Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plowed Paradise

Will a new "Dust Bowl" form from increased tillage of farmland? With crop prices at record levels, more land is being converted from "untilled" to "planted". Planted in itself does not cause dust bowls, but leaving land void of grasses and other natural covers throughout the year, in great numbers, will do just that. We are seeing more and more trees (shelterbelts and tree groves/rows) and grasslands being removed due to the need for more croplands to take advantage of the high commodity prices. I have personally witnessed perfectly "great" shrub and tree plantings dozed over and piled into heaps only to make more room for those "cash crops".
One of the conservation organizations I support, Pheasants Forever, works very hard to promote and implement proper land stewarship. Consider this recent piece from the editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal:


National View

By Howard K. Vincent, CEO & President
Plowed Paradise

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

–Big Yellow Taxi (1970), Joni Mitchell  
It was recently reported that between 2008 and 2011, over 37,000 SQUARE MILES of grasslands, wetlands and shrubland were converted to crop in the United States. Not hard to understand when corn is selling for $8-9/bushel and there’s over 7 billion people to feed on Earth.

Likewise, it isn’t hard to fathom why the Natural Resources Conservation Service recently held a session to discuss the possibility of a new Dust Bowl arising due to the nationwide drought and large increase in tilled land.

Consider, for example, this recent firsthand account of South Dakota’s John Pollmann in Minnesota’s

Outdoor News weekly newspaper (a longtime PF supporter and partner): "There are new signs of change here on the prairie. Like the piles of dirt stacked up alongside recently trenched waterways, the surrounding cattails — once a winter home for pheasant and pheasant hunter alike — burned and ready for the tile plow.

Speaking of which, there are miles of the black, perforated plastic tubing stacked up along field edges and farmyards, not to mention what already has been put in the ground: There were 1 million feet of drainage tile installed in Lake County last year alone.

Where native pasture once met a meandering creek, now sits freshly plowed black dirt, balancing precariously on the edge between production and erosion.

And slash piles of trees seem to be stacked in every section — elm, ash and box elders long ago planted to protect the well being of South Dakota pioneers — now laid bare … ."

On the habitat investment side of the equation, things are wanting. Take, for example, that conservation programs account for only 1.7 percent of the federal budget — including the National Park Service and conservation programs in the Farm Bill.

If you ever needed an excuse to get more involved in supporting Pheasants Forever (read about the many opportunities in this issue and on our website), the above information is it. We’re not asking for the moon on conservation spending in these economic tight times with a huge federal debt, but there’s ample evidence a crisis is looming for our soil, water, wildlife and hunting heritage and right now saving these vital natural resources should be a larger national priority. Another important action to take to impact conservation is to vote November 6 for candidates that support PF’s habitat work and wildlife conservation goals.

/ P H E A S A N T S F O R E V E R • w w w. p h e a s a n t s f o r e v e r . o r g

Real Christmas Trees Way to Go!

Why do most people put up a "fake" Christmas tree? Mostly for convenience.
Some people also say they are allergic to trees in the house. However, nothgin beats the aroma
and allure of the real tree in the house for Christmas.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Cost of Wilfires vs. Management

The year 2012 was a bad year for our forests and lands in America. Whether it be tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or forest and range fires, we are under the wrath of Mother Nature.
Forest fires are nothing new in America. They've been occurring for thousands of years. However, the forest and range fires that we see in recent times are more catastrophic than probably any time in history! WHY?
One of the major reasons is our lack of understanding and commitment to land mangement. Take our forests as the big example. Is our choice to just put  the fires put out when they occur, rather than allow our forests to be managed on time and by plan? Take the U.S. Forest Service for example. Almost anywhere in this country, we have lawsuits against the Forest Service to prohibit "managing" the forests. There are many reasons for these "protests against management". Unfortunately, the forestry business has been the biggest reason for the "distrust" of management. Clearcuts of the past, too many roads, erosion that chokes out salmon runs, "ugly" scenes from the roads, heavy equipment tearing up the soil, old growth trees nearly gone from the lanscape, and you can add your own reasons for the attitude problem toward management. Even though this sentiment may exist, when there is good reason to "cut" trees and carryout MANAGEMENT PLANS that have gone through intense public scrutiny, we balk at the "cut".
Instead what we have scene brewing since settlement times in America, is a thickening of our vegetation until it chokes out the health of the stands. These dense forests become predisposed to insect and disease. which of course leads to many catastrophic fires. As we have built our homes into the landscape, we now have in many instances, eliminated the choice of natural burns to occur. It is just too dangerous in most cases to let these fires burn. The natural fire regime has been altered.
Fire suppression is extremely costly in so many arenas beyond budgets.
Should we not "budget" our resouces to manage vs. non-management?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Forests in Bad Shape??

Our Forests in Bad Shape??...what does that mean?
Many of our politicians are now asking for funds to manage our forests, why?
The condition of our forest lands have been in serious need of management ever since we settled the United States.
Management happens in large part out of economic and fiscal necessity. Asking now to "manage" our public and private forests lands is too late in many cases. For years, foresters and land managers of all sorts have recommended and "prescribed" the "management" of our forest lands long before we had millions of "dead" trees. In many instances we have dying forests due to overcrowded (dense) stands. The overcrowded forests in many instances stem from politics, policies, lack of funds, complacency, and/or lack of understanding on how best to manage these lands.
In addition, there is a large part of the population that just does not want to see trees cut...period.
Managing our forests starts when the stands are in their growth stages and beyond, not just when there are thousands of acres of dead trees.

