Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

2009 ended in a snowstorm over Mont Alto. With the campus closed for the holidays, the snow can stay untrodden for a little while. Best wishes and success to all in 2010!
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hunting Season Underway


Pennsylvania’s deer hunting season is now underway with archery and black powder hunting. The rifle season will come for the two weeks after Thanksgiving. Hunting is critically important to maintain Pennsylvania’s forests. With an excellent climate, good habitat, and a ready supply of food the deer would soon eat all the seedlings and saplings, as they have in many areas. With no natural predators around only hunting can help reduce the numbers.

Hunting has been a Pennsylvania tradition for a long time, as this 1961 photo from the Forest History Society shows. Click here to see the photo on Flickr and to find more information. The photo caption reads: “Woman hunter showing off her 4-point buck shot in Limestone Township, near McGee Hollow, Warren Co., Pa. Sheffield Ranger District.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Keystone Chapter SAF Fall Meeting

The Keystone Chapter of the Society of American Foresters was held (10/22) at Kings Gap State Park at the Cameron/Masland Mansion. What a beautiful day to be out in the forest!



For the technical part of the meeting Ellen Schultzabarger, Ecological Services Section Chief of the DCNR Bureau of Forestry described the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (formerly the PA Natural Diversity Inventory). Rich Schockey, Ecological Services Environmental Review Specialist discussed the importance of and the need to protect forested buffers for water conservation. The natural heritage program now has a convenient online tool to help find endangered species in most parts of the state to help planning for forestry and other operations. It will also help with the permitting process.


Penn State Mont Alto forest technician students Ethan Wall, Josiah Knopsnider, Phil Bietsch, Tim Benedict, and Severin Thierwechter attended the meeting and are seen here relaxing in the mansion's lounge. Thanks to SAF members for sponsoring the students.

During a brief business meeting the Keystone chapter elected new officers:
  • Chair: Steve Wacker
  • Vice Chair Dave Nelson
  • Sec./Treas. Craig Houghton
  • Executive Committee Members: Mike Kusko, Jr. (past chair), Scott Kurtzman, and Rachel Billingham

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Use Google Maps Street View to Demonstrate Forest Management Activities

Normally you wouldn't think of Google Maps Street View as a helpful tool for forestry. Most of the scenes are concentrated in urban areas, where the people are. However, Google has been sending its cars out from the city centers to the rural areas. This can provide a good opportunity to illustrate forestry operations in an embedded map view.

For example, this scene shows the aftermath of a pine plantation removal operation in the Waynesboro Watershed in Hamiltonban Township, PA. The site has been treated with herbicides to remove invasive plants and shrubs. Most of it has been replanted, although none of the seedlings are yet visible.

As with all Google Maps views this one can be opened to its own screen for viewing or manipulated in its own window.

Further along the same road a deer fence was put in place to protect hardwood regneration in a stand where diseased hemlock and overtopped trees were removed several years previously. Use the map controls to pan up and see the canopy opening. (Click on the map and move the view around.)
This last view shows the PA Bureau of Forestry Ralph Brock Seed Orchard along Rte 233. The pines here have been topped to concentrate cone production on the lower branches. This treatment mystifies people who drive by until the purpose is explained to them!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Charles C. Mann at the SAF Convention

The keynote speaker at the Society of American Foresters national convention in Orlando (10/1/2009) was Charles C. Mann, the author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. In this fascinating book, Mann shows that the Native American civilizations very significantly impacted the environment of North and South America in the centuries before the Europeans came.

Mann shows that it wasn't just the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incans who made the changes. Indians in the Amazon Basin manufactured thousands of acres of fertile soil from broken pottery and charcoal to grown their crops. They also planted fruit and nut trees extensively throughout the area. The Indians of North America thinned the forests with fire to ease travel and to make hunting better. They also bred corn to become the crop we find so useful today and extended the range where corn could be grown.

