How to tell what is wrong with my Oak

I wouldn’t be me if I went a summer without talking oak wilt…..

If you look back or have been following me- you realize I talk a lot about oak trees and oak wilt.  Well that is because it is important-enough said!  I was asked to write a “How to” article for a newsletter here in Minnesota.  I was given many suggestions that were good, but not up to Kylee quality.  There were ideas like how to bud cap, hot to prune, how to develop a sugar-bush….while all good topics, it just didn’t get that fire going in my mind.  So after careful consideration, I decided let’s talk OAKS!  I decided the article was very informational, so I am going to just paste it here for some good light reading 😉  This is applicable to the Midwest region.

Standing tall with branches reaching out wide and high in the sky stands a strong oak tree in the landscape. Like most things in life there comes a time where this oak no longer looks healthy, and in Minnesota we have a few things that affect our oaks besides old age.

In Minnesota we have a number of different oak species: taxonomically we split them into the red oak family and the white oak family. Red oaks are bristle-tipped leaves and white oaks lack bristle-tips and are rounded. There are many pests and diseases that produce similar symptoms in oaks, so how do we determine what is happening to our oaks?

The first disease to show in the growing season is anthracnose. Anthracnose affects both read and white oaks as well as other tree species. It is caused by a group of fungal pathogens that all cause similar leaf symptoms. Anthracnose occurs when there is a very wet spring. Oaks with anthracnose will have leaves that develop brown spots and blotches, and many times these brown blotches greatly distort leaf shape. Oaks with anthracnose will usually display the most severe symptoms at the bottom and inner parts of the tree canopy. The fungal pathogen will over-winter on leaves and twigs. This disease is not typically the cause of death of oaks, but depending on the percent defoliation and stress caused, other problems such as twolined chestnut borer and Armillaria root disease may attack the trees.

Bur oak blight (BOB) is very similar to anthracnose in that it is caused by a fungal leaf pathogen and symptoms start in the lower and inner canopy. It differ from anthracnose in that it only infects bur oaks, symptoms first appear in mid-summer rather than spring, and it seemingly is causing significant stress amongst some bur oaks in certain parts of the state. Leaf symptoms on BOB-infected bur oaks are first visible as brown flecking along leaf veins, typically seen in July. Later in the summer, abundant leaf drop can occur, starting in the inner canopy, as well as leaves that develop wedge-shaped brown areas. Some dead leaves persist in the canopy throughout the winter, and these serve as the infection source in the following spring. Many citizens mistakenly cut down their bur oaks that had severe BOB because they think they will die: bur oaks with BOB typically re-leaf the following spring, and they look healthy until mid-summer, when BOB symptoms start to develop. Bur oaks can tolerate many consecutive years of moderate BOB before they become susceptible to other problems.

Oak wilt is a xylem blocking fungal disease that shows signs and symptoms throughout the growing season. Oak wilt starts to show symptoms of browning wilting leaves at the top of the crown and moves down the tree from the outside in. Oak wilt affects both red and white oaks. It will kill a red oak in about one month, a bur oak in 1-7 years, and a white oak in 1-20 yeas. Another indicator of oak wilt is the discolored streaking of the sapwood by the fungus. This can be seen by slicing away the bark on an actively wilting branch. Streaking is more readily seen on white and bur oaks than on red oaks. Come spring, if red oaks are not leafing out, examine the tree for subtle cracks in the bark and peel back the bark to reveal any spore pad/ spore mats that the oak wilt fungus sometimes produces. Bur oaks rarely form spore pads, and white oaks do not form them. In order to really determine oak wilt, lab tests of branches are needed, unless a pressure pad is located. Oak wilt is creeping northward in Minnesota and is a highly preventable, yet devastating disease. Please contact your local DNR forest health specialist if you see oak wilt symptoms in northern Minnesota.

