2023 Loving the Land Through Working Forests

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2023 Loving the Land Through Working Forests

September 16, 2023

8am-4pm, Blooming Valley, PA

This field conference is all about forests – threats, management practices, and ways that we can enhance their resilience and overall health. The day will be full of field-based presentations and walks on critical and emerging topics related to forest stewardship and conservation. From learning what “femelschlag” means, to foraging for mushrooms, to demonstrations of horse logging, this will be an insightful program. Pre-registration is required and all are welcome! See below for the conference program, with new information added regularly as speakers are confirmed!

Attention Foresters – This conference qualifies for 8.5 Society of American Foresters CFE credits!

September 16, 2023 @ 8:00 am 4:00 pm

Blooming Valley Forest – Stoltz Rd.

View Venue Website

Online Registration for this event is no longer available.

Please contact us at (814) 694-5830 to inquire about attending.

Thank you for your interest!

$10 – Members $25 – Non-Members Free for children under 7

Schedule of Events

8:00am          Registration Begins

8:30am          Welcome Remarks & Introductions

8:45am          Opening Address:

Wildlands and Woodlands – Balancing Wood Production and Ecological Values in our Forests (Dr. Brian Donahue)

9:30am          Morning Breakout Session 1    

Horse-Logging Demonstration with Discussion (Guy Dunkle)
Tornadoes and Tinkering: 40 Years of Management in Blooming Valley Forest (Troy Firth)
Diverse Forests, Diverse Birds: A 3-Year Update on the National Aviary Study (Dr. Steven Latta and Cassandra Ziegler)
Words from an Expert – Managing Invasive Species in Your Woods (Ellery Troyer)

10:45am         Break

11:00am         Morning Breakout Session 2

Horse-Logging Demonstration with Discussion (Pat Maloney)
Food from the Forest: Beginner Mushroom Walk and Identification (Emily Wojtyna)
Words from an Expert – Managing Invasive Species in Your Woods (Ellery Troyer)
Living on the Edge – Femelschlag as a Tool to Diversify Forest Age and Structure (Dr. Tara Keyser)

12:15pm          Lunch (provided)

1:30pm            FSF Updates: Heading into our 20th Year! (Annie Maloney)

2:00pm            Panel Discussion:

Different Goals, Common Techniques: Exploring the Overlap in Managing Forests for a Variety of Ecological Outcomes

2:30pm            Afternoon Breakout Session

Food from the Forest: Beginner Mushroom Walk and Identification (Emily Wojtyna)
Living on the Edge – Femelschlag as a Tool to Diversify Forest Age and Structure (Dr. Tara Keyser)
Diverse Forests, Diverse Birds: A 3-Year Update on the National Aviary Study (Dr. Steven Latta and Cassandra Ziegler)
Additional breakout session information coming soon!

4:00pm            Conference Adjourns

Meet the Presenters

Brian Donahue, PhD

Brian Donahue is Professor Emeritus of American Environmental Studies at Brandeis University, and a farm and forest policy consultant. He holds a PhD from the Brandeis program in History. He co-founded and for 12 years directed Land’s Sake, a non-profit community farm in Weston, Massachusetts, and now co-owns and manages a farm in western Massachusetts. He sits on the board of The Massachusetts Woodland Institute, and The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. Donahue is author of Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town (1999), and The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord (2004). He is co-author of Wildlands and Woodlands and A New England Food Vision.

Guy Dunkle

Guy Dunkle is a Land Manager and Director with the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, with over 19 years of experience practicing sustainable forestry across northwest PA and western NY. Guy manages the FSF’s horse crews and will discuss the nuances of the job when horses are used to skid logs in a forest.

Troy Firth

Troy Firth is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, with over 45 years of experience practicing sustainable forestry and production of maple syrup. Troy is the recipient of the 2019 WeConservePA (formerly Pennsylvania Land Trust Association) Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Western Pennsylvania Environmental Award. Join Troy on a walk through Blooming Valley Forest as he discusses FSF’s integrated approach to sustainable forest management.

Ian Forte

Ian Forte is the Sr Forestry Manager of the Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP) for the Central Appalachia region of the American Forest Foundation (AFF) working with private landowners in developing forest stewardship goals through the utilization of their carbon credits. Ian has a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Conservation, and Environmental Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a M.Ed. in Environmental Education and a M.S. in Park and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University.  Before becoming an Outreach Forester, and later the Sr Forestry Manager, for FFCP, Ian was a Utility Forestry Supervisor and a Forestry Hydrologist for consultant firms throughout Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia working with private and public forests.

Tara Keyser, PhD

Dr. Tara Keyser is a Research Forester and the Director of the Center for Forest Restoration and Management with the USDA FS, Southern Research Station located in Asheville, North Carolina. She has a BS in Forest Ecology and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a MS and PhD in forest sciences from Colorado State University. Tara’s current research program focuses on the sustainable management and restoration of upland hardwood in the eastern US. She has extensive experience in implementing large, at-scale experimentally designed silvicultural studies that provide the science-based information necessary to refine existing and develop new silvicultural methods and tools in upland oak ecosystems across the eastern US.

Steven Latta, PhD

Dr. Steven Latta is the Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. A native of Michigan, he was educated at Kalamazoo College (B.A.), University of Michigan (M.S.), and University of Missouri-Columbia (Ph.D. in Avian Ecology). After graduating in 2000, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he studied with Dr. Robert Ricklefs the evolution and diversification of avian malaria across Caribbean islands. He then served for four years as the Director of the Latin American Program at Point Reyes Bird Observatory in California, where he developed long-term monitoring programs in many countries, and trained hundreds of locally-based biologists and naturalists in standardized bird monitoring techniques.

Pat Maloney

Pat Maloney is a skilled woodsman and practitioner of sustainable forestry. For some years, he cut trees alongside horse-logger Ray Blystone on FSF-owned properties, and is a maple syrup producer and forest manager at Firth Maple Products. Pat holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from Northland College.

Ellery Troyer

Ellery Troyer is a Botanist and President of Ecological Field Services (EFS), based in Waterford, PA. Founded in 2009, EFS performs ecological restoration and consulting work to aid land managers and owners in effective and efficient management of their natural areas. Serving Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, EFS’ areas of expertise include invasive species control, native plant establishment, botanical surveys, habitat assessments, and wetland delineations and permitting.

Emily Wojtyna, MS

Emily Wojtyna is a biologist with a Master of Science in Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics from the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) of Munich, Germany. They also hold a certificate in Environmental Studies from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at LMU. In their free time, they love foraging and expanding their knowledge of the natural world. For their thesis, Emily utilized a chronosequence approach to conduct vegetation surveys in forest gaps created by the Foundation for Sustainable Forests and analyzed the dynamics of key habitat resources for both early-successional and mature-forest birds. For their Environmental Studies capstone project, they wrote and self-published a cookbook of local edible mushroom species titled The Amateur Forager’s Cookbook: Featuring Edible Wild Mushrooms of Western Pennsylvania. In addition to their M.S., Emily also holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Chemistry minor from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated with high honors (summa cum laude).

Cassandra Ziegler, MS

Cassandra Ziegler is a Biological Sciences Ph.D. student at Duquesne University. A western Pennsylvania native, she has a BS in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Environmental Science and Management from Duquesne University. Cassandra is currently studying avian diet in FSF forests.  

Thank you to our Sponsors


Jim & Connie Thompson
Craig & Monica Schwegman


Robert & Jane Slagter


Northwest Pennsylvania Woodland Association