Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Logging in Lower Burrell

I thought my readers might enjoy this news story printed online for the Tribune Review, Sunday, November 20, 2016. It was sent to me by a colleague of mine. It is essentially the same conversation I was having with folks at a Sustainable Forestry Initiative logger training course on Sustainable Harvesting Practices just this past fall. If it’s in the news, it must be the best way of doing things!  Right? Give it a read and listen to the video and let us know what you think. Maybe we could change the title to something more fitting.

Be sure to contrast this article with the post by Dan Pubanz from April 27, 2016 entitled “Why the Forestry Profession Should Harshly Criticize High-Grading.” Also, if you haven’t already red it, be sure to read the article by Dr. Jim Finley posted on June 21, 2016 entitled “Describing Sustainable Timber Harvesting: What do Words Mean?

A succession of loud snaps from crashing limbs are followed by a final thud as a crew of Amish loggers cut century-old hardwood above Route 56 in Lower Burrell. Although youth football fans who regularly line Flyers Field might not consider the surrounding hillside a forest, to a forester, the heavily wooded area certainly qualifies. And the mature hardwood trees are ripe for select cutting.

It's a common practice, as Pennsylvania is the largest producer of hardwood lumber in the nation, according to the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Forestry. The commonwealth's $20 billion per year forest products industry employs about 100,000 Pennsylvanians.

“Any forest is a large garden; you pick the mature fruit,” said Tom McQuaide of Torrance, a consulting forester for Pennsylvania Forest Management timber and log sales. He is contracted to cut and sell the logs, taking bids from sawmills throughout the state.

The selective cutting of hardwood is a common way to harvest some mature trees and open up the canopy for younger upstarts, he said. “We don't like to waste them,” he said. “Overly mature trees are rotted inside.” McQuaide was hired by a private landowner to selectively cut on the crown of the hill above Flyers Field along Route 56 in Lower Burrell. They limited their activities so the cuts wouldn't change the view at the field.

A pile of red oak, basswood, white ash, hard maple and other logs sat in a staging area near Route 56. “We cut some of the nicest hardwood timber in the world,” McQuaide said. Jeff Woleslagle, spokesman for the state forestry department, agreed: “While the forests of Pennsylvania grow a variety of hardwoods, its cherry and oak are truly world class.”

McQuaide pointed to a red oak log. It's in great condition, with tight annual rings in the washed-out, red center. “This will go into furniture — a table or cabinet,” McQuaide said. No one will know for sure until the giant logs are cut lengthwise at a sawmill, then inspected for quality.

But before then, there's a lot of work for McQuaide and his crew as they take down the trees he marked beforehand. The Amish workers cut and dragged the logs with a skidder outfitted with chains on its front tires to conquer the steep terrain. Nathan Barrett, a timber harvester from Dayton, Armstrong County, carefully sharpened the teeth on the 20-inch bar of his chain saw.

The oldest tree he felled in the last week at the site was a 150-year-old red oak. Before he cut a 50-foot hard maple, he read the layout of the forest, such as the nearby slim cherry trees to find the path of least resistance and safety.

As Barrett checked out the direction of a cut and fall, McQuaide said, “You can drop it across the road and top it. That's where it wants to go.” With a loud splinter, the oak fell predictably into the cherries, then to the forest floor. After a few weeks of cutting this month, the fruits of the crew's labor were a little more than 100 trees over 25 acres. That will translate into 60,000 board feet.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Science Behind Turkey Day

Below you will find an appropriate article for Thanksgiving.  I thought I would share the "Penn State" science and technology that goes into raising that turkey you will be enjoying for dinner on Thursday.  Have a great holiday and a successful deer season to follow!

Julie Eble
November 15, 2016
.. ..
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many families, that means a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. 

But for Mike Hulet, associate professor of animal science, and others in Penn State's Poultry Education and Research Center (PERC), it's also the culmination of the science and technology that go into raising a better turkey.

