Category Archives: Practices

Best management practices for woodland managagement

Updates from our cooperators – first quarter 2017

Forest fires

The Kentucky Division of Forestry implemented some novel procedures to address the 2016 fall forest fire hazard season (October 1 through December 15). Bill Steele, KDF Director, reported that 50,000 acres burned in the state last fall. KDF gave crash courses in fire fighting to staff from the state Mining and Fish &Wildlife agencies, as well as volunteer firemen in 2016. The agency plans to increase the number of seasonal firefighters whose pay is funded during the fire season. This expansion will free up its rangers in 2017 to implement prescribed burns, trail maintenance, invasives control and streamside management. (The spring fire season stretches from February 15 through April 30.)

Logging inspections

The above changes to rangers’ duties also intends for them to conduct fewer logging operation inspections. There are currently 50 rangers qualified to inspect logging sites who conduct 80-90 inspections per year.  By law the rangers are only required to respond to complaints, bad actors and requests for assistance.

Tree nurseries

Kentucky’s two nurseries have lost $400,000 in the last two years. The goal is to have them break even in the next two years. One initiative will be to grow more white oak with assistance from the state’s distilleries who require this species for their bourbon barrels. Another push will be plant tree seedlings on 140,000 acres of abandoned mined lands in eastern Kentucky. Although there are some land preparation and property ownership issues, Pam Snyder reported that there is Abandoned Mined Land Reclamation funding for the tree planting.

Forest management plans and NRCS

Progress in reinstating NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) reimbursement to KDF for marking trees should expedite the backlog of forest management plans. NRCS is also expanding the number of technical service providers (private consulting foresters who have met the TSP certification) to write Conservation Activity Plans for Forest Management (CAP-FM). In addition, the traditional Conservation Stewardship Plan is being expanded to include a practice plan and new program elements now called enhancements. Two thirds of the enhancements are forestry or wildlife related. Hopefully this change will speed up the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) application process.

Intergenerational transfer of family farm is cyclical, not linear

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you” is the ultimate conversation stopper, says Steve Isaacs, UK extension coordinator for farm management, in the complex and often unpleasant and unproductive dialogue between family generations regarding what will happen to the family farm.

Steve Isaacs de-bunks popular myths about how to transfer the family farm
Photo by Billy Thomas, UK Forestry Extension

Family farm succession is about more than legal and tax implications according to Dr. Isaacs who is also director for the UK Tax Education Program. It is about the transfer of assets, management, leadership and, yes, debt in a cyclical process.

Isaacs stressed that the first priority in this cycle is assuring an adequate retirement income for the parents. The estate tax is a paper tiger for most people; “death taxes don’t destroy family farms… families do.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are only two categories of workers that are older than farmers – school crossing guards and Walmart greeters.

Isaacs recommended engaging a transition team familiar with farmland issues that could include an attorney, accountant, financial planner, lender, extension educator and/or business consultant. This team’s function is to identify and generate ideas, technical information, evaluation and suggestions.

Isaacs recommended conducting the transition discussion at a neutral location, not at the family kitchen table. He advised treating siblings fairly, not necessarily equally and include spouses in the discussion.

A facilitator and recorder will summarize and document the items on which the family has agreed.

With some guidance and a transition plan, Isaacs says the conversation by the entire family can become “Here’s how we’re going to take care of things.”

Steve will be conducting a full day session on this subject in the near future. Check our events page for that announcement.

KWOF approves funding to support woodland education/practice initiatives in 2017

The Kentucky Woodland Owners Foundation has been a long-time financial supporter of the Woodland Owners Short Course, an annual UK Forestry Extension student scholarship and the Leopold Conservation Award. At its February quarterly board meeting, members approved financial assistance to three projects that will inform and enhance woodland and watershed management.

$650 for the 2017 Woodland Owners Short Course (WOSC) workshops

$400 for two $200 competitive scholarships to the Kentucky Forestry Leadership Program, a weeklong program at Jabez for students interested in natural resource management

$500 to the Salt River Watershed Project managed through the Kentucky Waterways Alliance

Ancient American Chestnut makes surprising appearance on Pelle tree farm

Thanks to Harry Pelle, KWOA board member, for sharing this story

While marking fifty acres for a timber stand improvement project on their property on April 23rd, Harry and Karen Pelle along with Chris Will, their consulting forester, found quite a welcome surprise. They discovered a couple of American Chestnut root sprouts. Harry admits there have been other aspiring chestnut seedlings over the thirty years the Pelle’s have been traversing their tree farm near Bradfordsville but they didn’t know what to look for.

The day before, Earth Day, they had helped plant 1200 American Chestnuts at Eastern Kentucky University’s Taylor Fork Ecological Area.

Earth Day 2016 - EKU faculty, staff, students and volunteers join The American Chestnut Foundation to plant 1200 American Chestnuts in Taylor Fork Ecological Area on Arbor Day
Earth Day 2016 – EKU faculty, staff, students and volunteers join The American Chestnut Foundation to plant 1200 American Chestnuts in Taylor Fork Ecological Area on Arbor Day

The effort with The American Chestnut Foundation seeks to restore the iconic tree as a staple in eastern forests.

