Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Life of Maurice Goddard

Forest technology students and faculty gathered in the Weistling Student Center yesterday evening to watch the Maurice Goddard documentary on WITF TV. The documentary gave a fascinating portrait of Goddard, who, in a long career at Penn State and for the Commonwealth of PA, was the acknowledged architect of much of the State's forest and parks conservation policy. He worked tirelessly to expand the number of state parks so that everyone in Pennsylvania would be within 25 miles of a state park. Instrumental in securing funding for conservation projects, he led efforts in flood prevention and control.

Goddard began his career as an instructor at Penn State Mont Alto after graduating from the University of Maine, in 1935. Eventually, he became the director of Mont Alto before leading the entire School of Forest Resources.

Goddard served as a staff officer in WWII and brought that sense of military discipline to the life of the forestry school. One interviewee, Jim Nelson, told the story of how Goddard made ties mandatory for meals. No tie and no food. Nelson told how the students, after a day of hard field work, would put on a clip-on bow tie before entering the dining hall. At the time meals were served in Weistling Hall, which is where we were watching the film.

The show was an inspirational reminder of the importance of public service for all foresters at any point in their career. Click here to see the trailer.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

SAF Quiz Bowl in Albuquerque

The Penn State Mont Alto Forestry Club Quiz Bowl team reached the semi-final round in competition on October 27 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the National Society of American Foresters convention! 32 teams competed; Mont Alto beat the U of Georgia, Shasta, and Michigan Tech, and lost to Green River CC, the eventual winner. Mike Trisket was excellent as captain, along with Tyler Wakefield, Mitch Oswald and Zach Hetrick.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forestry at the Army Corps of Engineers

Penn State Mont Alto alum Will Harlon spoke to the freshman forest technician students on careers in the US Army Corps of Engineers. Will, who is a forester at the John H. Kerr Reservoir and Dam in the Wilmington District, described the history of the Corps and the natural resources parts of its current mission, which includes: flood damage prevention, hydropower generation, recreation, shoreline management, fish and wildlife management, southern pine bark beetle remediation, and timber management work on military bases.

Will gave the students information about career opportunities with the Corps and how best to prepare themselves for successful careers. Many thanks to Will and his family for visiting Mont Alto during their vacation!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Forest Tech Developments

Sponsored by Landmark Systems, the Forest Technology Users Conference conference on October 13 and 14, highlighted new developments in hardware and software for forest inventories and management. Following is a summary of the presentations.Craig Houghton and I (Peter Linehan) were looking for state of the art solutions that could be added to the Forest Technology program at Mont Alto.

Carl Hauser of the Indiana DNR described the management challenges for the state forests required for the preservation of the Indiana bat. Extreme care is nneded when planning timber harvesting to not disturb the bats' winter hibernaculums. A certain number of large hardwood trees have to be reserved from harvest as the female bats like to raise their young under the bard of shagbark hickory and similar trees. Indiana DNR has modified their forest inventory software (T-Cruise) to record the required information that is needed to make good management decisions.

Haglof of Sweden manufactures precision forest measuring instruments, such as calipers and clinometers. Patrick Lidstrom described some of their recent products. The main trend is to add on board computing and geolocating capabilities to their tools. This development can increase productivity and accuracy in inventory work. My favorite new tool was a one-armed optical caliper that uses light beams to find the edge of a tree.

Landmark System's Mike Berzinis described new spatial analysis tools they have developed to facilitate forestry analysis in ArcGIS. The toolbar, SilvaAssist, provides a handy grid layout tool, Excel reports, and other forest inventory tools.

Remsoft is a linear programming tool to model forest management options based on growth models, financial conditions and many other management constraints. The system works with a number of other mapping tools and management software. They have done a good job of moving modeling from the drudgery of setting up the mathematical model.

The State of Michigan has a nearly 4 million acre state forest system, which must be one of the largest in the county. Cory Luoto and Dan Heckman, of the Michigan DNRE, described the implementation of IFMAP (Integrated Forest Management Monitoring Assessment and Planning) system.  Using a centralized mapping and database system, IFMAP counts on field foresters to inventory and monitor the forests in their area, while allowing public transparency of all management actions. Moving from a paper-based system to a totally electronic system is still an ongoing process. More of the foresters are seeing the advantage of using GPS data loggers in their work.

Terry Porter, of ForestTech Resource Solutions, described tests of three models of mapping grade GPS receivers that he carried out at the University of Georgia's Whitehall Forest GPS Test Site (page has broken links). The test results showed the inherently variability that is routinely encountered with all GPS receivers, even when working within design specifications. Still, on the worst day a good GPS is far better than traditional methods of locating items in the forest.

The developer of the T-Cruise forest inventory system, Dr. Tom Matney of Mississippi State University, described a variety of software tools available for foresters to use in planning and carrying out forest inventories. Many of the options are free and available online. Click here for links to some of these resources.

Blue Ox is a new timber transportation monitoring and planning tool developed by Landmark Systems and Trimble. Rick Davis described the research that went into the development of the system by attaching GPS monitoring devices to logging trucks to find out how the trucks were really used. The system can help a forest products company save money by better deploying and using their truck fleet to get wood from the forest to the mill.

Brooks McKee of Trimble Forest Automation presented an overview of the SOLO Forest and SOLO 360 tools for GIS planning and analysis of forest inventory data. Designed to work on Trimble GPS tools and work with ArcGIS, the systems offer an interesting solution.

The conference concluded with a panel discussion with all the presenters answering questions. We certainly left the meeting with a lot of ideas for new technologies to add to the forestry courses at Mont Alto!

