Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed? - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

According to the USDA Forest Service the amount of timbering in PA is decreasing and “a better distribution of forest land by age classes is needed. “

Why is this important to hunters? This lack of forest management in turn decreases the CARRYING CAPACITY of the land as it shifts more forest from seedling/sapling stage timber (the highest food production) and into the older age classes (low food production).

This is not only happening on private land across the state, it’s also happening on State Game Lands. In other words, this trend decreases the amount of food available and therefore reduces the abundance of GAME available on our Game Lands! Today the SGL system consists of less than 9% s/s, 24+% pole, and a whopping 67% saw timber which is worse management than PA as a whole. Why is this being allowed to happen?



It wasn’t always this way.

Back in the late 1970’s PGC biologist Steve Liscinsky determined that a “desirable” forest composition included 20% s/s, 30% pole, 50% saw timber http://www.fortgrundsow.com/PGN1978FebBradyLake1.jpg. These figures are still cited today by USDA. In essence, the 100-year rotation cycle made for “a forest well balanced for a sustained yield of [both] WOOD and WILDLIFE”. He also noted that the U.S. Forest survey of 1965 indicated PA was APPROACHING this balance statewide at the time. Shortly thereafter timber harvest on SGL was stepped up and approached 1% annually, the future of hunting looked bright.

However by the early 1990’s, SGL timber harvest dropped. Around 1999 (the same time the new deer program was introduced) SGL timber harvest rate dropped again, this time to almost 1/4 of 1% annually and has yet to rebound. Why?



It seems to me that PA as a whole has never in our lifetimes been in a better position (in terms of lowered deer density) to conduct aggressive timber harvest, it might prove to be even a short window of opportunity, and yet the SGL timber harvest remains in low gear. Why?

For every year that passes without change, 1000’s of acres of forest land are TAKEN OUT OF ROTATION and set aside to stand idle. More and more old saw timber is accumulating on the SGL system - the gap between goal and actual harvest growing wider.



Professionals managing private land for deer hunting often reduce deer numbers and then recommend cutting up to a 10% slug at a time to “get ahead” of the deer browsing pressure. At this point, PGC could take a 10% cut on SGL in just one year and still not be completely back on track. But any increase would be a welcome one IMHO.

USDA recommends higher harvest, PGC biologists recommend it, can anyone answer why so little is being cut on SGL?

I can't complain but sometimes I still do - Joe Walsh
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post #2 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 10:47 AM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Reasons given for the decline in SGL timber sales, range from depressed prices for most hardwoods, lack of industry response to several timber bids and PGC manpower shortages in areas that are connected to "working" proposed SGL timber sales.

This is from the PA Hardwoods Council:

PA Agriculture hardwoods 6/2010

Quote:
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and the Pennsylvania Game Commission generated approximately $39 million and $15 million respectively in timber sales revenue for the state in 2006; and have generated $463 million in the past ten years. Pennsylvania’s private forest landowners take in an estimated $300 million per year from the sales of standing timber.

The industry, however, is in severe trouble as a result of the current US recession.

Demand for wood products of all kinds is only half of that in recent years. We have seen many small and medium sized sawmills close and larger mills reduce their production. Overall lumber production is down to about 500 million board feet, which is much less than half of capacity. Evidence suggests that hundreds of loggers have left the business in recent years. As conditions persist or deteriorate further over the next year, we will see many more loggers and small sawmills disappear. A number of additional large sawmills will also close, perhaps permanently. Current employment is about 62,000 people. The effects of this recession are likely to alter the face of the hardwoods industry in Pennsylvania, which will in turn exacerbate the declining economic conditions in much of rural Pennsylvania. Recently, state funding to support the Hardwoods Development Council’s efforts to assist the industry has been cut.
My personal opinion is, that while timber sales would help improve wildlife habitats on many SGLs, what sense does it make to sell valuable trees in a depressed economy, when those same trees would produce more return once the economy recovers and market prices rise?

