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GEORGIA FORESTRY TODAY Volume 11, Issue 6 November | December 2015



November | December 2015

Georgia Forestry Today


On the Cover:


EDITORIAL BOARD Wendy Burnett Alva Hopkins Stasia Kelly Sandi Martin Roland Petersen-Frey


Georgia Forestry Commission employees who are trained in the national Incident Management Team system are qualified to serve a myriad of emergency functions. Not only are they on the ground fighting fires, they work in logistics, transportation, finance, safety, and public information. One hundred forty-six GFC employees staffed many of those positions during the western fires this summer. Read the story on page 20.


GEORGIA FORESTRY TODAY is published bi-monthly by A4 Inc., 1154 Lower Birmingham Road, Canton, Georgia 30115. Recipients include participants of the Forest Stewardship Program and the American Tree Farm System. Opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of the publisher, A4 Inc., nor do they accept responsibility for errors of content or omission and, as a matter of policy, neither do they endorse products or advertisements appearing herein. Part of this magazine may be reproduced with the written consent of the publisher. Correspondence regarding changes of address should be directed to A4 Inc. at the address indicated above. Advertising material should be sent to A4 Inc. at the e-mail address: Questions on advertising should be directed to the advertising director at the e-mail address provided above. Editorial material should be sent to A4 Inc. or to Alva Hopkins. GEORGIA FORESTRY TODAY 1154 Lower Birmingham Road, Canton, Georgia 30115

November | December 2015

Volume 11, Issue 6

November | December 2015



Streamside Management Zones The Value of No Harvest or Limited Harvest Buffers


Georgia DOT Denies Eminent Domain for Palmetto Pipeline, Saga Continues with Legal Action


Nukes, Trees, and Netanyahu


GFC News


Message from the GFC Director


Fired up to Serve How the GFC Helped Conquer Western Wildfires


A Message from the GFA President


The Outdoorsman | Deer Hunting from the Ground Looks Better and Better!

Forestry Calendar DECEmBER 7 10th Southern Forestry and Natural Resources Management GIS Conference e Georgia Center Athens, Georgia Info: Ingvar Elle, (706) 583-0566


Merry Christmas! FEBRuARy 2-6 FLA Winter Board Meeting and Hill Visits Hamilton Crowne Plaza Washington, DC Contact: Susan Klco, (404) 325-2954

If you have a forestry event you’d like to see on our calendar, please contact Alva Hopkins at with the subject line ‘Calendar Event.’

Georgia Forestry Today



November | December 2015

List of advertisers American Forest management ...............................................30 Beach Timber Company Inc...................................................30

Landmark Spatial Solutions......................................................4 Lanigan & Associates ...............................................................16

Blanton’s.........................................................................................3 Bodenhamer Farms & Nursery...............................................22

meeks’ Farms & Nursery ...........................Inside Front Cover

Canal Wood LLC......................................................................30

Outdoor underwriters.............................................................11

Cantrell Forest Products Inc. ..................................................30


Davis - Garvin ............................................................................28

Plum Creek ...................................................................................5

F4 Tech ........................................................................................13 Farm Credit Associations of Georgia....................................13

Rivers Edge Forest Products....................................................30

Flint Equipment Company.....................................................29

SuperTree Seedlings ..................................................................17

Forest Resource Services Inc. ..................................................30

WestRock ......................................................................................7

F&W Forestry Service..............................................................14

Weyerhaeuser .............................................................................22

Georgia 811 ...............................................................Back Cover HEI...............................................................................................30 International Forest Company................................................. 6

Georgia Forestry Today

Whitfield Farms & Nursery ....................................................11 yancey Brothers ............................................Inside Back Cover


Streamside Management Zones The Value of No Harvest or Limited Harvest Buffers By Matt Payne | Georgia Department of Natural Resources | Wildlife Resources Division

