Got Nature? Blog

Purdue Rainscaping IdentityThe Purdue Rainscaping Education Program’s goal is to increase rainscaping in residential and small-scale public spaces. These workshops will teach master gardeners, landscape professionals, and agency staff how to promote community awareness and education for bioretention/rain garden planning, installation, and maintenance. This program provides the resources needed to share beautiful landscaping and management practices which aids in absorbing and redirecting stormwater.

Rainscaping Workshops:
Date and Time: May 15-16, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (EST)
Location: Purdue Extension-Johnson County Office, 484 N. Morton St., Franklin, IN, 46131
Contact The Education Store at (765) 494-6794 or edustore@purdue.edu to register

Date and Time: May 21-22, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EST)
Day 1 Location: Purdue Extension-Steuben County Office, 317 S. Wayne St., Suite 1A. Angola, IN, 46703
Day 2 Location: Pokagon State Park- Trine State, Recreation Area, 145 West Feather Valley Road, Fremont, IN, 46737
Register Here

Date and Time: June 19-20, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (CST)
Location: Lake County Government Center, Purdue Extension-Lake County Office, 2291 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN, 46307
Register Here

Resources:
Purdue Rainscaping Education Program
Rainscaping Education, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Rainscaping Education – Program Impacts, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Rainscaping Podcast: Managing Water Around Our Homes, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
How ‘rainscaping’ benefits water quality, WLFI TV-video

Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


dock on a pondLandowners with goals involving management of ponds for fishing, or managing wildlife for conservation and hunting, are invited to an upcoming educational event hosted by Purdue Extension in northeast Indiana. Topics will include managing ponds, fish habitat, fish stocking, managing harvest, managing field edges for wildlife, forest management for deer and turkey and cover crops as wildlife food plots. Speakers are: Dr. Mitchell Zischke, Purdue FNR clinical assistant professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences and Jarred Brooke, Purdue Extension FNR wildlife specialist.

Location: Northeast Purdue Agricultural Center, 4821 E 400 S, Columbia City, IN 46725

Date and Time: May 31st from 6:30PM to 9PM

Registration: Call John Woodmansee, extension educator – Whitley county, at 260-244-7615 to register by May 29th.

For details and directions, view the Pond and Wildlife Management Twilight Meeting Flyer.

Resources:
Wildlife and Flooding, Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Preventing Wildlife Damage – Do You Need a Permit? The Education Store
The Basics of Managing Wildlife on Agricultural Lands​, The Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Mitchell Zischke, Clinical Assistant Professor
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


Posted on April 30th, 2018 in Forestry, Safety, Urban Forestry, Woodlands | No Comments »

Person raking the firebreak where fire did creep away from the burn area.

This annual membership meeting is designed to bring together individuals, organizations, land managers, private landowners, contractors, and agencies that have an interest in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of prescribed fires in Indiana. The purpose of the annual meeting is to develop synergy within the prescribed fire community.

Location: IN-DNR Fire Headquarters, 6220 Forest Road, Martinsville, IN 46151

Date and Time: May 30th, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM EST

Free Registration: Indiana Prescribed Fire Council Annual Meeting Registration link

Resources:
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue-FNR Extension
Indiana DNR Prescribed Fire Factsheet (pdf), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Indiana DNR State Parks Prescribed Fire, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Indiana Woodland Steward Fire and Woodlands, Indiana Woodland Steward

Chad Bladow, Indiana Fire Program
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Two important holidays that celebration our connection to nature fall in April. The first, Earth Day, falls on April 21st and marks the 48th anniversary of the day when millions of people initiated a peaceful protest to voice their views of the negative impacts of industrial development. Worldwide air pollution had led to birth defects in children and overuse of pesticides and other pollutants was causing catastrophic declines in biodiversity.earth day

The movement was quickly supported by Congress and President Nixon worked to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) along with many other environmentally friendly initiatives. Now a global holiday, billions of people across 192 countries take part in Earth Day showing their love of the planet by planting trees and flowers, contacting their congressperson and pledging to uphold more Eco-friendly practices.

