Harvesting Diamond Grove

The crews are working hard on thinning the Diamond Grove unit. It will change the face of my first forest. The size of the trees is surprising.  When I see them being harvested and look at the thinned places, it is hard to believe that these were the little trees that could not even peek above the grass in 2005.

I think some of our management helped. We did pre-commercial thinning and applied biosolids in 2008. I think that contributed to the forest health now. Biosolids are great. Unfortunately, we cannot get them anymore in Brunswick. We are too far from the big cities.

I looked over the activities and talked to Kirk McAden  and Nick for a long time, until I realized that I was subtracting value and got out of the way. I look forward to seeing it when it is done. I will plant grasses, flowers and clover on the landing zones.

To get out of the way and still do something useful, I went over to Freeman. I have a discer for my ATV and I tried it out. It works well. I want to replant some of the place that got grubbed up over the winter. The discer will make that happen.

My first two pictures are the harvest.  Picture #3 shows the thinned forests. It is much better.  It was too dark and a mess of vines. The vines will be back and I will need to fight them, but this thinning is a good thing. Penultimate picture is my new discer.

I have a question, maybe somebody here knows.  I had trouble getting the discer on the machine. I had to drive onto a log to get the back high enough. Is there a better way?

Last picture is one of my little longleaf.  We planted those last winter and I was afraid that the fire would kill them. This one looked dead, but you can see in the middle that it lives.

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Thinning on Diamond Grove prep day

They are getting the equipment in position to thin 110 acres on the Diamond Grove place. This was my first forest. I feel very strongly about all my forest units, but his one is special as the first. When I got it, I could not even see the trees over the tops of the grass and brambles. I worried about that. Since I was inexperienced in forestry, I was afraid I bought some unproductive land. (BTW, if you are looking to buy rural land and hear it described as “sportsman’s paradise” it won’t be good for anything else.)

But the place is good for growing trees and it is now ready for its first thinning.

Kathryn-Kirk McAden is doing the job. I trust him and his crews. They did very good jobs on our other places. My conditions special but not very unusual. I want it thinned to 80 basal area with paths cut along the stream management zones, so that we can more easily burn when the time comes. I asked the loggers to be very careful with the SMZs. These are some of my favorite places. If practical, I would like them to take out some of the big loblolly in the SMZ so that that it can transition to hardwood, as it is already doing. “If practical” means those they can get up w/o tearing up the soil of much impacting other trees.

They will also be especially careful around the wildflower meadows. This is another reason to trust Kirk. He is the one who planted those with the Southeastern pollinator flowers and warm season grasses, so he knows where they are and why they are important.

We are clear cutting 3.5 acres of damp (but not SMZ) land near Diamond Grove Road. I asked to leave a small “beauty strip” along the road, so it looks better. Loblolly does not grow well in that damp place and it has become a mess of brambles, invasive vines and multiflora rose. Better to start over with bald cypress, which I will do next spring, maybe a few tupelo and swamp white oak. Not sure yet. I think I will plant 8×10 or 544 trees per acre. I am not sure about silviculture for cypress in Virginia, so I have the added joy of learning from experience.

It will also be interesting to see changes in water patterns. When you thin, more water flows into the streams and dew ponds. It can make a significant difference. The amphibian population will rise next season.

I am going to go down tomorrow to look around and “consult.”

We didn’t cut anything last year, and I do not have any plans to cut again until 2022, so I want to enjoy this experience.

After the cut, I want to do an under story burn of most of the acreage. Probably in February, just before I plant the cypress.

All the pictures are from my files, i.e. not taken currently. My first picture is beech in the SMZ. I would not want those impacted by the logging. Next is one of the meadows, followed by the loblolly. The woods is way too dark. Thinning will make it healthier and more wildlife friendly. Penultimate picture show Diamond Grove Road when the bridge washed out. It does not flood that much every year, but every few years water gets about to where the road is closed. That explains why cypress are better below that. Last is the planning map I made last year.

