Frequently Asked Forestry and Wildlife Questions
Getting Started in Forest Stewardship
1. Whom do I contact to get the information I need on forest and wildlife management?
Contact your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forester (http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/county_map.asp) for technical assistance on forest stewardship. The forester usually works with the DNR wildlife biologist to incorporate wildlife recommendations into a forest stewardship plan. Contact your local DNR wildlife biologist for other information on regulations, hunting, etc.(www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife) Contact your local Extension office for educational publications and workshops on forestry and wildlife. And, please refer to the navigation the wildlife publications offered on this site.
2. Can I practice forest stewardship on an area less than 10 acres?
Yes. Management of natural resources in areas less than 10 acres can have an impact and can be rewarding. To develop a written Forest Stewardship Plan, a minimum of 5 acres, excluding one acre for a homesite, is needed. Check other links in this web site for information on managing small acreage.
3. Is it okay to “skip ahead” of natural succession by planting trees like oaks without waiting for earlier vegetation to grow and be phased out?
It depends on your objectives, whether you are managing for forest products, wildlife, or a combination of the two. However, it is always recommended to encourage natural succession which costs significantly less and ensures that only native species will grow. Contact your DNR forester for advice.
4. Is there a comprehensive list of cost share programs?
The Farm Services Agency (USDA-FSA) and the Maryland DNR Forest Service (MDNR-FS) provide cost share assistance to landowners to help defray the cost of forest improvement practices. The Maryland DNR Forest Service is responsible for providing technical assistance to the landowner, helping find vendors to do the work, and reporting completion of the practice. Go to www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/programapps/cost.html for more information on cost share programs. Or for a complete list, visit Cost-Share Programs.
5. What are the requirements for the CREP program? Whom do I contact? How much does it pay?
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) grew out of increasing recognition that wetlands and lands adjacent to streams (riparian areas) and other water bodies have a tremendous impact on water quality and provide critical wildlife habitat. Under CREP, landowners contract with USDA through their local Farm Service Agency to receive annual rental payments for taking land out of production and installing conservation practices adjacent to waterways. With the additional support of the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation/Ducks Unlimited, landowners can also receive up to 100% reimbursement for cost of installation of conservation practices, such as wetland restoration, riparian forest or vegetative buffer planting, or retirement of highly erodible lands. The contract agreement lasts for 10 to 15 years. In addition, landowners can sign a conservation easement and receive an additional bonus payment in exchange for retaining the conservation practices in perpetuity. Landowners should contact their local FSA or Soil Conservation District (SCD) Office to find out if their land meets CREP contract eligibility requirements. For more information log onto: http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/habitat/milo.asp.
6. Who is the best, objective resource for developing a forest stewardship plan?
Developing a forest stewardship plan with a state Department of Natural Resources forester, a consulting forester, or another natural resource professional offers an excellent opportunity for landowners to become better acquainted with their property and its potential. The University of Maryland Extension has also created a directory of consulting and professional foresters (available here) who provide services to property owners with 10 acres or less. The forester can help answer technical questions, provide specific information about the various resources present, and also help to focus and better define the landowner's objectives for the future.
State DNR foresters can develop forest stewardship plans for a fee, but may have a waiting list. Consulting foresters in Maryland are private foresters, professionally trained and experienced, who offer their forest management services to represent the best interests of a prospective client. These services are usually offered on a fee, contract, or contingency basis.
As when engaging any professional, it is advisable to enter into a written legal service contract or agreement that specifies exactly what is to be done and the results to be obtained from the forester. All foresters in Maryland must be registered, certifying that they have an academic degree, experience, and participate in continuing education. Some states do not have these requirements. Ask for the forester’s credentials as well as references. For more information, see A Forester: Your Partner in Forest Stewardship (Branching Out - Vol. 7, No. 3) . For more information about Maryland's Forest Stewardship Program contact the DNR Project Forester in your county.
7. How do I select a consulting forester?
To assist as many landowners as possible when seeking professional forestry services, state DNR foresters will often refer landowners to private consulting and industrial foresters. For a comprehensive list of foresters licensed to practice in Maryland, go here.
In selecting a consulting forester, interview several to determine who will help you establish your objectives, implement them in ways satisfying to you, and with whom you are comfortable working. For more information, see the Branching Out article A Forester: Your Partner in Forest Stewardship (Branching Out - Vol. 7, No. 3).
