Category Archives: FORT 250

Shale Drilling Monitoring on State Forests

I heard a story on WITF this morning, as part of the State Impact project, about a project in DCNR to study the effects of shale drilling for gas on state forests. The program was launched in 2010 with very adequate funding. The story points out that no data has yet been release, although it is promised soon. I am very much looking forward to seeing what comes out of the research.


Changing Firewood Industry

This winter (13/14) has been brutal so far. There has been a huge increase in the demand for energy sources from all sources. This recent article in the Chambersburg Public Opinion highlights the high demand for fuelwood this winter. A local supplier, Gish Logging is almost out of wood. This company has developed quite a market for itself in bundled firewood. They are even shipping as far away as Saudi Arabia!

Although they are know for having a very big inventory on hand, it is now almost completely gone, according to this article.

A Saudi-labeled firewood bundle.

The empty warehouse.

Report on The Woods in Your Backyard

For Forest Management Practices, I am asking students to read The Woods in Your Backyard and write their impressions on its content and how it presents the information. Following are the questions that they will be using.

The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create

  • Who is the intended audience for the book? Use quotes from the book.
  • The book is designed to use non-technical language to explain technical concepts. Find two examples of this. Copy the quote. (Please show the page number.) What are the technical terms for the concept? Explain.
  • How does the book use photographs to illustrate the points? Take two of the photos. Describe them. What elements do they use to involve the readers.
  • The book works to involve the whole family. Give two specific examples where the book encourages the participation of children.
  • The guide uses fill-in tables in workbooks to help landowners decide what to do. Choose one of the tables. Describe what it does? How is it designed to educate and assist landowners?

Workbooks Activities:

  • Activity 1 Map it Out. Derek
  • Activity 2 What have you got and what do you want? Justin
  • Activity 3 Family goals assessment. Kelly
  • Activity 4 Identify your interests in the land Mitch.
  • Activity 5 Investigate the legal constraints on your land. Lucas
  • Activity 6 Beyond your boundaries. Zach
  • Activity 7 Designate land management units. Nate
  • Activity 8-9 Get to know your trees, Identify successional stages. Seth
  • Activity 10 Assess competition among trees. Cody
  • Activity 11, 12, 13
  • Activity 14, 15
  • Activity 16, 17
  • Activity 18 Identify and rand your objectives. Mike
  • Activity 19 Project schedule and details. Tyler

Forest Regrowth Article in Washington Post

This article in today’s Washington highlights the destruction and regrowth of the eastern forests. It also describes challenges to maintaining the health of the forests ( invasive plants and lack of wildfire) and wildlife ( lack of deer predators). What do you think?

Video Tips

For the most part yesterday’s video filming lab with the Flip video cameras went well. There are, however, some things that could be improved for future efforts.

Filming Tips

  • Yesterday was an overcast day. It would have been better to have full or nearly full sunlight.
  • When speaking make sure to face the camera, where the microphone is located. Also, speak clearly and distinctly.
  • Zoom in to the person speaking, if possible. It’s better to fill the screen.
  • Shoot some atmospheric clips that can be spliced in to the final video.
  • When shooting think in terms of the video frame. How will your images appear on the screen?

In the Computer Lab

  • The Flip video software is already loaded in the computer labs. By default it saves the videos in a folder in the my documents folder. Unfortunately, since this is on the network video editing will be terribly slow! In the preferences section the default folder can be set to another drive. If it is set to the T drive on the local computer hard drive editing will be quicker. But, the files will have to be transferred someplace else before logging off the system.
    Another solution would be to put the videos on your own computer to avoid the network problem.
  • The computer lab machines do not have speakers, so it’s important to bring a set of ear buds or headphones. The level of sound in a video is critically imporant. Also, if you want to add music you have to make sure it doesn’t overpower the dialog.
  • Use the clipper tool to remove unwanted sections of video.
  • Make a movie by combining the video sections.
  • If music is included make sure that it doesn’t overpower the dialog. Make sure to click the desired button.

Uploading Movies

  • Choose your favorite service to house your video. Youtube, Facebook, and Flickr all provide free hosting.
  • If you use Facebook make sure your privace settings will allow showing the video to a anyone.
  • When you grab the embedding code make sure that you get the whole thing or your videos will not show where you put it.

Communicating Forestry with Videos

Forest technology students in the Forest Management practices made instructional videos on forestry topics around campus yesterday. The Flip video cameras are easy to use and the enclosed software makes editing simple. This is a learning process, though. I think the final product will improve in the future.

