A bunch of people packed into a small arena….hmmm!!!
So one of my many things I do besides site visits is outreach type things. I have been to a few venues where I have a table or booth and talk about forestry. Today, I was at a farm show in one of my counties I manage and let me tell you it was good but a bit crazy. I was not sure what to expect because in the past these shows were never in any of my counties, but this was! I did not plan this but it happened to work out that this show was right after the day my article on why we should plant trees, had hit the papers. So needless to say I felt kind of like a local celebrity. I had folks coming up to the table asking for me by name or mentioning my article. I got a lot of smiles and introductions walking through the arena not knowing them before hand. Felt pretty neat but at same time very overwhelming. I had one gentleman walk up to me, who I did not know, and say “hey its our forestry celeb”. Awkward!!
Anyhoot, back to the farm show! It was a great experience- I was able to meet lots of new people and talk to a lot of local landowners about the different invasive species and diseases they need to watch out for and be concerned about in our area. It was the perfect time and place to raise awareness for whats coming ahead. I had lots of handouts on Oak wilt, Beech Bark Disease, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and Thousand Cankers Disease. These few handouts do not begin to cover the issues we are facing in the forests or with trees today but they are major alerts that have not destroyed all of our forest yet so to bring it to high attention is key to me and other foresters, to try and keep on top of it. I had many questions about Emerald Ash Borer- folks wanting to know what they can do with their dead standing trees or if I could give them answers to projections on what may happen with the new growth they have from seeds of trees before the death. I have no answers for this and I don’t think many do but I guess for now I say let it grow and when time comes where we can start to see the outcome we will go from there. As far as the dead standing ash, I had a local logger tell me he is still cutting it and if viable using it otherwise its turned into firewood. But because of the damage done by the borer if not taken care of the wood turns punky and loses is value for even firewood quickly. Now I mentioned Asian Longhorned Beetle, this is not in Michigan yet, but I am trying to raise awareness on it when ever I can because it has been spotted in Ohio, just below us so we need to be aware and possibly prepared. If landowners know what to look for hopefully it can be caught early and eradicated and stopped. It affects the maple trees and maple is another huge market in Michigan so we need to know its out there. I always love the looks I get when I tell folks it hits the maples…it allows me to know they care and are listening because the fear and shock is shown all over their faces. This way I know they are listening and are scared with me! Michigan already lost all their ash trees, we do NOT need to lose the maples too. Oak wilt is already spread through most the state and is taking out great quantities of oak trees. Soon there will be nothing less. I remember back in college my disease and insects professor used to say the “forest is dying and dead” no hope in that statement and being out in the field and seeing properties decimated by various things, has me thinking he was onto something!
Number one question asked at this show “what to do with dead ash”.
Just another plug for forestry–plant trees this spring to help preserve our forests.
Have you ever shared something with a sibling and it turned out good??
On one of my first site visits I went out to a property that two brothers shared and it was quite the talk. The front half ones one brothers (We will call him Ned) and the back half was the others (we will call him Fred). So Ned and Fred! Ned’s half was this gorgeous red pine plantation mostly. Perfect placement of trees for optimum growth, tall, no major die back or disease. Then we walked back to Fred’s part…Uffda! He also had a red pine plantation but the rows were all funny, there was too much competition due to poor planting and not enough pre-commercial thinning and he had all these straggly choke cherry trees taking over large parts of the canopy cover. Then it tapered off into a maple oak stand where there was little to no regeneration and all the trees were past their prime. Now here in Clare county pretty much all the soil is SAND (Yuck!) so when you get a tree as large as an oak can get growing there it begins to uproot itself because the soil cannot support the root system. I explained to them that they need to open up this stand to allow for sunlight to promote regeneration and this is their response. “Can we bring in hogs to rut up the land”? I looked at the landowners–pondered a minute to try and grasp what exactly he was asking. Hogs?! You wanna bring in hogs?! Well yes, they will rut up the land and open up the soil. But I advised them that this was not a good idea. They had already expressed that they wanted regeneration of the oaks for deer management…well folks hogs will take away that regeneration. Let me tell you why. Hogs are kind of lets say destructive, they will rut up the soil and eat the organic materials, eat up the little acorn seeds in their area then when they are moved they will eat and rut up all that. And if they destroy too much and take away too much seed source and your oaks are already not producing enough seed, there is no room for regeneration. The forest will eventually decline and be left with nothing.