8. Is there a minimum size property that a DNR forester will visit? Is there a cost?
A minimum of 5 forested acres is needed. If the property includes a homesite, one acre is removed from the calculations, so you really need 6 acres as a minimum. See the DNR website Forestry Assistance to Landowners for fees for these and other services by DNR foresters.
9. What are the benefits of a forest stewardship plan?
A Forest Stewardship Plan is a guide a property owner follows to meet long-term objectives for forest land. This written document describes the forest resources present on the property, the landowner's management goals and objectives, and the recommended practices or activities to be carried out over time. In addition, a Forest Stewardship Plan can meet the requirement for reduced property assessment and resulting real estate taxes. For more information,see Fact Sheet 625: Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan - The Key to Forest Management.
10. Does one have to hire a contractor to plant trees or is it reasonable for an inexperienced person to rent equipment for initial planting?
It depends on the person and the amount of planting. If you have knowledge of equipment, the terrain, and tree planting techniques and have physical stamina, time, and some help, you probably can do it. Discuss your options with your DNR forester or a private consulting forester. If you need planting assistance, the foresters can recommend a source.
11. Are there any tax advantages to having my property in forestry? What are the options?
Property taxes for forest land can be reduced by lowering the property assessment. This can be accomplished by either 1) enrolling in a Forest Management Plan (FMP), 2) enrolling in a Forest Conservation Management Agreement (FCMA), 3) donating or selling a conservation easement, or 4) otherwise qualifying for an agricultural assessment. For more information, visit see the Branching Out article, Forestry Activities Affect Taxes and Estates (Branching Out - Vol. 7, No. 1) .
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Forest Ecology and Management
1. What is silviculture?
Silviculture is the art, science, and practice of caring for forests with respect to human objectives. To understand silviculture, one must first understand silvics. Silvics involves understanding how trees grow, reproduce, and respond to environmental changes. A good overview of silvics and silviculture can be found at www.snr.missouri.edu/silviculture.
2. What can be done to regenerate oaks?
Creating or regenerating new forests of oaks after the harvest of an existing oak forest is a little more difficult than the natural regeneration of some other species. Many existing oak forests were encouraged by regular wildfires that killed competing species. High deer populations have resulted in heavy browsing of young oaks in the forest, allowing other less preferred species to take over. One common forest management technique used to encourage the growth of young oaks is called the shelterwood method. This method involves a gradual removal of mature trees in a woodlot in two or three stages. The slower canopy removal allows sunlight to stimulate the growth of new acorns and existing sprouts, until sufficient numbers exist to form a new forest. New seedlings can be protected from deer by distributing slash to protect new seedlings, fencing, or by reducing the deer population.
3. Why do most people plant pines instead of hardwoods?
Because of soil conditions and climate, as some areas are better suited for pines than other species. Pines also can be planted and harvested in a shorter time than most hardwoods. An average person can plant and harvest one or more pine plantations in his/her lifetime, whereas he/she may not see the harvesting of hardwoods planted. A professional forester needs to look at your land to determine the potential for growing different forest species given your objectives and resources.
4. What can be done about the increasing fragmentation of Maryland forests?
78% of Maryland's forestland is privately owned. This means that the future of Maryland's forests, their health, and their wildlife depends on the decisions of many individuals. Because fragmentation and parcelization have both positive and negative consequences and affect an area larger than an individual property, landowners should seek information and help in determining and implementing their management objectives. To minimize the effect of fragmentation, individual landowners must work together to achieve common goals because wildlife and other ecosystem processes do not stop at property boundaries. Plan your actions to maintain large blocks of forest.
A good place to start against forest fragmentation is to get a recent aerial photograph (about $14) of your property and the surrounding area from the county Farm Services Agency office (often found in the blue pages of the phone book under “Agricultural Department” in the U.S. Government). An alternative method is to download and locate your property using Google Earth.
Good forest stewardship calls for an extra effort: cooperation with neighboring forest landowners to achieve goals beneficial to the larger forest as well as to the individual forest properties. Talk with your neighbors and contact the state forester or local Extension office for information on developing a forest stewardship plan and financial incentive programs to pursue the objectives you share. For more information, see the Branching Out article, Forest Landowners in a Fragmented Landscape (Branching Out - Vol. 7 No. 2) .
