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“Slow the Spread” Efforts Ongoing in Vermont Despite End to Federal Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine

On January 14th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ended the Federal Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to place more emphasis on management and biological controls to combat the pest. In Vermont, while we continue to find new areas of infestation, our forests support overwhelmingly healthy populations of ash to protect as long as possible. Bearing that in mind, we urge Vermonters to continue to follow the “Slow the Spread” recommendations, which can be found on VTinvasives.orgInformation regarding the Federal deregulation of EAB

  • Compliance Agreements to Move Ash Wood: Compliance agreements will no longer be needed to move ash wood unless the receiving state quarantine requires them. As of now, in our area, Maine is the only state that has a state EAB quarantine. A compliance agreement is required to move any regulated ash material from any out-of-state location into non-quarantined portions of the State of Maine. These agreements will be handled by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM). Learn more about Maine’s quarantine. If you need an agreement or have questions, contact Judy Rosovsky at 802-279-2212.
  • Firewood Kiln Certification: Kiln certifications will continue to be handled by the VAAFM. Certification is required every two years. If you need a kiln certification or have questions, contact Judy Rosovsky at 802-279-2212.
  • Ash Wood Exports: The removal of the Federal EAB quarantine in the United States will only impact domestic activities. USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine will continue to issue Phytosanitary Certificates for plants and plant products to meet an importing country’s phytosanitary requirements. Contact the Vermont Export Certification Specialist (ECS) or ECS from the state of export for more information. 

ResourcesWe have updated the following Vermont EAB resources on VTinvasives.org to reflect the federal deregulation of EAB:

The federal deregulation of EAB does not influence state regulations. Transporting wood visibly infested with EAB and importing untreated firewood from outside Vermont is not allowed. Following “Slow the Spread” recommendations is required if wood is visibly infested. Slowing the spread of EAB in Vermont will mean many more years of enjoying ash trees for their beauty, ecological, and commercial attributes. We thank you for your ongoing commitment to this effort.

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The American Ash Tree: What’s Next??? (Or, Can a Few Vermonters Save the World?)

by Alan Robertson

Introduction: This article started out as an attempt to provide information to affected Hemlock stand owners who were losing their trees to the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your tree stand, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was detected in Vermont, and, now, is firmly hunkered down in at least three geographical locations in the state. More unfortunately, that means that EAB will have more opportunities to quickly spread throughout the state. And the Hemlock, realistically, isn’t going away anytime soon in Vermont because HWA is susceptible to cold temperatures and has experienced some severe winter mortality annually in the southern part of the state, so not a “doomsday” situation yet …

With this in mind, we’ve reoriented the article to ash trees to help Vermont forest landowners with some decisions they didn’t even know they’d have or could be involved in.

First, is this the end of the ash tree species as we know it? The short answer is yes; over the next few years the EAB will continue to spread and probably won’t stop until it reaches the northern limits of civilization in Canada. EAB has already found its way south past North Carolina where the damage is compounded due to the recent loss of all their Hemlock. But the bottom line is that most ash in the US, like the American elm, and in the far past, the American chestnut, will die. But is there hope for the future that this tree could again be found throughout the United States? Yes, someday, and that is what this article is all about.

The US has seen several tree species severely compromised over the past century; the list includes, here in the east, the butternut, the American chestnut, the American elm, American beech, and some species native to the deep south. All are being lost due to invasive insects and diseases. The nature of the attacks on these trees is a critical element in their loss. All trees have the ability to adapt to changing conditions through naturally occurring genetic changes (mutations) or genetic variations occurring naturally within the species. And when change comes slowly, like over thousands of years, most trees eventually adapt. But when that change comes quickly, like when a Chinese pallet infested with beetles, or a batch of foreign-grown flowers infested with insects or fungus lands at a dock in the US, the quick introduction of the pest cannot be tolerated by the local plants, and they succumb.

