Monday, October 30, 2006

G.P.S. on the Road and in Your Pocket - New York Times

G.P.S. on the Road and in Your Pocket - New York Times

This article compares three different GPS receivers for road navigation: one built into an Acura dashboard, one a high-end Garmin, and the last a specially equipped cell phone. None of these units is useable in forestry. But they are what many people expect now from GPS. The technology is always advancing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wind and Trees

Saturday night's high winds were enough to topple this white pine tree in my back yard. Fortunately, the top fell in a driveway, not causing any property damage.

The tree's leader had been destroyed (white pine weevil?) leaving a cup in the crown formed the side branches turning up, where water could stagnate and rot could enter.

The tree sheared along the rot, which shows as black in the remaining wood of the stem. It can also be seen in the adjoining end of the broken top.

A tree's true health shows during the stress of windstorms.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Aerial photo and GIS developments

There were so many great sessions in Pittsburgh. Here are a few that I especially remember.

Clarence Neese from Orbis discussed how organizations could save time and money by using online mapping systems such as Google maps, Microsoft's Local Live , or Yahoo! Maps to display their data. Using the API's or programming interfaces provided they then only have to build an interface for their own data needs. Their are also other pay services, such as ESRI's that provide mapping data and an interfaces. Organizations save by not needing to support a large database of imagery. Also, they can deliver products over the internet. The world of GIS is advancing rapidly.

Later I visited the ORBIS booth and asked them if traditional film-based aerial photography was still common. I was surprised to learn that digital sensors are rapidly becoming more common. They are now fast enough and have storage capacity to hold full flight runs. This digital data can be used in many applications with little processing. I was concerned about the loss of stereoscopic viewing with digital, but it is easy enough to use a DEM (digital elevation model) to display the data in 3-D and from any angle! I really need to evaluate what we're doing in the Aerial Photo Interpretation course. Here's the Orbis web site:

California Fire Burns Virtually Out of Control - New York Times

California Fire Burns Virtually Out of Control - New York Times

Fighting wildfires is always dangerous. This morning at the SAF convention, Exec. VP Michael Goergen called for a moment of silence and prayers for the families of the lost firefighters. Amen! I hope that the remaining person makes a full recovery.

Many forestry students at Mont Alto have worked in fire crews in past summers. They have ususally had an excellent experience. I'm sure their families are happier still when they return safely back to school in the fall.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

From the convention center deck

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Unusual bench

What species of wood is this?

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Keynote address

It was inspiring to hear the keynote speaker this morning. Dr. Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts at organizing women to plant trees and conserve soils in Kenya. As a researcher of tick parasites of cattle at the University of Nairobi she noticed the streams turning brown and the soils eroding. She also listened to women talking about their need for fresh water, food, and other resources.

She worked with foresters, but found that they didn't have the fruit and indigenous trees that women needed. The women didn't have the technical skills of "foresters with diplomas", yet they could develop their own skills as "foresters without diplomas".

Her work also led to efforts to preserve green spaces and public forests. This was dangerous at the time as the dominant political powers were determined to sell off resources (lands) as quickly as possible (more often than not with under the table payments). Her groups were successful at saving Nairobi's Central Park in the face of the bulldozers!

She emphasized the need for all of us to reduce, reuse, and recycle resources. She also talked about the need for debt relief for African nations. Why should the people pay for money squandered by corrupt officials? She made a good case. The banks and governments from developed countries are literally profiting from the misery of the people of underdeveloped nations.

Her efforts make us realize how important forestry is to maintain and improve the quality of life for everyone. Also, forestry is social. You have to work and communicate with people. There's no hiding in the forest!

Mont Alto Forest Tech Students at SAF

Back row Mick McCormick, Loggan Droppa, Alex Dinunzio, Andrew Baker, and Rob Ferrence. Front row: Cristie Shull, Angella Kellert, Chance Yeckley, Tiffany Roddy, and Ryan Thrush Posted by Picasa

Start of Quiz Bowl

This was the scene at the start of the Student Quiz Bowl
at the SAF Convention. After many, many rounds of 10 questions each, the University of Arkansas won. There were some hard questions and some good answers. Beth Brantley and Jamie Murphy of Penn State did a great job putting the Quiz together. And many Penn State University Park and Mont Alto students volunteered to help out with timing and score keeping. Posted by Picasa

SAF Convention Day 1

Driving west from Shippensburg to Pittsburgh this morning I was amazed by the foliage, which is near maximum in southern PA. You can really pick out the different species of trees on the hillsides. This is why many aerial photo missions are flown in the at this time of the year!

I stopped at the Somerset rest area, which has a great view of the line of giant windmills. These generators promise completely renewable power; yet there is some controversy. The windmills are large and each one requires several acres of forest to be cleared. There is also the need for an access road. There is a possibility for some birds and bats to be affected. But I think the need for energy is so great now that we will have to find a way to deal with the objections.
Now, as for driving in downtown Pittsburgh...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Journal of Forestry

Today I received my September Journal of Forestry. Is the production schedule for these slipping? The cover shows American forestry students in Tian An Men Square in Beijing, China. There are several articles on introducing a research experience for undergraduates which seem to describe Trips to and work in China. Looks interesting.

There is an intriguing title: "Has the myth of the omnipotent forester become the reality of the impotent forester?" It sounds provocative and I can't wait to have time to read it.

They are now showing a new web address on the cover: When I tried it, it seems to be an alias that brings you to the Journal page on the SAF website. I'm happy to see the publishers have a bigger web presence.

Monday, October 23, 2006

SAF 2006 National Convention

SAF 2006 National Convention

On Wednesday I am leaving for the Society of American Foresters national convention in Pittsburgh. It is less than three hours away on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We have 12 students coming from Mont Alto. I hope to comment on different events at the convention and post pictures, too.


I teach in the forest technology program at Penn State University, Mont Alto campus. I will use this blog to comment on any forestry items I come across. Also, I will use it to comment on forestry professional meetings, etc.