Sunday, March 31, 2013

Silviculture Class Visits Bent Creek

The Silviculture class took its annual visit to Bent Creek Experimental Forest to get first hand exposure to Southern Appalachian upland hardwood silviculture practices. Bent Creek is part of the USFS Southern Research Station and encompasses 6,000 acres within Pisgah National Forest. The forest is located 20 minutes from campus and is one of several sites that are used by the Forestry Program as experiential classrooms for Forest Biology, Silviculture and Forest Management. During this visit, students were able to visualize several natural regeneration treatments including oak shelterwoods, clearcuts, group selections and single tree selections. Having access to these demonstration sites compliments traditional classroom learning and allows forestry students the opportunity to critically assess the challenges and successes of current forest management practices.

Professor Dave Ellum explains the relationship between canopy structure and oak advance regeneration in an oak shelterwood system

Students get a chance to relax before embarking for the annual Silviculture Cookout back at the Ellum Ranch

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Forestry Crew members Rhys Brydon-Williams and Sarah Jamison assisted Forest Manager Shawn Swartz in educating two teams of middle and high school students who competed in the local Envirothon, an environmental education competition for individuals in grades 5-12. The crew brought the students to several areas in the College Forest in order to explain some basic silvicultural techniques and forestry concepts. The high school home-schooled team, called the Green Mountain Boys, finished in FIRST place out of 24 teams, scoring a 96 in the Forestry category. The middle school Green Mountain Boys took fifth place in their division. All three teams are now eligible to compete in the state competition next month. Congratulations to these budding environmentalists!

Timberbeast 2013

In an awesome display of perseverance and skill, Warren Wilson's new Timbersports team took fourth place overall at this year's Timberbeast competition in February. The "woodsman's meet" included events such as axe throwing, log roll, pulpwood toss, underhand chop, dendrology, and compass and pacing. Highlights included Caleb Hawkins and Hannah Billian winning first place in stock saw, and Hannah and Rhys Williams winning second place in dendrology. The competition was not only a lot of fun, but also a great opportunity for students to network with other forestry students from southeastern colleges. The sportsmanship displayed by all competitors was incredible. The Warren Wilson team plans on attending another timbersports meet in Tennessee, in April.

(Quantisha Mason and Julie Larsen compete in the 
Jill and Jill Crosscut saw competition)

 (Julie and Hannah Billian compete in the waterboil)

 (Rhys Williams competes in the axe throw)

 (Captain Frank Secret and Coach Shawn Swartz assemble the new crosscut saw)

 (Shawn advises Hannah before the women's bolt split competition)

Warren Wilson's Event Results
event place points
Stock saw (women) 1 5
Stock saw (men) 1 5
Dendrology 2 4
DBH estimation 3 3
Axe throw (women) 3 3
Pulpwood toss (women) 3 3
Jill and Jill crosscut 3 3
Underhand chop (women) 3 3
Wood ID 4 2
Wildlife ID 4 2
Compass and Pace 4 2
Pulpwood toss (men) 4 2

Overall Timberbeast Results
Penn State MA
Virginia Tech Forestry Club
NC State
Warren Wilson
West Virginia

Haywood Community College
Penn State 
Virginia Tech Grad Students

Friday, March 15, 2013

Learning About River Cane Harvesting From the Experts

The College Forest has embarked on a project with The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation focused on the restoration and use of river cane (Arundinaria gigantea) along the Swannanoa River. Cherokee artisan Jim Long and David Cozzo (EBCI Extension Center) taught students from Forestry, Garden and Archeology Crews traditional methods of identifying and harvesting mature cane as well as stripping techniques to provide material for Cherokee mats, baskets and flutes. Over the long-term, we will be working to establish a collaboration through which The Forestry Program conducts research on the ecology and management of this important cultural and ecological resource while providing a site where Cherokee artisans can harvest material and teach our students traditional uses.
We want to thank Jim and David for sharing their wisdom with us.
Jim points what to look for in a canebrake

Jim working cane for baskets
Pointing out what makes good, useable material
Rhys Brydon-Williams (left) and Charles Williamson are conducting research on the role of fire in cane regeneration and canebrakes as sediment control along rivers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Native Grass Prescribed Burn

The Warren Wilson College Landscaping Crew invited the Forestry Crew and Garden Crew to participate in their annual native grass burn last week. The crews started at the plot located near the Fortune property on campus, burning only small areas at a time. The Forestry Crew was able to provide tools such as drip torches, fire rakes and brooms, and backpack water sprayers. Every crew member is a certified wildland firefighter. Prescribed burning can help free up nutrients in the soil and decaying plant material, improve plant growth and regeneration, and prevent wildfires.
  (Frank secret lights a row of grass with a drip torch)


(Forestry Crew members Julie and Frank use drip torches to light a back-fire)

 (Members of all 3 crews watch for stray embers)

Horse Logging: A Joint Crew Effort

For the past three years, the horse crew and forestry crew have teamed up to pull logs from three different stands on campus; a group selection at Berea, a crown thinning on Daisy Hill, and a crown thinning on Jones Mountain. Horse crew volunteer Jim Price (who's been working at Warren Wilson for over a decade) has shared his expertise in horse logging with members of both crews.