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Sicily

Chrissy & I went to Smithsonian for a program “Sicily: Eternal Crossroads of the Mediterranean.” It was a disappointing program. I thought it would be something like what the title suggested. In fact, it was more a semi-technical art history discussion with some (not all) of the art and architecture happened to be in Sicily. The lecturer was well expert on the art, but her talks were more like watching slides from her vacation than an integrated program about cultural crossroads.

One thing I found interesting about the talk was about the talk itself. There was a big crowd there and many people seemed to like the program a lot. Chrissy and I talked about it. It might be that it was a lot like being a tourist. She took you through the buildings like a tour guide. I wanted the connections, not the tourist sites. That is the great thing about pluralism. We do not all need to like the same things.

No matter. It got us out and down in Washington on a nice day. They provided what they called a Sicilian lunch. We got a prosciutto ham sandwich, olive salad & some cannoli. I do not think these things are especially Sicilian (Prosciutto comes from Parma, not in Sicily) but it was good.

We went to Spain last year and were very favorably surprised by the wonders there. Sicily is another of those crossroads. It was an intellectual and cultural hotbed for a few centuries. I think that is the next place outside the USA for us to visit.

First picture is Smithsonian castle looking good in spring. Next is me at the mall. Lighting is not the best. Last is from the lecture itself.

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Kids and trees

Kids and trees

Some HS kids are coming to plant trees as part of some sort of sustainability project. I don’t believe sustainability is enough. We strive to regenerate. That is what I will tell them when they come. Thanks toRob Bracknell for the contact.

I supply the trees & tools

I will supply the trees, the tools, lunch and drinks. I will also give each of them a copy of “Sand County Almanac.” I think it is more work getting them to do it than it would be doing it myself, but I like the idea of getting kids doing something useful in the woods. Sometime in the future, I hope that this can be part of a catalyzing experience that enhances of even puts them on the path to conservation. Planting trees is good for the soul.

I don’t want the kids to suffer too much, so spent the day cutting paths through the brambles and briars.

They will be mostly planting the are area where the fire killed some trees or where the brambles killed the trees, or more likely discouraged the planters. That is another reason I needed to take down the brambles.

My first photo shows a superficial but rather painful scrape I got when I pushed back one branch and got hit by another. I am hoping it doesn’t turn black and blue.

Planting paths

Next is the path at Brodnax. There is a lot of space between trees. Now that I have an ATV, I bought a discer. I am going to plant pollinator wildflowers in the middle. Picture after that shows clover coming up on the fire line. I planted that last time. I am hoping we don’t a hard frost that might harm them. It has been a warm winter and it looks like an early spring, so maybe we will be okay.

Streams and sand

Picture #4 is my bench and stream on Diamond Grove. We had the bench in back of the house and Chrissy wanted to get rid of it, so I put it there. I can sit, listen to the water, drink beer and just enjoy being. The stream has moved a bit and I am getting a lot of sand. The sand has packed tight, as you can see in picture #5. It looks like a couple feet of sand has accumulated. I am not sure whence it came. Upstream I thought was mostly clay and the stream bed was always clay. Something got loose. When I get time, I will walk up the stream and see what I can see. The stream starts in a cow pasture a couple miles up and picks up water from my forest. As far as I know (knew) there are not points of significant erosion on my land, but I will check. All that sand came from somewhere. If it is somewhere of mine, I have to do something.

