Got Nature? Blog

Posted on February 25th, 2017 in Forestry, How To, Uncategorized, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Take a look at the Indiana Woodland Steward Winter 2016 Issue, a resource that’s full of a variety of valuable information to foresters. The issue includes topics such as a forest products price report and trend analysis, current events on managing forests for birds in Indiana, the state forest timber sale process, as well as much more.

Check out the Winter 2016 Issue  to stay current in the world of forestry, and feel free to browse archived articles dating back to 1992 for more information.

Indiana Woodland Steward Winter 2016 Issue, IWS
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment,Purdue University FNR
Fertilizing, Pruning, and Thinning Hardwood Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Indiana Infomation, Thousand Cankers Disease
Environmental and Management Injury in Hardwood Tree Plantations, The Education Store

The Indiana Woodland Steward Insititute is an entity made from 11 organizations within the state including Purdue University, Indiana DNR, and Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association that works to promote best usage practices of Indiana’s woodland resources through their Woodland Steward publication.

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

People need trees. When over 80% of the US population lives in the urban forest, it becomes increasingly more important for us to take positive action in protecting our trees. Read up on the New Year’s Resolutions for Community Tree Advocates to see how you can make a difference in your community to improve our urban forest and our quality of life.

Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, The Education Store
Defining Rural Indiana – The First Step, The Education Store
Indiana Woodland Steward Winter 2016 Issue, IWS
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University FNR
Indiana Infomation, Thousand Cankers Disease

Washington DNR Urban & Community Forestry News


Posted on October 10th, 2016 in Forestry, How To, Uncategorized, Wildlife | No Comments »

Every hunter knows the importance of acorns for game and non-game species alike. When acorns are plentiful it can alter the movements and patterns of game species and when acorns are absent wildlife must rely on alternative food sources to meet their nutritional needs during the fall, winter, and early spring. Knowing the importance of acorns to many wildlife species, it is beneficial to identify which trees are the most reliable and best producing in the woods.

Intro to oaks

White oak acorns

White oak acorns are clustered at the end of the branch – this year’s growth, like on this swamp white oak on the left. Whereas, red oak acorns are farther down the branch at the end of last year’s growth, like the northern red oak acorns on the right. (Photo by Brian MacGowan)

Oak trees in Indiana fall into 1 of 2 groups, white oak (e.g., white, swamp white, and chinkapin) or red oak (e.g., northern red, black, and pin). White oaks produce acorns in 1 growing season (acorns falling in 2016 are from flowers that were pollinated in the spring of 2016) and red oaks produce acorns in 2 growing seasons (acorns falling in 2016 are from flowers that were pollinated in the spring of 2015). This means a late frost in the spring may result in poor acorn production in white oaks in the fall of the same year, but will not influence red oak acorn production the same fall. However, a late frost in back-to-back years may result in a mast failure from both groups.

White oak acorns tend to be selected by wildlife more than red oak acorns because they contain less tannins resulting in a less bitter and more digestible acorn. Check out the Native Trees of the Midwest to learn more about oaks, their value for wildlife, and help you learn to identify different species.

Oak trees can be split into production groups based on their relative acorn production capabilities. Some individual oak trees are inherently poor producers and rarely produce acorns even in a bumper crop. Whereas other individuals are excellent producers and may produce acorns even in the poorest year. Research from the University of Tennessee reported poor mast producing trees represented 50% of white oaks in a stand and produced only 15% of the white oak acorn crop in a given year, whereas excellent producing trees represented 13% of white oaks, but produced 40% of the total white oak acorn production. When you included excellent and good producing white oaks together (31% of trees), they accounted for 67% of the total white oak acorn crop in a stand. This means a minority of the white oaks in a stand may produce a majority of the acorns!

Scouting oak trees
Understanding that some individual oak trees are poor producers, some are excellent, and some fall between poor and excellent, surveying oak trees can help identify important mast producing individuals. The late summer and early fall, just prior to or at the beginning of acorn drop, are perfect times to identify the best and worst producing oaks in your stand of timber. Scouting can be as formal as conducting a mast survey or as informal as taking mental notes of oak trees with heavy crops of acorns on the ground while you are walking to and from your tree stands in the fall. Either way, scouting oaks for acorn production capability can provide more information when determining where to hunt in the fall or which trees to retain and which trees to remove during a timber harvest. If wildlife management is an objective on your property, trees that you identify as the best acorn producers in the woods can be retained during a timber harvest, while poor producing trees can be removed with little detriment to overall acorn production. It is important to remember to retain a balance of oaks from both the red and white oak group, favoring red oak, to help safeguard against complete mast failures.

