the wise use of our Forest Resources
4390 FM 1488 - Conroe, TX 77384
Newsletter for Montgomery County Forest Land Owners Association, the Internet resource of choice for the neighbors of Montgomery County, Texas.
Table of Contents
By Byron Martens
Driving any road in East Texas makes us alarmingly aware of the large number of trees killed by beetle infestation. I attended a meeting conducted by the Texas Forest Service to address the problems caused by our extended drought. Our trees are stressed and being invaded by the IPS beetles. According to Texas A & M etomologists there is no remedy. The long-term outlook for rain is poor. This impacts our established stands and the planting of seedlings. TFS is working hard to minimize the damage.
Our entire membership has received some information concerning new regulations proposed by the EPA to control point of source pollution during silvaculture activities. The EPA proposed that a permit be required to practice forestry as we have historically done so. Such practices as logging, road building, controlled burns, herbicide application, site preparation, pest and fire control may require a government permit. MCFLOA membership individually and as a group have responded to the EPA through letters. Over-regulation of the forest industry is possible in spite of a verifiable record of good management practices.
The Texas Forestry Assoc. is in need of volunteers to man a booth at the Houston Livestock Show. This event runs from February 18th to March 5th. Generally shifts run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 9p.m. This is a great opportunity to influence urban voters about forestry. Call Caryn at 409/632-TREE if you can work a shift or two.
MCFLOA will again sponsor a booth at the Montgomery County Fair from March 17th to March 26th. Please help by working a short shift during one day of the fair. You will be contacted and hopefully respond to help with this outreach.
If you have a need for a computer generated, high quality and detailed colored aerial photograph of your land, they are available at a very nominal cost. Contact John Ross of TFS, Ron Huffard of TFA or me for information. This new technology could be a great tool in negotiations with the Appraisal District.
We have received a great letter from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Anyone interested in putting a wildlife demonstration area on their land can contact Scotty Parsons- Forest Stewardship Biologist at 409/569-1632. They can probably get the seed donated by the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quail Unlimited.
Be on the lookout for the notice of a ONE*DAY LANDOWNER WORKSHOP to be conducted at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry in Nacodoches during March or April. It will cover 8 topics very relavent to the small landowner.
By John Fancher, Fair Committee
It is time to ask the members to help man the MCFLOA booth at the Montgomery County Fair. For those of you who have helped in the past we would like to use you again. New members we could sure use your help. We ask for volunteers to man the booth in 2-hour shifts, and be there mainly to answer the questions, what is MCFLOA, and why do you belong? We will be circulating a roster at the next meeting, and making phone calls in early March to all others. MCFLOA needs your help, after all it is your organization and, only works with membership participation.
The term "Stewardship" means many things to many people. That is why it is so appropriate to call this approach to resource management "Forest Stewardship". Our Forest resource means so many things t so many people. The program and philosophy is not single focused. Forest Stewardship is the implementation of a plan for nurturing these interrelated resources. Forest Stewardship recognizes that we do not have to have forest products at the expense of wildlife, clean water, recreation, or endangered species. Forest Stewardship does not mean we must "lock up" our forest, thinking (or hoping) they will stay in their present state forever. Forest Stewardship means a high level of concern for all the resources that abound in our woodlands.
Of the 26 million acres of forestland in Texas, 11.8 million acres are commercially valuable for timber production. This timberland is located in 43 counties in East Texas where the Pineywoods region of the state occurs. The forest products industry owns 3.8 million acres, while public forests-primarily in four National Forest-account for 0.8 million acres. The largest portion of timberland is owned by non-industrial private landowners (NIPF). NIPF landowners own 7.2 million acres.
Urban and suburban development is expanding rapidly, shrinking and fragmenting the forestland base. Population pressures threaten critical forest resources like clean air and water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and renewable wood products.
An important goal of the Texas Forest Stewardship Program is to reserve these trends and encourage long-term, ecologically sound stewardship of these private forest by helping owners, to more actively manage their land for a broad range of resources. Management priorities for individual properties would be based on the personal needs and objectives of the landowner. A secondary objective is to foster a stewardship land ethic, as well as better understanding of the social, ecological and economic importance of Texas's private timberland.
