Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The History and Future of Forestry

The history and future of forestry in Pennsylvania will be the topic of the second South Mountain Speakers Series on Monday, May 10, at the Penn State Mont Alto campus, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley announced today.

Entitled “Selling Conservation from the 1890s to the 21st Century,” the free public event will start at 6 p.m. with forestry students providing tours of the campus arboretum. Those who wish to participate on the tour should go to the General Studies Building at 1 Campus Drive, Mont Alto.

“This topic is certainly timely so close to Arbor Day, and in light of the many challenges now facing our forests from climate change, natural gas extraction and invasive pests,” Quigley said. “This series is designed to look at the past to see if any lessons learned can apply to our modern day environmental challenges.”

In existence since 1903, the Mont Alto Arboretum contains a wide variety of tree species. For the event, the Penn State Mont Alto Library also will have a display of items from the early days of the school, including some old hand tied-fishing flies made by Mont Alto students and images from the Mira Lloyd Dock Glass Lantern Slide Collection of the Caledonia area taken in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Refreshments will also be available.

The lecture by Dr. Peter Linehan, associate professor of Forestry at Mont Alto, will begin at 7 p.m. at the General Studies Building. Linehan will show how the Pennsylvania Forestry Association mobilized and educated the public and influenced state lawmakers to revolutionize the management of forests in Pennsylvania.

“Nestled among the trees on the edge of the Michaux State Forest, Penn State Mont Alto has educated America’s foresters for over a century,” Linehan said. “It was one of the first forestry schools in the nation. The goal at that time was to crusade for a change from the barren hills caused by forest fires and charcoal production.”

After the lecture, a panel including Linehan; Nels Johnson, director of Conservation Programs for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania; and Dr. James Grace, DCNR executive deputy secretary; will discuss contemporary forestry issues and respond to questions from the audience.

This event is the second in the seven-part South Mountain Speakers Series envisioned as a revival of the talks given by Joseph Rothrock in the late 19th century as part of his work to preserve and restore Pennsylvania’s forests and natural landscape. Rothrock, a Pennsylvania native, was a pioneer in forest management in the United States and is often referred to as the state’s “Father of Forestry.”

This event is sponsored by Penn State Mont Alto and the South Mountain Partnership. The South Mountain Partnership is a unified group of private citizens, businesses, not-for-profit organizations and government representatives in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, working together to protect and enhance the landscape. South Mountain is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The South Mountain Partnership was sparked by DCNR’s Conservation Landscape Initiative—an effort to engage communities, local partners, state agencies and funding opportunities to conserve the high-quality natural and cultural resources while enhancing the region’s economic viability.

The next event is the series will be “The Appalachian Trail: Walking From the Past to the Future,” in the afternoon on July 10. Participants will be able to walk with guides going north or south on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, ending at the Pine Grove Furnace State Park and the Appalachian Trail Museum; learn while walking about the trail’s natural and cultural history; celebrate at the halfway point of the trail with a multi-media exhibit that gives insight into the present and future of the trail; and top it all off with an ice cream cone while possibly witnessing hikers who are attempting the half-gallon ice cream challenge. This event is sponsored by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, DCNR and the Appalachian Trial Museum.

Communities in the 400,000-acre South Mountain region have thrived off fertile limestone agricultural lands, the timber that fed iron furnaces, plentiful game and wildlife, and abundant pure spring water that is captured by the mountains’ permeable soils and released into the valleys. A rich cultural heritage exists in communities like Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Carlisle, and many smaller communities.

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