|By JANE HOUIN
WEST HARRISON, Ind. — Woodland owners from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky will have the opportunity to meet with each other as well as experts from all three states to discuss woodland and wildlife issues.
The Ohio River Valley Woodland and Wildlife Workshop will take place March 31 from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in West Harrison, Ind.
“Forest and wildlife can provide many benefits to the owners and their families,” said Bill Hoover of Purdue University, one of the workshop presenters. “But in many cases, the lands were abused by past owners and are not providing all the benefits possible. These lands are also being degraded by invasive species that change the very nature of what’s on the land and reduce its potential to provide benefits.”
That’s where workshops like this come in to help woodland owners, said Hoover.
“It’s the easiest and most affordable way to gain access to the information available from the best experts in the region,” Hoover said. “These experts specialize in working with and helping landowners interested in taking advantage of the opportunities for a better life available from their land.
“Much of the information that will be presented is available on the web, but being able to interact with the experts and with other landowners dealing with the same issues is hard to do on the web. As a result of this workshop, landowners will be able to select what they want to learn more about and where to get this information.”
Participants in the workshop will attend a variety of workshop sessions on wildlife topics in the morning and forest topics in the afternoon, view displays, and have the opportunity to interact with presenters after most sessions. In addition, there will be special programming provided for school-age youth led by Dave Osborne of Purdue University from 10:10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“The youth programming will involve hands-on activities that provide a fun way for children to learn about the environment,” Hoover said. “They will play learning games and make things. It will definitely not be classroom lectures.”
Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with a general session on emerald ash borer and the biology and forest management implications of these invasive pests to be conducted by Kathy Smith and Joe Boggs of Ohio State University’s Emerald Ash Borer Team.
Sessions for the workshop will be divided into tracks based on interest of the participant, though participants can select from sessions among and between different tracks.
“There will be a series of presentations for individuals who have just purchased their land or are for the first time seriously thinking about what to do with the land they have had for some time,” said Hoover. “There are other sessions for individuals interested in managing their lands for specific benefits, such as wildlife, game, songbirds, etc. and for those interested in growing timber as an investment.”
For those who recently acquired their forestland or who haven’t started a management program for their property, basic concepts will be covered in the new owner track.
Participants can attend sessions on introduction to woodland management by Randy Heiligmann, an introduction to woodland ecology by Smith, evaluating what’s in your woods and using the information for management by Dave Apsley and Timber thinning and harvesting as woodland management tools by Heiligmann.
All presenters in this track are from Ohio State.
The wildlife management and enjoyment track is designed for landowners with a primary interest in wildlife. The track will focus on the species of wildlife you can expect to find in your woods and provide practical guidance on attracting more species that you want as well as minimizing damage from species that may be too abundant. Topics include an introduction to forest wildlife management by Brian Miller of Purdue, the biology and management of key wildlife species by Brian MacGowan of Purdue, songbirds and how a variety of vegetation provides a variety of species by Miller, and the love/hate relationship with white-tailed deer by Tom Barnes of the University of Kentucky.
Owners with an interest in making their woodland pay its own way might be interested in the woodland investment management track, where sessions will include managing timber to maximize income by Jeff Stringer of the University of Kentucky, a two-part session on record keeping and taxed by Hoover and Tamara Cushing of the University of Kentucky and a timber marketing session by Mike Ladd, a consulting forester.
The so-called hodge-podge track covers a miscellaneous set of topics that are important to forestland owners. Sessions will be offered on tree identification techniques by Billy Thomas of the University of Kentucky followed by a tree identification outdoor field application, GIS and GPS for woodland management by Doug McLaren of the University of Kentucky, control of invasive plants by chemical and mechanical techniques, and non-timber forest products by Deborah Hill of the University of Kentucky. The chainsaw is the most commonly used tool by forestland owners, but it’s also extremely dangerous - even deadly - especially if you decide to do a tree felling yourself.
Those interested in chainsaw safety and use can follow this track and attend sessions on selecting and maintaining chainsaws, chainsaw safety rules, and a demonstration of safe tree felling techniques.
“What’s exciting about the approach used for this workshop is that we’re bringing together experts from three states,” Hoover said. “This assures that the best experts are on the program and landowners don’t have to depend solely on who their land-grant university decided to hire.”
Registration for the workshop is $30 for those registering by March 22 and $35 for those registering later. The youth registration fee is $5.
Registration can be completed online at http://woodlandstewards.osu.edu or by printing a copy of the registration form, also available at the Ohio Woodland Stewards website, and sending it regular mail.