Finally, there are other stress-related problems that occur to oaks. When any tree, including oaks, becomes stressed by weather or defoliating diseases/insects it weakens the trees, sometimes allowing for opportunistic fungi or insects to invade. Twolined chestnut borer and Armillaria root disease are examples of these opportunistic pests. Twolined chestnut borer tunnels in the cambium and outer sapwood, eventually cutting off nutrients and water flow through the tree. Armillaria also kills cambium and outer sapwood. When twolined chestnut borer infests an oak, leaves develop a red-brown scorched look from mid – late summer on the top half, or so, of the tree. Twolined chestnut borer typically kill a stressed oak in 1-3 years. The beetle creates small D- shaped holes in the trunk of the tree. When Armillaria is infecting an oak’s root system, leaves in the outer canopy may be stunted and yellow, and branches die back. Over the course of several years, Armillaria root infection will kill a stressed oak. These stressed-related problems are not treatable, but increasing tree vigor with careful harvesting and removal of poor trees can minimize these problems. Harvesting in stressed oak stands should only occur after at least two consecutive growing seasons with near-normal precipitation and no defoliation.

All these insect and diseases are unique in their own ways but have a common target of oak trees and cause somewhat similar symptoms. With a few key distinctions you can narrow down the search! The U.S.F.S. publication How to Recognize Common Diseases of Oaks may help you in diagnosing what is wrong with your oak: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/howtos/HowToRecognizeCommonDiseasesOaks.pdf.

Leaf drop and branch death from top-down is typically oak wilt, Armillaria, or twolined chestnut borer; leaf death from the bottom up in the spring is typically anthracnose; and leaf death from the bottom-up in bur oaks in later summer is typically bur oak blight!

Oak anthracnose _UMN
Oak Anthracnose (UMN.edu)
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oak wilt leaves (MNDNR)
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Crack from pressure pad forming under the bark (MNDNR)
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Bur Oak Blight Leaf (BOB) (MNDNR)

 

 

 

 

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The 753 Mile Journey into Fire

“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way”

A dear friend gifted me a frame with this quote on it as I was leaving Michigan and beginning my 753 mile journey  back to Minnesota. While I did not look back, I will never forget the memories and accomplishments I had while being in Michigan and the friends I made along the way.  From the exciting adventures with my landowners (you know who you are!), all the crazy phone calls and the many laughs among colleagues and friends Michigan will be in my heart.

While letting landowners, colleagues, and friends know that I would be leaving they question did arise if I would continue to blog.  Well my friends, the definite answer now is YES! This post is just a basic update and then we will get back to the “good stuff”… TREES!

It has been over two months now at my new position and so far so good- a bit crazy at first.  I arrived and by the end of my first week I was out on a fire! A WILDLAND FIRE!!! Fire season should have been over by the time I started mid-May but things were so dry with the lack of rain it extended on and on and on!  That first weekend I was here, I was given fire gear, a radio, and reminded that I was on call to have phone near me.  Saturday afternoon, I see my co-workers name come up on my phone and my heart starts racing, it was time to face my first wildland fire.  Racing down the highway, looked at my co-worker in the truck next to me and said “Fun Fact: Fire is one of my biggest fears, but let’s do this”! Shaking in my boots as we pull up, I see the smoke, the fire creeping along the field, firefighters on the ground and a helicopter in the air I thought to myself what did I get myself into? I used to just hug trees and now I am going to fight fire, WHAT?!  We went to asses the situation, where it started, how it started and rate of spread. Once we had that information, I was handed a bladder bag (backpack with a spray nozzle full of water) and proceeded to march through a cattail slough.  Hip deep in muddy water surrounded by cattails and other tall grasses I struggled to get myself to higher ground!

When I got back to my place that evening, my body and clothes were black from the ash, my legs tired from the weight of the pack and hiking, and was blowing black snot (yes gross but so true) and I thought to myself, why?  Why am I fighting fire?  After much thought, I compiled my best answer for this, Mother nature- trees.  I do it to protect our natural resources.  Fire is a good tool for management- but that is when it controlled and not threatening anything (people, structures, critical habitats).  Fire can help fight invasive species, promotes regeneration of native plants and shrubs.

Anyways, all ended well- I managed to make it through first fire and was sent to the fire academy the following week and am officially certified to fight fire.

More updates to come…and good information of course!!

