Category Archives: News

News about Kentucky Woodlands and their owners

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

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.

KWOA launches series on timber harvest management for woodland owners

Have you conducted a timber harvest on your land? Was the experience what you expected? Were you satisfied with the results? Or if you are considering a harvest, what questions and concerns do you have?

KWOA/KWOF is starting a series of articles on the topic of timber harvests. The series will include articles, publications and resources on contracts, harvesting, best management practices, landowner relationships with and responsibilities of consulting foresters, logging inspections and reports, remediation for and correction of BMP violations.

To begin the series we are providing a list of articles that have been published in the University of Kentucky Forestry Extension’s Kentucky Woodlands Magazine. The articles are listed chronologically beginning with the magazine’s first issue in 2006. To read the full articles go to: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/KYWoodlandsmagazine/about.php.

We would also like to hear from woodland owners about their experiences, questions and lessons learned. Please submit comments, questions and/or articles to editor@kwoa.net.

Kentucky’s Consulting Foresters

November 2006 1.2

Christopher J. Will

 

Kentucky Master Loggers and Woodland Owners

April 2007 2.1

Jeff Stringer

 

Forestry Water Quality Plans

April 2008 3.1

Amanda Abnee Gumbert
Selective Harvesting Part One

Sustainable Management of High-grading?

August 2008 3.2

Jeff Stringer

 

Selective Harvesting Part Two

Elements of a Selective Harvest

December 2008 3.3

Jeff Stringer

 

Managing and Preventing Woodland Degradation

December 2009 4.3

Jeff Stringer

 

Timber Measurements, Products, Harvesting, and Sales

April 2010 5.1

Doug McLaren

 

Tracking the Establishment of Invasive Exotic Species in a Timber Harvest

August 2011 6.2

Kevin Devine, Jeff Stringer, Songlin Fei, Chris Barton
Woodland Roads

December 20102 7.2

Chris Osborne

 

Selecting a Logger

April 2013 8.1

Jeff Stringer

 

Logging and Woodland Owners

How to Protect Yourself from Bad Actors

August 2013 8.2

Jeff Stringer and Mark Schuster

 

It’s Your Woods

(So Know Your Ags and Ugs)

December 2013 8.3

David Mercker

 

Hardwood Timber Products and Tree Value

Winter 2014 9.2

Jeff Stringer

 

Kentucky’s Woodland Owners and Logging Best Management Practices

Summer/Fall 2015 10.1

Jeff Stringer

 

Protecting Woodlands from Timber Theft and Trespass

Spring 2016 10.2

Jeff Stringer, Chad Niman, Billy Thomas

 

Changes to Kentucky’s Forestry Best Management Practices

Spring 2016 10.2

Jeff Stringer and MacKenzie Schaeffer

 

Kentucky Landowners and Logging BMP’s

Summer 2017 11.1

Jeff Stringer

 

Marking Your Woodland Boundary

Summer 2017 11.1

Laurie Taylor Thomas

Stickney tree farm field day demonstrates options for sustainable woodlands

Thanks to the following educators for participation in the field day and information for this article:

Eric Baker, Estill Co Extension Agriculture/Natural Resource Agent

Jason Powell, KDF

Sam Miller, NRCS

Merle Hacker, KDF&W

Portia Brown, KWOA

Henry Duncan and Clarissa Rentz, KWOA – photos

 

Woodlands owners experienced an exceptional on-site tour of a top-rated tree farm on October 5. Jack Stickney, 2016 Kentucky Tree Farmer of the Year, and his wife Teresa own 100 acres of woodlands in Estill County. During the field day agency professionals assisted the Stickney’s demonstrations, covering topics that included timber stand improvement (TSI) practices, technical and financial assistance programs, advanced agricultural practices, shitake mushroom production and wildlife habitat management.