April 22, 2016 – Karen and Harry Pelle volunteer with EKU American Chestnut planting
April 22, 2016 – Karen and Harry Pelle volunteer with EKU American Chestnut planting

 

That recent experience may have made the Pelle’s more aware of the chestnut’s latest effort to re-establish itself in the territory where it once reigned.

The Pelle’s marked the spot where they found the tree sprouts on Chris’s GPS and with a tee post.

April 23, 2016 – Newly discovered American Chestnut sprouts on Pelle tree farm
April 23, 2016 – Newly discovered American Chestnut sprouts on Pelle tree farm

The Pelle’s also cleared the area around the sprouts of fallen tops and brush. They intend to monitor the potential trees’ progress and just maybe these two will beat the Chestnut Blight that decimated the regions mighty giants. It may be the next generation of Pelles that will have to continue the watch over the seedlings.

The newest trees are in good company. Harry has an American Chestnut restoration grove just down the hill from the little guys. He likes to think the trees’ ancestors are looking down the hill and cheering on their new cousins in the fight to beat the blight. Harry thinks the finding of the sprouts “might have been the chestnuts’ way of saying ‘thanks for the help.’”

 

Flowering pear trees becoming the scourge of central Kentucky woodland pastures

Central Kentucky still boasts one of the largest populations of presettlement trees in the nation according to Tom Kimmerer, scientist, photographer and former UK faculty member, in his new book Venerable Trees. However, these ancient trees and the remaining woodland pastures in which they reside are in danger. Chief among the culprits threatening these ancient trees is the flowering pear tree. “We have to stop planting Callery pears” says Kimmerer in an article in the March 30th Lexington Herald-Leader.

Wild invasive flowering pear trees in a field near a subdivision near Southpoint Dr. in Lexington, Ky., Monday, March 28, 2016.
Wild invasive flowering pear trees in a field near a subdivision near Southpoint Dr. in Lexington Photo courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader

Going by various names – Bradford, Callery, Cleveland Select -these cultivars interbreed and create an invasive wild population of hybrid Callery pear trees.

Birds and wind distribute the tasty fruit of these trees across fields where new trees are crowding out natives plants and trees. Callery pears have four-inch thorns that can’t be mowed down and can be removed only by steel-tracked bulldozers.

Article excerpts courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader

Industry Key to Conserving Forests as Demand for Wood Projected to Triple by 2050

World Wildlife Fund (January 28) – According to the latest installment of the World Wildlife Fund’s”Living Forests Report,”paper production and consumption is likely to double in the next three decades, and overall wood consumption may triple.

“A scenario of tripling the amount of wood society takes from forests and plantations needs to motivate good stewardship that safeguards forests, otherwise we could destroy the very places where wood grows,” said Rod Taylor, director of WWF’s Global Forest Program.

KY NRCS update on support for forest improvement

By Jerry L. Adams
KY NRCS State Forestry Coordinator

The Kentucky Natural Resources and Conservation Service continues to support forest resource improvement through its Forestland Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). KY NRCS obligated $823K in 2011 to fund needed conservation practices identified in either a forest stewardship or forest management plan. Fiscal 2011 saw an increase in applications from woodland owners, totaling $1.4M in requests. Eighty two contracts were awarded statewide to fund 1100 acres of Brush Management (invasive species control), 2750 acres of Forest Stand Improvement and 92 acres of Tree & Shrub Establishment. Additionally, just over $550K was obligated from the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) for forestry related practices.

Woodland owners compete statewide among other woodland owners for EQIP funding. This change, along with the establishment of the Forestland Initiative by KY NRCS, demonstrates its commitment to addressing the resource concern issues woodland owners are experiencing. Although funding for FY2012 is still undetermined, sources indicate that there should be little reduction in program dollars. Woodland owners with stewardship and forest management plans containing recommended conservation practices eligible through EQIP should complete a 2012 funding application at any time by stopping by their local USDA Service Center.

Woodland owners with outdated stewardship/forest management plans should consider applying to EQIP for a Conservation Activity Plan -Forest Management (CAP-FM). The CAP-FM is a forest management plan developed by a private consultant forester certified as a Technical Service Provider (TSP) through NRCS. Plans older than 5 years are eligible for the CAP-FM. Woodland owners are free to chose any one of the currently eight TSPs available in KY to complete the plan. Once completed, any CAP-FM recommended practices the TSP identifies can be addressed in future EQIP contracts.

Proposals to expand water quality protection standards could affect private landowners

Several actions taken by or against the US Environmental Protection Agency last spring regarding water quality could ultimately affect timber harvest and woodlands management practices.

The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued draft guidance in April on what constitutes the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. EPA describes “other waters” as “all other waters such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams),mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds, the use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce…” The guidance proposes to substantially broaden EPA’s jurisdiction over water resources on private lands.

EPA was also petitioned in April to establish numeric water quality limits for nutrients in the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast of Mexico.

Finally, the agriculture industry is suing the EPA to contest the agency’s novel, multi-state watershed pollution limit for nutrients and sediments in the Chesapeake Bay.

Although most of the above actions do not directly affect Kentucky woodland owners, the impending decisions may have broad implications for all private landowners.