Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pennsylvania DEP Announces Drought Status Updates

A number of Pennsylvania counties improve in regards to their drought status. However, with record high temperatures forecasted for this week things may take a turn for the worst. Drought watch and warning declarations in winter aren’t common. However, they have occurred several times in the past decade, in 2011, 2010, and 2008.

For more information on water concerns in Pennsylvania see the recent news article by Allyson Muth from Penn State's Center for Private Forests entitled Winter Precipitation and Forests: Was It Enough? posted February 21, 2017. 

Drought Declarations Change for 17 Counties
Two Counties Remain in Drought Warning Status
Harrisburg, PA – Following a meeting today of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that two Pennsylvania counties remain in drought warning status. Six improve from warning to watch status, and 11 improve from watch to normal status.
•    Drought warning: Mifflin and Union Counties remain in drought warning status. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 10–15 percent.
•    Drought watch: Six counties moved from drought warning to drought watch: Carbon, Juniata, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Snyder. Fifteen other counties remain on watch: Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, and Schuylkill. DEP encourages a voluntary water use reduction of 5 percent.
•    Normal: Eleven counties—Adams, Bedford, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Pike, Wayne, Sullivan, and York—moved from drought watch to normal status, joining the rest of the state.

DEP bases its declarations on four indicators: precipitation deficits (averaged from numerous gauges), stream flows, groundwater levels, and soil moisture.

Public water systems in affected counties continue to implement voluntary and mandatory water reductions in response to reduced supplies. DEP suggests several steps citizens can take to voluntarily reduce their water use:
•    Run water only when necessary. Don’t let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the amount of time you let the water run to warm up before you shower. Use a bucket to catch the water and then reuse it to water your plants.
•    Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
•    Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
•    Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40 to 50 percent less energy.
•    Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

DEP also offers other water conservation recommendations and water audit procedures for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and educational institutions. These recommendations and additional drought monitoring information are available on the DEP Drought Information website.

Deborah Klenotic, DEP

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Announcing New Backpack Sprayer Calibration Forest Science Fact Sheet

Penn State Forestry Extension has just released the fourth in a series of Forest Science Fact Sheets. The latest in the series, entitled Backpack Sprayer Calibration Made Easy, provides in-depth practical information on calibrating backpack sprayers for both band applications and spot treatments. The fact sheet was written by Dave Jackson, Penn State Forest Resources Educator, Art Gover, Penn State Wildland Weed Management and Kimberly Bohn, Penn State Forest Resources Educator.

“Calibration” simply means determining the output of a sprayer so a known amount of spray solution is applied to a given area. Applicators must know this if they wish to apply an herbicide at a specific dosage, e.g., ounces or quarts per acre. Failure to calibrate spray equipment can result in misapplication of herbicides, repeat applications, damaged non-target plants, excess costs, as well as environmental concerns.

This fact sheet presents a simplified process of calibrating a backpack sprayer known as the “ounces to gallons” method. With this method, the amount of spray, measured in ounces, converts directly to gallons per acre.

Band applications are fixed-width, fixed-speed applications in which the applicator treats larger, continuous areas of vegetation. In forestry applications, band treatments are commonly used for spraying interfering plants such as hay-scented and New York fern. Band applications may also be used to treat weeds along fence lines and trees planted in rows.

Spot treatments are used to treat discrete targets scattered about a site, such as a single shrub or patches of continuous vegetation. This is probably the most common use of a backpack sprayer. This type of treatment is commonly used when controlling invasive shrubs such as multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and autumn olive. Calibrating for these types of treatments allows the applicator to estimate spray coverage so the mix will be effective without over- or under-applying.

Taking the time to calibrate the application will ensure the proper dose of herbicide is used. Although calibration represents an “extra” step and time you feel you may not have, it is not. Applications cannot be made correctly without first calibrating. Applicators who master calibration gain a valuable skill and take control of the process rather than simply mimicking instruction that may be incorrect.

This fact sheet is available online at the link below or in hard copy by contacting the Penn State Extension Ag Publications Distribution Center at: 
Phone: 877-345-0691 or E-mail:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Forest Landowner Workshop - Working in Your Woods, A Bird's Eye View

This is a great opportunity if you’d like to learn more about birds in your woods. The event is free and happens June 9 and 10 at the University of Pitt, Bradford, PA. The Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture and Forest Service have been working with numerous partners (American Bird Conservancy, Ruffed Grouse Society, Audubon Pennsylvania, PA Game Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resource) to organize a free, two-day workshop in June for forest landowners: Working in Your Woods, A Bird's Eye View.

The first day of the workshop will bring together speakers to present on the following topics:
·         Techniques to create healthy forests and help wildlife;
·         Financial incentives and programs available to landowners; and
·         Opportunities to benefit a variety of bird species, including ruffed grouse, scarlet tanager, wild turkey, cerulean warbler, American woodcock and many more.

During the second day of the workshop, participants will visit field sites (transportation provided) to see the techniques and habitat discussed in day 1 and may have an opportunity to see birds at a bird banding site (depending on conditions).

Participants must register, but registration is free and lunches will be provided each day.  For more information or to register visit