Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New GPS Model

Today we started using the new Garmin GPS model 60 receivers. These units have USB connections in addition to the serial ports, which is nice. They seem to work quicker than the older model 76 receivers that we have been using. They also have better graphics. And they have GPS related games! We will continue to use the older GPS units, but it is nice to have the new equipment, too.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

View from the Grand Sierra


This is the view at sunrise from our rooms on the 24th floor of the Grand Sierra Resort Hotel.

Check out the map of Reno. The city is in a basin surrounded by mountains. Lake Tahoe is to the west.

Mont Alto Foresters Meet Bennie the Horse


In what must be one of the most unusual items to appear in the silent auction for the Foresters Fund, Bennie was offered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). Bennie is one of thousands of wild horses available for adoption from the BLM. By law the captured horses, who are not native to the American Plains and can cause a great deal of environmental damage, cannot be destroyed. They must be cared for by BLM until they can go to deserving homes. Don't worry, the auction winner must qualify as an owner and could donate Bennie back until a good home can be found.


Here we all are after meeting Bennie.


These horses, outside the hotel, don't ever actually go anywhere!

Mont Alto at the SAF Convention in Reno

Mike Wagaman, Martha King, Kevin Braun, and Eric Monger represented Mont Alto in the Quiz Bowl at the Society of American Foresters Convention in Reno on November 8.

In the first round Mont Alto beat Oregon State University by 35 points. We lost to Stephen F. Austin University by 5 points in a back and forth game in round 2.

The eventual winner was Utah State University. In addition to the trophy, they won prizes from the Geico Gecko. (Each member won a toaster that branded the Gecko on the toast!)


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pennsylvania Forests Fire Museum Association Lease Signing

At yesterday's annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Forest Fire Museum Association in Fayetteville, President Steve Cummings signed the lease with the Commonwealth for the use of the old headquarters building at Caledonia State Park as a new Discovery Center.


The Discovery Center will show some of the Museum's holdings and displays and raise visibility until the permanent museum is open down the road. There is still a lot of work to be done before the Discovery Center is ready. PFFMA is targeting May 2009 as an opening date.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Forest Technology Kickoff

Forest technology freshmen and sophomores got together for a pizza party this afternoon in the Weistling Student Center. It was a chance for members of the two classes to get to know each other. This year's freshman class of 36 students is one of the largest at Mont Alto for many years!
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Friday, July 04, 2008

Wildfire Maps

This year's fire season began with unusually fierce and intense fires, especially in Northern California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has put together an interactive Google Map showing the status of active and contained fires and emergency services. The map can be seen here.

The US Forest Service Remote Sensing Application Center has put together a number of maps in its Modis Active Fire Mapping Program. The site includes a number of imaging products including interactive ArcIMS maps and Google Earth downloads. Complete data on the fires is also available.

With more people moving into rural areas, the increase in forest fuels, and the capricious climate the problem of widlfires will be with us for a long time. Fortunately, we have reliable real time sources of information with which to study the fires and come up with solutions.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alumni Still Have the Touch for Woodsmen's Competition Events

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Alumni at the Penn State Mont Alto Reunion tried out Woodsmen's Competition events during the reunion on June 21st.

Coach Craig Houghton looks on as Paul Shogren and Jerry Klancer do the crosscut.

More Crosscutting.

Ken Swisher doing the bolt split.

Forestry Faculty Return

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Retired forestry faculty returned to Mont Alto to meet their old students at the Penn State Mont Alto Alumni Reunion on Saturday June 21.

Robert Douglas was a student at Mon Alto in 1952. He taught forestry courses from1963 to 1973.

Ken Swisher taught dendrology and other forestry courses from1964 to 1996.

Nick Hunter taught at Mont Alto from 1974 to 1985.
The faculty and alumni reminisced over numerous labs in the forests around Mont Alto.

Visit to the Watershed

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
During the Penn State Mont Alto Reunion and 45th Anniversary alumni visited the Waynesboro Watershed where forest technology students carry out many field labs.
Alumnus Dennis Braun tries out the skidder used in harvesting labs in the 1970's, which is still working today. Braun's son, Kevin, is a current forest technology student at Mont Alto.
Craig Houghton, forestry instructor and program coordinator, leads the discussion at the Waynesboro Reservoir.
A fabulous day at the Reservoir

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Keystone Chapter SAF Meeting Looks Up to Fire Towers

Twenty-six members of the Keystone Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), including eleven Penn State Mont Alto forestry students, met last Thursday evening at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Chambersburg.