Traditionally, timber has been considered the primary forest resource, largely because of its commodity value. Most landowners, however, are interested in non-timber resources, including wildlife, aesthetics, recreation, soil and water protection, wetlands and water courses. The Texas Forest Stewardship Program aims to treat all forest resources equally.
The Forest Stewardship Plan
A first step toward responsible action on the part of private landowners in developing a 10-year Forest Stewardship Plan. This plan is based on a field survey of the property, and includes maps, a description of natural resources and recommendations for conservation actions over a 10-year period which are tailored to the landowner's goal and objectives. Management options or recommendations are then given to protect or enhance habitat.
If you are interested in obtaining a Forest Stewardship Plan for your property, please contact your local Texas Forest Service Forester or Texas Parks & Wildlife Department-Forest Stewardship Biologist, Scotty Parsons at 409-569-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire Drought Situation- According to Tom Spencer, fire behavior analyst with the Texas Forest Service, Montgomery County is still in a drought situation. We are currently 400% drier than normal according to our soil moisture readings. To date, we have currently received 2.08" of rain in Montgomery County, which is around 2" behind normal. Combine this to the fact that we are 15" to 20" behind last year's totals and you can see the situation we are in.
Statewide- the driest areas are in Central, North Central, and Southeast Texas. There are currently 107 counties who have established burning bans on outdoor burning (including Montgomery County). Due to the recent rains, 1" or so in our area, the number of fire occurrences has dropped giving the VFD and TFS crews a much needed rest (however, they were back at it again Super Bowl Sunday). Please Contact the County Fire Marshall's office before you burn.
Tree Planting- The dry conditions have hampered our reforestation efforts. Many tracts are still too dry to plant and we are making recommendations based on individual site surveys. In other words, get out on the property and dig some holes to check moisture levels 0-12" in the soil. We are expecting a drier than normal year, so it is important to have sufficient moisture available. Our nursery still has plenty of Pine Seedlings available if you are interested in planting. Contact your local Texas Forest Service office for more information.
Help is on the way!-The Conroe District Office is very pleased to announce the hiring of 2 new Foresters. Scott Alford will be taking over duties at the Cleveland District Forester and will be working out of the Conroe Office until Cleveland office is set up.
Mr. Chris McDonald will be working with the Conroe District as an Urban Interface Forester and will be handling Urban, fire and Information/Educational duties. You will see both of them at the February meeting.
A Walker County timber buyer received a guilty verdict of timber theft on January 12 at the Anderson County Courthouse. Sentencing for Tommy Johnson, a logger, from Riverside is scheduled for February 25. Conviction carries a possible sentence of a fine as high as $10,000 and five years of supervised probation plus 120 hours of community service to a fine plus spending 180 days to two years in a state jail.
The court found Johnson guilty of stealing an estimated $16,000 worth of timber from the Nancy Vordahl Estate. Johnson contracted to harvest the timber from an adjoining landowner but crossed a marked property line belonging to the estate. The property line marked with flagging prior to the harvesting operation is located on the back side of the tract. According to Texas Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Clint McElyea, a timber broker working with Johnson testified that he marked the tract before the harvesting began and that there was "absolutely no possible way to get over the line".
"The hardest thing to prove in a timber theft case is intent", said McElyea, "but in this case the property line had been clearly marked. The cutting of the trees on the adjoining property had stopped at no particular boundary line, resulting in 15 to 20 acres being cut on the wrong tract.
"It seemed odd that the illegal cutting was on the back side of the tract and it stopped in the middle at no particular land line or fence" commented McElyea. "A lot of timber in East Texas is stolen from tracts in this matter. The logger pays for the standing timber off one tract but slips over the line onto another tract. This practice is called boundary jumping, and it is the most common form of timber theft. If the theft is discovered, the logger might pay the landowner for the cut timber but often landowners do not discover their timber is missing until years later, the TFS officer said.
The 75th Texas Legislature produced several pieces of legislation favorable to those in the forest community. The one that affected this case is House Bill 1128, better know as the timber theft bill. HB 1128 holds persons cutting timber without the knowledge of the landowner liable for triple damages. It also requires anyone that purchases timber to pay the landowner within 45 days, or it will be considered an act to defraud.