To Manage or Not to Manage...that IS the direction...
see what one forester has to say

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Did You Know? 

bees please Household insecticides may be playing a role in declining bee populations. Vera Krischik, department of entomology, and her lab are exploring how a group of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, might be making bees less resistant to parasites and pathogens that contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder, where worker bees in a colony abruptly disappear. Honey bees who are exposed to insecticides have problems flying and finding their way back to the hive, lose their sense of taste and have more difficulty learning new tasks. Roughly two-thirds of the world's crops rely on bees for pollination. So if the bees are in decline, many fruits, vegetables and other plant based foods are going to decline with them. Learn More Here!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Are We Rich?

"How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, all our soil, all our water resources and mineral into cash?"
...Ding Darling, founder of the Duck Stamp program and first director of what became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Colorado Burning

As I watched the clips of my former home town "burning" this past week, I was horrified to see that the "impossible" was happening. To think that I lived just over a couple ridges from here, where we thougth that "we would be the most vulnerable to forest fires". I now live in another part of Colorado in just as vulnerable a location as before. In fact, so do tens of thousands of us across this state. Just last year (March 2011) I wasn't far from a fire that burned over a week and I could see from my home, some of the flames rising.
What I know of the wildland fire and city firefighters' efforts, I could not say enough of their dedication and bravery!! This is dangerous and dirty work. I know, I have done some of it and had many years of trainging in the Incident Command System, wildland fire training, and volunteer fire dept. training.
Please help all the displaced across Colorado by donating.
Please go to:
Stay safe,
Fire bearing down on the city from Rampart Range June 26, 2012
(amateur photo??)
A classic Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) CONFLAGRATION
(photo: Denver Post)
Check out the Denver Post Blog Photos...good job Denver Post Photographers!!
View this extraordinary video by Steve Moraco:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Importance of honeybees in our lives?

Did you know that the honeybee is responsible for many, many foods on our tables?! Yes, they are the reason many foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables) grow to harvestability. Many times in my career I have seen where people want to "kill" the bees because they feel threatened. Yes, the honeybee has a stinger, but it is rare when they sting. If they are threatened (i.e. their hive) or they get caught in your clothes, yes they will sting. I'm not talking about the more lethal "killer bees" from South America, but the common bee we see in the wild and around our crops. There are basically two varieties of honeybee. The ones in the wild and the ones kept in hives or colonies that are transported around the country to pollinate crops.
For years there has been a serious decline of the honeybee without definite explanation. Yes, there have been mites that have threatened populations, but the greatest threat has been in question.
Here is some recent discovery that is encouraging to know:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wildlife Exposed

My service to you as a Professional Forester.

I will come out to your property and visit with you about your objectives as a woodlot owner, land owner, government agency, commercial entity, or whatever forestry/natural resource interests you may have.
Some of the services I offer:
  • forest management plans
  • firewise landscape plans
  • community wildfire protection plans
  • insect and disease diagnosis and recommended actions
  • open space management plans
  • public speaking on various natural resource topics
  • other related interests we can discuss together
Please read "why hire a professional forester or arborist" on this blog (below).

Why Hire a Professional Forester or Arborist?

Why hire a professional forester and/or arborist in my case?
To start with, a professional knows the business and the technical aspects and Best Management Practices (BMP's) for the profession.
Specifically, a forester can help with concepts like:
• Improve wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities
• Protect soils and water quality
• Improve protection from wild fire
• Inventory your forest to learn its quality and value
• Identify opportunities, problems, and needs
• Reestablish trees on bare land
• Improve forest stands or desired tree species
• Enhance ecological diversity
• Prevent or control harmful insects and diseases
• Administer a timber harvest
• Administer harvest activities
• Identify financial incentives programs and other help
• Obtain inventories and values for estate settlement
• Buy or sell a forest property
In my case, one main example of my service is drafting forest management plans and wildfire mitigation plans for landowners. I incorporate all the above concepts into these plans.
Why hire a consulting arborist?
This person is a professional in the areas of urban forestry, arboriculture, and various landscape topics. We diagnose landscape problems and recommend remedies and ways to preserve and manage the landscape. We provide services that can be used for expert witness appearances in a court of law. We provide technical advice to businesses, homeowners, government agencies, and whomever else desires this service. In my case, I can provide a very esoteric service like landscape damage appraisals that many insurance companies use for compensation for losses incurred. We perform urban forestry services, i.e. street tree inventories and hazard tree assessments. We are consulted with on matters of proper landscape designs and maintenance requirements. We prepare technical reports that integrate many different facets of projects, which can include interacting with a variety of professionals. In summary, a consulting arborist is someone with a broad background in urban and landscape tree/shrub maintenance issues.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

National Renewable Energy Lab, Golden, Colorado

I started volunteering last Fall at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. My role is to teach the "mission of the Lab" with many other "seasoned" volunteers at the NREL Visitor Center. The mission of the lab is to research the benefits and solutions of the use of alternative energy sources and applications. 
Our future...learning at the Visitor Center

I work with other volunteers that have many backgrounds. They are former employees of NREL, students in higher education, former energy professionals, consultants, education experts, and a variety of other interests. The brain trust at the Lab is amazing. I encourage you to visit the webiste: to see what the Lab is all about. Then schedule a visit with us at the Visitor Center and learn what is up and coming. One of the neatest things happening now is the new construction that is bringing exciting new projects to light.
How many forms of renewable energy can you name?