The Society of American Foresters defines the term ‘buffer’ as a vegetative strip or management zone of varying size, shape, and character maintained along a stream, lake, road, recreation site, or different vegetative zone to mitigate the impact of actions on adjacent lands, enhance aesthetic values, or fulfill a best management practice. For this column, let’s focus on buffer strips left along streams during a timber harvest. These buffers are referred to as streamside management zones, or SMZs. Streamside management zones often are required or recommended in state water quality programs to mitigate potential impacts of forestry practices on adjacent surface waters. These riparian areas are beneficial to terrestrial wildlife, and they protect water quality and aquatic communities by reducing the amount of sediment entering the stream channel, shading the stream from solar radiation, supplying organic material for food, contributing woody material that increases the hydraulic and structural complexity of the stream channel, and providing habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Removing riparian vegetation during forestry operations has been shown to increase the sediment load in streams, increase water temperature, and change the food supply and habitat condition, resulting in alteration of the aquatic and riparian communities. Leaving SMZs adjacent to waterways can effectively reduce the water quality concerns associated with forestry operations. In Georgia, the recommended width of an SMZ is based upon the type of stream (i.e. perennial, intermittent, ephemeral or trout) and the slope of land leading to the stream. For example, for a perennial stream the minimum width, in feet, of an SMZ on each side of the stream is 40 feet on slight slopes (less than 20 percent), 70 feet on moderate slopes (21-40 percent), and 100 feet on steep slopes (more than 40 percent). With slope being a consideration, the width of an SMZ can vary along the path of a stream due to topographical changes. Prior to a timber harvest, SMZ boundaries should be delineated with paint or flagging by a professional forester. The forester should ensure the width of the SMZ meets the criteria set forth by Georgia’s best management practices, or BMPs, for forestry. Having the boundary delineated will help prevent unwanted encroachment by timber harvest Red salamanders, found in Georgia north of the Fall Line and in much of the upper and middle Coastal Plain, are just one of the species in a wide, rich range of wildlife that benefit from habitat provided by SMZs. Credit: John Jensen/Georgia DNR 8

November | December 2015

Mature trees left following a previous timber harvest mark the wide SMZ in this recently planted pine stand. Credit: Texas A&M Forest Service Georgia Forestry Today


equipment into the SMZ. Timber harvest within an SMZ is acceptable in Georgia. The recommended amount of canopy cover or basal area per acre to leave when timber is harvested within an SMZ depends on the stream type. Refer to Georgia’s Best Management Practices for Forestry handbook for specific guidelines concerning timber harvests within SMZs. Generally, SMZs are composed of hardwood or mixed pine-hardwood stands. These stands provide mast (i.e., acorns from oaks, fruit from gums) and browse such as grape vines and greenbrier that are important to many wildlife species. Foods are usually most abundant in the fall through the winter months. Large hardwoods, such as oaks, are the major mast and cavity producers targeted for retention within an SMZ. Large conifers add diversity to an SMZ for insect-eating birds, and the pine mast is a food source for small mammals, songbirds, and turkeys. Narrow SMZs, those less than 50

Wild turkeys are just one of the species in a wide, rich range of wildlife that benefit from habitat provided by SMZs. Credit: Steve Kyles/Georgia DNR

feet wide, are used by some songbirds. These SMZs usually have a very thick understory due to sunlight penetration from the edges of the stands.

Thick understory conditions prohibit large animals, such as deer, from using the area as a travel corridor. A narrow SMZ may not shade a stream ade-

Streamside management zones, or SMZs, benefit terrestrial wildlife along streams and aquatic wildlife in them. Credit: Georgia Forestry Commission 10

November | December 2015

quately, leading to heat stress on the fish population. Also, depending on the topography, sedimentation from surrounding stands may not be adequately filtered by an SMZ that is too narrow. Wide SMZs, those 250 feet or more, provide large animals such as deer and turkey the feeling of security and a clean forest floor in the middle of the buffer for travel. There is a transitional zone from the edge of the SMZ to the center, or basically a brush layer of shrubs leading to a midstory canopy. This vertical diversity of plants increases wildlife utilization and wildlife diversity. These wider SMZs also provide timber management options. The increased number of acres within the SMZ makes it more conducive to enter the stand to remove undesirable timber species. Having more acres in which to operate also protects the stream banks from possible impact from equipment or felled trees. It must be noted, however, there is a monetary cost for landowners who decide to manage for wider SMZs. That cost depends on the species of trees growing in the SMZ, the number of acres of the SMZ above what is required, and the local timber market. In the northern part of the state where trout streams are plentiful, SMZ guidelines are more restrictive. Trout are sensitive to sedimentation and thermal pollution. Thus, the SMZ minimum is 100 feet on both sides of designated trout streams and tributaries, no matter the slope. There are two options to choose between when harvesting timber within a trout stream SMZ. For both, a 100-foot buffer is the minimum. For option A, there can be no timber harvested within the first 25 feet of a primary or secondary trout stream. Timber harvest within the remaining 75 feet of the SMZ should Georgia Forestry Today