Surrounded by a border of locust and Austrian pine trees, the PERC consists of six separate buildings that house turkeys and other poultry for education and research. The vegetative barrier is used to help filter any possible odor, dust, feathers and noise emitted from the poultry operations, and each house is fully computerized and environmentally controlled.

"We can maintain temperatures within a degree or two from the front to the back of the houses," Hulet said, noting that the PERC manager can monitor temperature changes through applications on his tablet or smartphone and make adjustments remotely when necessary. Even on Penn State's hottest summer or coldest winter days, the combination of computer-controlled, evaporative cooling (misting of air into the building) and perpetual air exchange keeps the temperature in the turkey houses within the optimum range: between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because the U.S. has developed birds that are very large — male turkeys can grow up to 70 pounds and females can grow up to 25 pounds — they can't efficiently mate naturally, according to Hulet. As a result, researchers at the PERC use sophisticated artificial insemination technologies to improve the turkey fertilization process and incubation environment that can enable year-round chick laying.

Once the turkey hens are inseminated, their eggs are placed in one of the PERC's four incubators, which can hold about 1,000 eggs each. While chicken hens are egg-laying dynamos, dropping one egg almost every day, a turkey hen produces only about four per week.

Systems for automatic measurement of carbon dioxide, weight loss from eggs and exact regulation of temperature are used in the PERC's incubation process. These data are used to control the necessary heating, cooling, humidification and ventilation of the incubation machines to maximize the environment for the development of the embryo.

"We try to mimic what old mother hen would do naturally and keep the shell temperature within the incubator at 100 degrees Fahrenheit," said Hulet.

Performing much like a brooding or sitting hen, the eggs in the incubator are turned automatically each hour to ensure that the embryo doesn't get stuck to the shell membrane, gases move around and the temperature is evenly distributed. Alarm systems on the incubators also alert for any problem in the machines and all necessary information is provided on a digital display. Everything is connected to the manager's office so it can be monitored and controlled through a central computer system.

To help enhance the welfare of the turkeys and provide uniform growth, the lighting in the turkey houses is also automated through a computer system with an optimized color spectrum and dimming capability.

"Lighting has been shown to be a key input in healthy poult (baby turkey) development," said Hulet.

As a result, the lights in the turkey houses at the PERC are initially set at a higher intensity when the birds are first placed in the pens so they can find where the water and feed are located. The light is later decreased as the turkeys get accustomed to their surroundings. Hulet says this low-light spectrum output helps to calm the turkeys and reduce injury.

For many families, having turkey at Thanksgiving is a tradition that has been part of the American culture for a long time.

In 2011, there were 248.5 million turkeys raised in the U.S., including 7.5 million in Pennsylvania, which made the Keystone State ninth out of the top 10 turkey-producing states, according to the National Turkey Federation.

"If you're feeding a large group of people, a nice 22-pound turkey is the one product you're able to share with everyone," said Hulet.

In the 1970s, only about half of turkey sales for the year were made during the Thanksgiving holiday. But throughout the last 35 years, the turkey industry has gone from mainly marketing a single-product consumed at holidays or special occasions, to offering a diverse array of food choices ranging from sausages and burgers to deli meats and more, according to the federation. In 2015, U.S. consumption of turkey was 16.1 pounds per person. Increasingly, consumers are including turkey in their daily diets because of its health benefits, versatility and taste. 

Regardless of all the technology that goes into raising turkeys these days, Hulet says he is looking forward to spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his adult children.

"They'll be cooking the turkey this year, but I always carve it to make sure I get my favorite part of the bird — the dark meat of the legs and thighs — because it has more flavor and tends to be moister as opposed to the white breast meat," said Hulet. "There's nothing better than a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce the day after Thanksgiving."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Society of American Foresters Announces New Forestry Coloring and Activity Book

Introduce Forestry to a New Generation with the SAF Coloring and Activity Book

Help an entire new generation appreciate the work that foresters do with this unique activity book entitled Future Foresters: Coloring and Activity Book. This 28-page book features scenes and situations common in today's world of forest management. It includes everything from planting trees and creating wildlife habitat to fire and timber production. This fun-filled book will help children better understand how a forester’s work helps forests. It is a perfect for classrooms, nature centers, and public outreach.