 (Crew member Hannah Billian tends to equine crew members Doc and Dan)

(Hannah, Rhys Williams, and Mike Jolly ride the logging arch as Jim drives)

(Our devoted volunteer Jim)

(Forestry crew member Julie Larsen works with horse crew 
member Trey Jones to pull a log out of the woods)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

WWC and UPAEP: Global Exchange for Sustainability

Beginning in the summer of 2012, Warren Wilson College Forestry Professor Dave Ellum began working with The Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), Mexico through an initiative of the Environmental Leadership Center. The intent of this program is to further build relationships among students, faculty and staff from a variety of academic institutions around the globe that supports intentional information exchanges that lead to sustainability. Ellum will be working in La Preciosita, a small village approximately 75km southeast of Puebla where community members have  purchased a 400 hectare forest reserve in an otherwise relatively deforested region. The community is interested in managing the forest reserve for ecotourism, production of artisan craft materials and cultivation of medicinal plant crops. Over the next several years, Ellum will be working with students from WWC and La Preciosita community members to develop a forest management plan for the reserve that fits those objectives.
Ellum with community leaders in La Preciosita, Mexico

UPAEP President Alfredo Miranda and his wife Cristina at the
WWC Sawmill with Forestry Crew Students during a recent visit to campus

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chainsaw Training, Spring 2013

The forestry crew once again had the pleasure of welcoming retired US Forest Service instructor Dennis Helton at our biannual chainsaw training session this February. Our eager new crew members finally got their hands on the Stihl saws, and seasoned veterans renewed their certifications. USFS certification is not only a requirement on the job at Warren is also a highlight on any resume for our students.

(Dennis advises new crew member Peter Arnold)

A Tree Falls at the Agroforestry Site

Over the 2012 Winter Break, the forestry and landscaping crews collaborated to fell a large white pine tree that posed a hazard to the experimental agroforestry site. The site currently has several active components, including a patch of black locust trees, several different species of fruit trees, and a host of native medicinal herbs.

Landscaping crew assistant supervisor (and 2012 alum) Caleb Mende topped the pine, and forestry crew supervisor Shawn Swartz felled the remaining timber.

Video courtesy of President Solnick.

December 2012 Crew Celebration and Farewell

The crew said goodbye to three members in December 2012, including graduating trail ranger Noah McCarter, Nick Biemiller (winner of the Fall semester DBH award), and Tony Mazza. A semester of productivity and crew achievement was celebrated with dinner and a skit night, where members showed off their multiple and uniquely amusing talents.

Pictures from Firewood Day, 2012

Firewood Day is a time-honored tradition that allows the forestry crew to interact with the faculty and staff of Warren Wilson College in the context of their work environment. It allows for professors and other college employees to collect their yearly ration of firewood (obtained from campus through sustainable management practices), and also to get a glimpse of crew activities.

Here are a few snapshots from Firewood Day 2012.

Crewmembers Nick Biemiller, Xenia Pantos, Tony Mazza, and Mike Willey enjoy the Firewood Day brunch

The crew warms up in the early morning hours around the fire

Sarah Jamison, Hannah Billian, and Caleb Hawkins take a break at the sawmill

Poplar Bark Baskets

Since the early 19th century, the mountaineers of Appalachia have made berry baskets from the slipping bark of yellow or tulip poplar trees in the late spring and early summer months. The forestry crew has had the privilege of learning this old-time craft from a native of this region who, like many others, learned it from his father and grandfather.

Students working on the summer crew harvest several small-diameter poplars for the baskets, as well as several small hickories for the straps. The outer poplar bark is stripped off of small poplar logs, and is bent into the correct shape. The inner hickory bark is cut into strips and soaked, then tied onto the main part of the basket.

Baskets made by the Warren Wilson College forestry crew are currently being displayed and sold at the New Morning Gallery, in Asheville.

 (Crew member Julie Larsen learns to make hickory bark straps from our basket-expert, Blan)

 (Cella Langer gets strap-making tips from Blan)

(Cella and Blan peel the inner bark from a small hickory log)

(Baskets on display at New Morning Gallery in Asheville)

Culvert Installation on River Trail

In another collaborative effort with the landscaping crew, forestry installed a culvert on the River Trail in the late spring of 2012. Landscaping crew brought out their CAT to excavate the area where the new piping was installed. Forestry crew members helped clear the openings of the main pipe and installed rocks around the edges and planted grass to increase the integrity of the culvert.

 (Forestry Crew members Julie, Hayley, Peter,
 and Tony brave the mud to finish laying rocks)