leave a residual basal area of 50 square feet of basal area per acre or at least 50 percent canopy cover. For option B, there is no requirement to adhere to the 25-feet no timber-harvest zone, but there must be at least 50 square feet of basal area per acre evenly distributed throughout the SMZ. The challenge for landowners is to find a balance between financial sacrifice and ecologic protection. To find this balance, consider that the revenue reductions attributed to SMZ protection occur only once at the time of timber harvest, but the eco-

logical benefits accrue after the harvest and continue through the next rotation. The level of riparian protection will vary between ownerships and within different landscapes of a single ownership. The landowner must consider his or her long-term management objectives for maintaining and protecting fisheries and wildlife on their property, and plan the management of their SMZs accordingly. Matt Payne is program manager for the Forest Management Unit in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. v


Georgia DOT Denies Eminent Domain for Palmetto Pipeline, Saga Continues with Legal Action By matt Hestad | Director of Communications and Public Relations | Georgia Forestry Association

On June 17, Kinder Morgan, the third largest energy company in North America, filed a petition challenging the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) ruling forbidding the company from using eminent domain to take private property from homeowners for its Palmetto Pipeline project without explicit permission. Without eminent domain, Kinder morgan must negotiate purchase deals with individual landowners. e company’s appeal claims that the decision infringed on the company’s rights by violating state law and that the GDOT

dres Villegas said. “We fully understand the importance of infrastructure, including pipelines, to our state’s economy. But we strongly believe that landowners should be compensated for the value of their land and the timber resources on the land using both current and future values. Furthermore, eminent domain should be used as a measure of last resort and only when absolutely necessary.” e proposed pipeline would enable refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and ethanol to be transported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Collins and Pascagoula, mississippi; and Belton, South Carolina, to North Augusta, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; To learn more about the Palmetto Pipeline, visit: and Jacksonville, Florida. According to Kinder morexceeded its statutory authority. Fulton gan, the pipeline would stretch 200 miles County Superior Court Judge Kimberly across 12 Georgia counties. e proposed m. Esmond Adams issued a ruling in Au- Palmetto Pipeline would carry 150,000 gust that set the first hearing on the case barrels per day (bpd), with an ultimate caon Nov. 13, or, “as soon as practicable pacity of 167,000 bpd. Kinder morgan Products Pipelines thereaer.” many timberland owners have raised President Ron mcClain issued the folconcerns about the impact of the project lowing statement aer the DOT decion their ability to manage timberland in- sion: “We are disappointed with the outvestments while having sufficient, easy access to their property for recreation and come of our proceedings with the Georother purposes. GFA sent a letter to gia DOT. We believe that we have more GDOT State utility Engineer mike than adequately demonstrated that this Bolden on may 14, urging GDOT to project is in the best interests of Georgia’s consider the Association’s policy guide- consumers, as it will result in lower costs lines on private property rights and emi- and provide safer transportation of renent domain in its deliberation and fined petroleum products to many areas in the Southeast, including specifically decision regarding the pipeline. “e Association’s clear policy guide- many communities in Georgia.” lines for private property rights and eminent domain oppose any efforts to restrict What About the Other Pipeline? or encumber private forestlands without While the construction of Kinder morfair compensation,” GFA President An- gan’s petroleum pipeline has halted, the 12