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Timber Management and Taxes
1. When do you thin a forest?
Thinning depends on your objectives. Are you managing for timber? For wildlife? For recreation? When thinning for timber particularly, you’ll want to thin when the growth rate slows due to crowding of the trees or other reasons. Thinning should remove poorer quality trees and open the forest canopy so that light can enter. The new sunlight will allow the remaining superior trees to grow more rapidly in diameter, stimulate the growth of new ground vegetation, and cause changes in wildlife habitat. The same thinning practices that improve timber growth also can improve wildlife habitat by allowing the crowns of desirable mast-producing trees (ex. oak, walnut) to expand and ground vegetation to develop. Consult a professional forester to discuss the timing and need for thinning.
2. How long does the process of harvesting timber take from start to finish?
The harvesting process varies, depending on the type and volume of trees, the terrain and ground conditions, the time of year, and the logger’s equipment and schedule. Harvest contracts usually are for one year, with harvesting taking any amount of time therein, frequently 6 months to one year. Be certain that you have a written timber harvest contract and that an allowable time for harvesting is spelled out. Consider whether you want the income in one year or spread over two or more tax years. Engage a consulting forester to assist with and assure a quality timber harvest process from beginning to end. A list of licensed consulting foresters in Maryland is at dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/download/forests/consultingforesters.pdf.
3. Is there a particular month or season when harvesting should take place?
For higher quality timber, harvesting should take place in the winter. There is less water in the trees which minimizes fungal staining. Harvesting at other times is a standard practice, depending on weather and soil conditions and other activity in the area of the harvest.
4. What are the values of different species of trees?
Forests and trees reduce air pollution by absorbing gaseous pollutants and filtering dust, ash, and smoke. A dense grove of trees about 50 feet wide reduces apparent loudness of noise by as much as 50%. Forests and trees buffer glare caused by lights and the sun, provide wind protection, and cool the air. They provide habitat for wildlife and improve the quality of our lives. To see the national average of how trees save on air conditioning costs and erosion costs, for example, visit Maryland DNR Forest Service's The Value of Urban Trees.
The timber value of trees varies depending on the species, size, volume, and many other factors. For a listing of recently sold timber, check out the latest stumpage price report at The Penn State University Extension's Timber Market Report.The University of Maryland Extension no longer tracks stumpage prices. Please note that Pennsylvania prices may not apply to Maryland or to other surrounding states.
5. How do I select the right person to harvest my timber? And/or to get the best price?
We suggest using a logger who has completed the volunteer Master Logger Program. Most loggers are concerned about maintaining the quality of your land and forest. However, by choosing a Master Logger, you are hiring someone who has received training to enhance understanding of Best Management Practices and timber harvesting method options, to increase awareness of state laws and regulations governing forest operations, and to increase safe logging practices. The Maryland Master Logger Program is a voluntary program. Loggers who have completed the program have done so in order to improve their knowledge of science and the environment within an often misunderstood profession. Learn more about the Maryland Master Logger Program here.
Most landowners are inexperienced in working with loggers and should use the services of a professional forester to represent their interests. The increased sale price of your timber will more than offset the consulting forester’s fee. The forester also will monitor the timber harvest, assuring a healthy forest when the harvest is complete. Consulting foresters licensed to practice in Maryland can be found at dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/download/forests/consultingforesters.pdf. To help you understand timber prices, go to The Penn State University Extension's Timber Market Report.The University of Maryland Extension no longer tracks stumpage prices. Please note that Pennsylvania prices may not apply to Maryland or to other surrounding states.
6. When I’m considering the financial implications of a timber harvest and other management practices, who can help me with the tax issues?
Some Certified Public Accountants and professional foresters have experience in this area.
Regardless of who you hire, obtain a copy of the USDA Forest Service's Agriculture Handbook No. 718, “Forest Landowners’ Guide to the Federal Income Tax,” and provide it to your tax preparer. The publication is nearly 160 pages and is available in PDF format here.