In hardwood stands the best thing to do where there is a lack of regeneration is to open up the canopy to allow for ample sun and water for regrowth. To do this a crop tree is chosen. A crop tree is one that is relatively straight and still productive and can be promoted to keep growing. Then around the crop tree you take out any other competitors, take out those competing above (canopy space) and below to open up the ground. Then you move on to another crop tree and do the same. Eventually you have marked your crop trees and cleared all around them and regeneration can happen. Now this might scare a lot of folks but its the best management for hardwoods, it might look bare at first but after a few years, that regrowth will begin and you can have the pride of being a good steward and forest owner. Who knows maybe those crop trees will grow to be veneer logs!
Although the brothers had two very different plans for their “parcels” of the property- the fact they were trying to be proactive in their management is the key here. Not just being reactive, when things get bad!
Learning experience from this site visit- no to hogs!!!
Not from this site visit–but still beautiful Red Pine
Is it possible for a forester to just hike like an everyday person on a hike??? Now don’t go taking that in any other way, basically when I go out walking with someone else, who is not a forester, I feel like a weirdo! Just like if I took a walk with someone who knows rocks or who knows clouds or something along those lines, I wouldn’t know anything!
Regardless– is it possible? “I don’t think so, Tim”- Al Borland (Home Improvement). When I go on a hike through the woods with a friend I am still in the mindset of looking at every tree, looking at the bark, identifying the species, if it has any decay, disease or other issues. I often find myself falling behind and looking up at the trees rather than engaging in conversation, or I become that annoying person that quizzes you at every tree! I mean if I see a beech tree and I ask my friends what it is and they get it wrong, you can bet your last dollar that the next beech tree will be quizzed!
So I challenge you the next time you go on a nature walk or walk down to your mailbox to get the mail, or walk your dog around the block to take a book, grab a leaf or take picture and Google the tree to know exactly what it is!
I think it is incredibly important for everyone, regardless if they have trees in the yard or not to be able to identify at least the basics. Whether that just be the difference between a conifer tree or a deciduous tree. It surprises me how many folks don’t know the difference. There are so many diseases and insects infecting trees, seems like a new one is always just around the corner; making headlines. Awareness is key–so knowing what you have is the key to unlock the safety of that tree, and keep it healthy.
So the next time you’re hiking–think like me–What is that tree??
Answer to the post is…no; there is no such thing as a normal hike. And just because every hike with me is educational, does not mean it is not relaxing or enjoyable 🙂
“What tree would you be”? “Really, are you really asking me that”?
Way back at the beginning of October I was interviewed for my current position. I had been through so many interviews and after so many I never thought I would actually be asked the one question I always hoped would be asked- what is your favorite tree and why. Well at the interview for this job it was a little bit different, if you could be any tree what would it be and why. I think my jaw literally dropped, I looked at the gentleman asking me the question and said “really, are you really asking me that”? He smiled and said yes and repeated the question. I smiled so big and with great confidence said the Ginkgo tree, because I feel that I am a unique, strong and independent women just like the Ginkgo tree is all of these attributes. Needless to say I think that one answer got me the position!
Ginkgo biloba trees are a very unique tree. They are considered a living fossil tree that can date us back into the Dinosaur age. They are the oldest living species and are rare now to find in wild but thrive in Michigan given the right sun, soil and water requirements. They are dated back to some 280 million years ago with fossil records; Now that is old!! They are one of a kind- the only one in their family.