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Cândido Rondon

Cândido Rondon is not well known enough even in Brazil, even though there is a state – Rondônia – named after him, and certainly not as well as he deserves outside the country. I had not heard of him before I went to Brazil, at least not that I recall. I was vaguely aware of Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition to Brazil. He explored what was then called the River of Doubt, because nobody knew where it went. It is now called the Rio Roosevelt. But I assumed that it was Roosevelt’s expedition, much like his safari in Africa. In other words, I didn’t know much and much of what I did know was wrong.
Our Ambassador in Brazil, Tom Shannon, took a special interest in Rondon and that stimulated my initial interest. If the boss likes it, it is a good idea to at least look into it but I soon started to see why he was important. I ended up visiting Rondônia twice, talked to enough people, read enough to become a passable lay authority & developed enough of a passion for the subject that I still attend presentations five years after leaving Brazil.
Larry Rohter discussed his book at a Wilson Center program “The Life and Legacy of Cândido Rondon: Amazon Explorer, Environmentalist, Scientist, and Advocate for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” This is the most complete biography of Rondon available. It is available only in Portuguese. I thought of reading it as language exercise and may yet, but it costs $92 on Amazon. Not sure I want to pay that.
Rondon had a long and eventful life. He was born in the year Abe Lincoln was shot and lived long enough to hear that Sputnik had been launched into space. He was an explorer, scientist, anthropologist and soldier, but remarkable was his philosophy of non-violence. When dealing with indigenous people, his orders were to die if necessary but never to kill.
His expedition with Roosevelt was not unique for him. He was the greatest of tropical explorers. Roosevelt always gave Rondon credit as his co-leader, but back in the USA they kind of thought of him as a “native guide” to the great Roosevelt.
Rondon saved Roosevelt’s life a few times in the Amazon, but the expedition nearly killed Roosevelt anyway. (A great book re is “River of Doubt” by Candice Millard). His health never recovered and this may have influenced U.S. politics, since he did not have that unbounded energy to throw into elections in 1914 & 1916.
Besides his exploration and science writing, Rondon was a respected statesman. He was instrumental in keeping Brazil from falling under the influence of the Nazis and in getting Brazil on the USA side when the war came.
Rondon was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times, first time by Albert Einstein.
It was an interesting presentation. Glad I went. I rode my bike down to Washington and enjoyed a great spring day. I forget the simple joy of spring and then rediscover it with greater joy each year.
First four pictures are from springtime Washington. Pond cypress with spring catkins, magnolia and spruce, longleaf pine flowers at the National Botanical Gardens, followed by spring flowers in general. Last picture is from the presentation.

Background and video of the  presentation

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A new town

A whole new town sprung up where there were fields & parking lots not long ago. It is called “the Buro” and it is a mixed use development. Mixed use is good. For many years after WWII zoning rules discouraged or disallowed the mixing of residential, commercial or industrial. This sounded like a good idea, but it is not how people really like to live.

Espen told us about this place. I had been up there maybe a couple years ago when I dropped off my car for service at Honda dealer. I had no place to go, so I just walked around and walked up where Boro is now. I saw construction but didn’t pay much attention.

Whole Foods is one of the anchors. Being inexpensive is not one of the store’s traits, but it is very pleasant with high quality food.

But the thing that interested me (and Espen Matel, which is why he mentioned it) is that they have beer on tap a few places around the store. You get a card and then tap as much as you want.

I am surprised at the flowering of beer culture in the USA. Tapping a beer on a Sunday morning and then freely walking around a store with it while shopping is strange.

I recently finished a book called “Over the Rhine”. This is a history of a German section of Cincinnati, Ohio. Like Milwaukee, St Louis and thousands of other towns in middle America, there where big and dynamic German presence in the 19th Century. The native Americans – the Yankees – often did not like them. For one thing, they came in large numbers and kind of took over. For another, they drank a lot of beer.

There was a strong temperance movement among the native Americans at that time and the beer drinking ways of the Germans was just another reason to dislike them.

Prohibition was a progressive American nativist project. To a large extent, it was aimed at immigrants from Germany, Italy or Eastern Europe, with their love of wine and beer. Prohibition hit these communities hard. (For reference, there is another good book about these times called “Last Call.”) Proponents of prohibition wanted to eliminate the influence of beer and wine and if it took out the culture of the Germans and Italians, that was a side benefit.

