All posts by Karen

Single Oak Project at Buffalo Trace Distillery focuses on oak wood

The Single Oak Project displays the culmination of an eight year study of, among other factors, the effect of different types of oak wood on the final bourbon product.

Started in 1999 the experiment individually selected 96 American oak trees that differed according to grain size (tight, average or coarse based on growth rings per inch) and growing location. A single barrel was constructed from the top and bottom each tree with various stave seasonings and charrings. These single oak barrels were then filled with different recipe whiskeys, at various entry proofs and aged in a variety of different warehouse styles. All of the single Oak Project bourbons were aged for eight years.

“Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky, and a dog to eat the rare steak.” —Johnny Carson

This experiment allows whiskey connoisseurs to directly compare the impact of seven different critical variables across 192 bottles for a total of 1,396 taste combinations. The Single Oak Project is undoubtedly the most extensive bourbon experiment ever undertaken.

And the winner is …

The winning bourbon from Barrel #80 was a rye recipe bourbon, entered into a barrel made from oak harvested from the bottom half of the tree with staves seasoned for 12 months. The grain size of the wood was considered average and the barrel received a number four char inside. The whiskey entered the barrel at 125 proof and was aged in a concrete floor warehouse.

For more information:  www.singleoakproject.com

 

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 24-28

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a 68-year old annual event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park featuring professionally-guided walks to explore the region’s rich natural and cultural resources. More than 700 pilgrims from more than 30 states and several countries joined us in 2017. Our programs included fungi, ferns, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, medicinal plants, insects (terrestrial and aquatic), salamanders and snakes, birds, mammals (bats to bears), birds, journaling, art and photography, and park history.

Legislative Alert: A NEW Challenge to Forest Health and State Focused Funding

A set of bipartisan bills introduced in the US House and Senate as Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health of 2018 which aim to “fix” the problem of proposed budgets from the US Forest Service that reduce funding to state based initiatives.

Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act of 2018

KWOA members are encouraged to contact federal legislators to request their support for the bills.

New Challenge to Forest Health

February board meeting highlights

KWOA’s Board of Directors considered a range of issues at its February 15th meeting. It is already on the go to support fair land assessments for sustainable working forests, federal disaster assistance for woodland owners, federal funding for state-based forest health programs and state funding for land conservation.

Portia Brown, Secretary, developed an “about KWOA and why you want to join” response to an inquiry to the website’s Contact Us page. That response is available for use by KWOA members in discussions with persons interested in KWOA. A website-friendly version is posted on the News and Forest Management Practices pages of the website.

KWOA is preparing correspondence to Representative Palumbo on timber shortage and “working farms.”  Rep. Palumbo introduced HB 576 that would require farm land assessments to provide evidence that the property is actively farmed. The KWOA letter notes that Kentucky’s forestland is not as productive as it could be while demand for forest products is growing. The correspondence includes KWOA’s position paper on Sustainable Forestry and Agriculture.

KFIA announced that Cliff Taylor, KWOA board member, has been selected as the 2017 Tree Farmer of the Year is. Herb Lloyd has been nominated as Regional Tree Farmer of the Year.

Emerald Ash Borer  Joe Ball observed that the federal government subsidizes cheap food. It is important for forest industry and woodland owners to help politicians see that federal subsidies for forestry supports a healthy environment.

UK’s Forestry Department has published a white paper on The Ash Disaster in Kentucky.

The board discussed seeking some form of disaster assistance for forestry including the non-insured crop assistance program and application of certified working farm criteria. The board has formed a committee to work on the issue.

Moments after its formation Portia Brown, Don Girton, Steve Perry and Joe Ball – begin work on the new committee’s objective of obtaining federal disaster assistance for woodlands damaged by invasives Photo by Henry Duncan

The UK Forestry Department has submitted a grant application for landscape level activities to secure the future of white oak in Kentucky. A companion piece to the grant application is a set of bipartisan bills introduced in the US House and Senate as Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health of 2018 which aim to “fix” the problem of proposed budgets from the US Forest Service that reduce funding to state based initiatives. KWOA was encouraged to contact federal legislators to request their support for the bills.

Land Conservation: The Kentucky Conservation Committee has prepared a letter supporting state funding for the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund which has experienced significant cuts in the last state budget and is slated for continued reductions in current budget proposals (HB 200). KWOA members are encouraged to sign on to this initiative.

A message to new woodland owners

Thank you for your interest in being good stewards of your newly acquired woodlands. Kentucky Woodland Owners Association (KWOA) is an all-volunteer affiliate of the National Woodland Owners Association (NWOA); as such, we are a great resource for the journey of learning about and practicing sustainable woodland management. Field days, short courses, annual meetings, and other events help woodland owners learn about programs and resources to help them achieve their goals. KWOA advocates for public policies that promote sound management practices.

As you may have seen on our website (www.KWOA.net ), the 2018 KWOA Annual Meeting is just around the corner on March 20-21 at General Butler State Park. This is a great opportunity to network with some fellow woodland owners and learn more.