But how can we address this too-rapid change model? By instituting our own methods of helping endangered tree species quickly change and adapt to the invasive threat, or using similar methods to make the life of the invasive insect or fungus as miserable as possible. And just as important, how much effort do we need to spend in the salvation of these tree species, and is it worth the effort to do this?

The answer to this last question is critical to justifying both the immediate effort and the vast time frame and resources we are looking at to restore a tree species which, first, will basically disappear. Just how valuable are the ash, elm, chestnut, and beech? Let us count the ways:

  • Ecologically, all tree species have a niche in the forest. While biologists know a lot about trees, the incredible detail and minutia associated with each tree are still not entirely known or understood; we don’t know what we don’t know, and that makes the loss very scary.
  • Economically, these trees (well, most of them) were incredibly valuable, could be made into a broad variety of valuable products, and were worth a lot of money; so, considerable economic loss …
  • Aesthetically, these trees represent some of the most beautiful trees on the planet. All of them can get REALLY large, tall, and broad. So great were these trees that most, especially the Elm, were planted on virtually every street in the country east of the Mississippi. And finding comparable replacements is getting a lot harder …
  • Culturally, these trees had found their way into the very soul of American society, and references may be found in stories, novels, poems, and histories.

So, the case has hopefully been made for expending the effort it will take to return these trees to our landscape. And it should be noted that the science behind all of the ways to bring these trees back is rapidly becoming less expensive as we learn more about tree genetics. We’re talking about a few million dollars, not billions …

So, how do we bring these trees back? There are several strategies for doing this, but first, how do we bring them back if they are all gone?

Again, this is the crux of this article.

Generally, when looking at making the tree species less susceptible to the threat we are talking about an enhancement of genetic resistance, so that a more impervious tree will pass that resistance to future generations. Improved or enhanced genetic resistance may be done through selectively breeding for resistance, hybrid breeding, or resistance introduced through biotechnological means.

Quickly summarizing the science, selective breeding means finding some individual tree or trees which seem to have a better resistance to the threat than the rest. Efforts are then made through additional tree breeding generations to emphasize that trait. With American beech we have found a number of American beech that are resistant to the beech scale, the insect that initiates the beech bark disease, and was brought to the western hemisphere on infected European beech many decades ago. So, eventually (hundreds of years) the American beech may breed itself back to health. Elms with enhanced resistance are also beginning to be available. Hybrid breeding means crossing the tree under threat with a close relative that is resistant to the disease or bug. The hybridization is accomplished over a few generations of crossing to bring out the resistance trait in the hybrid, and eventually end up with a resistant tree of the original species. The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is doing this right now with a back-cross breeding program involving the American chestnut and the Chinese chestnut with considerable success. Resistance introduced through biotechnological means includes a variety of new genetic technologies, including “CRISPR”, which has been highlighted in articles in Time, National Geographic, and Smithsonian magazine. Biotechnological means include transgenic methods (gene or genetic material that has been transferred by any of a number of genetic engineering techniques from one organism to another that could not otherwise be conventionally bred. The introduction of a transgene [called “transgenesis”] has the potential to change the phenotype of an organism.) and cisgenic methods (gene or genetic material that has been transferred by any of a number of genetic engineering techniques between organisms that could otherwise be conventionally bred. Unlike in transgenesis, genes are only transferred between closely related organisms.). TACF is also using transgenic methods in bringing back the chestnut- a wheat gene has been introduced into the American chestnut to counteract the acids the chestnut blight fungus produces when it attacks the chestnut.

Getting back the question of how to salvage the trees if they are all gone is where we come into the picture. There is a need to keep a reservoir of native tree germplasm far into the future for use in propagating resistant trees. Like people, every tree has a slightly different gene makeup, and trees of the same species in different regions have slightly different genetic makeups too. So trying to grow a southern chestnut in New York probably won’t work as well as working with New York chestnuts in New York. Vermont ash trees are slightly different than those in Michigan. If we are ever to bring ash back we should be working with trees from, and adapted to Vermont.