On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton, a journalist and later editor of a Nebraska newspaper was a great supporter of the environment with a healthy love of trees in arbor day foundationparticular. In a meeting with the state board of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton, proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” for April 10, 1872. Estimates state that greater than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the inaugural date. The success of the effort led the Nebraska governor (Robert W. Furnas) to make an official proclamation of the holiday on March 12, 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday and April 22 (J. Sterling Morton’s birthday) was deemed the permanent observance date. The success of the holiday spread nationwide as other states began holding their own Arbor Day celebrations and is now a well-celebrated holiday.

References:
Earth Day, PDF
‘Twas the Day Before Arbor Day, Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on April 3rd, 2018 in Forestry, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

A new study published in Diversity and Distributions noted old-growth forests, with their diverse tree sizes and species may provide refuge for bird species in population decline resulting from climate shifts. Researchers at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry noted over the last 30 years that temperature increases during the breeding season limited population growth for two tracked species; Wilson’s warbler (Cardellina pusilla) and the hermit warbler (Setophaga occidentalis). These effects were mitigated in areas containing significant proportions of old-growth forest.

Hermit Warbler and Wilson Warbler

Using satellite imagery of the research areas allowed the research team, led by Matthew Betts, to calculate approximate distances to old-growth forests along each 25mi survey route. Their findings provide support for the importance of old-growth forest conservation in our current changing climate. Researchers on this project admit that more research is needed to identify specific qualities of old-growth forests that provide a buffer for these bird species however, they have stated that it could be that the trees are able to moderate temperatures by functioning as heat sinks with multiple canopy layers as climate buffers.

References:
Article: Betts MG, Phalan B, Frey SJK, Rousseau JS, Yang Z. Old-growth forests buffer climate-sensitive bird populations from warming. Divers Distrib. 2017;00:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12688
Online article: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171215135122.htm

Resources:
Forest Birds, The Education Store
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Prescribed fire is a great tool to improve the food and cover for a variety of wildlife species on your property. One of the most important aspects of using prescribed fire is making sure the fire is conducted safely. This point cannot be overstated, safe use of prescribed fire is paramount. Beyond taking the appropriate training courses or seeking help from a professional, one the most important aspects of safely conducting a prescribed fire is ensuring you have adequate firebreaks.

Firebreaks can serve multiple purposes related to the safe use of prescribed fire, and can provide additional food and cover for wildlife. The main purpose of firebreaks is to stop the fire from escaping the burn unit, but they also can provide quick and easy movement around the burn unit, help reduce the amount of people required for the burn, and can make igniting the fire safer. Here are a few examples of different types of firebreaks.

Logging Road

This logging road is a good example of an exisitng road that can be used as a firebreak.

Existing roads
Existing roads, whether they are paved, gravel, dirt, or logging roads, can serve as outstanding firebreaks, plus they require very little work to prepare prior to a burn. These are also one of the cheapest options for firebreaks. If you are using gravel, dirt, or logging roads as firebreaks, you need to make sure there is not excessive vegetation or leaf litter in the road. Too much vegetation
on the firebreak could lead to an escape.

Streams, creeks, or other bodies of water
Another cheap and easy option for firebreaks is to use existing streams, river, or bodies of water. If you are using water features as a firebreak, here are some things to consider: is the stream or river wide enough to stop the fire from escaping and can people helping with the fire move easily around, across, or through the stream or river to access various part of the burn unit or to stop an escaped fire?