natural gas Sabal Trail Pipeline, a joint venture with Spectra Energy Corp, NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy, is on schedule to begin construction in June 2016 and to complete the project in may 2017. However, legal action looms as environmental and local citizen groups remain dissatisfied about potential noise pollution and environmental impacts. e Sabal Trail Pipeline, which will stretch 162 miles across nine Georgia counties, was given authority to proceed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a federal agency with preemptive authority to approve interstate natural gas pipelines. In addition, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources board voted unanimously on Sept. 23 to approve .27-acre easements along six Southwest Georgia waterways that will allow the natural gas pipeline to pass under waterways. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the pipeline be rerouted to avoid more than 1,000 acres of wetlands and the underground Floridan Aquifer. Once a final route is fixed, Sabal Trail must secure legal permission to cross private parcels of land along the route. e company will do so either by entering in to voluntary contractual relationships with landowners or through the power of eminent domain, which is conferred to interstate natural gas pipelines upon FERC approval—rather than GDOT. e pipeline has faced opposition from residents and homeowners who have expressed concern about the safety of the pipeline and the potential noise pollution from the construction of a compressor station. In addition, the Kiokee‐Flint Group, November | December 2015

Georgia Forestry Today


To learn more about the Palmetto Pipeline, visit:

The map shows the proposed Palmetto Pipeline in green. The proposed pipeline would go through the following counties in Georgia: Richmond (2 mi); Burke (25 mi); Screven (34 mi); Effingham (39 mi); Chatham (2 mi); Bryan (7 mi); Liberty (18 mi) Long (2 mi); McIntosh (17 mi); Glynn (24 mi) Camden (18 mi) Charlton (12 mi). Map courtesy of Kinder Morgan.

Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Nonami Oglethorpe, LLC, Country, Georgia, LLC, and Graham Properties filed comments with the FERC regarding the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis for Natural Gas Pipeline Act FERC authorization. Eminent Domain Tips for the Private Forest Landowner ough the Sabal Trail Pipeline and the Palmetto Pipeline Project are garnering the most attention in the media surrounding eminent domain, landowners may face many different types of eminent domain situations with local utility companies or government agencies that will take private property for public use, with payment of compensation. Forest landowners should carefully consider their long-term investments in timberland in these situations. Here are some tips to consider when facing land acquisition by a condemning authority: 14

1. How did the condemning authority arrive at its offer amount (i.e., its value determination)? Request a written summary of the appraiser’s valuation. 2. Request a drawing or map identifying the land being acquired. Is the location of the land being acquired established or is the location subject to change? 3. Is the land going to be owned by the condemning authority, or is it acquiring a permanent easement and/or a temporary easement? 4. What use limitations will the landowner be subject to with regard to land being acquired? 5. Did the landowner have any plans to use his/her land for any particular purpose? If so, will the acquisition impact the future planned use? 6. What impact will the loss of land have on the value of the remaining land? 7. If the land being acquired does not abut a public road, how will the condemning authority gain access to the land being acquired, and is the

landowner being compensated for that access right? 8. most of all, contact an attorney and a local appraiser with expertise in condemnation law. is is a complicated area of the law with many pitfalls for the unwary landowner. v

November | December 2015

Nukes, Trees, and Netanyahu By Matthew Noxsel | Timber Update

With all the controversy around Iran’s nuclear program, why haven’t America’s biggest timber players stepped up to the negotiating table with a much better deal? Wait, what’s happening with Iran?

They want strong nuclear power plants. They say it’s not for making bombs, just keeping lightbulbs on. Nearly everyone in the world says, “um, doubtful,” because of Iran’s reputation (see: statesponsored terrorism). And in recent decades, the u.S. has implemented sanctions to stifle Iran’s economy and prevent them from funding their nuclear program. But recently, the Obama administration has negotiated a deal to lift those sanctions. Since Congress failed to disapprove the measure, this deal effectively gives Iran the thumbs up to pursue its nuclear program in exchange for a handshake promise they’ll let us inspect their nuclear plants—you know, to ensure no bombs are made. This has made a lot of people unhappy (not to mention freaked out!). Even Georgia Senator David Perdue has weighed in on the subject. Earlier this year, after yet another deadline in the negotiations came and went, the Georgiagrown Senate Foreign Relations Committee member told the Albany Herald, “By running out the negotiating clock again, Iran has signaled to the world they are not serious about dismantling their nuclear weapons program.” But if anyone has reasons to doubt Iran’s “seriousness about dismantling,” it is Israel, whose running list of Iran’s wrongs and deceits convinces them that Iran would never comply with inspectors. “That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” said Georgia Forestry Today

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on march 3 to a bipartisan uS Congress. “It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons—lots of them.” Why does Iran want nuclear energy?

