Thursday, July 24, 2014

Forest Health Complexities showcased through TNC Woodbourne Preserve

The Nature Conservancy is showcasing the state's forest health issues through a number of very well written articles based on one of their properties located in Susquehanna County, North Central Pennsylvania, called the Woodbourne Preserve.  The preserve is dealing with emerald ash borer, hemlock wooly adelgid, high deer impacts and a number of other issues including wetlands, and beavers cutting old growth.

The five part series is based on the fact that the forest changes.  The articles pose the question.......How will we respond?  How can we address these new and conflicting issues, sometimes with devastating consequences, and protect the forest for future generations?  We want future generations to be able to experience the forest in the same way that we did.  We need the forest for so many things, wood, clean water, wildlife habitat, places to recreate.  In the face of forest change, what will the forests of the future hold?  What will they look like?  What species will they contain?

In the Nature Conservancies Cool Green Science blog they explore these questions in a 5 part series.  I have provided links below to the first four.  They are worth a read.  Matt Miller is an excellent writer and has experienced the forests of Pennsylvania first hand.

1. Change Comes to the Eastern Forest
Change is coming to the eastern forest. The decisions made now could have long-lasting implications for the forests we know in the future. How will conservationists respond? What does it mean to manage a “pristine” forest? What complexities do land managers face as they try to maintain a healthy forest in the face of new ecological threats – and differing human values that at times conflict with the science? I’ll be exploring these questions this week in a five-part blog series on the issues faced by one seemingly pristine forest preserve in north-central Pennsylvania, a microcosm of the complexities faced in forests in the eastern United States.............

2. Notes from the Deer Wars: Science & Values in the Eastern Forest
One of the biggest threats to the eastern forest also happens to be one of its most charismatic creatures: the white-tailed deer. Recently, a group of Conservancy scientists and land managers called over-abundant deer a bigger threat to forests than climate change. The white-tailed deer is arguably the most studied wild animal in the world, but this is more than a science issue. You cannot talk about deer without addressing competing human passions, values and traditions. This is true anywhere the white-tailed deer roams in the United States. It is especially true in Pennsylvania, a place where opinions on deer management have probably ignited more bar fights than politics or religion............

3. Can Integrated Pest Management Save the Eastern Hemlock?
Drive along some of the most scenic routes in the eastern United States — Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, the Smoky Mountains – and you’ll see the ghosts of forests past. Hemlock groves, once some of the most beautiful forests in the country, stand dead and dying. They’re the victim of a tiny, invasive pest that’s raging through trees. The rapid loss of trees can leave the most optimistic conservationist feeling hopeless. And indeed, there is not enough time or money to save all the hemlocks. By mapping hemlocks, identifying trees that are most vital ecologically and using a variety of pest management techniques, forest conservationists are finding that they can ensure that hemlocks remain a part of the eastern forest.............

4.  Logging Ash to Save Hemlocks
This might seem a tough thing for a forest conservationist to admit: there are times when an invasive forest pest can’t be stopped. There are times when you know it’s coming, and you can’t do anything about it. It will arrive in the forest, and trees will die. They will die en masse. It might seem a hopeless situation, to watch helplessly while the trees you’re trying to protect are dying. But what if you could sell those trees for lumber before the pest arrived, and use the proceeds to save other trees?................

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Announcing the 13th Annual Central Pennsylvania Woodlot Management Workshop

Penn State Extension-Centre County is pleased to be offering the 13th Annual Central Pennsylvania Woodlot Management Workshop hosted by Joel Myers, tree farmer and forest stewardship landowner. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, August 23, 2014 from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM at Joel’s woodlot located just west of Spring Mills, Centre County, Pennsylvania.

This workshop is designed for forest landowners and others interested in the outdoors to help them understand how our forests can be managed for a number of objectives. These can include timber, wildlife, water quality, recreation, aesthetics, and diversity, as well as the conservation of unique areas or any combination of the above.

In 2011 Joel made a large timber harvest on his property located on the south side of Egg Hill in an attempt to diversify the property and create young forest conditions. Since that time Joel has taken on one of the largest tree planting and reforestation projects known in this area.  He has also seeded roads and log landings for wildlife, created food plots, developed early successional habitat, and controlled numerous invasive plants. 

This workshop will be a walking tour of Joel’s property visiting and discussing the timber harvests and much of the work that followed. Foresters and wildlife biologists will be leading the tours and available to answer your questions.

Come prepared to walk woodland trails and roads rain or shine. There will be some moderately difficult walking.  If you think you may have difficulty or need accommodations please be sure to contact the Extension office.

To register go to: or call Penn State Extension at 814-355-4897.  Participants must be pre-registered by Monday, August 18, 2014.  A $15.00 fee is being charged per person to cover program costs, including lunch.  For questions please contact Dave Jackson in the Centre County Extension office at 814-355-4897 or e-mail 

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 Dave Jackson, Penn State Cooperative Extension-Centre County at 814-355-4897 in advance of your participation or visit.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to Save the Forest

I was sent an article the other day that was written by a local logger/forester.  The article was published in the May/June 2014 edition of the Journal of the American Chestnut Foundation.  I know the author personally.  The article was so insightful and was so well written that I wanted to share a few excerpts from the article with my readers.  Enjoy! 

"How to Save the Forest: Cutting the Right Trees is Better than Cutting No Trees at All." by Martin Melville

To be fully productive, forests need proper management, and that means cutting the proper trees. The issue must become not whether to cut all trees, the best trees, or no trees, but the right trees.

As a society and as individual landowners, it is crucial that we make the shift from resources extraction and allowing the forest to heal itself to intentional resource management.

The cutting of trees is the primary tool foresters use to manage what a forest becomes. In cutting the right trees, forest productivity increases, diversity is maintained, and wildlife thrives. In cutting the wrong trees, and sometimes in not cutting any trees at all, productivity suffers, regeneration often fails, and diversity and habitat are lost.

The de-facto method of determining which trees will be cut and which will be left practiced by many landowners is know as "diameter limit harvesting," or D-cutting.  In this practice, all trees larger than a given limit are cut to make way for the future forest to grow. This method may have more aesthetic appeal, but it is not grounded in the science of forest management.

The concern of a D-cut is only about what resources can be extracted, not what can be left for the future. Often there is thought about wildlife food or habitat. Diameter limit harvesting also ignores the spacing of the trees that remain. 

"We cut the best and leave the rest," one forester said, speaking of practices such as D-cutting that degrade the forest.

Clear-cuts are controversial. They are a tool. There are times when a clear-cut is the best tool; there are times when it is not. The immediate result of a clear-cut may not be aesthetically pleasing. But, it is often the best way to increase forest productivity, diversity, and sustainability.

The message is not that cutting trees is wrong, for trees are one of the few truly renewable resources we have on this earth. The message is that if we cut the "right" trees, forests are a renewable, sustainable resource that can help society meet its resource needs and maintain diversity and habitat while providing landowners with healthier forests.

Martin Melville lives in central Pennsylvania where he practices logging, forestry, tree climbing, philosophy, and writing (among other things). More of his writing can be found at:

To read the full article click here and go to page 17.