The law recognizes money received from the sale of timber as trust funds. The buyer is the trustee of such funds and commits an act with the intent to defraud the landowner if the trustee diverts funds with the intent to deprive a beneficiary of the trust money. A person found in violation of the law is subject to a state jail felony.
The Texas Forest Service recommends these tips to prevent timber theft. Clearly mark your property lines. Get to know your neighbors and identify suspicious activity. Inspect your property or arrange to have someone you trust make periodic inspections. Learn the timber business. Inform your neighbors when you are planning to cut your timber and ask them to report cutting they might see at any other time.
For more information contact your local Texas Forest Service Office or call the timber theft hotline at 1-800-364-3470.
By John Fancher, NRCS Forester
The cost-share programs are available to assist landowners with installing or improving conservation practices. They are the Forest Incentive Program-FIP, and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program-EQIP.
FIP is assistance for increasing the production of wood fiber. The maximum amount of funds that can be obligated is $10,000. Three forestland practices are available for cost-share assistance: 1) FP-1, planting trees, 2) FP-2, improving a stand of forest trees, and 3) FP-3, site preparation for natural regeneration. FIP may cost-share up to 50% of the average actual cost. The landowner has a maximum of 20 months to install the practice, and agrees to keep the practice for 10 years from the date of planting.
If you are anticipating a 2001 or 2002 planting, now is a good time to contact the local NRCS office serving the county your land is located in or, in Texas, the local Texas Forest Service office. Not all counties are FIP eligible, but most counties in East Texas are.
If the land is sold or the practice is destroyed, the landowner must pay back the cost-share money plus accumulated interest. The only three exceptions are: 1) is the land sold, the new landowner may agree in writing to accept the contact provisions; 2) if the practice fails due to fault of the producer, example, drought; and 3) if something causes you to loose control of the land that is beyond your control, example, condemnation.
Special Note: Some disaster-designated funds are still for assisting private, non-industrial landowners who planted pine trees in 1997, 1998, and/or 1999 that died as a result of drought. Assistance may be requested for site prep, tree seedlings, and tree planting.
EQIP is assistance for enhancing environmental quality. Montgomery County is located in the Upper San Jacinto Geographic Priority Area. The Primary Resource Concern is water quality. This concern is for decreasing sedimentation and siltation, collecting in Lake Houston and Lake Conroe.
Many more conservation practices are eligible for cost-share assistance under this program, i.e., ponds, firebreaks, pasture and hay-land planting, fencing, pipelines for livestock water, wildlife food plots and many more.
This is a conservation plan that installs conservation practices in a scheduled manner over a number of years. The maximum cost-share rate may be as high as 75%, no to exceed the average actual cost. The maximum amount of money that can be requested is $50,000. The contract will last a minimum of five years to a maximum of ten years. The plan has to be developed by the landowner, in consultation with NRCS. These are significant provisions to be considered if practices are not installed according to plan, or the landowner looses control of the land.
If any of these programs interest you please call the NRCS on Conroe at 936-756-4135, or the Texas Forest Service at 936-273-2261.
The NRCS has a free publication entitled "Soil Biology Primer", one per person by calling 1-888-LANDCARE or by e-mail at LANDCARE@SWCS.ORG. This is a booklet that has lots of color photos of all kinds of critters and varmints that live in the soils.
Reprint from TFA Paper
Planning to plant tree seedlings in east Texas this winter? Be prepared for continued dry conditions, say officials with the Texas Forest Service. Forecasters are predicting a normal winter but say it could be a dry spring. So by summer, seedlings could be dying for a drink.
"We're dealing with a rainfall deficit going into the winter rainy season," said Ed Barron, associate director of Forest Resource Development with the Texas Forest Service in College Station. "Forecasters are predicting normal winter rainfall, but because of the existing deficit, it won't be enough to pull the state out of the continuing drought as we head into spring, which is expected to have normal to below normal rainfall."
While the moist winter soils will help seedlings take root, landowners need to be prepared to take a few extra steps to help ensure their survival as the soils- and winter- begin to dry out.
"People are going to have to make decisions based on their particular situations relative to the risk," Barron said, noting that high-risk planting sites such as those with lots of completing vegetation and/or droughty soils and those on the western fringe of East Texas are of particular concern heading into a possible drier-than-normal year.