“Always look forward- Condensed advice from trees –> Be Strong, Be Solid

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Side view of fire- from outside the hardwood forested area into field

MAEAP…MAEAP

 

Every-time I use the acronym MAEAP…I think of the roadrunner cartoon “MAEAP MAEAP”!

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has had a Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program- MAEAP program in place for many years to honor farmers who are environmentally friendly; recently in the past year they have added a forestry component.  Forest, Wetland & Habitat- geared towards farmers and private landowners who have one, two, or all three of these components on their property.  Many farmers have woodlots and can add it to their list of verified components.  Farmers and landowners go through risk assessments at their own pace and when they meet all the high risk (erosion, chemicals, ect.) they can become verified.  It is a voluntary program, and is confidential. I was given permission by my landowner to talk about it.  Being a forester under the MDARD umbrella, we took on the forestry part, while the MAEAP technicians focused on the agriculture parts.

When first learning of this new program, I immediately knew who fit the bill for it.  To be apart of it, you really have to be “one” with your land and active on it, and willing to keep up with it.

Norm, young at heart, has been following the words and wisdom of Aldo Leopold.  When he was younger he read Aldo Leopold’s, Sand County Almanac and was inspired and it has never left him. He spent two weeks in Baraboo, Wisconsin at the family shack, learning the ways and Aldo’s legacy. When I first met Norm, back shortly after I started here, he was just looking for direction to update his management plan.  I figured it would be another typical walk through the woods, chatting about deer management, and a quick referral.  To my surprise, I was wrong! We sat down that first day and he showed me the plans he had written for the last 20 years, his records of his control for invasive species (Autumn olive) and other activities he had done.  He has records for putting his property into a conservation easement and the real kicker is his mission statement.  While reading his mission statement, again inspired by Leopold, I was brought to tears. It is not often I meet someone with the same values as I. I was humbled and overwhelmed by what he had written YEARS ago. A holistic approach for sustainability of all parts of the land. I collected myself and we took a tour of the property….

As we toured the property, Norm pointed out the some 60,000 trees he planted- most by hand and some by machinery. He took an old abandoned farm and turned it into a nature paradise. He put up signs with species and dates, not only for him to remember the date but for his grand kids when they inherit the property. He has his hardwoods stands marked by color for easier tree ID for them as well.  Norm is an organic farmer with fruit trees and bees and provides ample habitat with 10 wood duck houses, buffer zones along his wetlands and has even restored his section of the Cedar River back to a blue ribbon stream for great trout fishing! That first tour, I left feeling a sense of calm and happiness.

Now, trying to get a hold of Norm is not always the easiest- because he spends 7 days a week out at the property managing it, so either I have to drop by or wait for a call- but the wait is always worth it! Because, I was so inspired by Norm, I knew I had to take everyone and anyone out there whenever I could. He was always ready to share his story with anyone who would listen.  I took a group out there to verify his property with MAEAP, and just recently took a group of landowners out there for a field tour on managing your woodlot. EVERY SINGLE PERSON, left there thanking him and thanking me for allowing them to experience such beauty.

He has even been Conservationist of the Year and Tree Farmer of the year! Norms.jpg

The Big Debate

Don’t judge a tree by it’s bark.

Winter months can be difficult when trying to identify trees, many of us rely on leaves to figure out the species.  When you get really good you can tell by the bark, buds and branching.  I will be the first to admit, and I have been doing this for some time, I am not always 100% confident.  Relying on bark alone in the dormant periods of deciduous trees can be deceiving; depending on their site conditions they can sometimes have varying bark.  Aspen on a nutrient rich site can be a bit different than an aspen on a wet or poor site.

I was out on a site visit hoping not to freeze or get stuck in the snow!! I know this landowner well so it was an enjoyable game of who can stump who the most! We would find trees that didn’t look like their typical format and quiz each other.  Seeing how it was his property and he was very knowledgeable of trees he did most the quizzing.

