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.