The great tragedy Mann describes was the widespread deaths of Indians from infections of the Eurasian diseases to which they had no immunity. Unlike Europe and Asia, the Indians found no domestic animals in the Americas. Consequently they didn't experience the flu and other diseases and had no immunity. Once the European settlers arrived they found an essentially depopulated continent where the forests had grown back thicker than they had been in thousands of years.

With Columbus weekend upon us, what is the signifcance of these new archaeological discoveries for forestry? Many environmentalists believe that before 1492 there was a veritable Garden of Eden in the Americas, where the Indians lived, but had no noticeable effect on the environment. Consequently, the best policy would be to return to these pre-Columbus conditions and return the environment to its pristine state. But if there was no Eden, then we have the responsibility to manage the forests for the use people and to ensure sustainability. It's just that there is no perfect state to return to. It's up to us to figure out what we want the forests to look like!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mont Alto Students at the Society of American Foresters Convention

This year’s Society of American Foresters Convention was held at the Walt Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fl. Four Penn State Mont Alto students attended the convention and competed in the Quiz Bowl.

P1060751 Alex Lamoreaux, Hunter Stauffer, Frank Grano, and Severin Thierwechter preparing for the first round.


A large, enthusiastic crowd watches the competition. Mont Alto beat West Virginia University in the first round and lost narrowly to Oregon State University in the second round.

Scenes around Coronado Springs. The Disney resorts do a good job of protecting the environment and incorporating wildlife. Check out Alex’s blog for pictures of birds and other wildlife.P1060777 Also at the meeting we got a chance to visit with Mont Alto forestry alumni who are currently studying at University Park.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Starting the New Year

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Forest technology students started the new year with a Forestry Weekend at King's Gap Environmental Center last Friday 8/28. In spite of the wet weather the students got an introduction to orienteering.



Other events included pizza at Arturo's, a forestry movie night, and the freshman/sophomore picnic at Mont Alto State Park.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Class of 2011

Welcome to the Forest Technology Class of 2011 at Penn State Mont Alto! Freshman orientation was a very busy day. Fortunately, we avoided the rain on a cloudy, humid day. Classes start on Monday when we trade flip-flops for hiking boots and hardhats!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Exploring Glaciers in Alaska

Mont Alto alumnus, Eric Straley, who works on forest inventory for the USDA Forest Service in Alaska, sent us this message with an accompanying video:

A few days ago I did a plot next to the Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier north of flows off the Taku. After Jon and I were done we went out on the ice and explored around for an hour or so before we called the helicopter. We found this sweet ice cave that went back into the glacier for 50 or so actually went further but we could only make it a little way.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ned Smith Center Visit

Mont Alto forest technology students attended the Keystone SAF Chapter meeting at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Millersburg on Tuesday, June 2. The Center, dedicated to the memory of wildlife artist Ned Smith, hosts many art exhibits in its gallery and has over 500 acres of land in a nature preserve with many hiking trails.

The program featured a presentation by retired biology teacher John Laskowski, the "Mothman". John is one of the foremost experts on moths and butterflies of Pennsylvania's forests. A fun part of the visit was a short hike across the center's bridge over the Wiconisco Creek to see a chainsaw sculpture of wildlife species carved from a white pine log. John also pointed the rare forest plant, minniebush (Menziesia pilosa), which grows by the banks of the creek.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Class of 2009

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
Congratulations to the Class of 2009 forest technology graduates at Penn State Mont Alto. It's been an unforgettable past two years! Good luck in your future endeavors.
And, lest we forget, here is the same group at freshman orientation in 2007.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

End of the Year Picnic

This year's sophomore picnic was very wet! Fortunately, the pavilion at Mont Alto State Park kept everyone dry. And the food was good, too! We hope the newest alumni will keep us up to date with their adventures and come back to visit often.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stihl Timbersports Collegiate

Kevin Braun represented Penn State Mont Alto in the Stihl Timbersports Collegiate Mid-Atlantic Championship. He competed in the following events: Underhand chop, Stock saw, Standing block, and Single buck. Kevin came in third overall in a very strong field.