A couple hours into our stroll we came across this grey, smooth, hard bark of a tree…I said hey what’s this (thinking I know exactly what it is) he hadn’t a clue so I said ironwood.  Immediately, he disagreed and began to correct me! We then came across his idea of and ironwood tree  in had to laugh not actually knowing get the species he was pointing out! Mine being smooth tight grey bark and his light brown shaggy bark, one of us was terribly wrong!  We analyzed both put trees up and down, taking photos, noting the catkins on the one, the branching…all bets are on!!! We finished out stroll, hugging trees of beauty and made it back to truck.  This was not over, after carefully looking our trees up in the several books in my car we discovered we were both correct!! What?!  Both trees part of the birch family are considered ironwood- American Hornbeam with smooth bark and Easter Hophornbeam with the shaggy bark!

 

Fire… FIRE!!!!

We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there. – Charles F. Kettering

As a forester, I am always thinking future- what can be done now to best manage forests and ecosystems for the future, because “guess what”, we will always be headed towards the future and we want to pave for a “better” future for younger generations.  This morning I was talking with a a colleague and he expressed his gratitude for me being of younger generation and being environmentally conscious.  Even at my age, I am worried about the younger generation because like my elders, I to am only borrowing this land from generations below me and I want to make sure I pave a better path then generations before me because I have the education and science to make it better.  I can not turn my head and say, well the next generation will fix it, I need to ACT NOW.

Anyways, off my soap box and to the point of this post.  Best Forest Management.  Recently, there was a small forest fire in my backyard and the yards around me.  One of my neighbors decided to burn leaves but did not consult Mr. Smokey first! If they had asked Smokey the Bear prior they would have know it was way to dry and the winds would blow the warm coals and catch fire. So a fire broke out, affected 5 property owners, my property included.  No building damages caused but the ground of the woodlot sitting between us all had been burned.

This type of fire is called a cool fire or surface fire, it was low burning and did not affect the canopy.  Although, this fire was not a prescribed fire it still has its benefits. I know some of the landowners affected are not happy, but I tried explaining to them that its actually “good” and since they did not lose any mature trees they will see in the near future that it has benefited them.  Forest fires have been used since forever because of all their benefits.  Fires can minimize the spread of disease and insects, it can remove the presence of invasive species that are not used to fire, it can improve habitat, and promotes the growth of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers!  The key here is native…fire helps bring back native species while burning out the non-natives and invasive species.  Some species require fire to regenerate! Serotinous cones such as the jack pine need fire to open up the cone and release the seeds. Fire is healthy when done correctly.

Although this was not a prescribed fire, I believe it will benefit the area burned in a positive way. But lesson learned to neighbors–consult Smokey Bear and do not burn leaves when its dry as dry out!

Best management for the future may include the scarier approach

Overview of fire- Notice only small brush was burned still ample regeneration left behind
Overview of fire- Notice only small brush was burned still ample regeneration left behind
Firebreak trench made by MI DNR
Firebreak trench made by MI DNR
3ft from my shed!!
3ft from back end of my shed!!

Oak Wilt Scare…to Wow

Oak Wilt Scare to Good Conversation

Vroom, Vroom… I was driving along down all the dirt roads and finally pulled up to my destination.  I got out of the car and the gentleman laughed and said so you’re a packer fan! I smiled and said you bet!  Then the landowners wife came out to greet me, both so ecstatic to meet me, so gosh darn excited to look at their dying trees.  My original reason for the visit was to look at a few oaks they suspected were dead from oak wilt.

First we looked at a white pine, infected with weevil-displaying signs of whats called a shepherds crook.  The shepherds crook refers to the previous terminal lateral leader on top the tree dies because a new one is growing and taking over.  The weevil larvae are laid just below terminal causing it to die and a new one takes over.  This is why we see white pines that are not growing straight up but a rather zig-zag formation.

Then we moved on to to some other trees they were worried were going to get diseased like the others on their property…I say other trees because they were calling them spruce trees-I got closer and I said these are not spruces but are balsam fir trees.  MINDS BLOWN!!  The joy that exuded from the couple put a smile on my face.  They asked how I could tell, I explained to them that the needles are softer than a spruce and are flat and cannot be rolled in their fingers as well as pointed out the smoother bark.  They were so excited and I responded with “I have never had anyone more excited to hear they had balsams on their property”! I come from a place where balsam fir trees get a bad wrap–on going joke is set the balsam on fire!  Not these two!  As they are jumping for joy about the balsams they asked me what was growing inside the tree!  They pointed out a lovely case of “witches broom” a fungus that grows often on balsam fir trees and blueberry bushes.  Its not just a Halloween prop!

