Friday, May 24, 2013

Update: Farm Bill and Forest Landowners

Last week the House Agriculture Committee passed their Farm Bill, just one day after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed their bill out of committee. Provisions in both bills include huge wins for forest owners.  This is great news!  Farm Bill programs provide valuable funding for private forest owners.  This money is used for beneficial reforestation work, stream buffer plantings, for the control of invasive exotic species, and for the creation of wildlife habitat for endangered species, among other things.  Be sure to urge your congressional representatives to keep forest landowners in the Farm Bill

What's included that's good for forest owners?
• Improved access to conservation tools and resources.
• Improved forest market opportunities with access to the USDA Biobased Markets Program.
• Support for programs that combat forest pests and pathogens.
• Strengthened commitment and direction for forest inventory research.

What's next?
The full Senate will likely begin debating the Farm Bill on this week, while the House is expected to consider this legislation later in June.

Want to know more?
• Check out our American Forest Foundation press release and learn how the House and Senate versions may differ in certain forest provisions.
• To understand how these funds were used in 2012, check out the Forests in the Farm Bill Progress Report on the American Forest Foundations web site.

Much of this information ws compiled by Christine Cadigan, Public Affairs Manager, The American Forest Foundation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are Hack-and-Squirt Treatments a Viable Option for the Control of Beech Understories

Dense understories of beech can
inhibit regeneration success.
This is follow-up to a recent post I made concerning control of understory tree species, in particular American beech (Fagus grandifolia).  In a post dated March 11, 2013 I highlighted a new fact sheet I recently published entitled Using Basal Bark Herbicide Applications to Control Understory Tree Species.  In the fact sheet I made note of findings of a basal bark herbicide rate study in which I found nearly 100% control of beech stems using a 5% concentration of triclopyr as Garlon 4.  As I put in this study and through some additional work on my own I began to wonder about the practicality, effectiveness, and cost of basal stem treatments as a means of controlling understory beech sprouts.  I began to wonder if it might not be more effective to utilize a hack and squirt method instead.  I began to look at published studies conducted by the Forest Service and others.  Below are the results of two such studies.  The results are quite telling.  Also see blog post Beech Control: Options for Management dated June 21, 2012.

In a 2004 Kochenderfer et. al. published a study entitled Preharvest Manual Herbicide Treatments for Controlling American Beech in Central West Virginia.  In this study researchers compared two basal area reduction methods; hack-and-squirt using a 50% solution of glyphosate as Accord and basal spraying with a 10% solution of triclopyr as Garlon 4.  All treatments were applied in late August.  One year after treatment almost complete control was achieved with both application methods.  Some of their findings include:
- Hack-and-squirt injection method was the cheapest and most target-specific way to control stems greater than 1 inch dbh.
- Hack-and-squirt of all trees greater than 6 in. dbh had the added advantage of controlling about half of existing beech stems less than 1 inch dbh and 21.6% of those 1-5.9 in. dbh.
- Basal spray applications are more costly but are better adapted for treating small stems, those less than 1 in.dbh.

In a follow-up study published in 2012 entitled, A Comparison of Two Stem Injection Treatments Applied to American Beech in Central West Virginia, Kochenderfer et. al. compared the efficacy of hack-and-squirt treatments using 50% glyphosate as Razor Pro and 6% imazapyr as Arsenal on injected trees and their associated root sprouts.  In this study the two hack-and-squirt treatments were applied to all beech stems 1 in. to 9.9 in. dbh at the rate of 1 incision per inch of dbh.  All treatments were applied in September to maximize translocation to roots.  The results were evaluated 1 year following treatment.  The findings of this study include:
- Both treatments controlled 100% of the treated stems.
- Arsenal (imazapyr) controlled 77% and Razor Pro (glyphosate) 64% of all untreated beech stems 1 ft. tall to .9 in. dbh.
- The average number of untreated beech stems controlled per treated stem was 33% higher for the Arsenal (imazapyr) plots.
- It cost almost twice as much to control each stem on the Razor Pro (glyphosate) plots.
- None of the black cherry or red maple crop trees were damaged by either of the treatments.

