Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Native Plant or Invasive Species?

The Delaware Department of Agriculture published an excellent reference book entitled Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes. If you haven't seen it be sure to check it out.  This is definitely one piece of reference material that needs to be on your desk.

While some invasive plants are distinctive and easily recognized, many others are difficult to distinguish from one or more species of our native flora. For landowners, managers, and the general public, identifying confusing invasive plants can be extremely difficult. While many existing publications include identification tips, none present a complete side-by-side, illustrated comparison of the key characteristics needed to confirm identification of invasive plants that are often confused with similar native look-alikes. This guide fills a need for regional photographic guide to a broad selection of invasive plants that are often confused with similar native look-alikes.
Norway maple
The vast majority of invasive plant species established in the Mid-Atlantic are native to Asia and Eurasia. Since the climates of Europe and temperate Asia are similar to that of the northern United States, these species are well-suited for life in our region. Interestingly, while most of our invasive trees, shrubs, and vines originated in Asia, many of our herbaceous invasive plants originated in Europe.
Many of our invasives were first introduced as ornamental plants, usuallyby arboreta, botanical gardens, or less often, individuals. Woody invasive plants in particular were primarily the result of horticultural introductions. Other invasives, particularly grasses and vines, were introduced and spread by agronomists as potential livestock forage (Johnson Grass, Kudzu). Likewise, many shrubs and vines (Honeysuckles, Multiflora Rose) were widely promoted by state and federal wildlife agencies as cover and food sources for wildlife. A few introductions represent other miscellaneous attempts at economic stimulus (e.g. the introduction of White Mulberry as a host tree for silkworm moth caterpillars).
Sugar maple
The second group of invasive introductions is those that were truly accidental in nature. Most of these involve herbaceous plants introduced by seed. An example cited in this guide is the introduction of Japanese Stiltgrass via plant material used as packing for porcelain shipments.
Invasive species introductions have historically been somewhat preventable occurrences. The horticulture industry has grown more interested in stopping the importation and sale of invasive plants, although many are still widely available. State and federal agencies are now focused on invasive plant eradication, rather than introduction, reversing the past trend or searching for novel wildlife plants, and opting for largely natives. Increasing globalization, however, will undoubtedly lead to further spread of plant species worldwide, making an understanding of their ecology and control of utmost importance.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pennsylvania Team Competes at National 4-H Forestry Invitational

Pennsylvania was one of 17 state teams that competed in the 37th annual National 4-H Forestry Invitational from Sunday, July 31, through Thursday, August 4. Teams from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida placed first, second, and third respectively. Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin were also represented at this year’s Invitational.

The invitational was held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp and Conference Center near Weston, West Virginia. The event is sponsored by Farm Credit System, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., USDA Forest Service State and Private Southern Region, West Virginia University Extension Service, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest Foundation, Southern Regional Extension Forestry, Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals, and National Woodland Owners Association.

While at the Invitational 4-H members competed for overall team and individual awards in several categories.  Events included tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, insect and disease identification, topographic map use, forest evaluation, the forestry bowl and a written forestry exam.

Pennsylvania was represented by Hilary Fernandes from Millerton, Ella Miller from Galeton, Eve Olofson from Galeton, and Riley Roslund from Butler. The team was coached by Deborah Beisel from Clymer.
Left to Right: Kathleen England, Stephanie Miller, Eve Olofson, Hilary Fernandes, Riley Roslund, Ella Miller, Deborah Beisel (Coach), and Kari Roslund
Kyle Weiner from Tennessee received the high point individual award. Second place high individual award was given to Cade Wilkerson from Arkansas and third place high individual award was given to Henry Keating from Florida.

The Joe Yeager “Spirit of the Invitational” award was given to Holden Doane from Indiana.  This award recognizes an outstanding 4-H contestant at the Invitational. It is presented to the individual who takes initiative, is enthusiastic, and is eager to lead academic and social situations.

4-H is a youth education program operated by the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the state
land grant universities. More than six million youth, 540,000 volunteers, and 3,500 professionals participate in 4-H nationwide, and nearly 100,000 are part of the 4-H Forestry Program.

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Turn: Sustainable truth about biomass

Came across this article, an opinion piece, referencing biomass harvesting in New Hampshire's forests. Very well written and to the point. I wanted to share it with my readers.

For the Monitor
Monday, August 08, 2016

Recently, National Public Radio broadcast a segment on its popular Morning Edition program that was critical of using biomass – wood and pulp chips and other scrap wood – to generate electricity. Biomass power plants have been described as “carbon neutral” in an amendment to the energy bill now being debated in Congress, meaning the carbon emitted by these facilities is offset by regenerating forests. NPR quoted one academic who claimed biomass is not carbon neutral, calling burning wood for energy “unsustainable.”

This statement is not seeing the forests for the trees. Here in New Hampshire, we have a long history of sustainable forestry. Our forests continue to produce abundant hardwood and softwood lumber, wood chips and firewood, and they support a large and thriving forestry industry.

According to the most recent forest inventory statistics, the Granite State’s forests are getting older and increasing in volume. Indeed, the state is approximately 84 percent forested, including both public and private land ownership. We are, in fact, the second-most forested state in the nation, and as a state, we continue to grow more wood than we harvest.

Moreover, even as we are using biomass to produce energy, research from the U.S. Forest Service shows the amount of carbon stored in the above-ground portion of trees has increased in New Hampshire by over 4 percent between 2006 and 2012. Clearly, the use of biomass in our state is more than just carbon neutral; our forests are providing a positive benefit.

Biomass power plants are an important part of that sustainability. For one thing, they provide an important market for wood chips. In fact, with the recent closures of several paper mills in New England, biomass plants are often the only low-grade market available to many, if not most, of our tree farmers – professional foresters, loggers and landowners performing sustainable forestry.

These are not lumber-quality trees that are being used to produce energy but rather low-quality products, such as diseased or malformed trees, the upper branches and the wood scraps that result when sawmills produce lumber.

Strong markets help keep land in forests versus converting the land to nonforest uses, as it provides a source of income to the landowner. Keeping forests as forests is one of the most important things we can do, not only for carbon storage, but for a host of other good reasons, too.

Moreover, biomass plants here help support more than 1,000 New Hampshire residents, and according to a recent study, they generate more than $170 million annually in economic activity for our state’s economy. Most of those dollars stay local, too.

Let us also remember that New Hampshire has good forestry and best logging practices, which help sustain a healthy forest. Biomass power generation is a great New Hampshire success story. It’s one of the best ways we can become energy-independent using a renewable resource that’s right here in our backyard.

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world where trees grow prolifically and are very quick to reclaim any opening. While forest sustainability for energy may be an issue in some parts of the world, it is absolutely a viable, renewable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels here in the Granite State, and should continue to be an important component of our renewable energy plan.

Thus, we should celebrate and support our biomass energy plants, which not only give us electricity but, in turn, support forestry and best forest management practices for the forests we love.

(Brad Simpkins is the director of the Divisionof Forests and Lands at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and EconomicDevelopment.)