And, finally, the more genetic variation in the population of trees we try to bring back the better the chances that those variations will help trees of that species survive; we don’t need in-bred trees for doing this work.

The answer to our question then, is we need to maintain a healthy number of ash trees scattered around Vermont (actually throughout its entire range) during the loss of the rest from the EAB. We do this through treating a few trees with chemicals that will give them protection from the Emerald Ash Borer. The second half of this article will explain the process for saving a few trees.

Saving Some Trees
In the first half of this article, we explained why saving a few trees is critical to any future effort to resurrect the species, specifically ash. But there are a lot of factors and decisions in this process to insure the right tree is treated the right way with the right chemicals at the right time by the right people.

Before we get into the decision process we need to be clear on some related issues. First, we are not advocating some major effort to save even a small percentage of the ash in Vermont. The cost would be ridiculously high, the effort would not be practical, and the amount of chemicals would be catastrophic to the environment. This is a very small strategic effort using a lot of science. Second, none of this would have been necessary had our country invested in stringent importation controls and given APHIS the tools needed to stop the problems from entering the country. You need to know that politics have been a major influence on the phytosanitary standards enacted by the government and APHIS has been hamstrung at several levels in their attempts to control the import of wood products and plant material. It is still a problem despite the clear destruction invasives have wrought in the US. Finally, we are talking about using chemicals and we have mentioned that some of the salvation techniques involve GMO’s. These are controversial things to say in Vermont. The efforts we are discussing do try to minimize both the use and methods of chemical application, and the GMO’s TACF has developed for the American chestnut still have to undergo some incredibly stringent federal review by at least three agencies ( USDA, EPA, and the FDA), taking years before they might be allowed out in the real world. The ash, if those techniques are used, would face the same or probably more scrutiny. Keep in mind that the trees under threat face certain extinction, and that it’s too late to expect nature to step in and save the species …

Here is what you need to know if you think you might have some candidate trees:

  • We are talking about ash trees commonly found in Vermont: White ash, Green ash, and Black (or Brown) ash. You need to know what the trees look like and which is which. You also need to know that there are male and female trees for all three and Black ash also exhibit both male and female traits on the same tree. Seek some reference works or advice from a forester if you’re not sure what you have. In the deep forest you will need binoculars and good timing to tell the sex of the trees.
  • The tree should be very healthy. Damaged trees (lightning damage, significant broken- off branches, wounds, missing bark, woodpecker damage, water sprouts at the base of the tree, thin volume of leaves or branches without many leaves) should not be chosen. The EAB is actually attracted to damaged trees because the insect uses chemical signals given off by the tree as well as visual (silhouette) and color cues to find the tree.
  • The tree should be structurally balanced, sound, and for trees in the woods, impressively straight and clear. Size diameters (DBH) should range 2” and up.

If the tree meets all of these standards it should also meet these criteria:

  • It should be located on a good site – reasonably flat, good soils, not wet or swampy
  • The tree, if not in the forest, should have value because of its landscape or aesthetic value
  • The tree property should be at least 5 (preferably ten) miles away from the nearest EAB outbreak. While the insect only moves 2 miles a year the outbreaks in and around Vermont bring home our ignorance of exactly where the insect may be. Treating an infested tree can be a waste of money and effort; past a certain level of infection the tree may not recover if treated. Given the investment in time and energy to preserve the tree consider only very healthy trees- it is better to start treatment before the bug is detected than to wait until the bug is too close. See photos for levels of infestation

If you still have candidate trees after meeting the above standards, please consider how many trees you might be willing to spend money on. The aspects of this include how many and what size trees you have, the cost per tree, how many trees you might be considering for treatment, and how long would you expect to have to do this.

The first task is to complete an inventory of what ash you have. You would not need to capture every tree but for the decision process you do need to know the location, size, type of ash, and condition.

