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Forest Matters
Stewardship News

Spring 2019
In This Issue
homeAs the new State and Private Forestry Program Manager, I welcome you to the Spring 2019 edition of the Forest Matters Stewardship News!

There have been a number of changes in State and Private Forestry this winter. The Northeastern Area has now merged with the Eastern Region of the Forest Service, and there are new faces in what is now called Eastern Region State and Private Forestry.

In addition to learning about the merger and meeting new folks, you can read about a gentleman in Maine who creates beautiful wooden surfboards, landscape-scale restoration efforts in Michigan, the spotted lanternfly and its connection to tree of heaven, and much more.

We hope you enjoy this issue.  
Douglas Akin
Forest Stewardship Program Manager
Eastern Region State and Private Forestry

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Eastern Region State and Private Forestry
USDA Forest Service Chief Vickie Christiansen officially announced the merger of Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry with the Eastern Region on February 13, 2019. The Northeastern Area is now Eastern Region State and Private Forestry.

The Chief emphasized that this reorganization places high value on the diversity of relationships the Forest Service maintains in the East and reiterated that the close collaboration with the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance will be enhanced. Kathleen Atkinson, Regional Forester, has also underscored the Region's commitment to "continue delivering a high level of service to our partner States and others." 

On the eve of her retirement on April 26, Kathleen Atkinson shared these thoughts:

" As I finish my career with the Forest Service, belongings now packed neatly in boxes and door about to close, I look back and am filled with pride for all we have accomplished and thankful for the opportunity to have served alongside you. While I am looking forward to retirement, stepping away is hard.

Time passes quickly. I vividly remember listening to a coworker, many years ago, talk about working for the Forest Service for 30 years. At the time I was under 30 years old. I was aghast -- how old was that person? How could you work that long? And here I am, with 38 years of service.

The agency looks a lot different now than it did when I joined. At that time, there were no female line officers. None at all. No female district rangers, no female forest supervisors and certainly no female Regional Foresters or Chiefs. There were very few people of color, and they were not in leadership positions. Those barriers began to crumble soon after that, but it was not easy. We have made great progress in becoming and embracing a more diverse workforce, but we still have a long way to go to more closely mirror society. We also need to focus our efforts on how we treat each other -- each and every one of us, regardless of our job title or GS grade, has the ability to influence the work environment. Let's use that influence for the positive.

While the agency looks different and has seen many changes, our mission continues to guide us. Throughout my career, in one way or another, I've always focused on sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of our nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. What we have called that work has changed over the years, but as I reflect on our many initiatives over the course of my career, I've always found comfort in knowing that the fundamental purpose of the Forest Service has remained constant and is as relevant today as it was when I joined the agency. Though, I'll admit, we do use more technology now.

The Forest Service is a great agency. And after spending the last six years as Regional Forester of the Eastern Region, I'll admit that it is clearly the best in the agency. We have 40 percent of the nation's population and congressional delegation. We get things done. While the West gets attention due to wildfire, in the East we fight forest health issues, partner with state foresters, and successfully deliver both the National Forest System and State and Private Forestry missions to millions of people. Everyone in the East should be very proud of the work we do.

When I talk to retirees, they say what you really miss are the people. I know that will be true for me. Whenever I traveled to a forest, I was blown away by the passion, creativity and dedication you all bring to your jobs. Hang on to that spirit!

As I close this chapter of my life, thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my journey with the Forest Service. I will miss you all but am confident that the Forest Service is in great hands. Take care. "
New Faces in State and Private Forestry
Welcome from Douglas Akin, New Region 9  
Forest Stewardship Program Manager

I'm glad to introduce myself as the new Region 9 Forest Stewardship Program Manager. I'm a new U.S. Forest Service employee. I retired after nearly 29 years from the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

For the last 12 years, I was the Assistant State Forester for Forest Management. In that position, I oversaw almost all of the agency's operations that weren't related to wildfire suppression. Previously, I worked in the agency's urban forestry and forest health programs and served as a service forester (we called them county foresters) on two different occasions in two different parts of the state.

I'm a native Texan and have lived almost all of my life in the South (although I'm a Colorado State University graduate), so I think I have a lot to learn about forestry in the Northeastern U.S. One thing I have learned in the South that will carry over to Region 9 is the importance of partnerships. Over the last 29 years, I've watched the evolution and growth of partnerships of diverse organizations. These partnerships found common ground through shared goals and accomplished quite a bit for conservation in Arkansas. I believe leveraging political capital as well as the financial capital of partners will become increasingly important in the future.   
I'm looking forward to working in Region 9, meeting  you, and traveling to your states as my schedule allows.
Welcome Joe Koloski, New Morgantown
Field Office Representative