If an oak is worth $500 today, but might be worth far more than that in another year or two if the economy recovers, why sell it now? The tree is not "going anywhere" in the meantime.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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post #3 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 10:47 AM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Timber harvests have been down on federal and state owned land for awhile. When it comes to a deer herd, harvesting of timber is necessary.
It was some twenty years ago I lost a lease to some timber company land. They sold all their land in that state. Had used the timber for newspaper print. And as you notice, there's a lot of use of timber for newspapers these days.
(Being my cynical self of course)

If the trees in your hunting place are getting thicker and heavier, did you notice less deer.
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post #4 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 11:39 AM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Quote:
My personal opinion is, that while timber sales would help improve wildlife habitats on many SGLs, what sense does it make to sell valuable trees in a depressed economy, when those same trees would produce more return once the economy recovers and market prices rise?

If an oak is worth $500 today, but might be worth far more than that in another year or two if the economy recovers, why sell it now? The tree is not "going anywhere" in the meantime.
On the surface this logic makes sense to most business minded people.
But in my opinion we're talking 100 years @ 1% per year. At the end of the century you can look back and say, there were years we made alot of money by logging. Then there were years we din't make hardly any money.
They should strive for cutting that 1% every year and take the good with the bad. Who's to say the price of lumber will rebound anytime soon? What happens if it takes another 10 years for the price of lumber to go back up.
Do we sacrifice the health of our SGL's in hopes of a higher price?
There will most certainly be swings in prices during any given century. The prices might even go down further if we wait.

I've spent most of my money on Waterfowling, Women and Whiskey.
The rest of my money I just wasted.
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post #5 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 11:42 AM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DennyF
My personal opinion is, that while timber sales would help improve wildlife habitats on many SGLs, what sense does it make to sell valuable trees in a depressed economy, when those same trees would produce more return once the economy recovers and market prices rise?

If an oak is worth $500 today, but might be worth far more than that in another year or two if the economy recovers, why sell it now? The tree is not "going anywhere" in the meantime.
Because the PGC is tasked with managing wildlife, not timber sales.

I think they should be on a rotation no matter the market rate. I also feel that they should be doing what I believe are called biomass cuts. The ones where they take low quality trees such as maples that are growing as a result of their last cuts 20-30 years ago. SGL 39 is what I have in mind.

That gamelands has thousands of acres of maple in pole stage that doesn't support anything. Cut it and make paper. Then plant and manage the regrowth. We need more successional habitat on gamelands no matter the value of the trees.

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #6 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 12:43 PM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Some valid points in the last two posts, but one also has to realize that SGL Food and Cover Corps personnel levels had dropped over the past several years and are just now being brought back up to levels that can support more SGL work being done.

If timber contracts aren't producing the desired harvests and it becomes the task of SGL crews to improve habitats via several kinds of clearing, then thank the influx of Marcellus gas revenues and other funding, for bringing personnel levels back up to where they belong.

If they didn't have the necessary equipment and people to do those jobs over the past 10 years, then they weren't going to get done.

Some folks' learnin' curves just look like circles...3A Camp/also hunt 4B
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post #7 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 12:57 PM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Are they the game commission or the tree commission?

They have an answer for every question. Lets see...."we manage for habitat. not timber production"......"we can't timber because of the economy being depressed."...."half the forested area is non manageable"... on and on.

Good question Grundsow! ..and good luck!
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post #8 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 02:29 PM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

You mean to tell me there would be no contractor interested in cutting trees and habitat improvement if it was built into the bidding?

It just means there would be less revenue produced by the cut.

Food and Cover crew wouldn't have to lift a finger.

The deer didn't disappear.... the 250,000 guys who used to walk around and make the deer move did.
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post #9 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 02:38 PM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

According to Roe, the PGC is now just about fully staffed and on a much better financial footing thanks to gas monies. They should be timbering most SGL tracks, regardless if there is profit in it or not. If they break even, the wildlife amd the hunters win.

I support all hunters, regardless of weapon or technique!
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post #10 of 271 (permalink) Old 10-01-2013, 02:44 PM
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Re: Why Are SGL So Poorly Managed?

Only you can help start a forest fire.

Preventing forest fires is part of the reason we have the mess we do. Cant cut it cause some greasy pig cant line his pockets with the money. I bet if some greaseball could get a kickback that timber would drop real fast.

What I say might not be the popular trend but at least Im not afraid to speak my mind!
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