Got Nature? Blog

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The Tipping Point Planner project, a joint effort by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue Extension, was recognized in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2019 Science Report (PDF, 13MB) for its accomplishments last year.

The report, which “provides a snapshot of many of the research accomplishments of NOAA and its academic and industry partners”, was broken down into three main areas: reducing societal impacts from hazardous weather and other environmental phenomena; enabling the sustainable use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources; and advancing a robust and effective research, development and transition enterprise. The Tipping Point Planner was mentioned in the Sustainable Use and Stewardship of Ocean and Coastal Resources segment.

The Tipping Point Planner was created to assist community leaders throughout the Great Lakes Basin in making long-term management decisions that affect environmental health of local resources and a community’s quality of life. The program, which includes a web-based decision support system, helps identify the status of watershed health by exploring land use, natural resources and environmental concerns, before determining the impacts of land-use decisions and management practices and, in turn, enables communities keep coastal ecosystems from reaching critical environmental limits, or tipping points, and becoming unstable.

In 2019, the Tipping Point Planner team worked with communities in Au Gres, Michigan; and Perrysburg, Ohio, to create action plans regarding conservation and ecological resource management. All told, more than 100 people in these areas utilized the Tipping Point Planner and collaborated in making the community decisions.

“This project challenges the research community because we have had to completely reorient the way that we analyze our data,” said Dr. Bryan Pijanowski, professor of landscape and soundscape ecology. “We have had to be more creative and imaginative than ever before. It challenges the way we think about our long-held theories in science, too. And this is only possible if research, university engagement and communities work closely together to solve problems. I’m convinced that high impact solutions can come from close partnerships like this.”

Pijanowski; Kara Salazar, assistant program leader and extension specialist for sustainable communities; Lydia Utley, data analyst; and Daniel Walker, community planning extension specialist, are the project leaders for the Tipping Point Planner. View the full Tipping Point Planning team.

The featured segment on the Tipping Point Planning program from the NOAA annual science report is below.

NOAA_Science_Report

Resources
The Tipping Point Planner project
With GIS, Communities See How Land-Use Changes May Affect Local Water Quality, Environmental Systems Research Institute
Tipping Point Planner curriculum, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Urban Best Management & Low Impact Development Practices, The Education Store
Agricultural Best Management Practices, The Education Store

Kara Salazar, Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Rainscaping, planting to help with water runoff.

The Purdue Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Rainscaping Education Program was highlighted in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Education Accomplishments Report (pdf) for fiscal year 2019.

This report highlighted all of NOAA’s greatest accomplishments related to education in five main goal areas: science informed society, conservation and stewardship, safety and preparedness, future workforce and organizational excellence.

The Rainscaping Education Program was featured in the Conservation and Stewardship section of the report. The Purdue Rainscaping Education Program offers state-wide training for Purdue Master Gardeners, conservation agencies and organizations, stormwater professionals and landscape companies and consultants. Through two-day workshop sessions, the program provides an introduction to rainscaping and rain gardens, including segments on site selection, plant selection, garden design, installation, maintenance and community engagement.

“It is wonderful to have the innovative and collaborative work of the Purdue Rainscaping Education Team recognized for its efforts,” Kara Salazar, assistant program leader and extension specialist for sustainable communities said. “The team has been working together since 2013 to develop and implement the interdisciplinary program addressing the need for community education on sustainable landscape practices to prevent polluted runoff.”

Salazar and John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator, are co-leads on the project. View  the full Rainscaping Team.

The featured segment on the Rainscaping program from the NOAA annual report is below.
2019 NOAA annual report highlighting Purdue Extension Rainscaping.

Resources
What is Rainscaping? Purdue Rainscaping Education Program Video, Purdue Extension
Q&A About Drainage Water Recycling for the Midwest,  The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Become a Purdue Master Gardener, The Education Store
Climate Change: How will you manage stormwater runoff?, The Education Store
Plan Today For Tomorrow’s Flood, The Education Store

Kara Salazar, Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on February 13th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Land Use, Wildlife | No Comments »

Just because the winter days are cold and dreary doesn’t mean the work to improve wildlife habitat on your property has to stop. In fact, now is a perfect time for a wide range of habitat projects. One such project is frost seeding native grasses and forbs. Here’s why you should brave the cold and consider sowing your seeds this winter.

Picture3

Picture 3. Smaller fields can be established with just a hand seed spreader (left), whereas an ATV or tractor-mounted spreader is better for larger fields (right).

Picture2

Picture 2. When broadcasting native seed, it should be mixed with a carrier (pelletized lime here) to help the seed flow through the spreader.

Picture1

Picture 1. After frost seeding, the native grass and forb seed is visible on the ground, but the freezing and thawing of the soil will ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Its natural
If you think about how a native prairie works, many of the seeds ripen in the late summer and early fall and drop to the ground throughout the fall and winter. So, sowing seeds from January through March or frost seeding is mimicking what would have occurred naturally. By doing such, you are taking advantage of the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil. The helps with a couple things.