Devin Wanner, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Public and Government Relations
A man in a Forest Service uniform poses in front of a Forest Service insignia on a wall and several plaques.
Joe Koloski. (Courtesy photo provided by Joe Koloski)
Joe Koloski is the new Field Representative for the Eastern Region State and Private Forestry, Morgantown Field Office. As a Vermont native, Joe developed a strong interest in natural resources management through experiences hunting with his family and spending time on his grandparents' farm. Joe attended the University of Wyoming where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management in 1997.
Profile in Conservation
Mike LaVecchia
Hanging Ten Sustainably:  Surfboard Maker Creates Beautiful and Durable Blend of Form and Function
Glenn Rosenholm, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Public and Government Relations
What started out as a hobby among friends and a labor of love grew into a successful and sustainable niche business for one business owner. 

Mike LaVecchia, 51, and his small crew are making cool, lightweight custom wooden surfboards day in and day out in their facility, Grain Surfboards, in the coastal Maine community of York.

So how does someone get started in the hollow wooden surfboard manufacturing business? Interestingly, LaVecchia, an avid outdoor enthusiast, did not spend his childhood in New England's rural countryside or on a beach in Malibu. Instead, he grew 
up in South Orange, NJ, a suburb of New York City. There were more urban places outside of New York City than South Orange, he said, b ut where he lived someone could hop on a train and arrive in the Big Apple in 20 minutes. 
View of the end of a wooden surfboard while it's being made.
Wooden surfboard in Mike's workshop. (Forest Service photo by Glenn Rosenholm)

Despite the urban setting, his love for the outdoors and for rapid movement started early on. "I grew up skate boarding, snowboarding, and being on boats. I always loved the outdoors. It's great to make something that brings all of that together," he said. 
Read Mike's story.

Want to read other natural resource conservation stories? 

Check out the Eastern Region State and Private Forestry Profiles in Conservation series.
Stewardship Across the Landscape 
Landscape Scale Restoration in Michigan: Every School in the Forest
Mike Smalligan, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Forest Stewardship Coordinator

Hundreds of schools in States throughout the Midwest own forests, yet many of these school forests are neglected and underutilized. Superintendents, teachers, and parents have many important issues in their school - academic, economic, and athletic - so forest management is understandably low on their long list of priorities. A project in Michigan, funded by a grant from the USDA Forest Service, is providing new resources to help schools fulfill the amazing potential of their school forest.

Cover of a publication titled Michigan School Forest Guide.Every School in the Forest is a $306,000 Landscape Scale Restoration grant awarded to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from the Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry in FY 2017. The project's goal is to connect the forestry community with the education community by providing three major resources to schools: forest management plans, outdoor curricula, and field trips.

Stewardship News
Be on the Lookout for an Invasive Duo:
Tree of Heaven and Spotted Lanternfly

Heather Smith, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region State and Private Forestry

A bug crawls up the side of a tree. It has black spots on a pinkish back.
Adult spotted lanternfly. (Courtesy photo by Lawrence Barringer, PA Department of Agriculture,
If you see an invasive tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), you may also find another invasive species: the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), which uses tree of heaven as its primary host. The relatively recent discovery and spread of the spotted lanternfly in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S., including its preference for tree of heaven, makes it important to locate and monitor these trees in efforts to manage this invasive insect. Eliminating tree of heaven on the landscape removes the preferred host for the spotted lanternfly.

The spotted lanternfly does infest some other desirable woody plant species. These include many fruit bearers (apples, grapes, plums, and hops, among others) and ornamentals. It also feeds on other native tree species, such as walnut, oaks, and maples. The Summer 2018 edition of the Forest Matters stewardship newsletter includes an article about this insect.

If you find invasive trees of heaven growing on your property, inspect them frequently to see if the spotted lanternfly is present. If you find the spotted lanternfly, contact your State Agriculture Department or the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms:
Misty Dawn Farm Shares the Magic
USDA Wisconsin Natural Resources Conservation Service

February 2019

Shiitakes and logs are two peas in a pod. When talking with
Ingrid and Paul West, of Misty Dawn Farm in Stoughton,
Wisconsin, you'll certainly learn why. The Wests lovingly care
for their harvested logs that grow homegrown shiitake mushrooms.
Willing to share the magic of growing the nutritious
fungus, they beam with passion and knowledge. Log grown
Shiitakes are a healthy diet staple, versatile, hearty, and rich in
vitamins and minerals. With a rich meaty texture, they embody
a pleasant, savory taste many can't get enough of.

The Wests purchased 50 acres of land in Vernon County over
20 years ago as a getaway space with the hope of creating
more biodiversity, improving the watershed, offering water
quality protection, and creating habitat and food for wildlife.
With these goals in mind, the Wests signed up for the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources, Managed Forest Law
program, planning how to actively manage their forest to be
regenerative. "We have 35 forested acres and 15 acres of pasture.
We enrolled in the program and planted 9,000 trees on
the property right after we bought it," explained Ingrid.
Read the full Misty Dawn Farm story.