Forest management is insurance for mast failure

Poorly managed forest vs. managed forest with forage for wildlife.

The top photo is of a mature forest with very few canopy gaps resulting in very little cover or food for wildlife. The bottom picture is of a forest stand where undesirable trees have been girdled (tree on the right-hand side of picture) to increase light to the forest floor and where multiple prescribed fire have been conducted to increase forage production and cover.

Annual acorn production in a stand of oaks is highly variably and can be dependent on environmental conditions. For example, late frosts, poor pollination, and insect infestations all can be culprits for poor mast production across a stand of oaks. Because of these factors, white oaks tend to only produce reliably 2 out of every 5 years, meaning 3 out of 5 years (60%) there is poor mast production or a failed mast crop in white oaks. Red oaks may produce a good crop as frequently as 2 to 5 years, but only produce a bumper crop an average every 5 to 7 years.

The extreme variability in acorn production underscores the importance in considering alternative food sources for fall, winter, and early spring for wildlife. In most mature forests with few canopy gaps there could be as little as 50-100 lbs of deer selected forage per acre in the understory. However, with some management, like thinning and prescribed fire the amount of deer selected forage can be increased to almost 1000 lbs/ac! Additionally, forest management also increases the amount cover throughout the year for species like white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and many forest songbirds. Contrary to popular belief, cover can be more of a limiting factor for many wildlife species compared to food availability. Forest management could include girdling undesirable trees to expand growing space for mast producing trees or conducting a timber harvest removing undesirable trees and poor producing oak trees while retaining good producing trees. For more information on conducting a timber harvest for wildlife on your property contact a professional wildlife biologist or professional forester in your area.

When spending time in the woods this fall, take the time to look up and down to see which oaks in your woods are the best producers.

Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Masting Characteristics of White Oaks: Implications for Management, University of Tennessee
Survey Acorns Now to Improve Production, Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)
Wildlife Biologists, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Find a Forester, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Enrichment Planting of Oaks, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: Indiana Forestry and Wildlife, The Education Store

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

Posted on October 5th, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Choosing and planting a tree should be a well-informed and planned decision. Proper selection and planting can provide years of enjoyment for you and future generations as well as increased property value, improved environmental quality, and economic benefits. On the other hand, an inappropriate tree for your site or location can be a continual challenge and maintenance problem, or even a potential hazard, especially when there are utilities or other infrastructure nearby. This informative video will describe everything needed to know about choosing the right tree.

Financial and Tax Aspect of Tree Planting, The Education Store
Tree Risk Management, The Education Store
Designing Hardwood Tree Plantings for Wildlife, The Education Store
Importance of Hardwood Tree Planting, The Education Store
Planning the Tree Planting Operation, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist,
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Tree Selection Pub 2 300It’s a tough neighborhood for trees in the built environment. It is an ecosystem unlike any other, because it is dynamic, fragmented, high-pressure, and constantly under siege. There are continual extremes and challenges in this “un-natural” area as opposed to the environment in a more natural woodland. It’s a place where trees die young, without proper selection, planting, and care. Successful tree selection requires us to think backwards—beginning with the end in mind— to get the right tree in the right place…in the right way. This publication, Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, takes a look at some important components of the decision-making process for tree selection. There is both a publication and a video resource on this topic, both of which can be found below.

The video can be watched here:
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree

Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
Construction and Trees: Guidelines for Protection, The Education Store
Common Tree and Shrub Pests of Indiana, The Education Store
Diseases in Hardwood Tree Plantings, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Posted on September 14th, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The eastern hellbender is an endangered salamander found in the Blue River in southern Indiana. It requires cool, clean rivers and streams with high water quality in order to thrive. Water quality in the Blue River is affected by many factors. One relatively unknown contributor to poor water quality is pollution entering sinkholes. Many landowners have sinkholes on their properties and treat them like outdoor waste sites without knowing that these sinkholes have a direct link to our water supplies. In this video, Purdue biologists interview a local cave expert and a local conservationist about how sinkholes are connected to our rivers, streams, and water supplies and how we can help protect them.

