PROGRAM – Frank Snyder, PA DCNR Forester and Joe Orlowsky, Pottsville Shade Tree Commission.
Frank Snyder gave a presentation on the Benefits and importance of Forests and threats to our Forestlands. 70% of Schuylkill County is tree covered and 60% statewide. There are many benefits of trees and forestland, including aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and protection of watersheds. Water is Pennsylvania’s No. 1 Natural Resource. PA has the 2nd most miles of rivers and streams in the US, second only to Alaska. Forests help to protect these watersheds. The Forest Products industry is also very important in PA. It is an $11 billion business, with $19 billion total impact on the state economy.
There are many threats to our trees and forests, including invasive plants and species, such as Gypsy Moths and Emerald Ash Borer. Development, wildfires, and poor tree cutting practices are also major threats. Half of the tree cutting in the state utilizes poor timbering practices. A typical bad practice is to take the biggest trees and leave the smaller trees behind, on the premise that those small trees will then grow bigger and stronger. The actual fact is most of those smaller trees are not younger trees. They are typically stunted or diseased trees, which will not grow and produce seeds for new trees. The better practice is to take the smaller trees and leave the larger, seed producing, trees in place to sustain the forest. However, there are no state laws which govern how a property owner manages their forests. The Clean Water Act which regulates erosion and sediment control is the only law that applies to those areas.
Joe Orlowsky spoke about the Pottsville Shade Tree Commission. The commission is charged with protecting and sustaining the trees in the City. They have two plantings per year, spring and fall, and replace or plant about 50 trees per year. They also monitor the existing trees for diseased or dangerous trees. If a tree is noted that it must be removed, they notify the property owner. It is the property owner’s responsibility to have the tree removed. A focus area of the Commission over the past few years has been the Baber Cemetery. There were 38 diseased trees taken down in the cemetery and about 3 to 4 more are identified each year. They are actively replacing those trees with the cooperation of the Cemetery Association.
Thanks to Frank and Joe for a very informative program.