7. Are there any tax advantages to having my timber cut in a particular time frame?
It depends on whether your timber sale will put you in a higher tax bracket. In some instances, it is advised that landowners spread their income over more than one tax year. If certain requirements are met, timber harvests can be treated as capital gain rather than ordinary income. This usually is advantageous to the taxpayer. For more information, consult a tax preparer knowledgeable about forestry, and visit www.timbertax.org/getstarted/sales/introduction.asp.
8. I just harvested some timber. How do I declare the income?
Income from timber harvesting can be treated as capital gain or ordinary income. Forest economists recommend reporting it as capital gain since capital gain is taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income and, unlike ordinary income, is not subject to self-employment tax. When planning timber harvests, forest landowners should consider if it would be advantageous to receive all the income in one year or to spread it over two or more years. A consulting forester can build this into a contact with whoever purchases your timber. For more information, see the Branching Out article, A Forester: Your Partner in Forest Stewardship (Branching Out - Vol. 7, No. 3) and the timber tax website www.timbertax.org.
9. How do I register a complaint about a forester or logger?
First try to resolve any disputes with the forester or logger who is as concerned about protecting his or her reputation as you are about having a satisfactory resolution. Engage a mediator if needed. Consult the Branching Out article, A Forester: Your Partner in Forest Stewardship (Branching Out - Vol. 7, No. 3).
10. How do I determine culvert sizes for roads?
It depends on the soil, slope, and amount of acres being drained. Every timber harvest that disturbs more than a 0.25 acres must have a standard erosion and sediment control plan prepared for the site. For more information, read Maryland DNR Forest Service's "Standard Erosion and Sediment Control Plan For Forest Harvest Operations in Maryland" at www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/mbmp/mbmpfho8.html.
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1. Is leaving my woodland alone the best for wildlife and forest health?
Leaving your forest alone may not produce the optimum wildlife habitat and forest health. Most forms of wildlife require varied types and ages of vegetation for food and shelter. In an unmanaged forest, overcrowding often retards tree growth, makes forests more susceptible to disease and insect damage, and reduces the diversity of wildlife habitats. Selective thinning provides more growing space and nutrients for desirable trees, which in turn reduces the stress on trees and improves forest health. Other management techniques that regenerate forests, such as shelterwood, clearcutting, and group selection, can also be used to create the needed wildlife habitat diversity.
2. How do I encourage different species of wildlife on my property?
The best way to encourage wildlife is to create the proper habitat (food, shelter, water and space) by managing the stage of forest succession. Stages of succession include old fields, young forests, and mature forests. Creating these habitats is typically done by harvesting trees, planting trees, or allowing nature to take it course. Wildlife species have different requirements so you must know what you wish to manage for. The greatest diversity of wildlife is found in areas of edge, where many different types of habitat exist in a small area. Other types of wildlife may require only one type of habitat. For example, some species of forest interior birds thrive only in mature forest habitats.
3. My forest lacks herbaceous vegetation on the forest floor. How can I encourage more understory growth?
To stimulate the growth of more understory plants, you need more light. To accomplish this, a thinning of the forest canopy is needed to allow more sunlight to hit the forest floor. Contact your DNR forester for information on thinning. General information is also available here from the Ohio State University's School of Natural Resources.
4. I am interested in planting trees and shrubs for wildlife.
The Maryland State Tree Nursery has a list of deciduous and coniferous trees available for purchase as well as information on planting incentive programs. The list contains a handy key indicating which trees are the best for wildlife habitats. Also see University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Fact Sheet FS 759, Wildlife Plantings Food & Cover Plantings: Shrub Lespedezas.
5. What is the Maryland Woodland Stewards Project?
The Maryland Woodland Stewards Project is is an outreach program intended to teach sound forest and wildlife management practices to a select group of people each year. In return, participants apply these principles to their own property and actively encourage others to practice good forest stewardship. A three-day workshop is offered each fall. For more information and an application, see our website page about Maryland Woodland Stewards.
6. Why does an overabundance of deer reduce biodiversity?
An overpopulation of deer results in overbrowsing of the forest understory. This reduces the habitat of many other species of wildlife, thereby, reducing the biodiversity of the wildlife populations. Increased browsing by deer alters the forest understory thus depleting populations of small woodland mammals and forest interior dwelling birds which use the groundcover for shelter and food. Check this website’s links to deer management and see, University of Maryland Cooperative Extensions Bulletin 354, Managing Deer Damage in Maryland..