Ginkgo’s are not susceptible to diseases; they are actually used by humans for medicinal purposes! I mean yeah there is leaf spot that can affect the tree- but it does no real damage. All other trees are threatened due to all the different bugs and diseases spreading so quickly–but the Ginkgo stands tall and lives long. The leaves on a Ginkgo tree are unlike any other tree with their smooth fan-shaped leaf. In the fall the leaves turn a stunning bright yellow color. They are amazing trees for university/school lawns, streets, or building green spaces because they are low maintenance and great shade trees. Low maintenance meaning they require little to no pruning and they drop their leaves all at once- so one rake and done–Sweet Deal!!! Okay-there is one draw back here- the female tree! Yes, I know I said I would be a Ginkgo but ignore that for this next moment. Ginkgo trees are dioecious meaning they have a female tree and a male tree. The females are planted less often because their fruit–it stinks!!! But other than that minor detail–amazing tree!
Happy International Forest Day! One of my favorite days…
I had a site visit today- yeah on a Saturday, but that was okay since it was forest day. I was walking along with the landowners and their dog enjoying the warmer Michigan weather looking at trees, enjoying the diversity and some wildlife that was there, A hawk and some chickadees. They had some beautiful diversity on their 40 acres of property. It ranged from mature scotch pine, mature white pine to some younger oaks and white pine. They even had some baby spruce trees and balsams! Not to mention some oddly placed blue spruce and cedar trees. I enjoy walking properties with landowners because it reminds me that there are people out there who still value the forest purely for the forest. These landowners wanted my advice on how to just be good stewards to their property. They weren’t just looking to make a bang for their buck on harvesting it (which is a good thing; harvesting) but they really just wanted to know what they had out there and how to best manage it to keep it thriving for years and years. They wanted to know about all the possible diseases to keep their eyes out for based on what they had and wanted to know what exactly they had out there. They did not claim to be “know it alls” and that they knew what they had. It was more of a walk through teaching experience. It was a nice humble site visit.
So as we were walking…to my surprise I nearly started running! My eyes widen and I started going off the trail towards what appeared to be a hemlock…IT WAS!!!! Now, I get excited when I see certain trees but even more to my surprise the landowners were right behind me just as excited and not even knowing why they were to be excited! I told them they have HEMLOCKS! I started freaking out and she started freaking out pointing out the little adorable pine cones. She was a sucker for pine cones, and I was able to find a fallen cone for her. Now its normal for me to leave a site with samples of different things and a pocket full of acorns or other things but to have some one with me collecting neat things was mind blowing! As we continued on I mentioned to them that it was International Forest day and we should probably hug some trees. Now usually when I mention to a landowner about hugging trees I get a chuckle, but not today. Today the landowners and I hugged trees together. The gentleman said he would hug his favorite tree on the property, a large white pine probably 30-35dbh, in which he called “Big Bertha”! So I hugged a white pine near his and he referred to it as Big Bertha’s sister! Today I not only hugged many trees but I got to do it with some other forest lovers and it was amazing.
If you didn’t get the chance to hug a tree on International Forest Day–its okay, there is always tomorrow and the next day and the next.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir
I’ve touched on the subject of what trees can do for us before, but because I have been stuck on the topic I thought I would go more in depth on some of it. For the past month I have really been focusing on the research and outreach of what urban trees do for us. Sidebar, if we went to school together, we would make friendly jokes about urban forestry, but in reality in my position I bring up a lot of urban forestry topics to help my community all become intertwined with forestry. I try to bring the landowners with one tree together with the landowners with hundreds of trees.
Okay– back to my hidden connection that trees have with our everyday life. So to make it more believable I went out and measured one of the trees in my yard to explain. I rent a single family home here in Harrison, MI and have plenty of yard trees. I chose the one closest to the house. Its a norther red oak about 24 in diameter. Besides the obvious aesthetics and wildlife benefits of the acorns and the habitat for birds and squirrels and such it is also saving me money on my heating and cooling. According to the National Tree Benefit calculator I save $162 a year. This one tree alone takes up 2, 535 gallons of stormwater runoff each year. It does this by taking in water through the leaves, roots and branches. This in return prevents flooding of the yard and flooding around the house and under the house. It also helps prevent soil erosion around the house and foundation. Besides uptake of the water the tree is also saving energy for me. It will save on average 236 killowatts/ hour for me! It shades the house in the summer keeping my cooling costs down and helps through evapotraspiration keeping the temperature regulated around the house. And hey, not to mention it helps block the wind! This one tree also helps improve the air quality. It absorbs air pollutants and releases oxygen reducing the amount of pollutants I would encounter while in the yard. Trees reduce the risks of asthma, headaches, respiratory and heart disease but taking in these pollutants for us! SCORE!!!