That’s the billion dollar question. If their motives are as pure as they claim, nuclear energy is simply a means to an end. “Controlling the unbridled fossil fuel consumption has become one of the main targets of the Iranian Government,” reported Dr. Seyed Ehsan Hosseini in a 2013 study published in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews entitled A Review on Green Energy Potentials in Iran. But is nuclear energy really the best option? Some would say no. “Nuclear energy is becoming yesterday’s news, both because of the push to harness renewable energy sources and also as a result of nuclear disasters,” wrote the Christian Science monitor in an article challenging Iran’s obsessive focus on nuclear energy amidst a sea of better op-

tions. The same article went on to commend the u.S.’s main strategy to prevent a nuclear Iran—sanctions—which it claims “may boost Iran’s renewable energy efforts. Earlier this year [2012], Iranian officials hinted at just that, with the country’s energy minister calling for increased investment in renewable energy as a path forward in the face of lessthan infinite fossil fuels supplies and the sanctions regime.” Is another renewable energy option on the table in current talks between uS and Iran? Not really. So far, the nuclear Iran controversy has been limited to a ‘yes’ or ‘No’ opinion on letting them improve their program or not. Though there are many critics, few have explored whether there is a better option altogether. President Obama pointed out this exact hole in Netanyahu’s harsh critique of the current deal, “The Prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.” Are trees the answer?

In a strange coincidence, however, the American timber industry has been 15

booming with biomass fuel production in the form of wood pellets. In fact, Georgia now boasts the world’s largest wood pellet plant, Georgia Biomass, which can produce over 750,000 tons of pellets annually. In Iran, the soil is ripe for the American industry to expand. “The byproducts from Iran’s forests, which are located in the Alborz mountain in the north and Zagros mountain in the west, have an excellent capability for biofuel production,” reports Dr. Hosseini in the Review on Green Energy Potentials in Iran. “The estimated area of these jungles exceeds 1.9 million hectares which could be a great source of renewable energy.” Building industrial infrastructure for wood pellet production in Iran could take several years. But perhaps that’s just what American biomass companies are uniquely prepared to do—after all, they’ve done a remarkable job transmuting the latest renewable technology into viable businesses in Georgia. And in the mean time, while Iranian plants would be being built, American companies such as Georgia Biomass may find in Iran a new customer. Could the American timber industry produce enough wood pellets for Iran? It’s feasible, but would require efficient collaboration within the uS forest industry and also between big investors around the world. If Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a deal that contracted private American biomass mills to export wood pellets to Iran, it could mean lots of work for lots of people. Our pellet mills would be strapped with the responsibility of increasing their production. European and American investors would need to collaborate on constructing Iran’s Biomass power plant infrastructure. And, to top it all off, such a deal would essentially force Iran to reduce their carbon footprint by an unfathomable quantity. 16

It would be a nightmare win for everyone. That is, of course, if Iran’s pursuit of alternative energy sources are, as they claim, pure and without ulterior motive (i.e. E=mC²).

cused on their domestic obligations to realize the opportunities they’re missing globally. Rick Holley and Doyle Simmons, CEOs of two of our nation’s largest timber companies, Plum Creek Timber and Weyerhaeuser respectively, have done a brilliant job weathering economic blunders since 2008; few industries were hit as hard by the housing crash as the industry responsible for raw building materials, yet these and timber executives like them showed remarkable poise and ingenuity. Nowadays, the American timber market isn’t just stable, it’s growing. Nevertheless, timber industry leaders are failing to capitalize on this crucial opportunity that would catapult their companies (and perhaps the entire timber industry) into a new stratosphere of global leadership. The timber industry has been pelted with nothing but negative press since the ’80s from the green movement. They responded with their chin up, pouring millions of dollars and resources into programs that showcase the environmental and carbon-responsibility of their industry. With tragic irony, however, the American timber industry is presently ignoring a stage whereon they could make

So why isn’t biomass power via wood pellets being proposed?