But we have now had our vindication. Beer is now firmly ensconced in the American mainstream, even more firmly today than it was when I was young. I just like beer. I no longer drink beer to get drunk, I just like the idea of it and I am glad that I am in tune with the culture around me, at least in this case. We live in a golden age of beer. Savor it; all good things must end and it is the curse of men that they forget.

My first picture shows a pineapple slicer. Pealing a pineapple hard. Brazilian Portuguese even has this idiom – “descascar o abacaxi”, peel the pineapple, to describe a tricky and unpleasant task. This machine just does it. Next is the doughnut shop. They have wonderful crullers. After that is me taping into the beer and finally is the street scene outside.

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Tree Farm Leadership Conference in Baltimore

I think people should have business cards. I don’t know why people don’t or even if it was a general habit outside my peculiar circle, but I do know that my memory for names and numbers is not good enough to remember all the people I meet at receptions, let alone contact details.  But I am old school. Maybe there is a higher tech way to do that with mobile phones etc.  Relying on my less than perfect memory, these are notes of meetings and sessions.  They are not comprehensive, and I could not attend the sessions.

Opening plenary session

Tom Martin, President of AFF, opened.  We discussed new Tree Farm standards, which will roll out in 2020 and become effective in 2021.  I will talk a bit more about this is my discussion of standards.  There were three separate sessions talking about many of the same things.  I will aggregate them in my writeup.

We also had a long presentation on diversity and inclusion by a diversity professional called Mary-Frances Winters. I endured these things many times when I worked for State Department, as most of us have in other work contexts.  This was pretty much standard issue, with a few nods to forestry & land management. Ms. Winters wrote books on this subject and a new one – “Inclusive Conversations: Fostering Equity, Empathy, and Belonging across Differences” will be available in August.

It is true that forestry tends to be less diverse than the general American population, and forest landowners are an even less diverse subset.  One issue is that landowners tend to be significantly older than the general population and reflect the rural demographics of decades pasts.  Demographic change takes time, but it is pretty much inexorable: one funeral at a time.  There is a persistent concern that forest landowners are old. I am not sure this is a valid worry.  People acquire forest land through inheritance or purchase when they have enough money, and both these tend to come to people at older ages.  The old keep getting older and the young must do the same, but we should avoid the error of considering todays cohort as THE cohort.   Consider the analogy.  College sophomores always average 19-20 years old.  It is not because the current class stays the same, but rather that people come into this status at a point in their lives and then shuffle off into the next level, a rather more extreme change in the case of old forests landowners.

Welcome reception at Baltimore Visitor Center

This was very good opportunity to meet and mingle.  I talked to lots of people whose names I don’t recall (since they didn’t have cards ☹) it was all small talk anyway, usually about the food, which was good.  One woman admonished me to read the Bible.  She may have thought I was just brushing her off when I told her that I had done, in Greek no less, but that was the odd artifact of my unusual education.

I had a more substantive conversation with Elizabeth Vranas, Family Forest Carbon Manager (evranas@forestfoundation.org).  We talked about the new Tree Farm program to aggregate forests land for selling carbon.  I went to her presentation in the breakout session and Tom Martin talked about it in the last plenary session, so I will talk more about it later. Suffice to say here, that she seemed very competent and involved.  We talked a little about behavioral economics and “nudges.”  I think this a relevant topic, since it informs persuasion.  Also, in the conversation was C.A. “Buck” Vandersteen, from Louisiana Forestry Association.  He had a card, made from two-ply curly maple, which is why I can recall his name.  Annica McGuirk (amcguirk@forestfoundation.org) was also working the room.

