A weekly blog for all things conservation
Reprinted from Forest Fridays- a DCNR publication.
by Ryan Reed, Natural Resource Program Specialist, Bureau of Forestry.
Just a few years ago the topic of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was at the forefront of natural science and media inquiry in Pennsylvania. CCD is the term applied to the sudden deaths of entire honeybee colonies, many of which are domesticated hives. The phenomenon of CCD portended the potential for massive losses of food production capability, as domesticated bees (through pollination) are responsible for a reported one-third of all the food we eat. CCD has no doubt affected food supplies and cost.
Research points to multiple reasons for CCD, suggesting a synergistic effect between these factors, which include chemicals like insecticides and herbicides, parasitic mites and other pathogens, and loss of habitat.
Reprint from Forest Fridays, DCNR newsletter.
By: Ryan Reed, Natural Resource Program Specialist, Bureau of Forestry.
The term “weed” has a very negative connotation in the eyes of most gardeners and horticulture professionals. Merriam-Webster defines a weed as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing.”
I’ve spent countless hours, with many a subsequent back ache, pulling weeds in my gardens. They grow relentlessly it seems, and every spring I know the task begins anew.
By: Kevin Brown, BCCD, Ag Team Leader
We had a meeting at the Fire Hall a couple weeks ago where we talked about no till gardening, stormwater control, rain barrels, rain gardens, pollinators, and the like. At the end of the meeting, one of the attendees came up to me and had a story about a neighbor spraying their “weeds”. It reminded me of a couple stories that I had that were very similar. His story went like this: He is a farmer and he uses herbicides. He has neighbors that have various opinions on sprays. We all do. He tries to be as conscientious as he can be with what he is using. He needs a license to use them, he has to go through training, and he knows any herbicide he is using as well as anyone can. He has a neighbor that is anti-Roundup to the max. Some people are. Is it media or facts? I don’t know, and it is not the reason for the article. For this person, sprays in general can be used, but Roundup is (insert your worst verb or pronoun here). As he was working his field one day, he witnesses his neighbor come out with their sprayer, fill it, go spray “weeds”, and come back to refill. They do this maybe 3-4 times before he decides he needs to go talk to this person. As he is asking about what they are doing, they tell him that “at least it is not Roundup!!!”. He asks to see what they are using, and how much. He informs them that the amount that they had already used probably could have done an entire field, not the little, tiny area that they had covered. The response was, “But I want it DEAD (GONE)!!!”. So, Roundup is bad, but putting 10x the amount of herbicide needed on an area is ok??? (And not the right spray for the job either) I have had the exact same conversation with other people, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share at least a couple of comments on this topic.
From Kevin Brown, BCCD -this is a reprint from an web article I saw the other day. It hit home after I was mowing lawn the other day and was concerned of the number of honeybees that would not leave their flowers, even if I slowed way down, and went through the mower. Bees are already in huge decline without us killing even more this way. What is the answer?
Authors: Alex Schultz, Co-Chair of Pollenablers–Fox Cities, Bee City USA Appleton
Israel Del Toro, President of Appleton Pollinator Project, Bee Campus USA Lawrence University
The Appleton Bee City USA affiliate group, Pollenablers-Fox Cities, and the Bee Campus USA affiliate group, Appleton Pollinator Project, teamed up in 2020 to launch the United States’ first No Mow May initiative, an import from Great Britain’s Plantlife organization. The basic tenet of the program being the voluntary delay of early lawn mowing for the month of May increases spring pollinator habitat and foraging opportunities as early flowering grasses and sedges are allowed time to blossom and provide an essential boost of energy for pollinating insects.
Kevin Brown, BCCD, Ag Team Leader
I will call it this for lack of a better term right now. The Conservation District will hold a meeting this Saturday, the 14th, to talk about a number of outdoor, around-the-house topics. We get a lot of interest in our No-Till Garden information when we present it. This will be the first topic on the agenda. I will confess that I am no gardener. In fact, I used to hate gardening. However, I have found a new way- Mulch, Plant, Harvest, Repeat. Even I can do that little. I don’t have to till, and even better, I don’t have to weed or water it. I can enjoy my summer instead of chasing the garden chores the whole time.
