Friday, July 31, 2020

New Carbon Program for Pennsylvania Landowners is Expanding!

Have you heard about the new opportunity for landowners to receive funding and expert assistance to help you keep your woods healthy?  The Family Forest Carbon Program pays woodland owners like you to carry out specific activities on your land that enhance wildlife habitat and water quality, while also increasing the carbon stored on the landscape.  Visit to learn more about the program and check your eligibility.  The program is expanding and is now available in 16 counties in Northern and Central Pennsylvania:

The Family Forest Carbon Program, developed in partnership between the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, aims to support landowners in forest stewardship by providing funding to complete activities that improve overall woodland health.  Currently funding is provided for two different activities:

·    1. Letting your trees grow large for 20 years by limiting timber harvests.

·    2. Funding to remove invasive or other competing plants after a regeneration harvest.

Meet Susan, a landowner from Pennsylvania, and hear her story about her family’s land and the challenges she faces to caring for it. Families and individuals like Susan, own the largest portion of forests in the U.S. and provide a significant opportunity to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere through their forests. While these forest owners want to help the environment, they often face barriers when it comes to caring for their land.

The Family Forest Carbon Program, a new program from the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy – by providing landowners a way to generate income from their land, while helping to address climate change through carbon sequestration.

Watch her video here: 

To find out if you are eligible, visit the Family Forest Carbon Program at  You can use the secure, online tool called WoodsCamp to find your parcel on a map and the request a report to learn more about the opportunities for which you may qualify, including the Family Forest Carbon Program. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Maintaining Forest Boundary Lines

Painted blaze along boundary line. Photo by D. Jackson

Boundary line maintenance is one of the most important aspects of land ownership. It is your responsibility as the landowner to know where the boundaries to your property are located. Most forest landowners have a general idea where their lines are and have accurately surveyed maps, but few have their lines clearly marked and painted on the ground.

Well-marked boundaries can protect you from timber theft and help ensure other assets are protected. They also help you avoid trespassing on your neighbors when cutting trees or building roads and trails. When selling timber or performing other management activities it is important to know exactly where the boundary line is to avoid damage or disturbance to neighboring properties. 

Only a licensed land surveyor can establish a property boundary. However, if you have a good modern survey description, you may be able to locate the property lines based on evidence and marking left behind from previous surveys. If your boundary lines cannot be located, you will have to contact a reputable surveyor. For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume you have an accurate modern survey and the lines and corners have been previously marked or “blazed” by a surveyor. 

Once located, the boundary line should be marked using a combination of flagging and paint. Paint is preferred since it is the most durable, lasting more than 5 years, and cannot be torn down or moved. Plastic flagging is generally used to temporarily locate boundary lines but should be followed by more permanent blazing and painting trees along and near the line. Use a bright, (white, blue, red, or orange show up well) durable, brush-on paint. Many commercial brands of boundary marking paint are available. Choose your preferred color. Removing any loose bark before applying will allow the markings to last longer.

3 blaze marks on corner witness tree. Photo D. Jackson
In the field, locate all corners or monuments and mark them as well. Corners should also be identified by “witness” trees. The marks on witness trees face or point to the corner. Surveyors make hacks or chop marks on witness trees in three parallel lines about equal distance apart that face the actual corner marker. Be sure to paint over the scars that remain from the axe chops. A combination of paint and hack mark scars ensure long term visibility of corner markings. 

Line sections between corners can be long, where one corner is not visible from the first. Therefore, it is important to mark trees along the line as well. You may need to install posts along sections of lines with only small trees or no trees to make the location more obvious. Trees marking a line are designed with side-line chops or blazes made by the surveyor. Blazes are typically 5-6” long, 3-4” wide, and 4 to 5 feet above the ground. All old survey blazes need to be located and painted so they are visible. Paint both the blazed callous tissue surface as well as 2-3” of bark surrounding the blaze.

Blaze marks made along a line face the actual line and are made in a way to visualize the exact placement of the property border. When trees are located directly in the path of the line, two blaze marks will be on the tree, one on the side the line enters and another on the opposite side where the line exits. Survey markings can occur at different intervals along a line. When painting your line, it is a good idea to mark trees close enough so that from any mark you can see the next in either direction, the exact distance will vary with terrain and vegetation density.

Finding and marking your boundary lines with paint can be enjoyable and helpful. The best time of year to do this is when the leaves are off the trees. Once located, it is best to re-paint every 5-7 years to keep the marks fresh and easy to locate. Marked property lines are a sign of good forest management. They protect you from trespass, make forest management activities possible, and reduce the potential for accidental timber theft from neighbors. To view a short video on boundary line marking you can watch a Penn State Extension video here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

What is Your Carbon Footprint?

At the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show the Hardwoods Development Council (HDC) hosted the Pennsylvania Hardwoods exhibit. The exhibit’s theme was Imagine the Opportunities of a Smaller Carbon Footprint. The exhibit was made possible by a collaboration between the HDC and the three Pennsylvania Hardwood Utilization Groups (HUGs): Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group, Keystone Wood Products Association, and the Northern Tier Hardwood Association.

The Hardwoods exhibit featured seven educational displays, all pertaining to how implementing sustainable forestry practices and the use of hardwood products can help reduce one’s carbon footprint. Here is the second in a series of articles. These articles will provide information pertaining to each of the seven themes that were displayed. One article will be provided monthly.

Article 2: What is Your Carbon Footprint?
By Jonathan Geyer and Dave Jackson

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere because of one’s own energy needs. The choices we make every day and how we decide to live affect our carbon footprint. When determining one’s carbon footprint transportation, electricity, food, clothing, and many other everyday products need to be considered.

There are many ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Some of the most recognized ways are to use energy efficient lightbulbs, to turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and to carpool or use public transportation. A very practical, yet less recognized, way of reducing one’s carbon footprint is to use more wood products. Since wood products store carbon, choosing them over alternatives such as plastics and metal helps to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Wood products can be utilized in many different applications: construction lumber, furniture, flooring, cabinets, utensils, etc. Wood can also be used for heating needs; choosing to burn firewood or wood pellets for heat compared to oil and coal can significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Ways You Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?
·         Choose more wood products for your home
·         Use wood building materials instead of alternative choices
·         Use biofuel such as firewood and wood pellets
·         Choose locally grow/manufactured items
·         Swap out old light bulbs for new energy efficient LED bulbs
·         Turn off lights, television, and electronics when not in use
·         Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation
·         Choose paper bags over plastic
·         Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Another way to help reduce one’s carbon footprint it to consider the environmental costs of products that you are looking to purchase. For example, lets look at the lifecycle analysis and environmental impact of a chair.
Most chairs are either made of plastic, wood, or aluminum.

Figure A depicts the Life Cycle Analysis of a chair built from each of these materials. The graph compares the environmental cost of producing each chair. It looks at ozone depletion, global warming potential, smog, acidification, eutrophication, carcinogenic, non-carcinogenic, respiratory effects, ecotoxicity, and fossil fuel depletion. Compared to wood, the environmental costs of producing plastic and aluminum are astronomically high. Wood is by far the “greenest” building material! Choosing the wooden chair over the plastic or aluminum chair is an environmentally conscious decision that is conducive to a low carbon lifestyle.
Figure A: The environmental cost of a wooden chair is far less than chairs made of other materials.  Wood is the greenest building material. 

(Source: Haviarova, Associate Professor of Wood Products, at Purdue University)

What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint? Choosing WOOD makes a difference!