Two reasons. First, biomass from timber gets a lot of undue flack from the media. In response, the biomass industry has responded forcibly by launching media campaigns such as Biomass101 to combat lies and misunderstandings around the central issues. The second reason wood pellets are not littered across the Iranian negotiating table is because American timber companies haven’t brought it up. The omission causes one to suspect that timber companies are too myopically foNovember | December 2015

a definitive statement about the renewable superiority of their products on the global market. What if it’s unrealistic for timber companies to step up to the plate? Then the mere attempt would—for the first time, perhaps—give them a voice in a global debate. It would prove to everyone that they’re looking forward and outward (as opposed to merely inward). Being momentary stewards of our planet’s most useful resource, timber companies that dare to strategize ways to solve Iran’s energy problem would set a precedent for generations to come. Privilege and comfort are no qualification for apathy. But Biomass companies are getting bad press for using whole trees instead of forest byproducts. Then naysayers should be directed to scientific resources stating otherwise, such as the National Association of university Forest Resource Programs. But even still, why not

Georgia Forestry Today

also use criticism as an impetus to improve the process? Why not put pressure on the industry’s technological juggernauts to optimize biomass efficiency? Whether warranted or not, persecution gives people a reason to work harder, smarter, and prouder. And if the attempt fails, if the press continues reaching into their armory of misconstrued facts and points once again at the timber industry’s carbon inefficiencies, what would tree people lose? Nothing. Tomorrow morning, every person in America will wake up, sit down, and use toilet paper—flushing away the timber industry’s fears by giving them yet another reason to harvest and grow more trees. The timber industry can afford failure, but it cannot afford stagnancy. Failure would challenge the timber industry to improve technology and further connections internationally, positioning it to serve in other ways globally in the decades to come. Standing still could

mean creating a vacuum for wind or solar industries to boom, or, at worst, it could be fatal. Let the truth be settled on a tree.

Iran wants nuclear power because nuclear power was popular when they realized their fossil fuel empire wouldn’t last forever. That was over twenty years ago. Nowadays, dozens of renewable energy sources should be conceivable options. If Iran wants a renewable source of energy and not nuclear bombs, let America’s most successful and established industry with a player in renewable energy put them to the test. Ask this question: Which source of renewable energy will emerge as victorious on the global scene? Should the leaders of the American timber industry heed the clarion call to action in Iran, we might all be growing trees in 2025, not sifting through the radioactive wreckage of a nuclear fallout. v


GFC News Updates to the emerald ash borer (EAB) quarantine areas are being considered, following evaluation of 2015 trapping results across north Georgia. Since the original regulations were put in place in August of last year, compliance agreements have been made with 44 wood processors, including hardwood sawmills and veneer mills, chip mills, a pulp mill, chippers, and a firewood processor. The agreements ensure that ash materials from quarantined areas are treated correctly and certified before they leave the affected area. For any questions about EAB, contact your GFC Forest Health specialist. e The Environmental Protection Administration has released updated safety standards for people who apply pesticides to vegetation, including forests and nurseries. The new ‘farm worker protection standards’ are designed to provide safer workplaces for individuals who may come into contact with treatment areas. Requirements for personal protection equipment, record-keeping, and training are some of the updates included. Visit for more information. e We have a winner! The Live Oak of Darien has received second place in The American Grove’s Great American Tree competition. The Darien tree was nominated by GFC’s mark mcClellan and Jennifer Davis, and local support for the nomination helped the Live Oak of Darien receive 75 votes towards its win. The tree has a 100 foot crown spread and is estimated to be 250 years old. This year’s winner is the Platteville, Wisconsin, Bun Oak. Keep up with Grove activities at e ’Tis the season to...find the perfect Christmas tree! Choose-and-cut operations are located throughout Georgia, and the GFC lists them on its Web site at Ninety percent of the state’s Christmas tree production is Virginia pine. The remaining ten percent is a mix of Leyland cypress, eastern red cedar, white pine, and others. Their average height is six feet and approximately 889 trees can be grown per acre. The wide selection is bound to produce many merry Christmases! e 18