In the early 1990's before the drought began in 1997, seedling survival was a snap because of wetter-than-normal conditions. That led many to cut corners on site preparations and seedling care, Barron said.
"We got away with it because of the conditions," he said. "Now that we're seeing a dryer-than-normal trend, we've got to get back to more closely following the technical planting guidelines. "
Barron's first suggestion is that if you have a droughty site, consider using drought-hardy loblolly pine seedlings, which are genetically improved for survival in such conditions. But, regardless of the species, there are several things that can be done to help ensure the survival of a seedling planted during droughty conditions:
Seedlings aren't the only concern during droughty times. Mature pines throughout East Texas are dying at the hands of pine engraver beetles.
"They're having a heyday with all those drought-stressed trees," said Joe Pase, head of Forest Pest Management with the Texas Forest Service on Lufkin.
But there is good news. The engraver beetles don't tend to spread out and kill as many trees as the southern pine beetle, which can devastate a pine stand.
More good news is that there is crop insurance available for timber growers.
For more information, please contact IGF Insurance Company, 1-800-933-2443.
What is the "urban wildland interface?"
The “urban wildland interface” is the geographical area where combustible homes are mixed with combustible vegetation.
During the mid-80s, people began migrating from the hustle and bustle of the city to the peaceful, undeveloped settings outside of towns in every region of Texas. This migration has led to a number of devastating fires that have destroyed lives, homes and their surrounding wildlands. The Urban Wildland Interface traveling exhibit is part of an information campaign the Texas Forest Service believes will go a long way in helping to combat and prevent these life-threatening and property-destroying fires.
The Urban Wildland Interface traveling exhibit consists of an illustration-wrapped van and trailer. The exhibit, manned by Texas Forest Service personnel and volunteers, will travel across Texas spreading its message of "defensible space" and "firewise" practices to those living in the urban wildland interface.
The one-of-a-kind exhibit is sure to catch the public's attention with its eye-opening graphics of flames enhancing the entire outer shell of the vehicles. The van is wrapped in illustrations depicting the seven regions of Texas complete with wildlands, vegetation and construction similar to those found in rural areas. The trailer wrap depicts homes in wildlands and firefighters fighting rural fires.
The exhibit trailer opens to two sides each displaying a television set which airs a seven-minute DVD movie featuring character Tex Forester telling a tale of devastating fires and sharing step-by-step fire prevention tips that can help prevent the loss of life and home to fire. The exhibit includes two computers running a CD interactive game. Players of all ages can use the information gained from the video and exhibit to test newly honed firewise skills. If their knowledge is lacking, they will learn firsthand through computer animation how quickly mistakes can lead to devastating fire.
Bright, color-infused interior illustrations graphically depict fire and its devastation to home and family. U.S. and Texas maps show locations of wildland fires, the number of lives lost to fire, and cost of property damage. A construction panel features fire-resistant construction materials such as brick, treated lumber, fiberglass shingles, tempered glass and shutters. A model home features defensible space--the space around a home the Texas Forest Service recommends should be cleared of debris -- landscaped with fire resistive vegetation, and designed to illustrate the space needed to allow firefighters room to fight a fire. All of these measures give the structure an opportunity to survive a wildfire.
A defensible space wheel is mounted on the exhibit doors to allow the public to estimate the amount of defensible space needed around a home. The wheel allows for slope, landscape and vegetation type, and height of a home. Also depicted are fuel types and fire behavior. The exhibit also carries an Urban Wildland Interface brochure for public distribution as well as other printed materials covering tire-safety checklists, developing a fire-evacuation plan, landscaping, and other fire safety topics.
The Texas Forest Service considers the traveling exhibit a critical tool in illustrating and demonstrating what can be done to protect a home and property, and more importantly how just a few steps can go a long way in making a home firewise.
Where to find the exhibit and how to schedule it:
The exhibit will begin traveling in January 2000. It will be featured at home and trade shows, county and state fairs, festivals, schools, fire safety exhibits, conventions, or any place the exhibit can reach masses and impart this very critical information.
For more information on the exhibit, or how to schedule an exhibit appearance, please call the office of the state urban wildland interface coordinator at (409) 273-2263 or (409) 273-2261.
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