In keeping with the weather that has accompanied this event through the years, Saturday, May 14 was a chilly and soggy day in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Happily, almost 100 people braved the elements to attend the Loving the Land Through Working Forests conference, held at a 140-acre woodlot near Corry, PA. This year’s crowd consisted of private woodland owners, forest conservationists, educators, professional land managers and foresters, and even Boy Scout Troop 254 of Saegertown.
The program was centered around several featured speakers, with a keynote address by FSF founder Troy Firth, titled “New Approaches in Forest Management“, highlighting the FSF’s forestry approach to maintaining species diversity and forest health in an ever-changing ecosystem. Those who gathered for Firth’s sessions found themselves on a woods walk in all manner of weather, yet returned to warm themselves by the bonfire enraptured by his presentation and what they had learned. Horse-logging demonstrations by FSF foresters Patrick Maloney and John Mulligan also lured people away from the shelter of the tents to see healthy logging and skidding practices in action.
Under the tents, the speaking program included FSF Board Member Thomas C. Hoffman, II, a lawyer and CPA who specializes in estate planning and management, who presented “Legacy & Estate Planning for the Woodland Owner“. USDA-Forest Service researcher Robert P. Long, Ph.D. presented “The Changing Factors Affecting our Forests- Past, Present & Future“, which helped attendees understand better how current and pending threats of forest invasive pests, disease and changing climate could impact species composition in this region over the next 100 years. As a nice complement to Long’s session, researcher Steven Tulowiecki, Ph.D. presented “Our Forests Before Us”, which used historical records and archival data to piece together what Penn’s Woods would have looked like in early and pre-colonial times, and what factors drove forest ecosystem change to its present state. Lastly, we were lucky to be joined in the afternoon by Audubon Society researcher and educator Sarah Sargent, Ph.D., who presented “Forest Management for the Birds” and highlighted the benefits of the FSF’s forestry approach to providing diverse bird habitat.
We wish to thank all who attended for bringing a warm spirit of camaraderie to an otherwise chilly day. Our members and partners form a crucial and visionary community for forest protection in the region, and this event was a wonderful gathering of many of them. Special thanks to Boy Scout Troop 254 of Saegertown, who camped out at the forest site the evening before the event, eagerly volunteered to help the day go off with out a hitch, and made an impressive bonfire in wet conditions!
Special thanks again to our event sponsors: Knox, McLaughlin, Gornall & Sennett Law, Ernest Conservation Seeds, Mercer County State Bank, Kathy & Emile Spadafore, Craig & Monica Schwegman, Bob & Jane Slagter
Loving the Land Through Working forests is an annual showcase of healthy forest management practices, a gathering of woodland owners, and an opportunity to celebrate and/or learn more about the FSF’s approach. We hope you can join us next year, and perhaps bring the sunshine with you?!