November | December 2015

Georgia Forestry Commission

Robert Farris

Message from the Director Dear GFT Reader,


he Georgia Forestry Commission family is closing 2015 on an unexpected sad note. As you may have heard, our beloved former colleague, Dan Gary, passed away in October, and our hearts have been very heavy. Because, while we knew Dan as a friend and leader who never met a challenge he couldn't conquer, the rapidly spreading cancer that took him on proved to be his one insurmountable foe. Sometimes I think that God takes His most special children too soon, so that we who are left behind will think and grow. So we will ponder the qualities that made them exceptional. That’s what we’ve been doing, as we adjust to the void created by the loss of this very special man. Dan Gary came to the Georgia Forestry Commission in 1985 as a forester in Bulloch County. He hailed from Nashville, Tennessee, and despite being a devoted uT grad, adapted effortlessly to the ways of we Georgians. His intelligence, drive, and people skills accelerated him up the GFC ladder, moving from forester to our youngest ever district forester, director of field operations, and in 2006 to the post of administrative director at GFC’s macon headquarters. Dan tackled the widely varying tasks he met along those rungs with unflappable skill. He led and developed implementation

Georgia Forestry Today

of the Incident Command System in our Ogechee District, and pioneered the agency’s development of new processes, programs and systems that made us stronger and more effective. He took on chief of administration and CFO duties that would drive many to run for the hills, and guided us through the backstage financial intricacies of Georgia’s devastating 2007 and 2011 wildfire seasons. Dan’s leadership also enabled the GFC to make it through the agency’s most trying of times during the worst recession in recent times, as we faced unprecedented budget and staff reductions. Looking back at Dan’s achievements reminds me that somehow, he was always one of those ‘glass half full’ people. During so many bumpy challenges, he managed to reposition our perspectives; to restructure operations that not only met the obstacle at hand, but to do so while increasing efficiency and supporting our agency’s mission. We are much stronger and more effective today because of Dan Gary. And then there are the side projects that this man tackled with ease and little fanfare. He made life better for our colleagues who came to macon for meetings or training and needed a comfortable, close place to stay, by economically renovating buildings on site. He oversaw construction of our great new Central Office fabrication shop and Central Response Center tower. He initiated and perfected automated systems for our employees’ time sheets and ex-

penses. He procured and managed some $10 million in ARRA grants, that over a three-year period effectively increased our budget and capacity to serve the citizens of Georgia. And he enhanced the safety of people throughout the state by establishing our Fire Fighter Property program—saving tens of millions of dollars by processing excess federal property to Rural Fire Departments. Dan Gary retired from the GFC on June 1, 2015, and took a post with the middle Georgia Regional Commission, where he also shared his unique skills and personality. After his diagnosis and the rigors of chemotherapy, he told me his overriding regret was that he was unable to give 100-percent to that job. That’s so Dan. The first into work in the morning and the last to leave at night. Dedication that was sincere and rare. With an easy-going smile and laugh that always left us feeling that everything was going to work out, because he thought so. Thanks for showing us the way, Dan. I’m keeping your attributes close at heart and know many are benefiting from your timeless example. Rest in peace knowing that you truly made a difference. Robert Farris GFC Commissioner e



November | December 2015

By Stasia Kelly

It’s fire season in Georgia. For many that means an opportunity to light the backyard leaf pile or to prescribe burn tracts of forestland. For a group of wildland firefighters at the Georgia Forestry Commission, it's time to be on high alert for fires that get out of control. Georgia's fire season coincides with November's final leaf fall and the first frost, both of which contribute to a fuel-rich forest floor. That tinder has been known to spark many blazes well into April and May, when springtime rains and growth reclaim control. This season, many of the men and women who protect our state from the ravages of wildfire have some new experiences upon which to draw. "Wildfires out west made news all summer," said Frank Sorrells, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission. "Georgia Forestry Commission teams started going out to help in mid-June and served on fires from Alaska, Idaho, and Washington to all over California. It was a long, hot summer." Georgia Forestry Commission employees who are trained in the national Incident Management Team (IMT) system are qualified to serve a myriad of emergency functions. Not only are they on the ground fighting fires, they work in logistics, transportation, finance, safety, and public information. One hundred forty-six GFC employees staffed many of those positions during the western fires.