7. What kinds of plants do I encourage to increase pheasants and wild turkey?
Please see our fact sheets for Ring-necked pheasant and the eastern wild turkey for more information. Also, visit Pheasants Forever and National Wild Turkey Federation.
8. How are raccoons and skunks, that some consider a nuisance, beneficial to landowners?
Skunks are highly beneficial to landowners because they feed on large numbers of agricultural and garden pests. They seem to prefer grasshoppers, white grubs, beetles and crickets. Raccoons make their dens in hollow trees and hollow logs. They eat berries, grains, nuts, cat and dog food, fish, frogs, reptiles, rabbits and eggs and love corn.
9. Is there a role for black gum in a managed woodlot in which wildlife is encouraged?
Yes, the fruit of the black gum is relished by many songbirds. Users include wood ducks, robins, woodpeckers, thrashers, flickers, and mockingbirds. Besides, the beautiful red of the black gum leaves in autumn can add to your enjoyment of your woodland.
10. How do cowbirds affect the nesting of songbirds?
It depends on where the songbirds nest within the forest. For example, if scarlet tanagers nest close to forest edges, their eggs are often pushed out of their nests by brown-headed cowbirds. Then the cowbirds lay their eggs in the nest, leaving the tanagers to raise the young cowbirds and increasing the cowbird population instead of the songbird population. Cowbirds are rarely found in the center of large forests. For more information, visit the Maryland State DNR Forest Service's
Threatened, Endangered, and Rare Habitats and Species.
11. Are pet cats and dogs a threat to wildlife?
Dogs and cats can be a threat to native wildlife populations. Observation of free-ranging domestic cats shows that some can kill over 1,000 wild animals per year. Some of these kills are house mice, rats and other species considered pests, but many are native songbirds and mammals whose populations are already stressed. It is suggested that cat-lovers keep only the minimum number of free-ranging cats needed to control rodents. Free-ranging dogs can join together in packs and chase deer and other mammals, causing serious disruptions in native populations. Dogs should always be under the control of their owners.
12. I don’t plan on becoming a tree farmer, so should I keep the paulownia tree? What is its value?
Paulownia trees, a non-native species to Maryland, can be a high-value wood, though its value is highly dependent on quality and accessibility to markets. It is used in Japan for ornate boxes, religious trinkets and medicinal purposes. However, trees of this value have grown up in existing forest stands, are slow growing, and are hard to find. There is currently no developed domestic market for fast-growing paulownia grown in plantations. Your local Extension office has bulletin No. 319, “How to Produce and Market Paulownia” available for purchase for $2.00 or visit the American Paulownia Association, Inc.
13. What is meant by carrying capacity?
Carrying capacity is the ability of the habitat to support a given number of healthy animals. Carrying capacity is frequently used in reference to deer populations. When the number of deer in a given area exceeds the carrying capacity for that area, the deer population impinges on the well-being of other plant and animal species and conflicts with land-use practices as well as human safety and health.
14. How do I manage against wildlife? How do I stop deer from eating plants?
While most of us enjoy seeing a graceful white-tailed deer, their increased numbers have led to increased damage to ornamental plants, gardens, and commercial crops and a greater incidence of Lyme disease. As a general rule, deer consume about 3 percent of their body weight in forage each day. This may seem a small amount, but when taken as buds, leaves, tender shoots and flower parts, the impact on horticultural and garden plants can be significant. Where deer are abundant or crops are especially valuable, an 8-foot fence is the only sure way to protect crops. Shorter fences in conjunction with vegetation management, repellents, and dogs can also be an effective means of managing deer damage. However, an overall reduction of the population is what is needed. An integrated deer management approach may include chemical means of birth control as well as hunting. More information is available from the following sources:
a) University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Bulletin 354, "Managing Deer Damage in Maryland." and University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Fact Sheet 655, "Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Browsing." For more information on deer damage management, as well as information on controlling voles, beavers and geese, log see the "Wildlife and Insect Damage" section on our Publications page.
b) Home and Garden Information Center - The Center provides publications and assistance to help Maryland homeowners solve horticultural problems, including wildlife damage. Horticulture consultants are available to speak to clients on the telephone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Callers can also access a wide range of audio tapes 24 hours a day. Residents of Maryland can call toll-free to speak to a horticulture consultant or access the library of audiotapes: 1-800-342-2507; from outside Maryland, call 410-531-1757.
c) Wildlife and Heritage Service Wildlife Problems - The Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to provide a toll-free phone number to report nuisance, injured or sick wildlife situations. Call 1-877-463-6497. They can provide advice and some resources to help you with wildlife damage problems. They do not handle problems with deer, bear, and other large species.