First, many native plant seeds – forbs (wildflowers) especially – need that natural freezing and thawing cycles to break their dormancy. Thus, frost seeding can help increase the germination of many of these species. Second, the freezing and thawing of the soil helps to work the seed into the soil, which can improve seed-to-soil contact, an important factor in planting success (picture 1).

Less time to waste
Dormant seeding or seeding once the soil dips below a certain temperature (as early as November) is another viable option to establish a native grass and forb stand. But with frost seeding, the seed remains on the soil for less time before germination. Which may reduce the seeds’ exposure to soil pathogens, rodents, birds, or other critters that may eat the seed or reduce germination.

Minimalist-style
Frost seeding native grasses and forbs can be done will minimal equipment. All you need to frost seed is a hand or mechanical seed spreader, the seed, and a carrier (picture 2). Using a hand seed spreader works great for small fields, but you may consider using an ATV or tractor-mounted mechanical spreader for larger fields (picture 3).

Another option is to use a no-till seed drill. Of course, this will require more specialized equipment, but many Soil and Water Conservation Districts or Pheasants and Quail Forever Chapters have no-till drills that you can borrow or rent to help complete your project.

When it comes to establishing native grasses and forbs, there is more than one way to plant a field. But, frost seeding might be the option that is best suited for you and your site.

For a How-To on frost seeding, check out our Frost Seeding Video below:

Resources
Frost Seeding to Establish Wildlife Food Plots & Native Grass and Forb Plantings, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, video, The Education Store
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: a land manager’s guide(pdf), The Education Store
Purdue Extension Pond and Wildlife Management Website, Purdue Extension

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resource, Purdue University


ArcGIS.com
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies

On September 19, 2019 a controlled burn was conducted on the Doak grassland and forest property, owned and managed by the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. Burn events such as this one present a unique opportunity to demonstrate how UAS can be utilized as an effective tool to both monitor the burn events in real time, but also to effectively gather data before and after the burn to map and better manage vegetation. This collection of maps, videos, and images provide a narrative on how UAS can be used as an effective tool in controlled burn management practices. Beyond controlled burns, the story should demonstrate how UAS can be used to better monitor and inventory other disturbance events, whether they are planned or unexpected.

A Collaborative Effort
The data collected for this event represents a collaborative effort between multiple colleges at Purdue University and private industry. Employees with Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (College of Agriculture) performed and managed the burn while data collection for the pre and post-burn mapping was conducted by student researchers and pilots from the Purdue School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT; Polytechnic Institute). Peter Menet and Chris Johnson from MenetAero provided aerial monitoring support throughout the controlled burn. A total of three different aircraft were used during this event. The SATT student pilots deployed a C-Astral Bramor PPX equipped with a MicaSense Altum 6 band multispectral sensor at 121 meters before and after the event for mapping purposes. MenetAero deployed a C-Astral C4Eye to monitor the burn in real time using EO/Thermal IR video with real time geographic coordinates at 121 meters while SATT students monitored the burn with a DJI M600 equipped with a Zenmuse XT2 sensor at lower altitudes.

Monitoring the Burn:
The nimble nature of UAS makes them ideally suited to deploy rapidly, and into tight situations otherwise too dangerous for ground crews and manned aircraft. Add to this the aerial perspective offered by UAS via real-time video feed, and you have the perfect platform to assist in hazard events such as fire. The real-time video feed allows the UAS pilot and crew to communicate with ground-based fire crews, providing information on potential hazards and overall fire behavior patterns. For this aerial perspective to be effective, however, the video needs to have geospatial context so what the UAS operator is seeing is effectively communicated to ground-based fire crews. Full-Motion-Video, or video that has metadata with geospatial coordinate information, is a game changer in this regard. The video below shows how software such as Remote Geosystems Line Vision Ultimate can place video in a geospatial context. The video below is being played after the flight, but Pete Menet from MenetAero had the video live streaming to his Ground Station during the flight and was able to effectively serve as an ‘eye in the sky’ to provide real time information to ground based crews. This was all done in a controlled burn, but this same technology and method is used by MenetAero during Wild Fire Events where MenetAero provides UAS services as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Interior. Peter Menet and the MenetAero crew were kind enough to donate their services and time to the controlled burn event this day as part of a collaborative research effort between industry and Purdue.

A Before and After Comparison
Prior to recent advances in UAS technology, gathering imagery at sub-centimeter accuracy and resolution immediately before and after a planned burn event would prove difficult at best. The PPK technology on the C-Astral PPX allowed us to conduct the flights without the need to layout and survey ground control markers, but still achieve centimeter level accuracy by post-processing our data with a Continuously Operating Reference Stations in close proximity. Without UAS, getting satellite data within this time frame would have been pretty much impossible, and getting a manned aircraft to do this prohibitively expensive.

