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Penn College Students Trained in Writing Forest Stewardship Plans

Thirty-seven Pennsylvania College of Technology forestry students recently participated in intensive training to become Forest Stewardship Plan Writers.

The training, presented by James Stiehler, forest stewardship coordinator for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry; and Allyson B. Muth and James C. Finley from Penn State’s School of Forest Resources, introduced the students to a diverse set of topics to help them become effective at working with private forest owners in Pennsylvania.

When the students complete their studies, they can choose to have their names added to the list of trained Forest Stewardship Plan Writers maintained by the Bureau of Forestry.

“We cannot get our students any closer to the “˜world of work’ as we do with these types of trainings,” said Dennis F. Ringling, professor of forestry in Penn College’s School of Natural Resources Management and the students’ instructor for the Land Management class. “It certainly can jump-start one’s career.”

The Forest Stewardship Program provides technical assistance and education to Pennsylvania’s estimated 600,000 private forest owners who manage 12.5 million acres of woodland about 75 percent of the state’s forest cover.

These forests provide many benefits to the owners, such as recreation, aesthetics, wildlife and income, and, at the same time, benefits such as clean air and water, beauty and recreation for all Pennsylvanians. Without planning, the students were told, the ability of future forests to provide those benefits could decline.

Muth, a forest stewardship associate employed by Penn State with support from the Bureau of Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, led a discussion about forest benefits and creating positive communications between the forester and the landowner. She encouraged the students to think about how they create an open relationship with owners so that ideas and information flow into the development of a working document that meets owner objectives.

Finley, professor of forest resources at Penn State, drew the students into a discussion about those things that describe and reflect sustainable forest management. Too often, forest owners harvest trees without thinking about the longer-term impacts of their decisions on their other ownership and management objectives. He encouraged the students to talk with forest owners about the trees they will leave after the harvest and the need to provide for the future forest by caring about regeneration and the residual stands.

The training concluded with Stiehler covering the minimum requirements for creating a Forest Stewardship Plan. These plans are available to all forest owners with five or more forested acres. The plan depends on the forest owner clearly describing their objectives and recognizing their role in managing the forest carefully today to provide for management options in the future.

Penn College students are developing a Forest Stewardship Plan as part of Ringling’s Land Management class. The information they received, which included a training notebook and reference materials, will allow them to develop a plan that will qualify for cost-share funds available to forest owners.

The students became aware of their future roles as professionals to help encourage sustainable management on the lands on which they work and with the forest owners they meet.

Additional information about forest technology and other majors in Penn College’s School of Natural Resources Management is available by calling (570) 320-8038 or sending e-mail .

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