Congratulations to winner Matt Slingerland of Montgomery Community College, who will go on to the National Championship!

Mont Alto Woodsmen Win Mid-Atlantic

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

The Penn State Mont Alto Woodsmen Team won the Mid-Atlantic meet help at Allegany College of Maryland against a strong field. If everyone looks sunburned in this picture, it's because they are! It was a beautiful, sunny day! All the members of the team made great contributions. Martha King was outstanding. As the team's only female competitor she won several of the women's events.

Watch this video composite of the events.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mont Alto Students inducted into Honor Society

Three graduating Penn State Mont Alto Forest Technician students were inducted into the Council of Eastern Forest Technician Schools (CEFTS) Honor Society today. From left to right: Kevin Braun, Koby Cutchall, and Eric Monger. Eric also received a CEFTS scholarship. The Honor Society recognizes superior academic performance among forest technician students. CEFTS is comprised of colleges offering Associate degrees in forest technology in the United States and Canada.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Forestry Students at the Academic Festival

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Ethan Bradley mapped the extent of the Appalachian Trail and the 500 foot buffer strip in Pennsylvania.

Josiah Knopsnider conducted a forest inventory and developed a forest management plan for his family's property based on the crop tree release silvicultural system.
Koby Cutchall analyzed deer harvesting levels and distribution in recent years distributed by game management zones.
Mike Wagaman discusses emerald ash borer with Phil Bietch.
Bryan Cleveland illustrated contour planting patterns on his family's farm.
Hunter Stauffer partnered with Frank Grano on a study of the decline of true butternut trees in our area.

Forestry Students at the Academic Festival

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Brandon Brantner studied the effects of gypsy moth on timber harvests in the Michaux State Forest.


Taylor Freeman mapped the watersheds in the Susquehannock State Forest Area.

Eric Monger analyzed the timber production that may be lost if a proposed mandatory buffer zone is legislated aroun streams. He used Potter County as an example.
Luke Parr mapped a major natural gas pipeline as it crosses Pennsylvania.

Mark Porambo analyzed the viewshed around a logging operation near campus in the Michaux State Forest.

Gabrielle Diakow studied water pollution in the lower Susquehenna River.

Forestry Category Winners

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Mark Mizak and Alexander Lamoreaux won first place for their presentation on building and placing nesting boxes for saw whet owls in the Waynesboro Watershed.


Ricky Hutton earned second place for his poster of Dendrology Artwork.

Kevin Braun (pictured above) and Frank Grano came in third for their project Arboretum Anticipation Plantings, that mapped soil pH around plantings in the arboretum.

Academic Festival

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Today was the fourth annual Academic Festival at Penn State Mont Alto. Many forest technology students entered projects.


Adam Runk and Dan Schrom examine Bryan's poster.
Dan Stouch and Taylor Freeman
Casey Johnson, Ethan Wall, and Severin Thierwechter listen to Mark Parambo (center)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quiz Bowl at the Allegheny SAF Meeting

Penn State Mont Alto forestry students participated in the Quiz Bowl at the Allegheny SAF Winter meeting in State College on February 19.

Frank Grano, Eric Monger, and Mark Mizak

Watching the Quiz Bowl
Despite a valiant comeback Mont Alto lost to Allegheny College of Maryland, 50 to 85. Allegheny went on to win the event.

The theme of the meeting was Changing Forest Dimensions and included a wide variety of presentations about the changing nature of forestry in the Mid-Atlantic region. Follow this link to the Allegheny SAF web page.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

CCC boys from Pine Grove Furnace Camp, Pennsylvania, using tractor in road construction

CCC boys from Pine Grove Furnace Camp, Pennsylvania, using tractor in road construction
Originally uploaded by Oregon State University Archives.

Pine Grove Furnace is now a State Park. It is north of Mont Alto along Rte. 233. It is amazing how much good the CCC projects did in a time of great adversity. We owe these young men a debt of gratitude!