Cost is another issue. While it is possible to treat your own trees, primarily the very small ones, don’t do it yourself! We highly recommend you seek a professional – an arborist – to treat large specimens or if you have a number of trees you are thinking of treating. The cost numbers we have here are from a North Carolina institution that hired an expert to treat 15 trees (trunk injection- the most expensive and reliable method) for a biennial (every two years!) cost of $1600. The sum of the DBH of the trees was 225 inches making the cost roughly $3.50 per inch of tree per year. Doing lesser numbers of trees will cost significantly more per tree especially if an arborist has to travel a distance, and if the tree is at a remote site. VWA is currently canvassing arborists in Vermont to see who will offer ash treatment services.

What are the treatment options?
There is only one method in Vermont that is better than the rest and is recommended because it limits the chemicals used, doesn’t involve neonicotinoids (possibly harming honey bees) and acts more directly on the tree and, eventually, the insect:

Trunk Injections: Probably the most reliable method and the only method to be used on larger trees (over 8” DBH). First, the tree is literally tapped just like a sugar maple, but much lower, no higher than18” from the ground; the drill bit being about 3/8”, the depth extending 5/8” to 2” into the sapwood. The number of injection sites (tap holes) depends on the tree diameter and averages every 4-8” of tree circumference. The equipment includes injection port plugs (see photo) which are left in the tree, the injection equipment and tubing, and the reservoir of diluted chemical. Dosage (amount of diluted insecticide) and the number of ports depend on the tree size and the insect – EAB warrants higher dosages than many insects. The treatment lasts two years. Care should be taken to use sterile equipment to limit any tree infections from the treatment. Chemicals used include Emamectin benzoate (TREE-age), and Azadirachtin (Azasol and TreeAzin). The work should be done in mid to late spring after the trees have leafed out in weather conditions similar to the other treatment methods to insure maximum tree uptake. Because of the technical difficulty, the cost of the equipment, the strength of the insecticides, and the need for experience in doing the work, only experts should attempt the work, specifically a trained arborist. The VWA will have a listing on its website listing ISA certified arborists in Vermont providing these treatment options.

(NOTE: Experts do recognize soil drenches and injections around the tree trunk as an effective protective procedure, primarily around smaller trees, but the chemicals these treatments use are exclusively neonicotinoids which are linked to honey bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and are not recommended in the state of Vermont; in any case only an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified expert arborist should be using these methods)

Lastly, how many years will the treatments be necessary? No one knows, but at a minimum of 15 years. Like the Elm, once all the other trees are dead the insect will largely disappear and lighter treatments may be possible. By that time there should be further research into developing a resistant tree or finding biotechnological ways to control or eliminate the insect. In any case without some saved healthy ash trees restoring the species will be much more difficult.

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More on the Capitol Christmas Tree

WCAX: Capitol Christmas Tree set up in Montpelier

YouTube: Cadwallader Tree Farm and cutting the Capitol Christmas tree

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Tree Farmer Profile – Stonehenge in Vermont: Jock Irons

Active VWA members and Tree Farmers come in all shapes and sizes, just like their woods. For this issue, we peek in on VWA member and Tree Farmer Jock Irons.

Jock was born and raised in Bennington, where he stayed until he finished college. Then he moved to Alaska, where he stayed until moving back to Vermont in 2014. Jock now lives on the 41-acre property in Woodford with his mom, who is 93. The property originally belonged to friends of Jock’s father’s parents. The friends had no children of their own so they willed the property to whichever Irons boy (of Jock’s father or uncles) stayed in Bennington; Jock’s father, John, was the one who stayed and inherited the original 20 acres. At the same time, the Scott family had just completed a clearcut of their holdings in Woodford and Glastenbury, and they were making plans to transfer the land to the Forest Service to become part of the National Forest System. Before the sale was completed, the Forest Service contacted owners of adjoining lands to tell them to get their boundaries straight before everything was finalized. Jock’s father was also able to purchase an additional 20 acres, which, Jock noted, did not straighten the boundaries (“they’re worse than they were!”) but allowed John to acquire some additional acreage.