Making Sense of it all through Classification Analysis
Pre-Burn Land Cover Classification
When we think of disturbance events, we often think of the unplanned ones – fire, ice storms, wind storms, floods, etc. But what about planed disturbances such as a controlled burn, or a timber harvest operation? In the case of a planned disturbance, we have the ability to inventory land cover immediately before an event, and then with classification methods, quantify that land cover. Land Use/Cover classification methods are nothing new, and go back to the very beginnings of GIS/Remote Sensing, but new here is the ability to deploy a UAS to get this data in a way that is accurate and precise enough to classify down to resolutions of several square centimeters. Add to that the imagery was gathered less than an hour before the burn and you have some amazing potential for forestland management.

*Thank you to ArcGIS.com for sharing the great work of our FNR specialists as they continue to “strengthen lives and livelihoods” here in Indiana and around the world.

Resources
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies webpage
Effective Firebreaks for Safe Use of Prescribed Fire, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature? Blog
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


Cities and towns in the U.S. contain more than 130 million acres of forests. These forests vary extensively in size and locale. An urban forest can describe an urban park such as Central Park in New York City, NY, street trees, nature preserves, extensive gardens, or any trees collectively growing within a suburb, city, or town. Urban forestry is the name given to the care and maintenance of those ecosystem areas that remain after urbanization. Data from the 2010 census indicated more than 80% of Americans live in urban centers with a population increase greater than 12%. The population of Indiana represents only 2.1% of the nation. In the last 8 years, IN has had an influx of 200,000 people which represents a population increase of 3.0%!

Urban forests, which help filter air and water, control storm water runoff, help conserve energy and provide shade and animal habitat must be maintained. As our nation becomes more urbanized, appreciate those urban foresters working to ensure we have save urban forest spaces to enjoy. These precious resources add more than curb appeal and economic value, they improve our quality of life.

What does an urban forester do? Here’s a quick answer:

References:
Purdue Urban Forestry & Arboriculture, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources
USDA Forest Service Urban Forests, United States Department of Agriculture
US Census Bureau, United States Census Bureau

Interested in Purdue Urban Forestry? Contact:
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources

Resources:
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
What plants can I landscape with in area that floods with hard rain?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

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


Posted on August 14th, 2019 in Alert, Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, Land Use | No Comments »

One of the most dangerous pests to trees is a human, especially with equipment.  tree injury from equipmentInjuries to trees caused by a lawn mower or weed trimmer can seriously threaten a tree’s health.

Additionally, damage to the bark layer of trees causes a long-term liability by creating a wound which leads to a defect, becoming an unsafe tree.

The site of injury is usually the root flare area, where the tree meets the turf and gets in the path of the mower or trimmer.  The bark on a tree acts to protect a very important transport system called the cambium layer.

mower injury on tree

This is where specialized tubes are located which move nutrients and water between the roots and the leaves. Bark layers can vary in thickness on different tree species.  It can be more than an inch in thickness or less than 1/16 of an inch on young, smooth-barked trees such as maples and birch trees.  This isn’t much protection against string trimmers and mowing equipment, especially the young trees.

Any type of damage or removal of the bark and the transport system can result in long-term damage.  Damage, which extends completely around the base of the tree called girdling, will result in ultimate death in a short time.

weed eater injury on tree

Tree wounds are serious when it comes to tree health. The wounded area is an opportunity for other insects and diseases to enter the tree that causes further damage. Trees can be completely killed from an attack following injuries. Fungi becomes active on the wound surface, causing structural defects from the decay.  This weakens the tree or it eventually dies, creating a risk tree to people around it.

Newly planted, young trees need all the help we can provide to become established in the landscape and these trees are often the most commonly and seriously affected by maintenance equipment.  However, injury can be avoided easily and at very low cost with these suggestions.

  1. tree with mulch at baseThe removal of turf or prevention of grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree are low-tech solutions to eliminate a serious problem. Spraying herbicides to eliminate vegetation around the base of the tree can decrease mowing maintenance costs. Be sure to use care when applying herbicides around trees.
  2. A 2-3” layer of mulch on the root zone of the tree provides an attractive and healthy environment for the tree to grow. Additionally, it provides a visual cue to keep equipment away from the tree.
  3. Also, trunk guards and similar devices can add an additional measure of protection for the tree. Using white, expanding tree guards can help improve the trees ability to withstand equipment contact, but also help to reduce winter injury.

Trees are a major asset to your property and important to our environment.  Protect our trees and preserve these valuable assets by staying away from tree trunks with any mowing or weed trimming equipment.  The damage lasts and it cannot be repaired and often results in losing your tree.

Purdue University Landscape Report Article

Resources
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store – Purdue Extension resource center
What plants can I landscape with in areas that floods with hard rain?, Purdue Got Nature? Blog
Tree support systems, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources


Got Nature?

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