In addition to the annual meeting, KWOA supports and promotes other educational programs such as the Woodland Owners Short Course, Tree Farmer Field Days, Master Woodland Steward Program and others. In fact the 2016 Tree Farmer of the Year for Kentucky is Jack Stickney, a KWOA board member. Jack & Teresa Stickney just hosted the Annual Tree Farm Field Day in October 2017 on their farm in Estill County!

We send out hard copy newsletters quarterly. We are also in the process of developing a Mail Chimp email function to alert members to more time sensitive issues or opportunities as they arise. Available resources vary over time, by region and by practice focus, so there is not a specific program that meets everyone’s needs all the time.

You can join KWOA online http://kwoa.net/join.htm or print & mail in a hardcopy form. We hope you will join KWOA and attend some of the 2018 woodland owners’ events. Most importantly, you can help us carry the message that sustainable management practices create healthy forests that provide long term economic and environmental benefits to the larger community.

Ambrosia beetle damage to standing dead ash

This report  is based on a survey of KY Master Loggers in response to concern about the occurrence of this damage and its potential to degrade and devalue logs. The white paper provides educational information and can inform decision-making by landowners, loggers, and the forest industry at large. Given the increasing amount of standing dead ash being logged due to the emerald ash borer, the issue of ambrosia beetle damage is likely to increase and affect new areas in the future.

2017 Ash Ambrosia Beetle Damage White Paper

For more info contact:

Ellen V. Crocker, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Forest Health Research and Education Center

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Kentucky

e.crocker@uky.edu

In Arizona, the trees have become the enemy of the forest.

Masses of spindly young trees crowd the forest floor and become tinder for destructive forest fires. Instead of focusing on the value of the trees to loggers, the Nature Conservancy’s Future Forests project would make it more viable to remove the young trees that make Arizona forests so dangerous. But thus far the project’s loggers, truckers and sawmills have not met tree removal targets.

Read more…

KWOA member’s experience with a timber harvest

Eric Shrader, KWOA member and woodland owner in western Kentucky, discussed his experience regarding a recent timber harvest at the KWOA board’s May 19, 2017 quarterly board meeting. The summary of his comments may be useful to other woodland owners contemplating a timber harvest.

Eric and Jo Lynn Shrader contracted with a consulting forester in 2014 to mark, sell and oversee a timber harvest on their 220+ acre woodlands. The consultant, a retired Kentucky Division of Forestry forester, developed a timber sale contract for them. The contract did not include clauses requested by the Shraders for addressing wet weather conditions and disposal of cigarette butts.

The Shraders met with the consulting forester for an initial walkthrough at their farm after the timber sale contract was signed and before the harvest began to identify control points, stream crossings, skid trails, the haul road, etc., as outlined in the BMP Handbook and master logger instructions/classes. The consultant declined to conduct a walkthrough with the loggers to discuss the preparation of the haul road. He also advised that the best management practices for harvesting timber (which are codified in the Kentucky Revised Statutes) are not meant to be literally followed in the field. Eric also requested a site visit by the KDF logging inspector prior to the start of the logging in April 2015. The inspector only reviewed the landing area and a small section of the timber to be harvested.

During 2015 the Kentucky Division of Water cited Eric and the timber purchaser for BMP #3 streamside management zones non-compliance and orders to fix. The timber purchaser fixed the damaged areas with assistance from Eric to avoid additional violation notices. DOW reports referenced BMP #4 sinkhole violations) water, silt, and mud running into sinkholes) but did not issue citations and provided instruction to divert water away from sinkholes.

The first logging crew was terminated in August 2015. A second crew was more responsive to Eric’s concerns although he found that it had not been informed of the specific contract requirements. He discussed the violations with the consulting forester prior to the loggers departing.

The loggers completed the timber harvest and left on May 9, 2016. The Shraders were pleased with the amount of timber harvested – almost 3/4 million board feet. However, they were still very concerned with the damage caused by what they considered a lack of adherence to BMPs and contract enforcement by those responsible. A KDF final Logging Inspection Report dated June 2, 2016 found no BMP violations. Eric submitted numerous requests to KDF that the report be corrected to reflect the BMP violations. No such correction has been forthcoming.

Mr. Shrader responded to questions and comments from board members. He noted several lessons learned from the timber harvest experience and expressed hope that KWOA would take an active role in educating and informing other woodland owners as to expectations, preparation and participation in timber harvests.

KWOA Board considers range of important topics at it meetings

Woodland property assessment

The on-going appeal regarding property assessment by Jim Corum, KWOA past president, is based on a lack of constitutional appropriateness regarding the disparity in application of property assessment criteria. The current assessment has economic implications for landowners regarding forestland as an investment given the carrying cost of the tax burden. For example, as a percentage of net income, woodland owners pay 15.6 percent of net income compared to 3 percent for corn farmers.

 

KWOA has conducted lengthy discussions covering many aspects of the issue including what criteria distinguish personal use from agricultural use for timber properties and the potential impact on counties’ tax base, particularly in light of the significant decrease in tax revenues from mined minerals.