So basically, as I step down from my soap box, the moral of this post is that trees are good and we should all plant a tree this spring. Tomorrow is International Forest Day (March 21st 2015) and we should all honor that by ordering our trees and preparing to plant for the future!
There is something magical about hugging a tree. I often get funny looks or people thinking I am down right crazy…but in reality, they are the ones that are crazy. Hugging a tree for a forester is beyond just hugging it because I can. Its respecting the one renewable resource that we can use for multiple different products, its about respecting the life of the tree that gives us cleaner air, cleaner water, reducing humidity and heat, and protects us against soil erosion and flooding! When I hug a tree I am thanking it for lining and shadowing our streets and making the neighborhood a better safer place for children and for the economy. Trees are proven to reduce crime in neighborhoods and they reduce electric bills, energy costs and stormwater run off in yards. Trees are just looked at like a large inconvenience sometimes and tree huggers are stereotypical people who don’t want trees to be cut down. But this isn’t always the case. Just because I hug trees- doesn’t mean I don’t see the value in cutting them down. We just have to be smart..cut a tree plant 2 more.
So, if your tree is feeling blue from this cold winter…hug it real tight!!!
So, remember a couple posts ago when I mentioned “getting stuck”? Well do you know how to get a forester unstuck from a ditch?! It isn’t as easy as one might think. Oh she’s got all wheel drive, no problem, oh big problem!!
Anyways, so I was driving out to a landowners property for a site visit. No address just told go to the end of the road and its the brand new driveway at the end. They are just starting to build a house on their property so its all new. Yea…new driveway and a foot of white snow. I found the place okay and started to drive up the driveway and a huge dump truck is trying to get out of the driveway…so I start backing up. Next thing I know…”FORESTER DOWN”! Right back into a ditch I go. Now, this isn’t your ordinary ditch, this was a large steep drop off, right into frozen snow. So, unfortunately I had to call the landowner and explain how I was now stuck at the end of the driveway and I may have sorta hit one of his oaks. So he and his father drive down with the large Ford truck and try to pull me out…no luck. To get a forester out of the ditch you need “More Power” we waited for the dump truck to come back and sure enough with a little tug, I was free! Car was left unharmed, but the foresters ego may have been a little hurt!
In my position there are many outreach events and such and yesterday I was on my way out of town to a planning committee meeting out of town and dragged one of my conservation district board members with me. I go to a lot of meetings and the drives get long so the company was much enjoyed. Regardless back to the meaning of this post, I was driving along then all of a sudden screech I’m slamming on my breaks and I start drooling… I saw out of the corner of my eye a large tree! I yelled what is that?! What kind of tree is that? It can’t be an Aspen! Trying to function off no coffee and running late we drove on. But that tree never left my mind for the 5 hour meeting… You better believe on our way back my hazard lights blinked bright as my board member got out and started thing pictures for my. I needed no HAD to have proof of this tree for my story! It looked like a cottonwood on the bottom and an Aspen on top. But it was so large and so old looking how could it be an Aspen?! Well my friends, it is most definitely an Aspen. Check it out!!! Even with looking at hundreds of Aspen a week, this Forester can still be blown away by an Aspen!
When asked “Whats your favorite tree”? My first response is Gingko–but then realizing most people don’t know this one of a kind species I say well native species would have to be the White Pine-which also happens to be Michigan’s State Tree. We will get back to the Gingko at a later date. I like white pines because of the versatility to grow in a variety of soils and because they are naturally beautiful with their soft needles and they grow to beautiful heights. They are also a commonly liked tree by the Bald Eagle for nesting (What a perk!!). Although like many species–they are susceptible to many diseases but if in good conditions can be a great yard tree, forest plantation species, or for a Christmas tree.