EMPORIUM – The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry has made great strides managing state forest land and in assisting private landowners with managing their lands. Here is a listing of some on its statewide accomplishments.
- DCNR–Bureau of Forestry’s management of Pennsylvania’s State Forest lands was successfully re-certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards in August of 2013. Auditing teams visited Tiadaghton, Moshannon, Elk and for the first time, Cornplanter State Forests.
Pennsylvania has one of the largest third-party certified public forests in North America
- In 2013, the Bureau of Forestry contracted for the harvesting of approximately 15,871 acres of timber on state forest land. These contracts have a value of about $19.6 million in revenue for the Commonwealth and supplied an estimated $400 million in raw materials to the private sector economic activity.
- Deer hunters again found greater hunting opportunities in 2013 in state forests and parklands participating in the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP). Fifteen of 20 state forest districts and 21 of 120 state parks offered additional deer hunting opportunities this year through DMAP. District managers opened more than 400 miles of roads prior to the start of deer season. Roughly 90 percent of all state forestlands could be accessed within one-half mile of a drivable road.
- New this year, DMAP units in Bald Eagle, Rothrock and Susquehannock state forests were part of a collaborative study among DCNR, Game Commission, Pennsylvania State University and the U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. In addition, to monitoring hunter experiences in the study areas, the project will weigh importance of deer density, competing vegetation, silvicultural treatments, seed sources and other factors adversely affecting forest tree regeneration and plant species composition.
- All-Terrain Vehicle Recreation Improvements to encourage the better use of existing all-terrain vehicle trails and promote legal, safe ATV operation, in the state Bureau of Forestry continued developing key trail connections to expand ATV-riding opportunities to our visitors. Twenty-nine miles of new trails were developed and 13 miles upgraded. Construction on a $12.2 million abandoned mine reclamation project in Sproul State Forest began in early September necessitating the closing of the Whiskey Springs ATV Trail. This Huling Branch reclamation effort will reduce acid mine drainage and eliminate public health and safety concerns related to dangerous high-walls. Through Dec. 20, 2013, Pennsylvania had 258,117 registered owners of all-terrain vehicles and 35,710 snowmobiles. In 2012, totals were 251,511 and 37,542, respectively.
- DCNR has developed one of the largest Web sites in state government with almost 1,800 pages. The Bureau’s portion of the site includes 299 pages.
- Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) base maps were improved for easier navigation.
- The Conservation Science and Ecological Services Division performed approximately 1,800 PNDI Environmental Reviews for rare, threatened and endangered plants
- The Wild Resource Conservation Fund awarded 11 grants, totaling more than $300,000 to universities and NGOs (non-government organization) to conduct research and education projects related to Pennsylvania’s native biodiversity.
- The goals of community forestry are to communicate private forest conditions and provide conservation leadership on private forest resource issues. New stewardship plans were implemented for 6,496 acres in 2013. There are currently 557,178 acres covered under forest stewardship plans. Over the past year, 4,123 landowners participated in landowner education programs.
- Wildfire suppression activity in Pennsylvania in 2013 was typical with 625 events but below average in fire size — only 1,780 acres burned. The largest single fire scorched 325 acres in Cameron County in early May.
- More than 140 personnel in seven crews and 20 individuals, in supervisory and specialty positions, were mobilized to assist wildfire suppression in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. One fire engine, with a four person crew, was mobilized in the fall. Approximately 40 controlled burns were conducted to reduce hazardous fuel levels and improve forest lands on approximately 1,000 acres.
- Wildfire-related training was conducted for more than 4,500 firefighters.
- A total of 130 volunteer fire departments received grants for equipment acquisition and training totaling approximately $500,000.
- Fire departments were loaned fire-fighting equipment worth $2 million under a federal excess equipment program.
- Gypsy moth defoliation totaled 167,667 acres last year. DCNR treated 42,014 acres principally on state managed lands.
- Three parasitoids that attack the emerald ash borer were released at several PA sites.
- Penn State University, U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Game Commission and DCNR–Bureau of Forestry will be monitoring deer and forest habitat in Rothrock, Bald Eagle and Susquehannock State Forests.
- DCNR joined municipalities to expand the TreeVitalize program beyond major urban centers.
- DCNR and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Project replanted the historic Bliss orchard at Gettysburg battlefield to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle. Project trees will be planted between Gettysburg, PA and Monticello, Va. in memorials to the 620,000 soldiers killed during the American Civil War.
- DCNR the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators and the American Forest Foundation have revitalized the Project Learning Tree program in Pennsylvania.
- Bureau of Forestry acquired 1,600 acres to add to the state forest system.
- The Bureau conducted a public input survey on state forest land values and management. With over 3200 respondents, 63.8 percent answered that State Forests are managed “well” or “very well.”
- Bureau crews completed the third five-year Continuous Forest Inventory cycle.
- 20 Marcellus Shale outreach tours on State Forest had 400 people attending.
- The 2013 year saw DCNR Search and Rescue crews conduct 40 missions–more than 3,160 hours if team effort–half coordinated by Forestry. Ten lives were saved by SAR volunteers.
If you would like to contact the Bureau, please call the District Office at 814-486-3353. You can visit us online at www.dcnr.state.pa.us or check the office out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elkstateforest.