Jack Stickney introduces field day participants to the many facets of his tree farm with a slideshow in his barn. (The barn was built with salvaged wood from the farm.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in the eastern knobs and eastern coalfield region of Kentucky, Estill County transitions the bluegrass to the mountains. The county is covered by 116,480 acres of woodland which is an important part of the local economy. Approximately 75 percent of Estill County is forest, of which around 4,500 acres lie within the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Estill County has beautiful natural resources and we were so pleased to have 101 people come enjoy the field day and help showcase the Stickney family’s exceptional stewardship efforts on their farm and woodlands.  Eric Baker, Estill Coounty Agriculture/ Natural Resource Extension Agent

 

The Stickneys got a forest stewardship plan from KDF in 1987, the same year they purchased the land. In accordance with the plan they have implemented timber stand improvement (TSI) on all their woodlands. Sam Miller, NRCS Technical and Financial Assistance Program, has worked with the Stickneys over the last 20 years to provide financial assistance through various programs (WHIP, FIP – now EQIP, and CRP). They broke the TSI practice down into segments of 8 to 10 acres to be tackled at a time. For this practice KDF helped by marking the trees.

 

Marking trees – KDF uses a blue dot to identify trees to be killed using hack and squirt or cut stump herbicide treatment. An “X” is used to mark desirable species, such as red and white oak, hickory and poplar that could benefit from simply cutting to encourage healthy re-sprout; no herbicide would be used on these stumps.

The Stickneys have planted a variety of tree species. They began by planting northern hardy pecans 25 years ago but have not had significant nut production. The trees still help preserve water quality. In 2003, under the Conservation Reserve Program they planted more pecans and walnuts in a 2.2-acre tract of bottomlands along the Red River. This area has flooding so their practices help water quality. They also planted a few cypress trees. The first planting was 800 trees 15 years ago.  Early plantings did not fare so well due to weeds and deer and beaver predation. KDF helped with the next planting – in rows 12 feet apart with seedlings at 8 foot centers – and using herbicides to control weeds.

For decades, Estill County first thought of woodland as a logging opportunity. Too often, the woods were high graded and left without any consideration for the future. This is not a sustainable practice. It is far better to harvest in a calculated way, doing selective harvesting with management post-harvest for desirable species to come back. Managing woodlands is investing in the future.

The Stickney’s first non-timber forest product venture was growing shitake mushrooms from logs. The first ten years was for personal use. After a TSI practice opened a 67 acre area, they began growing mushrooms on 500 logs. They transitioned to a commercial operation adding oyster mushrooms to the shiitake farming. Their

Jack displays a collection of the logs used for growing mushrooms

land is at the edge of the outer Bluegrass and the Knobs limestone creek bottoms are excellent for soaking logs.

Eighty percent of the nutrients in mushrooms comes from the mycelium. The stem of a shiitake has a lot of medicinal value. Teresa dries the stems and grinds them into a powder that she uses to add flavor to recipes for gravy and Alfredo sauce. Jack says “Eastern Kentucky should be the mushroom capital of the world.” He thinks there is a valuable future market for mushrooms as a medicinal product, especially in cancer treatment.

In 2003, the Stickneys planted native warm season grasses to provide rotational grazing for their grass fed beef production and to provide grazing throughout the summer. They have a 30 to 50% improvement over continuous grazing by using rotation. They fenced cattle out of the streams and woodlands and instead water them using gravity-fed waterlines from a spring on the property to four strategically placed tanks. In addition to rotational grazing, the native warm season grasses provide good mixes for pollinators and value for ground nesting species, rabbits, turkeys and quail. Undergrowth in woodland habitats is fabulous for wildlife such as rough grouse and other birds. They like the scattered light as opposed to the closed canopy. Mid story removal also promotes filtered sunlight.

The next stage for the Stickney’s woodlands will be to ramp up invasive species management. They are fighting bush honeysuckle and multiflora rose.  Having a plant identification guide can help identify invasives. Many factors, such as ice storms, disease and insects open up the forest and introduce opportunities for invasives.

An intergenerational effort. Jack and Teresa pause for a photo with Teresa’s mom who lives in nearby Breathett County. Caleb, Jack and Teresa’s son, has been instrumentally involved in all aspects of the farm. He is pursuing a college degree in natural resource/environmental studies.

Managing woods for a diversity of species helps brace against diseases that can take out one species.

Life isn’t all crop production at the tree farm. The Stickneys have hosted many educational field days over the years including Scouts, MACED, Shitake Mountain Mushroom Foundation Festival and environmental practices. They have a teepee for the Scouts to use and an elevated viewing station in the woods. They have excellent wildlife and allow deer and turkey hunting.