating potential species composition changes using properly applied silvicultural practices is critical to forest sustainability. Herbicides are a versatile tool for manipulating tree species composition and when selectively applied offer one of the safest and most economical means for controlling unwanted understory tree species.

When considering basal bark treatments for timber stand improvement and/or forest regeneration establishment projects, it is important to know what species are targeted for treatment. Pretreatment understory inventories are necessary to make proper herbicide prescriptions. The species mix may dictate time of year and herbicide concentration. This 6-page fact sheet suggests that adequate control can be achieved with reduced herbicide rates, thus decreasing the amount of chemical being applied and greatly lowering herbicide costs. A small investment of time to collect data and plan treatments can provide considerable financial savings.

The fact sheet is available online by clicking here or in hard copy by contacting the Penn State Extension Ag Publications Distribution Center at:
Phone: 814-865-6713 or E-mail:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chronic Wasting Disease Found In South Central PA

More bad news for the deer herd in Pennsylvania.  Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has now been found in hunter killed wild deer, 2 in Blair County and 1 in Bedford County.  This is the first time CWD has been found in wild, free ranging deer in Pennsylvania.  You will recall last year, CWD was found in a captive deer in Adams County, see post dated Friday, October 26, 2012.

Below is the news release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  This incidence is now governed by the Game Commission since it occurred in wild deer and not in captive deer on a deer farm.  Click here to go to the PA Game Commission CWD information page.

Release #019-13 – March 1, 2013
For Information Contact: Joe Neville
717-787-4250 – ext. 3300


HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission today confirmed three hunter-killed deer taken in the 2012 general firearms deer season have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Two were from Blair County; the other was from Bedford County.

“These are the first positive cases of CWD in free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania,” confirmed Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “The disease was first documented in early October, 2012, by the state Department of Agriculture in a captive deer on an Adams County deer farm.”

The three hunter-killed deer tissue samples were collected by Game Commission personnel during annual deer aging field checks during the general firearms season for deer. The samples were tested and identified as suspect positive by the Department of Agriculture as part of an ongoing annual statewide CWD surveillance program. The tissue samples were confirmed to be positive for CWD by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, as part of an established verification process.

To read the full story click here.