A woman and a man hold a log with mushrooms growing out of it.
(L to R): Ingrid and Paul West, of Misty Dawn Farm in Dane County, Wisconsin, show shiitakes growing on logs harvested from their forested acres in Vernon County. (Courtesy photo by Wisconsin USDA NRCS)

New App Puts Forestry Info into
Landowners' Hands
Glenn Rosenholm, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Public and Government Relations
Many forest landowners have questions about managing their woodlots, and like the rest of us, they want answers available to them 24 hours a day. In order to provide technical assistance to an increasingly tech-savvy group of landowners and communities, an effort was made across New England to develop and make use of more automated, web-based information tools.
Screenshot of an app on an Android cell phone screen.

The North East State Foresters Association develope d a free app called About My Woods to help forest landowners an d others better manage their woods . The app works on Android and A pple smartphones and tablets, and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the iPhone App Store, respectively. The U.S. Forest Service provided $119,000 in funding through a grant to develop the app .

Conducting a Successful Timber Sale:
A Primer for Landowners

Mark Rickenbach, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology (revised by Mike Finley, WDNR, and William Klase and Kris Tiles, University of Wisconsin-Extension)

Timber Harvesting is an Important Tool for Woodland Owners
When conducted with care and good planning, harvesting trees allows you, as a landowner, to enjoy your woodlands while keeping them healthy and meeting your ownership goals.
Cover for Conducting a Successful Timber Sale.
Landowners choose to cut trees for a variety of reasons. Your decision may be due to a recommended action under a management plan or may be one you did not expect to make. For example, a violent windstorm or pest infestation may require harvesting to salvage timber or protect your forest from further harm. Regardless of the reason, a successful timber harvest that meets your goals begins by working with a forester to develop a plan.
Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands
Cover to the publication Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community.  
This booklet is a simple guide to understanding what  the  Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires of those who want to work in or adjacent to streams in Pennsylvania communities.
Fiscal Year 2018
Wisconsin Annual Report
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Greetings from State Conservationist Angela Biggs
Welcome to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Wisconsin Annual Report. The report provides highlights of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) approach in "Helping People Help the Land" to ensure our natural resources are regenerative for future generations.

USDA NRCS Wisconsin 2018 Annual Report cover.
You'll learn about our program and outreach successes, along with highlights of the work we do, which is strongly focused on meeting our responsibilities in a cost-effective and accountable manner. You will meet many Wisconsin farmers and landowners who have had success in working with us to put conservation on the ground. You'll also see highlights of how NRCS is promoting soil health principles to benefit our natural resources and local farms.

Monarch Butterfly Conservation
Webinar Series

Monarch Joint Venture

Artistic drawing of a Monarch butterfly on a bookmark with the words The Monarch Butterfly A Conservation Ambassador.
Bookmark courtesy of Monarch Joint Venture
Monarch Joint Venture is excited to offer the 2019 Monarch Conservation Webinar Series they are co-hosting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center. Visit their Events web page to learn about this webinar series!

Woodland Wildlife Spotlight:
Eastern Screech-Owl

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2018 edition of Branching Out , Maryland's Woodland Stewardship Educator

A reddish small owl takes a nap inside a tree log.
Eastern Screech-Owl. (Courtesy photo by Vern Wilkins, Indiana University,
As winter days shorten, you may hear an odd call drifting through Maryland's landscapes after sunset and into the evening. The call sounds much like the whinny of a horse, but in fact it belongs to one of the state's native hunters: the Eastern Screech-Owl.

This owl may be difficult to observe, due to its size and its coloration. The birds are relatively small, compared to other owls, generally measuring less than 9 inches in height.

White Mountain National Forest Provides Leadership on New Hampshire Burns

Andy Fast, Field Specialist, Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire Extension

September 24, 2018

The Kimball Wildlife Forest is a 245-acre property entrusted to the town of Gilford and managed for the "study and enjoyment of wildlife." From its peak on Lockes Hill, visitors can look north over Lake Winnipesaukee and beyond into the White Mountain National Forest.

Scenic view from a hill top of a lake and trees and mountains in the distance.
View from Lockes Hill. (Courtesy photo by University of New Hampshire Extension)

Prescribed Fire at Lockes Hill
On May 10, 2018, the White Mountain National Forest Fire Crew, led by John Neely, executed a 10-acre prescribed burn on the top of Lockes Hill with support from the Gilford Fire Department, UNH Cooperative Extension, The Nature Conservancy and the NH Prescribed Fire Council.
Want a Friend? Buy an Apple Tree?
It's up to Yinz

Al Steele, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region State and Private Forestry

Growing an apple tree provides a myriad of benefits. You can eat more tasty apples, encourage better environmental stewardship, attract critters to your woodlot or backyard, impress your foodie friends, or even have your own pet apple trees in the backyard cloned from trees back at the family farm.

