HARRISBURG – While it may be winter, now is the time for landowners to begin making plans to help wildlife by to planting tree and shrub seedlings offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery, which will begin Jan. 7 through April 19.
“If you are looking for seedlings for ornamental landscaping, look for a private nursery in your area,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “However, our bare-root seedlings are produced for use to improve wildlife habitat on State Game Lands and private-landowners enrolled in our Hunter-Access Program. These seedlings also are used to help educate Pennsylvania students about wildlife habitat needs through our ‘Seedlings for Schools’ program.
“We also are able to offer a limited number of surplus seedlings for sale to the general public to help with their own private efforts to improve wildlife habitat conditions on their property. This effort is part of our agency’s mission to manage wildlife and its habitat for current and future generations.”
New this year is an improved order form to help guide landowners seeking to create habitat for specific wildlife species, as well as a new “bundle” offering. Bundle offerings include 100 seedlings in a specified mix to benefit deer, game birds and songbirds, as well as riparian and winter-thermal habitats.
The order form and information are available on the agency’s Web site by putting your cursor on “General Store” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then clicking on “Howard Nursery” in the drop-down menu listing and scrolling down and choosing “2013 Seedling Order Form.”
The order form can be completed and submitted online, or printed out and faxed or mailed. Payments are not due until the order is confirmed by Howard Nursery.
For those without internet access, order forms can be obtained at Game Commission offices or various displays or booths at shows in which the agency participates through the spring or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Howard Nursery, 197 Nursery Road, Howard, PA 16841.
“Seedlings are available for purchase by landowners are suitable for a variety of uses as wildlife food and cover, including hard- and soft-mast production, winter thermal cover and riparian habitats,” said Annetta Ayers, Howard Nursery superintendent.
“The Howard Nursery strives to offer the finest available tree and shrub seedlings that best provide for the various needs of wildlife, including food and shelter. All of our stock is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture.
Ayers noted that the nursery sells seedlings in units/bundles of 25. Orders of 12 more total units receive discounted pricing. Prices are as low as $3.75 per unit of 25 seedlings (15 cents each). The new bundles for deer, game birds and songbirds, and winter-thermal habitats, sell for $25; the riparian habitat bundle sells for $30.
Some seedling types are on very limited supplies, so those interested will want to call Howard Nursery at 814-355-4434. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Ayers noted that, for evergreens, 1,000 seedlings planted at the recommended tree spacing of eight feet by eight feet will occupy 1.5 acres. Planting space for hardwood trees should be a minimum of eight feet by eight feet and up to 15 feet by 15 feet, depending on species. For hardwoods, 100 trees will occupy one-quarter acre, and 1,000 seedlings will occupy 2.5 acres. The various shrub species can be planted on a six foot by six foot or eight foot by eight foot pattern.
A description of each species available, along with size information, is available on the website under “Tree Seedling Index.” Some of the new native shrubs are available in limited quantities and are expected to sell out quickly. The selection of native trees and shrubs is being expanded annually. With the exception of black locust, all of the hardwoods are grown from seed collected and processed by Game Commission personnel from Pennsylvania sources.
The preferred method of delivery is by United Parcel Service (UPS). Shipping and handling charges do apply. This is very efficient and most orders are received next day. Orders are shipped only Monday through Wednesday to assure delivery for weekend planting. However, orders also may be picked up in person at the nursery once notified the order is ready.
“Due to conditions beyond our control, such as ice and snow, wet weather, frozen ground, we may not be able to ship trees as early as we would like,” Ayers said. “We will do everything we can at the nursery to ensure timely shipping and arrival of trees. Generally, seedlings ship in the month of April.”
For more information, contact the Howard Nursery, 197 Nursery Rd., Howard, PA 16841, telephone 814-355-4434. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Game Commission’s Howard Nursery produces bare-root seedlings for wildlife food and cover on State Game Lands. The nursery has been producing and distributing 2.2 to 6 million seedlings annually for wildlife food and cover since 1954. Landowners who have land open to public hunting and are enrolled in one of the Commission’s public access programs are eligible to receive up to 500 free seedlings annually, as available.
Those enrolled cooperators with more than 500 acres are eligible for one free seedling per acre enrolled up to a maximum of 10,000 seedlings annually, as available. Cooperators are provided an order form each fall for following spring delivery. Free seedling orders are taken only in the fall through local Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs) and Land Management Group Supervisors (LMGS).