Crop fields
Crop fields with cool-season grains (wheat, oats, rye) or cover crops can serve as a great firebreak. Crop fields with only soybean or corn stubble should be used with caution, as fire may creep through a field with excessive stubble. For fields with crop stubble, planting the edge of the field in a cool-season crop (wheat, clover, oats, etc.), disking the edge of the field, or wetting the crop stubble are all steps that can used to improve the field as a firebreak

Leaf-Blown Firebreak

This leaf-blown firebreak was only 3-4 feet wide, but it easily stopped the fire in this situation.

Leaf-blown firebreaks
If you are burning in the woods, using a leaf blower to remove leaf litter and expose bare mineral soil is a quick and easy way to create a firebreak. These firebreaks do not need to be as wide as those in an old field or native grass stand because the flame length when burning in the woods is typically much shorter than burning in a field.

Disked firebreaks for multiple purposes
Disking or tilling to expose bare mineral soil is an extremely effective method of creating a firebreak. These breaks can also provide food and/or cover for various wildlife species if managed correctly. Disking the firebreak and then letting the firebreak remain fallow during the growing season creates outstanding cover for brooding turkeys, pheasants, and quail.

You can also plant the firebreaks after disking to create a food plot for various wildlife species. If you disk the firebreaks in the fall and plan to burn in the spring, you can plant the firebreaks with a mix of wheat and crimson clover or a mix of perennial clovers to create a great food plot for deer and turkey. You can also plant the firebreaks with millet, grain sorghum, or sunflowers after you have burned the field in the spring.

Fire creeping

If you use mowed firebreaks you run the risk of fire creeping across the firebreak and escaping, especially if there is too much thatch in the firebreak.

My absolute favorite multiple purpose firebreak is one that is disked in Aug-Sep, planted to winter wheat (40-60 lbs/ac), and then left to remain fallow after the wheat has produced seed. This firebreak effectively stops fire, provide green browse from the fall through the spring, provides seed during the early summer, and provides excellent brood cover throughout the summer and early fall. This is truly an all-in-one firebreak.

Mowed grass firebreak
Mowed grass firebreaks are not ideal, but they can be used in certain situations. If mowed firebreaks are used, you must be sure that there is not excessive thatch built up in the break. Too much thatch will allow the fire to creep across the break and potentially escape. Even on firebreaks without excessive thatch, using water to create a “wet” firebreak is recommended.

No matter which type of firebreak you choose to use, taking the time to make sure the firebreak is adequately installed and is sufficient to stop the fire from escaping will help make the burn safer and will create less headaches for you when conducting the burn.

Additional Resources:
Firebreaks for Prescribed Burning, Oklahoma State University Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR,
On-line Basic Prescribed Fire Training, Extension, USDA and NIFA
Publications Focus on Plan, Safety of Prescribed Burns, Iowa State Extension,
eFIRE, North Carolina State Extension
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on March 21st, 2018 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Handling Harvested Game, FNR-555-WV, videoIn this new video series Handling Harvested Game: Field Dressing, wildlife biologist Bob Cordes with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shows how to properly treat and handle deer in order to receive the best results for your venison. This video shares step by step safe handling techniques to reach your goals in providing a wholesome  source of meat for you and your family.

More resources:
Handling Harvested Game – Episode 2, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Playlist
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Age Determination in White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store,
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store,
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store,
Indiana Deer Hunting, Biology and Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science/Engagement Faculty Fellow
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


2017 Annual ReportPurdue Extension has posted its 2017 Annual Report online, highlighting the ways in which Extension educates empowers people throughout Indiana and promotes statewide economic vitality. The annual report includes stories regarding agricultural research in unmanned aerial vehicle use, key partnerships that return disabled farmers to their fields, enhanced economic futures in Indiana’s small towns, programs to increase health and wellness statewide, and much more.

Look to the future with Enhancing Public Spaces as this program grows and adds a health and wellness component. The Purdue University Extension program addresses public spaces and their role in enhancing the quality of place by helping regions, communities, and neighborhoods plan and prepare for a sustainable future.

