An abnormally wet 2018 is playing a role in why conditions could be worse for fires in 2019. The Kentucky Division of Forestry says more vegetation grew in wooded areas as a result of the increased rains, and that will increase the risk for forest fires.
The Division of Forestry is responsible for fighting wildland fires on private lands and enforcing forest fire hazard seasons and other outdoor burning regulations. During forest fire hazard season, it is illegal to burn between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.
The Fall Forest Fire Hazard Season is Oct. 1 through Dec. 15, 2019
mining sites in WV
“Planting a tree is only one step in the process” in rebuilding woodland, says Christopher Barton, a professor of forest hydrology at the Appalachian Center of the University of Kentucky and founder of Green Forests Work.
In the 1980’s West Virginia coal companies compacted the mountainsides of coal mining sites with bulldozers while attempting to plant “desperation species” – grasses with shallow roots and non-native trees – that complied with federal law but did not restore the forest.
Green Forests Work, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, are utilizing a “deep ripping” approach that gives rainwater and tree roots a better chance to push down into the soil. On old mining sites within West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest where the team has deep-ripped over the last decade, the survival rate of saplings has been around 90%.
Helping existing forests grow to their full potential is more beneficial than reforesting areas that were previously logged or growing trees in areas where there were none.
The research paper “Intact Forests in the United States: Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good,” published in scientific journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change on June 11, cites research that found “extending harvest cycles and reducing cutting on public lands had a larger effect than either afforestation or reforestation on increasing carbon stored in forests in the Northwest United States.”
For woodland owners with smaller acreages (40 acres) who want to encourage wildlife, this publication from the University of Arkansas has helpful tips for planning, budgeting and executing practices to achieve their specific interests.
Environmental stresses and demand for products made from white oak are outpacing the ability of white oak to successfully regenerate and grow into large trees. Renewing our forests using tree improvement to produce the best white oak trees for reforestation has great ecological and economic benefits. The first step in tree improvement is finding good trees in the forest to collect acorns from. We need volunteers to find white oak trees that are producing acorns, collect those acorns, and send them to the University of Kentucky. This is an especially challenging task this year since it looks like the production of white oak acorns is pretty low! If you are interested in helping collect acorns please email Laura.DeWald@uky.edu
The Kentucky Division of Water’s Community Outreach and Involvement Division administers two programs that especially benefit woodland owners: Basin Coordination and Watershed Watch.
Meet Your Basin Coordinator
DOW now has a full team of Basin Coordinators excited about collaborating with KWOA members to protect and improve woodland waterways. The basin team programs – core monitoring, lakes monitoring, citizen action and youth stream team – connect organizations like KWOA with the data and resources needed to identify and address water quality challenges.
Basin Coordinators also communicate needs on the ground to the DOW, supporting the division in directing resources to where they are most needed. Kentucky is divided into 7 major river basins, each of which is staffed by a Basin Coordinator.
To find the Basin Coordinator responsible for your area, go to the Division of Water’s Basin Team web page.
Watershed Watch is a statewide citizens monitoring effort to improve and protect water quality by raising community awareness, and by supporting implementation of the goals of the Clean Water Act and other water quality initiatives. The program is dedicated to helping you protect Kentucky’s streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The program accomplishes its goals through community education, leadership, action and water quality monitoring projects. Basic stream monitoring includes biological and chemical monitoring as well as lake monitoring, video and photographic monitoring.
Penn State Extension
Competing plants, deer and insufficient light on the forest floor can interfere with forest regeneration (regrowth) and, in the long run, may threaten forest sustainability.
A Pennsylvania study of randomly selected timber harvest sites found that 47 percent of the harvests were unsustainable.
Human Dimension of Forestry and Natural Resources is a new forestry course in the University of Kentucky curriculum this fall for forestry major seniors.
Billy Thomas, UK Extension instructor for the course, says he and co-instructor Laura Lhotka have changed their approach to the class this fall to provide a service component, expose the students to real world forestry and natural resource issues with strong human elements, and also make them aware of ongoing projects in Kentucky. In addition, they believe the exercise of working with different partners will be extremely beneficial to their future careers and help them develop into more well-rounded professionals.
In preparation students, divided into four separate groups, will conduct preliminary research on their group’s Project Paper to “identify the problem/challenges” faced by an assigned real partner representative for whom that group works. KWOA is one of the organizations participating in a student group project. Students will be tasked with assisting KWOA in promoting sustainable forest management in Kentucky and growing its membership. Doug McLaren, KWOA president, will be the representative working with that group.
Students will use the TELE approach (Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively) Engagement Guide prepared by the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative* that aims to gain and disseminate comprehensive knowledge about family forest owners.
- The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative is a collaboration between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Nonprofit Strategies.
The precise causes of oak declines are often unknown, but the challenge is clear: to nourish oaks and the nonhumans who rely upon them through an uncertain future. Of the 2300 species found on oak in a recent study in the United Kingdom, some 326 live only on oaks and nearly 1000 use deadwood.
Knowledge of the National Fire Danger Rating System levels can help forest visitors, homeowners and contractors make decisions regarding recreation, debris burning and equipment use activities. fire danger ratings describe conditions that reflect the potential, over a large area, for a fire to ignite, spread and require suppression action. Fuels, weather, topography and risks are used to set the fire danger ratings.