 

Rough estimates indicate that Kentucky timber resources are only about 25 percent as productive as they could be due to lack of management. The KWOA board voted to form a committee to define what constitutes sustainable management practices. The committee will attempt to compare differences in tax rates between properties that implement sustainable management plans and those that don’t.

Recent high-profile property tax assessments for lots slated for future development in Fayette County resulted in new criteria for agriculture exemptions. There is no similar criteria for tree farms. KWOA is developing a related position paper focused on retaining property tax exemptions for all 10+acre woodlands. The position paper supports greater rewards for woodlands with active management plans. The first effort will be to develop and agree on the criteria that will differentiate a “working forest” (actively farmed) from a personal use or “volunteer” forest.

U.S. Congressional Working Forest Caucus

U.S. House and Senate bipartisan caucuses were formed to pursue common legislative objectives and policies relating to responsible, active management of privately owned forests. No Kentucky congressional legislators are members of these caucuses.

KWOA sent letters with the UK Kentucky Forestry Economic Contribution Report 2016 to the state’s U.S. senators and representatives. Sample letters were sent to KWOA members to encourage them to contact their congressional legislators about joining a caucus.

 

Member presentation on timber harvest

Eric Shrader, woodland owner and KWOA member, made a presentation to the board regarding his experience with a 2015 timber harvest. He shared the challenges, lessons learned, and the result of his efforts to have a logging inspection report corrected to reflect what he considered to be violations of best management practices during the harvest. A summary of his presentation is on the KWOA Practices page at www.kwoa.net.

 

Guest presentation from Dendri Fund

Barbara Hurt, Dendri Fund Executive Director, explained that the Dendri Fund is an independent foundation that gives grants focused on working groups: wood, water and grains. Born out of Brown Forman, a family-owned business, the Fund invests in building relationships, creating dialogue and shared learning, and fueling innovative solutions bringing together diverse perspectives. The Fund is in the process of changing its policy from a transactional to transformative grant-making process.

McCauley Adams, with Dendri’s wood working group, spoke about its focus on the importance of wood products to Brown Forman and to the quality of life for Kentucky’s future generations. Members brought up possible topics of mutual interest such as sustainable management of forests, the importance of other species besides oak and barrel-making and the threats from invasives.

 

KWOF sponsors six programs during 2017 with $3,450 in funding

KWOF contributed sponsorships to the following entities during 2017:

Greenup County Conservation District – $400 – to help fund their annual Woods and Wildlife for Your Wallet program.

Leopold Conservation Award – $500 – honors Kentucky farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who voluntarily demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources.
UK Forestry Student Scholarship – $1,000 – to an outstanding student enrolled in the University of Kentucky’s professional forestry degree program.

Woodland Owners Short Course – $650 – The WOSC is designed to assist Kentucky’s woodland owners in the care and management of their woodland resource.

UK Kentucky Forestry Leadership Program – $400 – for two competitive scholarships to the weeklong program at Jabez for students interested in natural resource management.

Salt River Watershed Project- $500 – managed through the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.

 

New Kentucky Division of Forestry Director outlines plans for agency

Recently appointed Director James Wright introduced himself and updated the board on agency activities and plans. Mr. Wright reported on staffing levels at the agency and his goal to streamline management personnel and increase field staff, including an urban forester position. There is real hope to have US Fish &Wildlife Service provide ongoing support on all enforcement issues. Kentucky foresters are being sent to other states on fires and management practices through new neighbor agreements with the US Forest Service. These changes are saving general fund dollars and looking in new directions to fund and promote sustainable forestry.

Pam Snyder, KDF Stewardship Branch Manager, reported that emerald ash borer has been found in six more counties. The division is re-gearing to roles that have an economic return. It is developing a cooperative agreement with NRCS on easements and timber stand improvement.

 

Emerald ash borer

The office of the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture has agreed to hold a meeting to discuss issues and economics related to the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer (or EAB), a native of Asia, is a half inch long dark metallic green beetle that kills ash trees within three to five years after they become infested.

Former KWOA president Joe Ball has contacted several statewide agencies and associations regarding the EAB threat. He assured the board that forestry is a big issue for the current commissioner, Ryan Quarles. In discussions with the commissioner’s marketing staffer, Ball thinks that woodland owners who have experienced timber loss from EAB damage may qualify for disaster relief funds. The USDA Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Forest Restoration Program provides payments to eligible owners of rural nonindustrial private forest land to carry out emergency measures to restore forest health on land damaged by natural disaster events. Insect disease is mentioned as damage that is eligible for relief funds.

 

UK Forestry Extension is developing a fact sheet utilizing existing forest inventory data for ash trees and EAB infestations to project the economic impact of resultant stumpage, canopy and overall downstream loss from this invasive. (Ash trees comprise seven percent of forest species in Kentucky.) Joe Ball recommended that loss payment be tied to cleanup and active management of future timber.