15. Why don’t I hear and see as many songbirds as I once did?
Maryland is home to nineteen birds which are classified as "Forest Interior Dwellers,” or FIDs. These birds have one thing in common: they require large tracts of relatively undisturbed mature hardwood forests to breed successfully. Foresters and loggers should abide by the following management recommendations:
- FID breeding grounds are not harmed by thinning out inferior trees or removing select trees of merchantable quality as long as the forest canopy is not removed in excess of 70% crown cover. Some regeneration harvests (areas that are cut over completely and left to regenerate naturally) are not detrimental to FIDs either. Regeneration harvests must be conducted on forest tracts that are over 100 contiguous acres in size. In addition, these harvests must be kept to the edges of the forest and done in less than 25 acre parcels.
- Many FIDs are cavity nesters and use dead trees, called snags, as homes. When conducting harvests, retain as many large snags (ten inches in diameter or greater) as possible.
- The breeding season for FIDs stretches from May 1 - August 31. Forest disturbances should be minimal during the breeding season.
- To limit fragmentation of forests, limit access roads in forest interiors and keep them narrow. Also maintain forested buffers along streams and shoreline so FIDs have protected access to water.
16. To encourage wildlife in my woodlot, should I allow the grapevines to grow into my red oaks and other trees?
Grapevine is good for turkey and other wildlife. However, when left to grow, the vines will damage or kill trees by adding weight to the branches in the crown. This can cause the tree to be seriously damaged or killed when snow, ice, or strong winds stress the tree to the breaking point. Grapevines should be cut at the ground on trees that you desire to remain healthy and long-lived, either for timber, wildlife or aesthetics. When cut, the aboveground portion will dry out and break apart over time. They can be allowed to grow on less desirable timber trees to provide wildlife habitat.
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Native and Invasive Plant and Insect Identification
1. What types of trees or understory plant should I put in wetland and riparian areas?
Riparian forest buffers are areas that border bodies of water and should include a diversity of native, noninvasive woody trees, and shrubs (multiple species including hardwoods). Manage newly established buffers to allow the establishment of an organic duff layer and understory vegetation. The Zone 3 (outermost zone) filter strip may include warm season grasses. For fact sheets on riparian buffers, read University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Fact Sheet 724, "An Introduction to the Riparian Forest Buffer."
2. Can riparian forest buffers be planted along streams that don’t flow year-round? Will they be eligible for subsidies?
Yes, from tiny creeks to major rivers, all waterways have a riparian zone, commonly known as the floodplain. The riparian zone stretches along each waterway and encompasses the area of annual or periodic flooding. The riparian zone is the waterway's buffer. Under normal conditions, this land and the natural vegetation growing on it traps sediments from upslope erosion, and filters out fertilizers and pesticides used on adjacent land. Check with your Soil Conservation District to determine if your stream qualifies for cost sharing. For a list of cost-share programs, visit www.riparianbuffers.umd.edu/manuals/incentives.html.
3. How do I distinguish one tree from another?
Identifying trees is one of the greatest challenges for forest landowners. Certain key characteristics such as branching pattern and single or compound leaves can help. A simple guide called "Leaf Key to Common Trees in Maryland" is available here from the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
4. I know a forester who identifies trees in winter by their bark, bud colors, and shapes. How can I learn this method of tree identification?
Most trees do have distinctive bark, buds and shapes, but this takes experience and practice. The best resource with an excellent key that should be a standard for all forest landowners is “Peterson Field Guides: Trees and Shrubs,” by George A. Petrides. However, if you want a field guide that just focuses on winter identification, we recommend “Woody Plants in Winter,” by Earl L. Core and Nelle P. Ammons. A good website for tree identification can be found at Virginia Tech's Department of Forest Resources and Envirionmental Conservation.