Order yours at

Monday, November 14, 2016

Governor Wolf Commends Task Force to Maximize Job Creation in Pennsylvania Forest Products Industry

Governor Tom Wolf applauded the work of a panel of forestry experts from private, public, and academic sectors that has been meeting regularly since January to analyze current limitations to forest conservation and job growth, and to develop an action plan to address both objectives.

 “Prioritizing conservation and job growth related to this field is vital to creating a sustainable, dynamic industry in this state where almost 60 percent is forested,” Governor Wolf told the group gathered at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg. “One of Pennsylvania’s greatest strengths is our natural resources, and this group’s strength is the expertise and commitment you folks have demonstrated the past nine months.”

The Green Ribbon Task Force was called together following extended discussion between Gov. Wolf and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn on how Pennsylvania’s nearly 17 million acres of forestland could best play an active role in his call for statewide job creation.

The governor commended the panel for looking at ways to spur job growth while improving and conserving the state’s forest base.

Addressed specifically were:
·         A new conservation easement program for working forests that would keep forests as forest but provide increased opportunities for sustainable harvest of wood products;
·         Legislation to give loggers, on whose shoulders the entire forest products industry rests, more incentives and advantages to get into the logging business and to be able to make a good living, including better worker’s compensation options, more training, and more opportunities for worker recruitment;
·         Sustainable support for the Hardwoods Development Council to conduct research, marketing, training, and many other opportunities through a public-private partnership between the industry and state government;
·         Support and promotion of more maker’s spaces across Pennsylvania cities, where small manufacturing, wood crafters, artisans and others can share resources, networks and bring jobs back to forested Pennsylvania;
·         Raising the profile of forest-based jobs through forest tours, job mentoring, early recruitment, apprenticeships and similar workforce efforts.

“It’s great to see such interagency cooperation among three involved agencies -- DCNR, Ag, and DCED, “ Gov. Wolf said, “and to hear of positive and constructive interactions between different stakeholder interests -- industry, conservation and academia -- as well as the strong role state government can play in bringing it all together.

“To find consensus among the dozens of recommendations included here is exciting, and a great example of cross-cutting cooperation that we could use more of in Harrisburg, and statewide.”

”The panel’s report represents eight months of hard work by the 35 task force members and many agency staff and experts,” Dunn said. “It represents dozens of hours in all-day meetings, work group calls, field trips to see first-hand our forest products industry, lumber yards, manufacturing plants, our forests, and more. This collaborative effort among agencies and different stakeholder groups has taught us about each other’s work, problems, lives, and passions.

“It has also produced better and more workable recommendations. We have learned from each other, and are making plans to keep working together to address the many issues we’ve raised and to put our recommendations into action.”

Meeting at the governor’s invitation at his Harrisburg residence, at least 30 participants had been selected by DCNR and the state departments of Agriculture and Community and Economic Development. Today they were addressed by Gov. Wolf, Dunn and other key speakers, including: Daniel Devlin, state forester and director of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry; Russell Redding, Secretary of Agriculture; Dr. Jim Finley, director of the Center for Private Forests and Pennsylvania Extension Forester; Paul Lyskava, executive director, Pennsylvania Forest Products Association; and Wayne Bender, acting executive director, Hardwoods Development Council.

Individual workgroups had been formed, introduced and assigned study and discussion areas that included: conservation; workforce development and jobs; economic development and products. Each workgroup’s responsibilities include: Address the current state of the forest and forest products industry; define the scope of the workgroup; identify issues to address; develop recommendations to bring to the larger group; and work with other workgroups to integrate and forge recommendations into a final set.

Since its formation Jan. 7, the task force has held monthly meetings, and individual work groups also met to discuss issues in greater detail and formulate recommended action items. Workgroup chairs then reported out on their groups’ progress to the larger task force, in order to stimulate broader discussion.

Details on the Green Ribbon Task Force can be found at:

MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101