Financial Decision Criteria

This week’s storms have put a real dent in our progress. I just wanted to summarize what your should be able to do at this point:

Using the formula tree you should be able to choose the correct financial analysis formula to make values equivalent at any point in time during the life of a project while taking into account the time value of money. You should be able to determine if the value desired is a

  • present or future value
  • single sum or series
  • terminating or perpetual series
  • interest rate or time period

Once you have the formulas you should be able to use the financial decision criteria to evaluate if a project is financial viable. These include:

  • Net Present Value; the sum of the discounted revenues minus the sum of the discounted costs.
  • Benefit Cost Ratio; the sum of the discounted revenues divided by the sum of the discounted costs.
  • Equivalent Annual Income; the NPV multiplied by the annual payments capital recovery formula for the life of the project.
  • Rate of Return or Internal Rate of Return; the discount rate that makes the NPV = 0. If there is more than a single cost and benefit must be solved by iteration. Care must be taken to interpret the results.
  • Land Expectation Value; the present value of perpetual series of forest rotations. Solve by compounding all the costs and benefits to the end of the first rotation and solving for the NPV with the present value of a perpetual periodic series formula. 

You should also know the decision rules, when to accept or reject a project, for each criterion.

Lowe’s and Forest Sustainability

Lowe’s is one of the biggest home centers in the U.S. It is consistently listed as the no. 2 chain. Anyone walking through a Lowe’s store will notice most of the forest products sport a sustainability sticker of one kind or another. Lowe’s has a web page devoted to how it sources lumber products from around the world.

Lowe’s gives preference to certified forest products, but obviously doesn’t sell only certified forest products. They seem to prefer FSC over SFI, which isn’t even mentioned. Here is a quote from their standpoint on using certified wood products:

Independent third party forest certification is the cornerstone of our wood procurement policy. Forest certification is the process of evaluating forests or woodlands to determine if they are being managed according to a defined set of standards. Our goal is to source all wood products from certified forests.

In the thirteen years since forest certification began, the industry has seen great improvement in both the development of the various certification systems and in on-the-ground forest management. Our own data indicates certified product volume has increased by 41% from 2003 to 2005. We expect the volume of our wood product sales from certified forests to increase as a percentage of total wood product sales in the future.

It was interesting to see how Lowe’s treats tropical forest products. They are trying to move to certified sources of tropical forests. They describe efforts they have made with luan and other tropical woods:

Forests in the tropics are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of certain harvesting practices due to intense rainy seasons, increased incidents of illegal logging and poor soil fertility. For those reasons, we treat tropical sources with particular care. In 2005, volume from the tropics accounted for 1.3% of our total wood product purchases.

Our focus in tropical regions is to either shift our supply to more responsible or certified sources such as FSC certified or to eliminate the product from our supply chain. We have been successful on both counts. Our data indicates that from 2003-2005, total volume of FSC certified products has increased by 26% with the greatest increase coming from developing countries. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of FSC certified products available for sale. In 2003, Lowe’s had almost 1,200 FSC certified item numbers. By 2005 that number had increased by 36% to over 1,600 FSC certified item numbers.

One example of a product transition is �” lauan (meranti) plywood. Lauan plywood available to suppliers was traditionally sourced almost exclusively from the tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Today, our supply of this product is now primarily certified to the FSC standard and comes from a number of other countries including China, Guyana and New Zealand. In addition, dowels that most commonly came from tropical species (ramin) are now sourced domestically and made from domestically-sourced poplar (liriodendron tulipifera).

An example in 2005 of a product eliminated from our supply chain was Merbau flooring from Indonesia. Upon Lowe’s independently discovering the product that was not in compliance with our sourcing policy, shipments were immediately halted and a sell-through process began. An alternative product compliant with our policy was identified for the 2007 year.

Quiz Bowl at the Allegheny SAF Winter Meeting

Penn State Mont Alto forestry students participated in the Quiz Bowl at the Allegheny SAF Winter meeting in State College on February 19.

Frank Grano, Eric Monger, and Mark Mizak

Watching the Quiz Bowl

Despite a valiant comeback Mont Alto lost to Allegheny College of Maryland, 50 to 85. Allegheny went on to win the event.

The theme of the meeting was Changing Forest Dimensions and included a wide variety of presentations about the changing nature of forestry in the Mid-Atlantic region. Follow this link to the Allegheny SAF web page.

Mont Alto State Park Controversy

P1050084 Originally uploaded by P_Linehan.

Is this facility out of place? This new latrine was installed at Mont Alto State Park last fall causing an uproar among local residents. Many say it destroys the scenery of the historic park. Quincy Township says that it breaks local ordinances requiring a 30 foot set back. This article in the Chambersburg Public Opinion describes efforts to have the new latrine moved to a more suitable location away from the park entrance and the pavilion.