Annica did a great job of facilitating contacts.  She mentioned that the guys preparing our Landscape Management Plan were at the party. She found them and introduced us.  I don’t recall the guys last names (no cards; we will meet them soon enough), but I recall their first names, easy to remember for historical reasons – Stephen and Austin.  Also in the group was Glen, a cardless man from Tennessee and Kaytlyn Brinkman, Regional Manager North Region (KBrinkman@forestfoundation.org). She will be helping with our LMP.  I emphasized that our LMP should include special attention to our southern pine forests and should not include references to GMOs, since GMO American chestnut trees will soon become widely available and will the most important tool available to restore American chestnuts to their place in Appalachian ecologies.  PEFC guidelines are currently expressing an anti-science bias against GMOs. We will need to find a work around until they abandon their benighted attitudes.  The man for Tennessee was adamant in his support of GMOs, especially chestnuts. More on that in the breakout session on standards.

ATFS Standards Revision Process

I have combined information from the breakout session with discussions at the plenaries at the start and end of the conference. Leigh Peters led the breakout session as well as the discussion session at the last plenary.  Tom Martin touched on them at the first, but not in detail.

 New standards will go into effect in 2021.  They are like the ones we have now.  Someone in the breakout session asked why we cannot keep the same standards for more than five years.  The answer was the PEFC requires that we update our rules to conform with theirs.

Tree Farmers had concerns about some of the changing standards, principally how PEFC handles pesticides, plantations and GMOs.  One of my big issues was GMOs, as I discussed above. Others in the session echoed those concerns.  PEFC is a European-based organization and there was an issue of European versus American sensibilities.  Europeans in general have more aversion to GMOs than do Americans.  Our big issue is transgenic American chestnuts, which will be largely available within the time of the next standards.

Other concerns were use of herbicides and pesticides, especially glyphosate.   It was unclear whether or not PEFC would interfere with the use, but Tree Farmers raised the concern.  The other issue was forest conversion, i.e. converting “natural” forests to plantations.  There was some confusion about what exactly natural meant.   This may not be as much a problem in Virginia, since much of the conversion, usually from hardwoods to pine, was done generations ago.  The rule does not apply to lands already in plantations.

More information on standards is included in this link https://www.treefarmsystem.org/standards-process-overview

Building a Tree Farm network

We do not take full advantage of our tree farm networks.  We have literally thousands of tree farmers and even more stakeholders.  We have influence as well as what we might call “hive intelligence.”  Whatever issue an individual among us faces, somebody else in the network has faced before or something very similar.   Connection to the network could be one of big benefits if we can figure out better ways to make it happen.

Peer networks cannot and should not take the place of professional advice, and we have to always caveat that it does not.  But it can be very useful form the general experiential point of view.  Beyond that, peer networks, people who have been in it themselves, have credibility.  Many Tree Farmers distrust experts and almost none of us like to pay money to professionals, or anybody else, if we can avoid it.  Peer networks are two-way streets.  Those giving advice also benefit from the contact. It is great to see what others are doing and learn from each other.  They can also share experience with conservation practices, cost shares and timber sales.

We can also benefit by connecting Tree Farmers to wider audiences.  The general public often does not understand what we do.  Tree Farmers are natural story tellers and people remember stories, especially personal stories, better than statistics, and they are passionate.

I think we have some of the network in Virginia through our landowner dinners, but networking is a time intensive process.

Carbon Credits

Market-based conservation solutions was about carbon markets.  I am a little chary of carbon programs. The time when small forest landowners could trade in carbon seemed to have come about twelve years ago, but then melted like the snows of last winter.  There were a couple of factors that derailed the carbon train.  One was the government incentivized carbon markets did not much develop in the USA.  The other was specific to small forests landowners.  The costs and trouble of participating in these markets was higher than small forest landowners could except to earn.  They could not afford the costs of measuring and monitoring, and they usually could not or would not want to tie up their land in long term contracts.

The cost of participation is now being addressed by new technology and well-known systems of intermediation, long understood and practiced by the financial industry.  A person with money to invest does not contract directly with the guy looking to borrow for a mortgage because he cannot handle the risk or tie up his money for decades.  Bankers aggregate the money and the risk, so that individual depositors can take their money out when they need it and one mortgage default doesn’t wipe them out.