Finally we made it back to the oak trees.  They walked up to the oaks, expecting devastation.  I looked up the tree and browsed the branches and told them its not dead; I see buds! I explained to them that its a red oak and if it was really oak wilt that “killed” their tree last year it would have died no doubt, but this tree and the ones around it were in fact budding.  They looked at each other and shared a smile.  They said it was the best news they could have gotten.  A few thousand dollar problem may have just been resolved by education.  They had read my recent article in the paper and took the right steps in talking about it first before spending the money to trench the tree and remove it.  Sometimes oaks die due to bugs killing the leaves and causing them to drop-seeming like oak wilt but the next year the tree often comes back.

We then hopped on their golf cart and started speeding through the woods.  Now I may have shocked them with the balsam fir, witches broom, and a living oak tree but rarely am I shocked.  He began showing me all the trees he had planted. Red pines, white pines, spruces…all with BUD CAPS!!!!! Bud Capping is something I have been trying to explain to folks here in Michigan to help prevent deer from eating off the terminal bud of young saplings, but No one, until now, has heard of it!  It is a University of Minnesota thing and that is exactly where he learned it from.  I was in complete awe looking around his property seeing white paper stapled on top of all his young trees! Finally we got to our final destination- A HUGE WHITE PINE!!!!! From afar it looked like any other white pine but up close- Oh goodness I was standing under the mother of white pines! The couple hugged the tree trying to see if they could reach each other-they could not!

Needless to say I wowed them and they wowed me!

Off the beaten path
Off the beaten path
Beyond...
Beyond…

Bats…Trees…Bats

I am so sick of all these mosquito’s!

This is a common line I hear from many landowners as well as my friends.  I often walk through landowners woodlots and they start complaining or mentioning areas they do not go to because the mosquitoes are unbearable.  My response is a laugh and then I say “well there is a tree, go buy a bat house”! Often I get a puzzled thought and then response of “really”?! Yes, bat houses are not a cure all but they do help reduce the amount of mosquitoes in an area, least a bit.  On average one bat can eat up to 7,000 maybe more mosquitoes in a night!!! ONE NIGHT!!! A tiny little bat consumes thousands of mosquitoes for din din in a night!!! That means get a few bats in there and your problem will be reduced.

Put it up and they will come- I say!

Bats are a hot topic right now in the Midwest and probably other areas, as well.  I have been doing research on the Northern Long-Eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis, because it has become an issue here and relates to forestry.  It could impact the amount of harvesting done during the summer months.  The Northern Long-Eared bat is being affected by the white nose syndrome.  It is a fungus that affects the nose, ears and wings of a bat during hibernation.  The fungus is cold loving fungus so it attacks them during the cold months; hibernation.  The fungus hurts their hydration “processes” and they burn more fat then they should therefore when they wake after a long cold winter they often are dehydrated and die. This fungus is killing thousands of bats.

I have been watching webinars and such on the topic of listing the bat on the endangered species list.  There is a lot of controversy because of summer harvesting.  Bats roost or sleep upside down in hollow trees and if unknown when a tree harvesting takes place the bats well sadly they die.  I believe, correct me if I am wrong, the last I heard was that the bats were listed as threatened.

Awareness needs to be addressed with the subject. We as an economy cannot stop harvesting in the summer months, it would cause crashes in production mills with summer wood and cause more to close. But the bats are also important therefore awareness is key here.  So when I tell landowners not to just put up a bat house for their benefits of reduction in mosquitoes and other insects but also so they have a safe place to roost where we are able to tell where they are.  Bats get a bad wrap, but really they are harmless and like everything else need to be see as a fluffy little creature so we CARE!

See that tree…put up a bat house….or two or three! Build it and they will come!!

Check out my Ears!
Check out my Ears! I am cute too! Save me!

