Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Forest Steward Sign

Old "Stewardship Forest" sign
The old Forest Steward signs are being replaced by a newly re-designed, colorful "Stewardship Forest" sign. State forestry agencies can now purchase the new-style sign. The sign declares the property as a "Stewardship Forest" and includes the Forest Stewardship Program theme art that depicts the four primary values produced by private forests (forest products, watershed protection, recreation, and wildlife habitat).  
New "Stewardship Forest" sign

A statement at the bottom of the sign reads, "This forestland is being managed sustainably under a written forest management plan that meets Forest Stewardship Program standards in accordance with the state forestry agency and the USDA Forest Service."  The USDA logo and U.S. Forest Service shield are at the bottom of the sign with extra room for States to affix a sticker with their logo if desired. State agencies can contact Voss Signs, the sign vendor, directly for pricing and ordering information. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Importance of Family Owned Forests, Part II

On Wednesday, February 4th, I shared new research about the benefits of family-owned forests--and the challenges faced by private woodlands. It was based on the Huffington Post op-ed by American Forest Foundation (AFF) President Tom Martin who outlined the findings.

In this next report of the AFFs special edition on the "Importance of Family Owned Forests" they focus on the tremendous supply of wood family forests currently provide. If all this wood were used as fuel, it could power 67 million homes for a year. Or, looking at it another way, that wood supply includes enough high-quality, large logs to build 37 million homes. Yet much of this family-owned forestland is threatened and the benefits it provides could be lost.

Take a look at our latest post to learn just how much wood is available in family forests, what threatens these woodlands, and what benefits--including wood products, clean water and wildlife habitat--could be lost if we don't take action.

 February 18, 2015, by Tom Martin
When you turned on your lights today, did you think of a family forest owner? Or how about this morning when you walked across your dark-stained pine floors and opened the drawers to your maple bureau: did you imagine the family-owned forest where it may have come from? Or when you sneezed and reached for a tissue?

Because families care for more of America’s forests than the government or corporations, family-owned forests and the products produced from these lands are part of every aspect of our lives and most of us don't even realize it. These lands are an integral piece of America’s forest puzzle - without them, we wouldn’t have the same clean air and water, wildlife habitat, places to recreate, or forest products we all use every day.

New research from the American Forest Foundation, produced in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the Family Forest Research Center, shows that the wood supplies in family-owned forests are abundant—these forests currently have more than 358 billion cubic feet of standing wood

To put this into context, if all this wood was low quality biomass and were used as fuel, it would create enough energy for 67 million houses for one year. Or, looking at it another way, that includes enough high quality, large logs to build 37 million homes. And could be renewed to build or power just as many in the future!

To read the rest of the story click here.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Report Released on Impacts of White-Tailed Deer in Northeastern Forests

Severe deer impact is shown with a exclusion fence.
I wanted to share this new publication from the US Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.  They recently published an online report by Botanist Tom Rawinski titled "White-tailed deer in northeastern forests: understanding and assessing impacts."  This is a 31 page publication packed full of color photos and descriptions.

The table of contents is as follows: Introduction, The White-tailed Deer, Forest Vegetation, Of Moose and Rabbits, Fenced Areas and Other Inaccessible Places, Deer Impacts are Never Uniform, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?, The Element of Time, Classes of Palatability, Preferred and Staple Plant Species, Low-preference and Avoided Plant Species, Synthesis, and Mitigating Negative Impacts.

This publication is well worth printing and reading.

White-tailed deer in northeastern forests: understanding and assessing impacts

Introduction: The scientific evidence is clear. White-tailed deer overabundance is a threat to millions of acres of forest land in the Northeastern United States.1 As keystone herbivores, whitetails can have disproportionately large impacts on biodiversity and forest dynamics. Impacts may be obvious or may cascade through the ecosystem in ways not fully understood.

Human actions and inaction are the root cause of this problem. Consider the implications of this statement:
Unfortunately, fewer than half of Pennsylvania’s forest holds adequate numbers of young trees to simply replace itself.”
Without young trees coming on, deer-impacted forests face a bleak future. These forests have lost much of their capacity to withstand disturbance and to absorb change. The natural disturbances that once diversified and rejuvenated forested landscapes now simply accelerate forest disintegration (figures 1, 2). Forest management is no longer sustainable in many areas (figure 3). Few, if any, threat factors can inflict such damage to forest ecosystems and forest-related economies.

Click here to view the full publication.

 State and Private Forestry News, Jan 2015, Newtown Square, Pa.

No New Drilling Leases on Pennsylvania's State Forests and Parks (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 30) - Pennsylvania's new governor, Tom Wolf, officially banned new oil and gas leases in state parks and forests.  This officially ended plans by the legislature and the previous administration to raise millions of dollars for the budget this fiscal year through new drilling deals.

In signing the executive order, Wolf said natural gas development is a vital element of the state's economy.  But he made an economic case for preserving the state's public natural resources as well.

Wolf's action will not halt development that is already taking place on state lands.  Roughly 700,000 acres of state forests are available for natural gas development, either through state leases or private leases where the state does not own the oil and gas rights below the surface.

To read the full story click here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Importance of Family Owned Forests

The American Forest Foundation (AFF) recently supported the Forest Service and the Family Forest Research Center to conduct research quantifying the benefits family-owned forests provide and the potential threats these forests may face. We now have a better sense of the value from—and potential loss of—these privately owned woodlands. AFF is planning to release this exciting new research in a series of 5 blog posts, one per month, focusing on specific issues like wood, water and wildlife.  To launch this effort, I’d like to share this Huffington Post op/ed piece written by AFF CEO Tom Martin. The piece introduces this research more generally. 

With this research we are able to answer questions like; how much wood is available on family-owned lands? What about prime wildlife habitat acres or carbon storage? For the first time, we can begin to answer these questions. While we’ve had some broad information about private lands, with this research we we can now break out the more than 280 million acres owned by families and individuals. 

As Tom states, "The fact is that these precious lands are under tremendous pressure and their sustainability is severely threatened. The American Forest Foundation (AFF) is releasing groundbreaking research to quantify the threats that family-owned forests face and why we need to protect the many benefits forests provide to our environment and economy"

I am planning to share this research information with my readers you over the next few months.

(AFF, Forests and Families, Feb 3, 2015)

Vanishing Pieces of the Puzzle: The Importance of Family Forests to Conservation Goals
Anyone who has ever put together a puzzle has had this experience: You're in the home stretch, and you reach for the last piece you need to finally finish, only it's not there. You look everywhere, stewing in frustration as you think about what could have happened to it: "Maybe it got lost. Did I vacuum it up?" Regardless of the cause, your puzzle can never be complete, and all the time you spent working on the rest of it feels like it's been for naught. Now imagine that a third of the pieces are gone.

That's what will happen to the puzzle of protecting critical forestland if we don't make family-owned woodlands part of the conservation conversation. More than a third of U.S. forests are owned by individuals and families -- a larger share than the federal government or various companies own. As we work to protect both the environment and rural economies, family-owned forests are hugely important yet too often overlooked.

To read the full story click here.