AFF proposes to do something like this with the carbon market.  Many firms are willing to pay to offset the carbon inevitably produced by their activities.  They do this for reasons of public relations and sometimes regulations.  They are like the borrower taking out a mortgage.  Individual Tree Farmers are like the depositors.  AFF in partnership with Nature Conservancy (TNC) is developing a system that considers a mass of forest landowners.   Individual owners need not take on all the risk, nor pay the high start up costs necessary to sell carbon.   Some of this is made possible by new technology.  Samples can be taken by satellite mapping.

A big difference is that payments are made for practices, not inventory.  Inventory is checked by sample of the aggregate and the practice is assumed to ensure this.  The aggregation also allows individual landowners to reduce their commitment in time and scope, again analogous to bank depositors.

What would landowners need do?  A lot of this would be practices the Tree Farmers do already, such as enhancing future forests, protecting soils and avoiding high grading.  This could also be a benefit to us from stream management zones.  We already maintain them to protect water and soil resources, but they are generally just costs, not benefits.   Just doing what we do might make these places eligible for carbon credit.

Anyway, this was one of the most interesting and potentially useful programs.  If it works, it could open a whole new market for ecological services.  I am a little hesitant currently, since I recall the optimism of about a decade and half ago.  I had a forester come in and do an inventory of my property for the carbon market.  The inventory was good to establish basis for the timber, but nothing ever came of the carbon sales.

White oak initiative

We had an update on the white oak initiative.  I learned about this at the Tree Farm Conference last year in Louisville, and it made an impression on me.   Last week I planted 100 white oak (actually 50 white oak and 50 swamp white oak), but more usefully I identified acreage on my tree farms where I can expect natural white oak generation.   We did a prescribed burn last year and are nurturing white oak regen.

We must plan well ahead.  White oaks take 50-100 years to mature.  We currently have lots of white oak, but the age structure is wrong. There are lots of middle-aged oaks and some a fair amount of old growth, but not enough young ones.  If we project forward a few decades the middle-aged oaks will be harvested or die and there will be a shortage of harvestable white oak.  White oak is wonderful timber for lots of reasons, but it is essential in one specific industry – bourbon.  All bourbon must be aged in new white oak barrels.  No white oak = no bourbon, at least the way we know it now.   I don’t figure on being still alive and drinking bourbon by the time we run out of white oak, but I want to do my part for future generations.

I also attended a dinner for the Seedling Society where I talked to Mellissa Moeller (mmoeller@forestfoundation.org), acting director of the White Oak Initiative.  We talked a little about the oaks, as above.

General idea

The conference was a good networking opportunity.  I got a lot out of that, especially the informal reception.  It was good to see and be seen.  Relationships matter.  I was glad to have the opportunity to weigh in on the new standards.  I hope that it made a difference.  The carbon price was potentially very useful.   I was impressed by the plan.  It makes sense that it can work. I hope it does.

The non-tangible benefits of attending conferences like this are important.  One of the most salient for me is that I get to meet other people passionate about forestry and the environment.  It is good to be reminded that we are part of a bigger whole, a nationwide, a worldwide team.   Everybody I met and talked to shared a vision of a sustainable environment.  In fact, we all want to go beyond that to regenerate, leaving our land not only as good as we found it, but better.

 

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Life’s twists

I questioned my memory. After all, it happened so long ago and seemed incongruous. Today, however, at the Tree Farm meeting I was talking to a woman from Wisconsin who asked me if I had a degree in forestry. I told her that I did not, that I had started off in forestry, but never finished because the authorities at the university told us that our chances of getting good jobs in the field were slim.

I referenced I meeting I recalled where the authorities at UWSP told us aspiring foresters that we should consider other majors. I told her that I recalled that they said that we were too white and too male and that our chances for employment were low, given hiring goals (quotas were still legal back then) that discriminated against people like us. They wanted to lower our numbers.