Children + Earth Day

“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”   -Richard Louv

That quote is from the author of the book “Last Child in the Woods”.  The book was given to be by another nature lover and educator. Although I have not finished the book, it is an inspirational.  It is a book to remind us that our children are the future and education and nature for them is vital.  I do not have children of my own yet, but in my position as a forester for the Conservation District…education is key!  This past Saturday, I was asked to host an educational table for 4-H children.  I will also in the next week be at two more educational “Earth Day” events for young children to teach them about trees, the importance of trees, and to love this Earth for everything it can give us.

When planning what I was going to do, I picked the brains of folks around me and decided to go with a way children can connect everyday things they see with trees.  I also learned through the experience and sharing this project with those around me that even adults do not understand the basics of trees, I was not shocked! We see trees on a daily basis, but we do not know the basic functions of a tree.  I’ve blogged about the benefits of yard trees (clean air, reduction in stormwater runoff, energy savings) but today I am going to blog about what I told and will tell lots of children this month in honor of Earth Day!

Trees are a renewable resource that give us basic essentials; to those materialist products we enjoy.  They literally give us everything we use.  Do you know how difficult it is to find something not made from a tree??!  I am telling you right now, my friends, it is not an easy task!!  I wanted to make a fun quiz for the children, so I started filling a box with products made from a tree and products not made from a tree.  It was super easy finding those items made from a tree, I could have put my whole darn office in that box, but I did not!! Instead I researched and researched and researched for things not made from trees.  This is what I came up with…a magnet and a plastic bottle.  I am not even 100% sure if I am correct on these items!!! Here I thought Crayons were tree free–NOPE!!!  Gum extracted from trees helps make crayons! Mind BLOWN! 

When I asked an 11 year old boy to pick out an item from the box that he thought was not made from trees, his first choice was a sheet of paper that said “Ice Cream” on it.  This one was my curve ball!  Yes, ice cream contains cellulose from trees to give it texture.  He dug around some more, looked at the tooth paste, the band aid and finally grabbed the magnet! I yelled Yahtzee! With a little extra thought he was able to find the rare item not made from a tree.

It is important not only for adults to be educated on trees but to connect our children in unique ways to the earth, I primarily focus on trees, because it is my job but I try to tie it all in together in the end.  After going over the tree parts, deciduous vs. coniferous trees, and tree harvesting the children were able to connect themselves to trees and find what is and is not made from a tree.  We need to keep making these connections and getting children outside and educating them, they are the future stewards of this Earth and they need to learn now to love it and respect it.  I know, when folks ask me why I became a forester…I tell them about my childhood.  Growing up with a woods in my backyard I was never inside (yes I know times have changed) but I still was outside more then I was inside.  At a young age I created that bond with nature that carried into my career.

Get outside, bond and love the Earth!  Earth Day April 22nd.

Tree Cookies!!!
Tree Cookies!!!
White Pine Stand...
White Pine Stand…

Path of Least Resistance

What if we did not always take the “easiest” path??

As I was driving back to the office after a site visit I stopped a couple times to over look some beautiful sites.  One was a bog like site, then a lake, and then I stopped and looked at a small stream flowing.  Well actually I stopped at the small stream site because I am on a steering committee for a watershed and was checking out the culvert and erosion of the site.  But regardless it was an inspiring stop.  Sometimes I can not explain why certain things pop into my head at any given moment but as I was looking down the stream, I started to think about water and how it always takes the path of least resistance.  Which is part is why water ways do not flow a straight line.  Instead, it all starts with the water taking the easiest path.  Then I continued on driving “Waldo” (that’s what I named my vehicle) down the wet, muddy, gravel road.  Again, as my car is swaying back and forth following the tracks of the previous vehicle I was thinking again, even my car without having a mind is taking the path of least resistance.  My wheels are automatically following the already made tracks; meanwhile I look like a crazy driver all over this small gravel road trying to stay away from the huge pot holes and trees the run along side it.

Subconsciously, everything takes the path that was already paved for us, water, wildlife, my car, and we as humans can admit to taking the already paved paths.  But why do we? What would happen if we didn’t? If we challenged ourselves to at least once a day to take the path of most resistance or the more difficult path, would we accomplish more? If we challenged ourselves to this…at the end of the day would we feel more accomplished and satisfied, would it make us “more happy”?  I know we cannot challenge wildlife, water, or our cars to this task but we can challenge ourselves.  We can challenge ourselves to not be afraid of what we do not know- but rather face it head on and find that less beaten path to make ourselves more knowledgeable and hopefully more successful.