By Kevin Brown- BCCD, Ag team Leader
If you are a regular reader of the column, or you have read something that sparked your interest, or you just disagree with something you have read, here is your chance to talk about it. We have received a grant to hold two meetings to talk about a lot of the conservation practices that we continually talk about and promote. I am going to structure the meetings to be more informal where we can listen to each other and find out what experiences other locals have had. There are a lot of people out there that are a lot smarter than I am and they have maybe done things a certain way for a long period of time and have been very successful at it. Why wouldn’t we want to hear from them? If you would like to be one of “them”, or if you want to hear from “them”, make plans to be there. I think we have plenty of great topics to talk about.
By Megan Brown, Ag Resource Specialist, BCCD
The new year has finally rolled around, and we all know what that means… snow, cold weather, and short, dreary days. This time of the year always seems to drag on for me. The main holidays are over, and the excitement of snow/winter activities has worn off. Now it is time to wait for spring to roll around. Spring is one of my favorite times of the year! The snow finally starts to melt, the days get a little longer, grass begins to grow, and the best part is when the flowers begin to bloom. I love flowers and the color and joy that they can bring to your home. My least favorite time of the year is when the cold weather rolls around and kills all the beautiful blooms that were once growing around my house. Sadly, this is the time of the year we are stuck in now. However, thanks to florists we can have these bright and beautiful blooms at any time during the year! Being able to bring a floral arrangement inside my home this time of the year seems to mean so much more to me. The flowers add color, hope, happiness, and joy to the space. Doesn’t this make you want to run right out to the flower shop and grab a whole bunch of flowers?!
By: Kevin Brown, Ag Team Leader, BCCD
Have you ever been told that, or maybe even thought that? Do you see places that aren’t immaculately manicured as “looking like crap”? Have you ever thought that maybe there was a higher purpose for that? One place I am talking about is pollinator habitat. Sure, some of these areas look beautiful in the summer when everything is blooming and when insects, birds, caterpillars and everything else is visiting the area. However, when it has used up its usefulness, we want to get rid of it as soon as possible. After all, “It looks like crap”. I have an area down here at the office that is right by the mailboxes for all the world to see. Sometimes, when I pass by it coming in to work, I even think that. It is old, dead, brown stalks of various flowers still standing 4-6’ tall. It takes me a minute to get past it, but I can because I know why it is there. We have another area at the end of the building which looks even “worse”. At least to us humans. Again, I know why it is there, so I leave it alone for the most part. Most people understand pollinator gardens for the summer. It is pretty easy to see with all the wildlife that visits them, and they are beautiful, so no one complains. However, most people don’t know that this is where a lot of insects overwinter. Because of the way we are trained, it is a lot harder to look at it for the 6 months of winter, standing there dead and all. But it is still serving a purpose.
By Dan Rhodes, Education Coordinator
At first glance, coming up with the correct answer to this question might seem easier than Babe Ruth hitting a home run in the Little League World Series. Like many environmental questions though, this question is more complicated than it appears. For many Americans this Christmas, choosing to buy an artificial tree instead of a real tree, is in their minds, just one more way they can do their part in helping to use natural resources wisely. But is that decision better for the environment? The answer might surprise you.
.By MEGAN ROUGHT Ag Resource Specialist
Christmas is in the air and what better way to get into the holiday spirit then going out and getting yourself a fresh cut Christmas tree.
One of my favorite traditions to do during the Christmas season is go to a local U-cut Christmas tree farm and find the perfect tree. My family and I will scour the fields until we find the perfect tree.
We then cut it down, take it home, and decorate it with all our ornaments and lights. But then what do you do when Christmas is over, and the tree must come down? Many people don’t realize that there are multiple different environmentally friendly options. Your Christmas tree can be used as habitat/shelter, food, or even erosion control
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District