Stonehenge in bloom.

Jock discussed the house, nicknamed Stonehenge, and told about how it came into being. When he was still in Alaska, he was snowshoeing with his father, and Jock told John he wanted to build his retirement home on the family property. He described the house as “homegrown”: all of the 2x4s and 2x6s were rough-cut, milled, and dried on the land from spruce on the property. All of the kitchen cabinets are black cherry from the property. All of the stones on the exterior were collected by John for over 40 years, and the siding above the stone is board-and-batten spruce. John and Jock did the framing, and then Jock’s brother, a carpenter, joined the work party to help finish the house.

John had enrolled the property in the Tree Farm program in 1987, but his certification lapsed. Jock was contacted around 2015 or 2016 and asked if he still wanted the property in Tree Farm. Kyle Mason, then Forester for Bennington County (who has since moved to Rutland County) “roped” Jock into participating in the Tree Farm Committee and writing an article about his property for the Tree Farm newsletter.

“I became active in Tree Farm, and by my membership in Tree Farm, I learned about VWA and joined VWA after I joined Tree Farm, which is, apparently, the direction it goes most of the time. Very few VWA members subsequently join Tree Farm.”

The property is enrolled in Vermont’s Current Use program. The original management plan was done by a forester with Jock’s dad in 2012, and John’s original primary goal was harvesting saw timber with a secondary goal of managing wildlife. Since Jock has taken ownership, he has reversed those goals: he is managing for wildlife with timber harvest as a secondary goal.

“I have found, from all the years cutting firewood and tending the forest with my dad, I have developed a great appreciation for beautiful trees that will make beautiful sawlogs. And, so, I manage that way: I manage for straight trees with few limbs and a good species for sale to a mill. However, I don’t intend to actually cut them and make them into sawlogs; they’re sort of an aesthetic in themselves to me.”

Jock has seven stands on the property, four of which are enrolled in UVA. Two of those stands – one in UVA and one not in UVA – have plantation Norway Spruce that were planted during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Jock’s father pruned them with a handsaw up 35 feet.

Cabin built by John and Jock from spruce thinned from the spruce grove.

Both the stand of Norway Spruce in UVA as well as the adjacent stand of mixed conifer/northern hardwood are overstocked and require thinning because they are nearly inaccessible to a skidder. Jock talked with a couple of loggers, including a horse logger, but none were interested in the project, leaving Jock to tackle the thinning this winter. Jock’s forester has done the marking, so Jock plans to drop the trees and then leave them to rot. He talked about girdling some of the trees and leaving them standing as wildlife trees while felling the others and leaving them to rot on the forest floor, which is better for the forest.

Crop tree release.

Jock’s timber stand improvement (TSI) activities also include a technique called crop tree release, in which the forest landowner identifies the crop tree species of choice and then the individual trees of the tree species that are to be prioritized. Then the forest landowner looks at each individual tree’s canopy and removes neighboring trees that are competing with the priority trees for light. Crop tree release improves the forest by weeding out the less desirable specimens.

Another management activity that is taking Jock’s time is working on invasives. He has identified 17 species of invasives on the property, and Jock says he has most of them under control. A neighbor pointed out buckthorn, which, Jock said, “was the first I knew about invasives.” Jock’s father didn’t know about invasives at all and never talked about it.

Jock is a peer landowner with the Woods, Wildlife, and Warblers program and has visited with three other landowners to talk about their properties. In addition, Jock invited Steve Hagenbuch from Vermont Audubon to his property to do a bird habitat assessment on Jock’s land. Jock said his understory is a little bit lacking, but most of the assessment is predicated on a harvest.