To summarize:  
Advantages of Hack-and-Squirt:
1. Considered one of the least expensive manual herbicide application methods.
2. Is a target specific treatment.
3. Can be used on all stems greater than 1 in. dbh.
4. Can be used on steep topography and on small ownerships.
5. Can be used without impacting advanced regeneration.
6. Treatments containing imazapyr or glyphosate will control a large proportion of attached root sprouts on root suckering species like American beech. 

Disadvantage of Hack-and-Squirt:
1. Use is restricted to the growing season, June 1 to Nov 1, as sap flow frequently occurs between Nov 1 and leaf out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Northeast Forests and Native Flora

Japanese barberry and Japanese stiltgrass
in central PA forest
 Came across this news release (see below) dated April 30, 2013 from the US Forest Service.  This one really hit home with me.  On Friday and Saturday I spent countless hours with a backpack sprayer on treating invasive shrubs (shrub honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, and multiflora rose), Japanese stiltgrass, mile-a-minute vine, and garlic mustard on my brother's property in western NY and on property I manage for the University in central PA.  I have to admit it was quite discouraging......especially since after applying more that 20 gallons of herbicide solution I really had only scratched the surface of approximately 200 acres.  The problem seems to be getting worse, not better.  The more management work we do to create habitat for wildlife, salvage timber dying from emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid (2 invasive exotic insects) the more the invasive plants seem to be able to take hold.

I have begun to accept the realization that these plants are here to stay and I have had to adjust my expectations.  No longer do I think they can be eradicated, in some cases I am not even sure they can be controlled.  You certainly have to pick your battles, draw a line in the sand so to speak.  My goal now has simply become trying to keep them from infesting new areas.  I have simply given up on some areas that are so severely overrun with invasives that I feel there is no way to get them under control without tremendous inputs of herbicide, hours of labor, and expense. 

On both properties we have recently performed timber sales, one to salvage dying hemlock (15 acres) and the other to perform a timber stand improvement project and create young forest habitat (20 acres).  I have set my goal on trying to ensure these newly harvested areas regenerate properly and do not get overrun with invasive plants......that is when I found the mile-a-minute vine.  I put down a pre-emergent herbicide but from conversations I have had with others this one may be a loosing battle, not good!

Invasive plants are here to stay and they are everywhere!  Read more about the Forest Service study results below.

New study is first to reveal abundance of nonnative plants across 24 states  
PORTLAND, Ore. April 30, 2013. Two-thirds of all forest inventory plots in the Northeast and Midwestern United States contain at least one non-native plant species, a new U.S. Forest Service study found. The study across two dozen states from North Dakota to Maine can help land managers pinpoint areas on the landscape where invasive plants might take root.

“We found two-thirds of more than 1,300 plots from our annual forest inventory had at least one introduced species, but this also means that one-third of the plots had no introduced species,” said Beth Schulz, a research ecologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station who led the study, which is published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. “By describing forest stands with few or no introduced species, we help managers focus on areas where early detection and rapid response can be most effective to slow the spread of introduced and potentially invasive plant species.”

Nonnative, or introduced, plants are those species growing in areas where they are not normally found. Whether they were intentionally released or escaped cultivation, nonnative plants ultimately can become invasive, displacing native species, degrading habitat, and altering critical ecosystem functions.

Schulz and her colleague Andrew Gray, a research forester at the station, analyzed data gathered by the Northern Research Station’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program, which collects and reports statistics on the condition of forests in a 24-state region as part of its regular surveys. The data set, collected from 2001 to 2008, includes a sample of all trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, grasses, fern and fern-like plants conducted on a subset of the region’s FIA plots.

Among the study’s findings:
• There are 305 introduced plant species growing in the region’s forests, including some not currently found on regional monitoring lists;
• Multiflora rose (which was recorded on over one-quarter of all plots studied), Japanese honeysuckle, and garlic mustard are among the most prevalent nonnative species;
• The presence of nonnative species increases as the level of forest fragmentation increases; 
• Forests surveyed within the Eastern Broadleaf ecological province—which runs from the Atlantic coastal plains of Maine and New Hampshire to the southwest into Ohio and into the high hills and semi-mountainous areas of West Virginia—contain the greatest assortment of introduced plant species.

The study’s results can help focus research on individual species more widely distributed than previously thought or with yet-unexplored potential to become problematic.
Yasmeen Sands Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Forest Service