It's Up To "Yinz"
You may recall from an earlier Forest Matters edition that I wrote an extensive piece that traced apples through the millennia from their origins in Central Asia, across the Silk Routes on the backs of camels, into Europe, onto America's shores, and then dispersed across our great Nation. I hope it gave you a greater appreciation for the apple's journey to America as well as how little day-to-day decisions can ripple through time.

Now that you know a lot more about how apples got here, the question is, "Now what?" Everyone's circumstances are different, and life offers each of us many choices. Has your newfound knowledge opened you up to the possibility of planting some apple trees out next to the cabin at your woodlot? Are you lucky enough to own some land that has some "old timey" trees on it that you'd like to rejuvenate? Does the idea of planting apple trees to attract wildlife appeal to you? Does a 5-foot apple tree in the backyard of your suburban ranchero sound like utopia? How about taking cuttings from a tree at Grandma's and growing it into  something that your grandkids can climb? British folk, long known for their  lovely gardens, groom apple trees into lovely shapes that are truly works of art . You can learn to do this espalier thing too!

A dog with a red apple balanced on its head poses for a photograph.
Winston. (Courtesy photo by Scott Cromwell)
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Sells 128.7 Million Board Feet of Timber

Hilary Markin, U.S. Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Public Affairs Officer

RHINELANDER, Wis. (November 09, 2018) - Timber sale levels on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) increase for the sixth year in a row.

In fiscal year 2018, which is from October 1 to September 30, the Forest sold 128.7 MMBF of timber through the competitive timber sale bidding process.
"The Forest hasn't sold 128 MMBF of timber since the early 1990s," said Paul Strong, Forest Supervisor, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. "I am very proud of the great staff and partners we have in making this achievement possible."
In addition to the Forest's regular timber sale program which sold 98 MMBF this year, 30.7 MMBF was sold through the Good Neighbor Authority agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Thank you, Karen!
A woman poses for a picture while standing on a rock outcrop in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.
Karen Sykes on a working trip in the Adirondack Mountains. (Forest Service photo by Al Steele)

Karen Sykes, Forest Stewardship Program Coordinator out of the Morgantown, WV, Field Office, retired from the USDA Forest Service in early January. Karen  is a native of southwestern  Pennsylvania.
She attended The Pennsylvania State University  and earned a B.S. degree  in  Forest Management in 1975.  Over her 43 - year career, she has  worked in all three  Forest Service  branches - Research, National Forest System, and State  and  Private Forestry.
Read Karen's story.

Forest Land Conservation Spotlight
Page Pond Community Forest

Scott Powell, Meredith, New Hampshire, Conservation Commission

Upland forest, prime agricultural land, important wetlands, education, accessible recreation - all of this has come together in the Page Pond Community Forest in the central New Hampshire Town of Meredith. This community forest now has additional acreage as the result of efforts by several conservation entities, including The Trust for Public Land, New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, Meredith Conservation Commission, and the USDA Forest Service Community Forest Program (CFP).

Many generous grants and private donations, including a $300,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service Community Forest Program, were used to add 198 acres of forests and fields in October 2017 to the existing 565-acre Page Pond Community Forest. In addition, a generous private donation was made to fund an endowment, which will be used to manage the property in perpetuity.
Read the full Page Pond Community Forest story.

Scenic view of a pond surrounded by colorful fall foliage and evergreen trees.
Page Pond on the Page Pond Community Forest. The new CFP-protected property is on the left; the original tract is on the right. (Forest Service photo by Neal Bungard)

Naturalist's Corner
Skunk Cabbage -- A Miracle Medicine or a New Energy Source?

Karen Sykes, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region State and Private Forestry (Retired)

Ever walk through your woods and step on something squishy with a nasty, unpleasant smell? And then discover that yes, you just stepped on skunk cabbage. Some children are told by their mothers to stay away from it because if you touch it you'll smell like a skunk for months afterward and your friends in school won't talk to you anymore. Myths never cease.

Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, aka pole cat weed, is not really a cabbage but a member of the arum family Araceae. It's a perennial plant native to North America that grows from Nova Scotia and Quebec south to North Carolina and Tennessee, and west to Minnesota. It has heart-shaped, curled leaves that can grow to 24 inches. It's usually found along creeks and in meadows, swamps, marshes, and places where there is standing water or wet soils. 
Read the full skunk cabbage story.

Green leafy plants grow along a wooded stream in the spring.
Skunk cabbage. (Forest Service photo by Karen Sykes)