Many thanks to the conference sponsors. We are looking forward to future meetings. Also, the Clifty Inn in the Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Indiana is a great place to hold a meeting. Click here for pictures outside the inn, around the park, and in Madison.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

New Forest Technology Students at Penn State Mont Alto

Penn State Mont Alto forest technician students gathered for the a picnic at Mont Alto State Park yesterday afternoon. In spite of the heat it was a great time for freshman and sophomore students to meet and greet!

Below are most of the freshmen in front of the pavilion.


And here are more pictures from the gathering.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fatal Accident at Central Park Puts Focus on Trees -

Fatal Accident at Central Park Puts Focus on Trees -

This article highlights the unseen dangers from park trees. Arborists can inspect trees, but it's impossible to see every possible hazard. For students studying urban tree care this article shows how important their work is!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Topographic Map Formats

While looking for a map on the US Geological Survey site today I found a new format of topographic maps. Previously it was easy to download a scanned topographic map in pdf format. Today I noticed that for some regions there is a new kind of map called a US Topo. It has a true color aerial photo for a base with all the usual topographic map features on top.

For example, below is a part of the Iron Springs 7.5 minute map showing the Waynesboro Reservoir, which was made in 1995.
Following is the June 2010 version of the same area.
For some maps there is a Digital Maps beta version that doesn't yet have the contour lines. The new maps can be purchased in paper format. Even better is the pdf format. The data in the new maps can be separated in the reader, just like in a GIS. When you install the free TerraGo add-on in Adobe Reader you can make measurements of direction and distance directly on the map. Very Cool! It is all available at Topographic maps will never be the same again!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Visit to Redwood Country

Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.
A group of Penn State Mont Alto forestry students and faculty recently visited the redwood forests in Humboldt County, California. Seen here during a tour of Humboldt University's Schatz Demonstration Tree Farm, led by manager Gordon Schatz, are students Mitch Oswald and Zach Hetrick, faculty Craig Houghton, Beth Brantley and  Peter Linehan, and students Tyler Wakefield, and Nate Rosenberg. The students have each participated in forestry research projects funded by Schatz research fund grants.

During the visit from June 11 to 15 the group visited the Avenue of the Giants in  Humboldt Redwood State Park with its groves of amazing trees.


The tour also included parts of Redwood State Park, the Arcata Community Forest, and the Humboldt Lagoons State Park, among other places. Everyone learned a great deal about the life cycle and ecology of the amazing redwoods!

Thanks to Schatz family for funding student travel for this trip. Also, many thanks to Gordon and Karen Schatz for their time and excellent company! To see more pictures click here. See a map of the visit here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Graduation 2010

Graduation at Penn State Mont Alto was held on May 15. Below are the forest technology graduates. ( A few were missing).

Class of 2010 Forest Technology Students

It's always nice when forest technology alumni return to Mont Alto.  Flanked  by Dr. Brantley and Mr. Houghton; Andrew Baker, Chance Yeakly, and Tiffany Roddy from the class of 2008, received their B.S. in forestry diplomas at Mont Alto's graduation ceremony.

Mont Alto alums earn B.S.

End of Selective Availability Anniversary

The June 2010 issue of  Forestry Source (subscription required) contains a short primer on GPS. Author Steve Wilent mentioned the tenth anniversary of the end of Selective Availability (SA) on May 1, 2000, following an executive order by President Clinton. Under the SA program deliberate error was introduced into the GPS signal so that the live signal would have an error of about 100 meters. This was done to protect national security during military operations. Only military GPS receivers had a chip to remove the error.

The policy was changed to promote the use of GPS in the general economy. The military agreed fully with the new policy. There were ways around SA, by using a supplemental FM correction signal broadcast locally by the US Coast Guard or by doing post-processing correction of field data in the office.

Now that the GPS signals has no more deliberately introduced error the use of GPS has grown dramatically  in all parts of the economy from cars to personal devices. The sport of geocaching would not be possible if SA were still in operation.

For foresters, the end of SA has meant that low cost, rugged, recreational grade GPS receivers can be used for most forestry operations. The accuracy of these receivers is more than enough for most forestry mapping  operations. The forest technology program at Penn State Mont Alto has been able to acquire sufficient receivers so that all the students can have one to use for field work. Collecting GPS data in the field and using it to create maps has now become a normal part of all fieldwork.

We should make the end of SA a national holiday!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Chestnut Planting on the Waynesboro Watershed

Forest technology students in the silviculture class established a chestnut seed orchard in the Waynesboro Watershed. These latest hybrid nuts from the American Chestnut Foundation should be nearly resistant to the blight. The orchard will provide nuts to help restore the american chesnut to the forest.

See the article in The Herald Mail.

Forestry Picnic 2010

The weather for this year's forestry picnic was ideal! And the food was good, too. The students shared jokes, stories, and looked forward to coming together again as Mont Alto alumni.

New Honor Society Members

Two graduating sophomores from Penn State Mont Alto were inducted to the CEFTS* Forest Technology Honor Society this past week based on their outstanding academic achievements. Congratulations Josiah and Severin!



* CEFTS is the Countil of Eastern Forest Technician Schools

Academic Festival 2010

Forestry students were well represented in the Penn State Mont Alto Academic Festival on April 14th. Click on the pictures to see a description of each project. The projects ranged from aspen regeneration to forest type mapping. The students are getting quite skillful with GIS to map their work.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Tools for Communicating the Forestry Message

Students in Forest Management Practices (FORT 250) experimented with making short videos on a forestry topic. They used Flip cameras, which make it relatively simple create, edit, and upload videos. Is Hollywood calling?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Going Up, Anyone?

At the end of the semester forest technology students in the Arboriculture class finish the semester by doing one last group climb in the biggest yellow poplar tree on campus (located by the water tower). Last semester's clim in December 2009 was a very wet day. The climb went well and everyone had a great time.
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