“If you want to manage for wildlife, you’ve got to cut trees. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. And I want to have as much diversity on my land as possible.”

Jock said the issue that is most important to him is invasive control – he said most forest landowners probably do not know they have an invasive problem, and they probably do. He flags a place where he finds invasives so that he can go back each year to check for new plants or a small piece of root that he left in the ground. The three that are not under control are buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, and garlic mustard. He has pulled out plants, treated the areas, and now holds constant watch to catch new seedlings. He has burned garlic mustard plants and cut down buckthorn stems, but he knows they are tenacious.

“Because so much of the Vermont forest is privately owned, that’s the only way that we’re going to get a handle on them. We’ll never eradicate them, but we can at least get a handle on it and slow things down a bit.”

Jock hosted a virtual tour of his forest back in October [insert link]. Inadvertently he had been prepping for it for years, taking walks and accumulating photos of different aspects of his property. He said he had been on a Zoom call with the VWA Board of Directors and Tree Farm Committee members, and people were bemoaning the fact that they could not do walks in the woods. Jock offered up a virtual walk, not really knowing what he was offering and others not knowing what they would be attending, but the group decided to give it a go. He shared a PowerPoint of photos and talked about the history of the property. People were interested in his work on invasives and vernal pools.

When asked about his time as a member of VWA, Jock noted a lot of overlap among Tree Farm, VWA, and VT Coverts. He said there is a good variety of events each year, and he has enjoyed participating in the past and looks forward to being able to participate in the future.

“Every forest in Vermont is different. Even a forest that’s only a mile from here is going to be different. I learn more every time I walk a new property.”

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Woods Whys with Commissioner Mike Snyder 12/4/2020

When you find a great book, do you wish you could chat with the author? Now you can. Every first Thursday of the month* at 7:30 pm, Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder will join us for a reading and discussion of one or more of the collected essays in Woods Whys. Whatever your level of experience, from novice to seasoned professional, you’ll find Michael to be not only an exceptionally knowledgeable forester but also an engaging storyteller. Each essay aims to teach people more about trees, forests, and forest management — and, by doing so, to help them become more connected to the woods around them. Bring your own questions for an interactive reading celebrating the magic of forests. Make this your once-a-month virtual evening entertainment for the whole family. Click here to view a recording of the Zoom conference held Thursday December 3.

*Occasional scheduling changes may be required.

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EAB Detections

There have been new detections of EAB in VT that have expanded the infested areas within Bennington, Caledonia, Lamoille, and Washington Counties. These new detections were discovered through seasonal monitoring for the presence of EAB using purple traps and trap trees. Because the EAB flight season has ended, we have concluded our surveying efforts for this year. We are thankful to all the volunteer Forest Pest First Detectors that assisted in these efforts. In total, 114 purple traps and 37 trap trees were surveyed with the help of 44 volunteer Detectors.   The  mapped area in Vermont to which Slow-the-Spread recommendations apply now extends to include the towns listed below in the following Confirmed Infested Area and High Risk Area.

  • New Towns in the Confirmed Infested Area: Bennington, Peacham, Cabot, and Woodbury
  • New Towns in the High Risk Area: Danville, Hardwick, Elmore, and Walden 

Confirmed Infested Areas are within 5 miles of a known infestation. While symptoms may not be obvious, EAB is likely to be present in much of this area. High Risk Areas extend 5 miles from the outer edge of a Confirmed Infested Area. EAB is likely expanding into and present in some of this area.
Forest landowners, homeowners, foresters, logging contractors, municipalities, and utilities in the infested area should evaluate the options available to them to protect ash trees and immediately implement Vermont’s  Slow the Spread recommendations.
If you have questions about managing ash in your woodlot or around your home, or need Use Value Appraisal guidance, check out the resources available at VTinvasives.org.

