Friday, July 27, 2007

Internship in Louisiana

From Tiffany Roddy:
I'm working for Weyerhaeuser this summer in the North Louisiana Timberlands Region. This region of the company manages nearly 750,000 acres in 22 parishes (counties) in Louisiana, 6 counties in eastern Texas, and 7 counties in southern Arkansas. There are around 53 employees and 45 logging contractors. Weyerhaeuser practices intensive forest management on even-aged stands that are mostly loblolly pine plantations. The company clearcuts around 20,000 acres a year, which they then site-prep and re-plant-- a total of nearly 9 million trees planted a year. Weyerhaeuser is also SFI certified. This region has two lumbermills and three veneer mills, with the major source of wood being supplied from company lands, followed by logs shipped in from other contractors, and then timber from private landowners.

As part of my summer internship, I have done various jobs with people of various positions in the company. So far, I have: cruised and marked timber and pulpwood on company as well as private lands; investigated disputes regarding property lines; inspected roads for BMP (best-management practices) audits; done audits on loggers for BMP work and safety equipment; located tracts and made maps on a GIS program; and compiled and checked tracts for future harvest and/or conversion.

I have worked in Louisiana and Texas so far and it is definitely a change of pace when compared to the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania. The advantage of our two-year program compared to a four-year degree is that we already have the technical training after our first year-- many people were very astonished that I knew how to cruise after only one year of school. Also, the system of mapping in Louisiana is the Section, Township, and Range, which makes it very easy to find where you need to go! I have only seen one alligator-- in the lake behind our office. I've also seen two roadrunners. But so far, I haven't seen any snakes- rattlers or mocasins- and I want to keep it that way!

The first picture is from a logging audit in east Texas. The machine behind me is a processor, which delimbs and cuts to length.

The second picture is of a longleaf pine in it's "grass stage," where it needs to be released by fire.

The third and fourth pictures are of a site prep machine that simultaneously shears rows and plows beds for planting seedlings. The beds are a pre-determined length, which is entered into a GPS receiver on the machine. This then directs the operator where to plow-- down to the foot.


The fifth picture is of me in front of a loblolly pine in Texas that is nearly 4 feet in diameter.

And last, but not least: everyone loves a log truck.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PA Bans Firewood Imports

Pennsylvania banned most imports of firewood from out of state yesterday. Here is a report from TV station WGAL. The goal is to prevent the spread of parasites, such as the emerald ash borer that hitch a ride in the firewood. They could have banned just ash wood, but because it's hard for most people to identify species, they banned all of them.

In June, the PA Department of Agriculture announced the discovery of infected ash trees in several counties of western PA.

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and is heading this way. It has the potential to destroy most of the ash trees in American forests.

Fortunately, firewood tends to be marketed only locally. Firewood is bulky, heavy, and has relatively low value compared to other forest products. It doesn't really pay to transport it very far. But I can imagine a scenario such as campers bringing a small quantity of wood for a camping trip. It only takes a few infected pieces to spread the insects.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer Camp 2007

Students in the forest technology program participate in a four week summer camp session which emphasizes timber harvesting (chainsaw use and safety and logging operations) and visits to forestry operations around the region. The work is all-day five days a week, but it's worth it! Here are some pictures from this year's class.

(Photos by Dr. Brantley and Tiffany Roddy)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dawn Redwood in Massachussetts

While visiting family in Westfield, MA I came across this fine example of a dawn redwood. It is located in a small park that is slated to be removed to accommodate a new bridge crossing. The city is trying to decide what to do with the tree. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a fast growing deciduous conifer that was discovered in China in the 1940's and had been considered extinct before. It grows very well in urban settings, although there have been problems with vigor from hybrid inbreeding.

According to a recent article in Westfield's newspaper, The Republican, the city now has to decide how to save the tree or whether to cut it down.
Thanks to Chris Morrill for showing me this tree.