Improving Water Quality by Protecting Sinkholes on Your Property, The Education Store
A Landowner’s Guide to Sustainable Forestry: Part 5: Forests and Water, The Education Store
Improving Water Quality Around Your Farm, The Education Store, YouTube
Animal Agriculture’s Effect on Water Quality: Pastures and Feedlots, The Education Store
Improving Water Quality At Your Livestock Operation, The Education Store, Youtube

Nick Burgmeier, Project Coordinator, Research Biologist & Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. Rod Williams, Associate Head of Extension and Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Ginseng Pub PictureForest farming in North America is becoming a popular practice that provides short-term income for owners of new forest plantations while their trees reach maturity. This income diversification is particularly relevant for many of the Indiana hardwood plantations planted in the last decade, but will not fulfill their economic potential until 60–70 years from establishment. This free download publication titled Costs and Returns of Producing Wild-Simulated Ginseng in Established Tree Plantations, FNR-530-W, is the second in a two-part series aimed at analyzing economic opportunities in forest farming for Indiana forest plantation owners. The first study explores growing hops along the tree line of newly established forest stands, while this second study investigates producing American ginseng in older (20- to 30-year-old) forest plantations.

Costs and Returns of Producing Wild-Simulated Ginseng in Established Tree Plantations, The Education Store
Energy Requirements for Various Tillage-Planting Systems, The Education Store
Home Gardner’s Guide, The Education Store
Common Tree and Shrub Pests of Indiana, The Education Store
Planting Forest Trees and Shrubs in Indiana, The Education Store

Kim Ha, Research Assistant
Purdue Agricultural Economics

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

Posted on March 25th, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources’ extension team have received four Purdue Extension Issue-Based Action Team (IBAT) awards out of seven. These new initiatives have been chosen from 30 submitted proposals. In an ever-changing world, Purdue Extension is launching big Purdue Extension-FNRideas to identify and address priority issues to enhance quality of life as well as the efficiency and/or effectiveness of organizations through research-based education.

Congratulations to the following FNR teams that are moving the world forward:

Project Overview: Expand upon the existing Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces program to include a health component — building community capacities for accessible means for physical activity. $50,000.

Team: Michael Wilcox, Assistant Program Leader for Community Development Extension, Purdue Center for Reginal Development; and Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry & Natural Resources; Donna Vandergraff, Extension Specialist, Nutrition Science; Lisa Graves, Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist, Nutrition Science; Melissa Maulding, Director, Nutrition Education Programs; and Steve Yoder, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), Tippecanoe County.

Program Overview: A wealth of resources on a website, educational workshop agendas, certification programs, uniform materials for cooking demonstrations, and more for Farmers’ Market Masters, producers, and consumers. Market Basket 360 centralizes, streamlines, and enhances existing farmers’ market resources available through Purdue Extension, Indiana State Department of Health, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and other industry organizations.

Team: James Wolff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), Allen County; Julie Gray, Central District Director, ANR; Morgan Roddy, Extension Educator/Health & Human Sciences (HHS), ANR, Henry County; Curt Campbell, Extension Educator, ANR, Wabash County; Jodee Ellett, Local Foods Coordinator, Purdue Extension; Vickie Hadley, HHS Extension Educator/CED, ANR, Allen County; Nancy Manuel, HHS Extension Educator, ANR, Adams County; Gail Peitzmeier, HHS Extension Educator, Crawford County; Tim Vining, Development Educator, ANR; Teresa Witkoske, HHS Extension Educator/CED, Wabash County; Kwamena Quagrainie, Aquaculture Marketing Director and Associate Professor, Department of Forestry & Natural Resources and Agriculture Economics; Bob Rode, Aquaculture Research Lab Manager and Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Program Overview: Expanding Extension’s capacity to develop and deliver statewide natural resource programs and enhance decision-making for implementation at the community level. $30,000.

Team: Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Angie Tilton, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), Hendricks County Team; Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; Liz Jackson, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC), Engagement Specialist and Executive Director of the Indiana Forestry and Woodland Owners Association and the Walnut Council; Steve Yoder, Regional Extension Educator, Community Development

Project Overview: A multifaceted approach to engaging families in nature-learning opportunities that will utilize emerging research to connect Health and Human Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources using curriculum developed by Rod Williams titled “The Nature of Teaching.” $20,000.