She remembered this and said that her husband also got that talk. He was couple years ahead of me and had a bigger sunk cost. He decided to stay in forestry and after being lucky enough to get a couple part time jobs that nobody else wanted, he did manage to find steady work in the field in Wisconsin. His wife, the one I was talking to, told me that she had an easier time because of her gender.

What I remembered was the advice. They told us that if we wanted to work in forestry, the only chance we would have would be either to buy our own forest or move to the South, where there were more jobs. Ironically, I kind of did both things.

I have no right to complain. Life worked out well for me. I got the best of all worlds. I am my own boss in forestry and I enjoyed a great career in diplomacy, a job I had no idea even existed back in 1974. It is a good example of what seemed a roadblock turned out to be a better bridge to the future.

At the time, however, it seemed a big issue. I considered being a HS history teacher and coaching swim on the side. My subsequent goal was to be a college professor, but I was behind the curve on that too. I was a middle baby boomer. The early boomers got there first. They got their PhDs during the Vietnam period and filled most of the jobs. Timing is important and a few years makes a big difference.

On the other hand, I was lucky with the FS. I took the test just before a hiring boom in the middle of the Reagan time. Well, boom is relative, since they hire only a few hundred FSOs every year, but hiring a few more opened it up. You don’t need to be so smart if you are lucky.
My pictures are from our Tree Farm meeting in Baltimore and the walk from the train station. I prefer the train to driving. I got into Penn Station and did the easy walk to the Inner Harbor along Saint Paul. Baltimore is a very nice city, but some areas are risky for crime. Mariza told me that this route was safe and she was right. It was a pleasant walk. I was lucky that the rain stopped in time for my transit.

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We need GMOs

Too much about the Tree Farm Conference to write about, so I will hit only a few highlights.
GMOs
Standards of sustainability may not permit the use of GMOs.  Our standards conform to European-based standards of PEFC.  Europeans often have an anti-science bias when it comes to GMOs.  We should not let that prevail.

We NEED GMOs, especially GMO chestnut trees. I resolved that I would bring this up in the standards discussion, but feared I would be a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

To my surprise and delight, many people in the room were in favor of GMOs in the forest. Most of us clearly know the need for GMOs and the need to fight the science-deniers. I hope this will be included in the new standards. If not, I will no longer be a certified tree farmer, since I will plant GMO chestnuts on my land as soon as I can get hold of them. If the standards tell me I cannot, I will disregard the standards. We have a higher duty to the environment. I hope it does not come to that, and I will do my best to make sure it does not.
Let me make this clear. I hate the science-denying anti-GMO idiots. Can I make this any clearer. I consider this an issue of values. I love our American forests and consider those anti-GMO folks a threat to this value. There are few things that I see as black and white. This is one.
Nothing else was so dramatic. We talked about the white oak initiative. This has affected me already. I planted 100 white oaks last week and will manage for thousands more. The coordinator of the initiative asked me about it. What was my economic plan, she asked. I have no economic plan. The oaks will take 50-60 years to mature. I do not think I will live to be 120 years old. I plant white oak because I want to plant white oaks. I will never benefit economically, but I love what it does spiritually. Man does not live by bead alone.
If we do not manage for oak today, oak forests will simply not endure and I love oak forests.
The same reason I support GMO chestnuts is why I plant white oaks.
My first two pictures are from Baltimore. Last is age groups for oaks. We have a lot of mature oaks, but not the next generation.
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Longleaf resilience and Espen on the ATV

Checking out my recently burned longleaf, I discovered that they are already starting to grow of the season, very early. The remarkable thing is that even “completely burned” branches are coming back, as you can see in the picture. My last picture is one of the shortleaf seedlings. They sometimes have a characteristic kink

I finished planting the shortleaf today. I am putting them in to some blank spaces in the 2012 longleaf for diversity sake. The snow melted away and so I could get at the ground.

Espen came to help, but I mostly “assigned” him to ride the new ATV. I wanted him to have some fun on the farms and not think of it just as work.

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