5. How do I identify grave threats from invasive and exotic species?
There are several resources for identifying and managing invasive species:
6. What is the best way to control invasive species?
The best control of invasive species is to not let them get started. However, in most cases it is impossible to eradicate invasive plants completely. Instead, we need to manage presence and limit or eliminate their spread. While using organic or mechanical controls are desired by many, most people have found that the judicious use of chemical herbicides are essential to have any significant impacts. For a variety of ways to control various invasive species visit The National Invasive Species Council at http://www.invasivespecies.gov/index.html.
7. What do gypsy moth egg clusters and caterpillars look like? How are they different from eastern tent caterpillars?
the gypsy moth is the most serious pest of oak trees in Maryland. They hatch in late April or early May. For more details and a picture of an egg cluster, see the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's publication, "Home and Garden: Gypsy Moth."
Eastern tent caterpillar is a common pest of wild cherry trees and hatch in early April. The eastern tent caterpillar is not as serious a threat to trees as the gypsy moth. Click here for a close comparison of these two caterpillars (PDF file). To learn more, see see the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's publication, "Eastern Tent Caterpillar and Forest Tent Caterpillar."
8. What are my options for gypsy moth spraying?
You can use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) products or the chemical Dimillin to control young caterpillars. If you are unable to spray your tree tops, hire a professional arborist. The Maryland Department of Agriculture maintains a list of licensed applicators. In large areas of forestation, community spraying is an option. For information on the University of Maryland Extension Gypsy Moth Suppression Program, visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Gypsy Moth Program here.
9. What does poison ivy look like? How can you tell it from Virginia creeper in the winter?
Poison ivy has three leaves. The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden publication "Poison Ivy" has detailed information. By contrast,
Virginia creeper leaves have long petioles, or foot-stalks, and are divided into five leaflets. The flowers are in small clusters, are yellowish-green in color, and open in July, a few at a time. The flowers are a favorite of bees and are succeeded by dark purplish-blue berries, about the size of a pea, which are ripe in October. For more information, visit here.
10. What does Japanese stilt grass look like? How do I control it?
Japanese stilt grass is an attractive, miniature bamboo-like grass that rapidly covers disturbed areas.It also can be identified by its lime-green color and a line of silvery hairs down the middle of the 2-3" long blade. It tolerates sun or dense shade and quickly invades areas left bare or disturbed by tilling or flooding. An annual grass, it builds up a large seed bank in the soil. To control the grass, pull it in early to mid-summer; be certain to pull before it goes to seed. If seeds have formed, bag and burn them or send them to the landfill. Mowing weekly or when it has just begun to flower may prevent the stilt grass from setting seed. Use glyphosate (commonly known as “Roundup”) or herbicidal soap (which is more environmentally-friendly but less effective) on large infestations. Perform follow-up control in the spring. For detailed information, read the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group "Least Wanted: Japanese Stitlgrass" publication here.
11. What is the difference between Red Maples and Norway Maples?
Red maples are native trees. Norway maples are non-native invasive species in Maryland, and can take over the native areas. For more information maple trees and to see images, visit Massachusetts Maple Producers Association at http://www.massmaple.org/treeid.php.
12. How can you distinguish a walnut tree from a tree of heaven?
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), also known as ailanthus, sumac, stinking sumac, stink-tree, copal tree, or Chinese sumac is an introduced weed tree that has become a common problem in many areas of the United States. Its leaves are very similar to those of black walnut but have a disagreeable odor when crushed. Ailanthus bark is smooth whereas black walnut is deeply furrowed.Tree-of-heaven has long been established in some urban and agricultural areas, and increasingly invades our forests, displacing more desirable native trees. To learn about Tree-of-heaven, see the Invasive section of our Publications page.
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1. What is the procedure for building a pond on my property in Maryland?
The first step is to call the Natural Resources Conservation Service located in the blue pages under the "Federal Government - Agriculture Department” listings. The NRCS can help you determine if it is feasible on your property, and will outline the necessary steps and regulations for building a pond.
2. Where can I get assistance with stream bank restoration?
The state of Maryland has a Revitalization Partnership Program for Stream Restoration. For more information about funding and technical assistance, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Conservation and Restoration Services Funding and Technical Assistance Guide at http://dnr.maryland.gov/bay/services/.