Resources:
Purdue Extension Annual Report – 2016
What is Purdue Extension? – Purdue Extension Video

Purdue Extension

 


FNR-226-WSuccessfully starting a tree plantation involves several steps, ideally starting with preparation a year or more before the seedlings are planted. This updated publication with current resources titled Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, landowners can find valuable information about planting trees for conservation, such as resources, contact information, tools, professional advice and assistance and financial incentives.

Resources:
Ordering Seedlings from the State Forest Nursery System, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Instructions for Ordering Tree Seedlings – Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Importance of Hardwood Tree Planting – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Forest Improvement Handbook – The Education Store
Designing Hardwood Tree Plantings for Wildlife – The Education Store

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on January 31st, 2018 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Harvest site at the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment.There has been much debate in the popular press lately regarding the role of timber harvesting on forest communities. A common focus of this debate is the perceived impacts to wildlife. Most believe that leaving our forests alone is best for wildlife. However, to provide habitat for all of our native forest wildlife species, forests need to be diverse in terms of age, species and area. Harvesting timber is the primary means of achieving this structural diversity. The purpose of this article is to summarize some key points regarding the effects of harvesting on reptiles and amphibians. These points are drawn mostly from the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE), an ongoing research study in southern Indiana. Its primary focus is to study forest management and its effects on plants and animals. A more detailed summary may be found in Forest Management for Reptiles and Amphibians.

There has been several large-scale studies that have investigated the effects of tree canopy removal on amphibians and reptiles. These include the HEE in Indiana, the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP), and the Land-use Effects on Amphibian Populations (LEAP). Much of the work from these projects has been published in the scientific literature. All of these studies demonstrate that the response of amphibians and reptiles to timber harvesting is variable—it cannot simply be quantified as good or bad. Indeed, avoiding negative impacts to all reptiles and amphibians as a result of timber harvesting is neither possible nor desirable since disturbance-dependent wildlife species1,2 and many mature forest species3, require early successional forests.

Timber Rattlesnake

  • Timber rattlesnake in handling tube.For the focal species studied on the HEE, most exhibited moderate or no response in 1-3 years following timber harvests. The focal species I and colleagues have studied were timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina), and terrestrial salamanders. Timber harvests had no effect on the area male or female adult timber rattlesnakes used during the active season. There was no evidence that snakes changed movement behaviors to avoid clearcuts4. Indeed, several snakes were observed within clearcuts for several weeks and across multiple years. Annual survival of rattlesnakes on the HEE sites was high during the active season (72-98%) and winter (97-99%). Timber harvesting had no impact on survival. Declines in female survival was most affected by declines in prey abundance the previous year which were due to tree mast failures5. The level of acorns and nuts (i.e., mast) produced in woodlands naturally vary from year to year. When the small mammal population declined due to mast failure, these snakes were apparently impacted the following year.

Eastern Box Turtle

  • Eastern box turtleFor box turtles, there was no effect of timber harvests on home-range size, but the average daily distance traveled by turtles decreased by 30 percent following harvest, and turtles maintained 9 percent higher body temperatures6. Temperatures in harvest openings were 29 percent warmer in the summer and 31 percent colder in the winter than forested sites. Despite this change, turtles continued to use harvest openings during the active season, but tended to make shorter, more frequent movements in and out of harvests. Turtles likely used harvest edges for cover, thermoregulation and, possibly, foraging opportunities6. Harvested areas offered potential hibernation sites based on soil profile temperatures, slope aspect and depth of hibernation7. Both active and hibernal data suggest the level of harvesting on the HEE has modest effects on box turtle behavior, at least in the short term. To date, there is no evidence to support whether these changes have any impact—positive or negative—on box turtles.