Merl Waltz presented the History of Fire Towers in PA with a series of historical photos. The use of fire towers began at Mont Alto as the students were detailed to fight forest fires. At first they climbed prominent hills and even trees. Eventually makeshift towers were secured to tall trees. These eventually developed into manufactured steel towers placed strategically around the State. It became a source of community pride to have a functioning tower. Merle described the often tedious work of a fire tower observer and how the workers coped with the long hours and strenuous conditions.

Eventually fire towers gave way to aerial spotters. Today, with more people living in rural areas, the use of airplanes, and better communication (cell phones and radios) there is less need for towers. A few are still in use however. Others suffer from vandalism. Some may be preserved for their historical value.


Chapter chairman Mike Kusko (right) presents Ralph Heilig with his 50 year SAF Golden Membership Award.


Member Jason Hines describes his experiences at the recent SAF National Leadership Academy.

Keystone Chapter officers were elected at the meeting. From left to right: Merle Waltz (executive committee), Mike Kusko (Chairman), Scott Kurtzman (executive committee), and Craig Houghton (Secretary-Treasurer). Absent were Steve Wacker (vice-Chairman) and Rachel Billingham (Executive Committee).

Thanks to the Keystone Chapter members for generously sponsoring the students. It was greatly appreciated after a day of timber harvesting at summer camp!

Congratulations Class of 2008

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

(from left to right: Logan Droppa, Chance Yeckley, Ryan Thrush, Andrew Baker, Craig Houghton, Beth Brantley, Darren Krebs, John Westerfer, and Peter Linehan)

Yesterday's commencement at Penn State Mont Alto turned out to be the island of sunny weather between heavy rains. Congratulations to the Class of 2009!

(Andrew, Chance, and Darren)

Congratulations too to Tiffany Roddy and Matthew Reitzel, who couldn't attend the ceremony. Last but not lease, congratulations to Charles Hostetter who earned a B.A. in English. Charles studied one year in forest technology before deciding to follow his muse elsewhere. I'm sure his forestry classes will provide many stories for his studies in creative writing at the University of Maryland.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Replanting the Watershed

Forest technology students have been busy the past few weeks replanting a thirty acre clearcut on the Waynesboro Watershed with hybrid loblolly trees. The previous stand had became stagnant. Last summer it was harvested. The site was subsequently sprayed with herbicide to kill invasive plants. Now it's ready for replanting! Above is a picture of the freshman silviculture class after a laborious session.


One seedling.


At work with the dibble bar.

Congratulations Woodsmen's Team

On April 12th the Mont Alto Woodsmen's Team won the Mid-Atlantic meet at Haywood Community College in Clyde, NC. Here are the final team scores:






This win showed a strong team effort by all involved. Also, congratulations to Chance Yeckley who came in second in the Stihl Collegiate Qualifying competition.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Pin Oak Donated to Mont Alto

A 40 foot tall Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) was donated by Alumnus Jerry Klancer to the Penn State Mont Alto arboretum. The tree was planted in the field in front of the Police Services Building this past Tuesday. This is a great site as pin oak likes wet, clay soils. Thanks also to Davey Tree Company for transporting and planting the tree with their tree spade.

Tree Spade (4-15-08) 032
Jerry Klancer, Brian, and John Blake with the tree in the background.

A slide show of the planting:

photos by Craig Houghton and Peter Linehan

Mont Alto Academic Festival

Forestry students competed in the Mont Alto Academic Festival on April 16th. They cleaned up in the Science/Technology
  • First Place: Chance Yeckley and Tiffany Roddy for "Meeting of the Pines Natural Area"
  • Second Place: Kevin Braun and Eric Monger "The Distribution of American Chestnuts on Oak Road"
  • Third Place: Logan Droppa for "Mapping Ornamental Trees: Korean Tetrainum and Amur Corktree"
Other forester presentations included:
  • Matt Reitzel "Identifying and Mapping Fir Trees on Campus
  • Andrew Baker " Practical Use of Geographic Information System (GIS) in Developing Forest Management Plans on Privately Owned Forest Land in Washington County, Pennsylvania"
Chance and Tiffany

Eric and Kevin



Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ornamental Cherry Trees

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.