Now, I know this is a forestry blog–so here I will relate it back in a couple ways.  After I had this mind shaking thought, I was thinking about the daily things I do…and how when I am out on a site visit with a landowner we are usually following a trail through their forest, but often in order to see more and get more of an idea of what they have I take off into the forest, off the trail.  After I get a few feet in I look behind me and they are usually with me (haven’t met a scared landowner yet)! In order to get the full effect of the land and see more you have to dive in, get smacked in the face by branches and trip over sticks to really experience it!

Another way to relate this revelation back is…through my position I provide a lot of education to my communities, landowners, children and other professionals and sometimes the topics I choose are controversial.  Now, if I took the easy way out, would that be fair to myself, would I really be succeeding at what I am trying to fulfill?  If I did not bring up topics like climate change, the newly endangered Northern Long-Eared bat, or fighting against subjects like hinge cutting or letting invasive species grow because one persons view is different than mine- is that cutting myself short?  I say yes I am cutting myself short.  So, I continually keep taking the path of resistance and not putting my views onto someone else but rather get the education out there, so hopefully one day folks will have that knowledge to not be “scared of the unknown” but rather face it head on!  I continue to pave my own path in forestry and life.

I challenge you to not take the path today–but rather pave your own path. If it fails today-take it tomorrow and you may succeed in ways you never imagined!

Stream "inspiration"
Stream “inspiration”
Cruising through the white pines
Cruising through the white pines
Hello- White Pine!
Hello- White Pine!

Wonders of the TREES

Ever walk through the forest and see something, stop, and go hmm?

Yesterday I was out on a 120 forested property with a landowner.  We were just cruising along, when we stopped and both looked up and went hmm.

Often when I go to properties with a lot of acreage to cover the landowners drive me around on 4-wheelers or gators so we can cover all ground and see EVERYTHING! So here we are vroom vrooming along when we had to hit the breaks.  Up above us was unlike something I have never seen before.  The tree branch was literally curling around making a doughnut shape! I thought perfect placement for a bird or squirrel nest.  Now, I have seen a lot of trees that grow around things, like a sign or nail or something like that. Trees have incredible strength to grow around inanimate objects in order to survive.  I have also seen trees that grow slanted to try and catch as much sunlight as they can, but never in all my days of hugging trees have I seen one curl around like this.  It is quite odd to me actually; what in the world  this tree branch thinking to grow like this?!

All Natural Curl Tree

To my next wonder of trees…the other day I was sent an article about trees and communication.  Whether or not trees communicate in ways underground through their root systems.  Now part of me is like yeah okay makes sense what she is saying and part of me is thinking no, competition and Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest”.  Survival of the fittest is not saying the strongest always survives. It is often misinterpreted or maybe I am the one who misinterprets it but I believe it means the ones willing to change or adapt and the ones that are “smarter” are the  ones who survive. I am no expert on this!  So when I was listening to this forester talk about the communication with trees I obviously got to thinking about her theory.  When I was at this site visit he had a lot of regeneration. BABY TREES!!!! EEEE!!! Anyways, so I looked around at these baby trees and her theory did not sit right with me..if a “mom” tree is supposed to reach out and provide for the baby trees by giving nutrients then why are there a bunch of baby spruce trees growing under oaks? Does the “mom” not have to be the same species of tree?  Are the mature oaks providing for these white spruce trees?  Now I know, seeds travel by all sorts of ways but it was just a thought I had.  I like the concept of trees working together to survive…but I also believe in competition and space with trees all the trees are out to get the amount of sun they need, water, nutrients–why would it compromise its livelihood for a baby tree that may not make it? Her theory is valid and she has much more experience and knowledge then me, but I love the passion others have about trees and learning new things…its all a learning curve for the constant change and new discoveries people uncover!

It is all just so crazy to me, but I love the constant wonder…

Baby Balsam Fir Tree
Baby Balsam Fir Tree
White Cedar
White Cedar Horizon line 🙂