Woodland Salamanders

  • Eastern red-backed salamanders.The response of woodland salamanders to harvests was species-specific8. The relative abundance of eastern red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) and northern slimy salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus) declined from pre- to post-harvest in patch cuts (1 to 3 acres) and clearcuts (10 acres). Red-backed salamanders also declined in control sites, suggesting factors other than the harvests contributed to salamander declines over the study period. However, red-backed salamander declines observed in control sites were not as severe as those seen within patch cuts and clearcuts, indicating harvests were at least partially responsible for observed declines within the harvest boundaries. The relative abundance of northern zigzag salamanders (Plethodon dorsalis) did not decline from pre- to post-harvest in any harvest type, and increased on sites adjacent to clearcuts.
  • These findings suggest canopy removal (2-10 acre gaps) has short-term local impacts on terrestrial salamanders in terms of relative abundance, but effects do not necessarily extend to the adjacent forest matrix. A caveat to these findings is that the ultimate fate of displaced individuals remains unknown. That is, changes in relative abundance does not mean declines in survival. Indeed, sites adjacent to clearcuts experienced an increase in counts of zigzag salamanders, which could reflect the evacuation of individuals from the clearcut into the intact forest. It is also important to note that other factors influence the abundance of terrestrial salamanders. For example, in addition to differences between seasons (spring versus fall), drought played a significant role in declines in salamander abundance across all study area.

Forest management sometimes leads to short-term loses for some species but is critical to the long-term sustainability of many other species. Looking at the responses of just a few species, within cutover areas for a few years paints an incomplete picture. A large-scale, long-term perspective is necessary when considering forest management. This is the true value of well-designed studies such as the HEE. With experimental control and replication, researchers can untangle the story on what are the true effects of forest management over a large area over many decades. The HEE has shed light on many answers so far. We can look forward towards many more to come.

Resources
Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, Video-The Education Store-Purdue Extension Resource Center
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Forest Birds, Video-The Education Store
Managing Woodlands for Birds, Video-The Education Store
Sustaining Our Oak-Hickory Forests, Video-The Education Store
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Forest Management for Reptiles and Amphibians: A Technical Guide for the Midwest, The Education Store
Addressing Concerns About Management of Indiana’s Forests, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE)

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University

Citations
1 Thompson, F. R., III, and D. R Dessecker. 1997. Management of early-successional communities in central hardwood forests: with special emphasis on the ecology and management of oaks, ruffed grouse, and forest songbirds. U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report NC-195, St. Paul, MN, USA.

2 Greenberg, C. H., B. Collins, F. R. Thompson, III, and McNab, W. H. 2011. “What are early successional habitats, why are they important, and how can they be sustained?” Pages 1-10 in Sustaining young forest communities: ecology and management of early successional habitats in the Central Hardwood Region, USA. C. H. Greenberg, B. Collins, and F. R. Thompson, III., editors. Springer, New York, NY, USA.

3 Chandler, C. C., D. I. King, and R. B. Chandler. 2012. Do mature birds prefer early-successional habitat during the post-fledging period? Forest Ecology and Management 264:1-9.

4 MacGowan, B.J., Currylow, A.F.T., and MacNeil, J.E. 2017. Short-term responses of Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) to even-aged timber harvests in Indiana. Forest Ecology and Management 387(1):30-36.

5 Olson, Z.H., B.J. MacGowan, M.T. Hamilton, A.F.T. Currylow, and R.N. Williams. 2015. Survival of timber rattlesnakes: Investigating individual, environmental, and ecological effects. Herpetologica 71:274-279.

6 Currylow, A.F., B.J. MacGowan, and R.N. Williams. 2012a. Hibernal thermal ecology of eastern box turtles within a managed forest landscape. Journal of Wildlife Management 77(2):326-335.

7 Currylow, A.F., B.J. MacGowan, and R.N. Williams. 2012b. Short-term forest management effects on a long-lived ectotherm. PLoS ONE 7(7):e40473.

8 MacNeil, J.E. and R.N.Williams. 2014. Effects of timber harvests and silvicultural edges on terrestrial salamanders. PLoS ONE, 9(12):e114683.


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