These beautiful cherry trees were in full bloom today outside the Shippensburg Borough Police Department. At first I thought they were the result of years of intense pruning. It turns out that these Weeping Higan Cherry (Prunus subhirtella) trees are the result of numerous branches grafted to a single stem. They certainly add a dramatic element to the landscape.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Presentation by Dr. Finley

Forestry Speaker


The overview of his presentation is that of the 58% of Pennsylvania that is forested, much of the land is privately owned and the size of the land is being parcelized (broken into smaller and smaller tracts). Since most land owners who harvest their forests do not hire a forester, the result is high grading and not thinking about the future forests. They are not waiting for adequate regeneration and what does manage to regenerate is not what we want to see. The main tree species that are regenerating are red maple and black birch. Deer don't eat them or fern. The fern shades out and filters the light needed by the tree seedlings and then if oak regeneration does manage to out grow the fern, the deer browse it off. If the deer don't browse it off, then the oak has to compete with the faster growing birch and maple.

Using tests such as the ASID test and fencing out deer, we can see that the deer, fern, and competition as well as invasive insects like the Gypsy moth paint a very bleak picture for the oak. One of the things that we can do is educate the public and try to use best management practices to ensure a strong forest in the future.

http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/foresthealth.aspx This website discusses the concern for deer and Gypsy moth, which relate to the decrease in oak regeneration and its component in our forests, especially in our future forests.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Contour Lines Added to Google Maps

I saw in the Google LatLong blog yesterday that Google has added contour lines to the terrain view. This capability was added by , a Google intern. Follow this link to the blog posting.

Here is a map I made of Mount Washington in New Hampshire:

View Larger Map

Mount Washington is the highest point on the east coast of the USA.

I am not sure how they select the contour interval. It seems to be 40 feet.

Here is another map of the Waynesboro Reservoir:

View Larger Map

This one also seems to have a 40 foot interval, too. It will be interesting to check other regions, such as the Rockies. I do like the effect of contours and shading to show elevation. This is a great option. It turns the online maps into much more of a professional tool.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mira Lloyd Dock Marker

The Historical Marker Database is a favorite I like to follow. Today the marker for Mira Lloyd Dock in Harrisburg was entered. Dock (1853-1945) was a conservation pioneer for her work in parks around Harrisburg, conservation education, and with the Pennsylvania Forestry Commission. Her marker could have been just as easily placed in Mont Alto. She was a frequent lecturer at the Forest Academy. She also mentored many of the students in the first classes, inviting them to Sunday teas at her home in Caledonia.

She also gave many talks on forestry and conservation at Mont Alto and around Pennsylvania. Take a look at some of the slides in her glass lantern shows at the Penn State Library.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York City Parks

This past weekend I visited New York City and had the chance to visit several of the parks including Central Park. This Google map shows some of the areas I visited. An urban park is a very challenging environment for trees, shrubs, and turf. They can be easily loved to death from people and pets. Fencing helps keep people in the right places and protects areas that need to be protected so that they can regenerate.

View Larger Map

Ax Men on the History Channel

A new documentary series, Ax Men, on the History Channel premiered this past Sunday. The show follows the work of four different logging companies in Oregon. Each of the companies works on very steep terrain using cable logging to get the wood off the incredible slopes. The action photography is awesome. The show highlights the extreme dangers that the loggers face every day. Using first-person narration and very well done animation the show brings us into the lives and struggles of the loggers.

The four companies use similar techniques but they are very different. One is a large operation with new equipment. The owner, who lost one arm in an accident, is always experimenting with new techniques to increase production, such as using a helicopter to initially set a cable. Another company works with a small crew using a converted WWII tank as a yarder. When one worker goes home with a bad back everyone has to shift jobs and production plummets for the day.

The show concentrates on the drama of the loggers and their work. Watching it as a forester I think of the bigger picture of the forest situation in Oregon with the restrictions on harvesting and the controversies on the best way to manage the forests. The previews hint that in future episodes the decline in logging, the closure of mills, and the difficulties in the forest economy will be highlighted. Watching this show I can understand the slightly bemused attitude I have always noticed in loggers when I have been on logging tours. They know that all the silvicultural theories rely on their actions.

The loggers work under tremendous pressure. In addition to the dangers they have to maintain production to get paid. Their contracts have hard deadlines that they have to meet. It's a hard way to make a living.

This is a series well worth watching.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Henry Sipes Memorial Tree

During a surveying exercise this morning I came across a memorial black walnut tree for F. Henry Sipe (PSFS 25). Sipe became a forester and surveyor in West Virginia. He wrote a book Compass Land Surveying, of which I have the final 1979 edition. It was a detailed handbook for doing forest property surveys. It's definitely a classic! It's great to have these historical reminders around the Mont Alto campus.