Team: Rod Williams, Associate Head for Extension, Associate Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist, Department of Forestry & Natural Resources; Angie Frost, Extension Specialist-Healthy Living, College of Agriculture; Stephanie Woodcox, Extension Specialist-Health & Wellness, College of Health and Human Sciences; Deb Arseneau, Extension Educator, Agriculture Natural Resources (ANR), Newton County; Jay Christiansen, Extension Educator, ANR, Vigo County; Jan Dougan, Extension Educator, ANR, Dubois County; Molly Hoag, Extension Educator, ANR, Wells County; Molly Hunt, Extension Educator, ANR, Delaware County; Gracie Marlatt, Extension Educator, ANR, Rush County; Kelsie Muller, Extension Educator, ANR, Benton County; Lindsey Pedigo, Extension Educator, ANR, Howard County; Katie Zuber, Extension Educator, ANR, Lawrence County.

View the College of Agriculture Strategic Plan and the Purdue Extension Annual Report for more information on Purdue Extension.

For extension resources on Forestry and Natural Resources view Purdue Extension-FNR​ website.

Diana Evans, Extension Information Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on February 12th, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Oak Leaf

Photo credit: Gerald Fox

In the February In The Grow Q&A column, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist B. Rosie Lerner handles two interesting questions. A white oak tree mysteriously losing half of its leaves and a persistent weed called “mare’s tail” are causes for concern this month, and Lerner presents an explanation to both problems as well as supplementary resources to assist with them. Check out the new In The Grow Q&A column to learn more!

Question and Answer: Many possible reasons for early loss of white oak leaves – Purdue Extension In the Grow
Glyphosate, Weeds, and Crops: Biology and Management of Horseweed – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
White Oak – The Education Store
Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory – Purdue Extension
Keep an Eye on Urban Trees Dying From Weather Stress – Got Nature?

B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist
Purdue University Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture

Posted on October 18th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

As a child growing up in rural St. Joe County, I can vividly recall the feeling of excitement when the occasional deer visited our backyard. It’s hard to believe now, but we actually placed salt licks out to attract deer for viewing. I still enjoy the sight of a white-tailed deer, but things are a lot different today – the Internet, iPods, and yes, more deer. Estimating the size of wildlife populations is a difficult task in most cases. Currently, experts estimate about 30 million white-tailed deer throughout its range. There are probably more white-tailed deer in North America today than at the time of European settlement. In Indiana, the total deer harvested today exceeds by many times the numbers harvested during my days of youth in the 1970s.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are approximately one million deer-vehicle collisions that occur in the United States each year, resulting in about 200 deaths and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average claim of these deer-collisions was $3,305.

While deer-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year, October to December is the peak. Most collisions occur from dusk to dawn on high speed rural roads. In Indiana, if a deer dies following a collision with a motor vehicle, a conservation officer, DNR property manager or other law enforcement officer may issue a permit to an individual to possess the deer.

Don’t Waste Your Money
Many tactics have been tried over the years to reduce collisions. Most of these have proved ineffective or at least need more investigation. One common approach that does not work is the deer whistle. Deer whistles are attached to vehicles and emit noises at moderate to fast speeds. The noise presumably warns deer of approaching vehicles, thereby reducing collisions. While manufacturers contend that deer can hear the whistles up to a quarter mile away, published studies have not verified their effectiveness or whether or not deer can even hear them. The lack of deer response to deer whistles may be because deer don’t recognize the sounds as threatening or they have too little time to react.

What can I do?
There is no foolproof way to prevent deer-vehicle collisions. Hunting is the most biologically and economically effective method of maintaining Indiana’s deer herd at an optimal level – all else being equal, less deer translates to reduced probability of hitting a deer. Fencing deer from roadways has been proven most effective at reducing accidents at specific locations, but it is very costly to construct and maintain.

So what do you do? There are some common-sense precautions all drivers can take to reduce the risk of deer-vehicle collisions. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following driving tips.

  • Be vigilant in early morning and evening hours, the most active time for deer.
  • Use your high-beam headlights.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
  • Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. Do not swerve. It can confuse the deer as to where to run. It can also cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
  • Be alert and drive with caution when you are moving through a deer crossing zone.
  • Obey posted speed limits and always wear your seatbelt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seatbelt.
  • Look for other deer after one has crossed the road. Deer seldom run alone.

The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center

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

Got Nature?