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10 Recommendations to help you manage Ash in your woods in the face of EAB and Climate Change

Ash is an important part of the forests in the Northeast. If you are lucky to have ash trees in your woods, they bring unique assets. Sadly, ash species are facing attack by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive wood-boring insect that feeds on ash trees. EAB has been present in the U.S. since 2002, but in the last few years it has spread to the Northeast, posing a grave threat to the survival of our ash. All three ash species in the Northeast — white, black, and green ash — are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of the threat from EAB. Added to this, we are also facing impacts from climate change. But with thoughtful management we can give ash a fighting chance. Often when there is a threat to the forest, the first reaction is to act quickly, but if we learn from past forest outbreaks (like the spread of chestnut blight in the early 1900s) it pays to be careful about what we do so that we don’t lose ash completely. If your woodlot contains ash trees, you will have to weigh the important benefits of ash along with the threats of both EAB and climate change.
For Landowners: 10 Recommendations to Help You Manage Ash in Your Woods

For Foresters: Ten Recommendations for Managing Ash (with citations)

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How the 2020 Election will affect Climate Policy and America’s Family-Owned Forests

The 2020 Presidential election was one of the most unique in our history for a number of reasons. Now that the election is over, it is time to start considering the implications of a Biden Presidency on key issues, and for the American Forest Foundation, one of the most important issues to consider is climate change.

President-Elect Biden has made it clear that climate change will be one of his most significant policy priorities and is already providing some indication of how that is likely to manifest.

READ MORE

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Entering the Vermont Tree Farm Program

Simply put, entering the Tree Farm program requires a minimum acreage (10 acres of forest generally not including a house site of 2 acres), a forest management plan that meets the ATFS standards, and an ATFS active forester who may sign off on the quality of the plan and physical compliance in the forest with the plan. While Vermont has an abundance of trained ATFS foresters, the plan writer need not be the ATFS forester, only that the plan be signed off by an ATFS forester. Many of the FPR county foresters are ATFS foresters and may, time permitting, be the signatory person on the ATFS verification paperwork — commonly called the “004 Form” — if the plan meets the ATFS standards.

There is another category available to a landowner with the minimum acreage to enter the program: it’s called the Pioneer Program. This category is used in two different manners: first, to bring a new landowner into the program, and second, to “hold” previously certified Tree Farms until they are eligible for full certification again.

For forest landowners coming into the program who:

  • Don’t have a management plan, or
  • Have a plan that doesn’t meet the ATFS standard, or
  • Have a plan that has not been reviewed and signed off on by a ATFS trained forester,

and, in all of the above cases, plan to bring the plan into full compliance, the Pioneer program is a great option! A Tree Farmer can be held as a Pioneer until the management plan earns the signature of an ATFS forester, assuming it is within 5 years of the initial effort to enter the Pioneer program as signed off on by an ATFS forester on the “Pioneer” ATFS Form 004.

For those Tree Farmers who had been fully certified in the past but now have:

  • Plans that have fallen out of compliance with, or been updated to the latest ATFS standards, or
  • Executed management activities in their forest that do not follow the certified management plan approved for their Tree Farm and have not been approved by an ATFS forester, or
  • Not had an ATFS Form 004 form executed on their Tree Farm in two cycles of the maximum time between Form 004s (10 years),

and, in all the above cases, can rectify the deficiency within 5 years, the Pioneer program is also a great option! A Pioneer may be returned to fully certified status if the deficient reason is rectified within 5 years of being “held” in the Pioneer status. However, properties “held” in the Pioneer status that have not corrected the reason for placement in that status after 5 years are subject to removal from the program altogether.

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Capitol Christmas Tree set up in Montpelier

The Capitol Christmas Tree this year comes from a property in Wallingford.

Len Cadwallader co-owns the Brookvale property with his wife, Mary Ann Cadwallader. The tree farm has been in the family since Len Cadwallader’s grandparents purchased it in the 1930s.

Read the full article here.

Did you miss the tree coming into the capital? Watch it here!