Base camp at the Bear Lake Fire, Montana Georgia Forestry Today


The intricate puzzle of moving GFC employees who are qualified and available to go where needed is executed by Training Specialist Jennifer Tapley. In her role as Expanded Dispatch manager, Tapley balances staff resources in Georgia for possible weather or incident emergencies with requests from out of state.

“The turnaround can be fairly quick,” Tapley said of the short window employees have to report for duty on a trip. “Within 24 to 48 hours, they’re packed and loading onto a bus or plane, ready for whatever’s needed.” Sorrells said extended periods of drought are to blame for the West’s parched conditions, and that dry lightning strikes started most of the blazes. In all, more than 7.1 million acres were blackened in western fires between June and October, and tragically, three firefighters lost their lives while working to control the flames' onslaught. We’re Not in Georgia Anymore

Conditions on western fires are markedly different than they are here in the South, according to Sorrells and members of GFC’s response teams. The mountainous terrain can be extremely steep and high altitudes can cause physical issues, as do dust, dry air, and relentless smoke. Blake mcWilliams, Property Coordina-


tor for the Georgia Forestry Commission, served 18 days on a hand crew near Hoopa, California in August. mcWilliams said his training and certification as a wildland firefighter prepared him well. “I was excited to go,” mcWilliams said. “Not scared, just doing my job. It was a lot of hiking and very smoky, but I got used to it.” mcWilliams' job took him into dangerous territory, as he helped put out ‘hot spots’ and ‘mop up’ behind the fires. “Trees were falling left and right,” he said. “It’s incredible how fast a fire can shoot up a tree. And we had to watch for snags, and roots that were burning underground.” Living conditions were also challenging. Temperatures went from the ’40s in the morning to over 100 degrees most afternoons. Relentless yellow jackets and bees were a constant bother, and campsite living had its drawbacks. “We worked long days, getting back

November | December 2015

GFC's hand crew at the Avery Complex fire in Idaho.

to camp at nine or nine-thirty at night,” mcWilliams said. “That made for a difficult choice—shower or eat—because supper and the showers both closed at 10!” Staying healthy, staying safe

Naturally, the extreme conditions met by responders mandated a strong emphasis on safety. Buck Kline, Assistant manager for GFC’s Satilla District, served as safety officer on montana and northern Idaho fires. He said the most common ailments treated were dehydration and fatigue. Smoke was also a constant irri-

Georgia Forestry Today

tant. Incident management protocol is designed to recognize those and other hazards, and help crews stay safe. “It’s our job to make sure that all of the ‘what ifs’ are thought through and that contingency plans are in place,” said Kline. “meetings and briefings throughout the day track information that affects all operations; lookouts, air support, burn-outs. Can we perform these jobs safely? We’re the ones who decide if operations are a go or a no-go.” Kline’s day always started early with a 5:30 a.m. pre-meeting consisting of operation leaders analyzing those details. At

7 a.m., an operations briefing drew everyone assigned to the fire for the day’s important messages concerning the fire status, the strategies being used, communication particulars, and a five minute safety talk. When the day drew to a close, another planning meeting set a course for the next day, including a fresh safety plan. At 2100 hours, an operation debriefing session took place, during which the day’s events and the next day’s plan were reviewed. The logistics involved in moving tons of equipment and hundreds of people through burning terrain also takes


GFC's Baldwin Co. Ranger and Crew Boss, Troy Helms, Jr., surveys the Holter Lake Complex fire near Wold Creek, Montana.

specialized training and expertise. Thomas Barrett and Reggie Lanier served in positions that kept the operations’ wheels turning smoothly. “I am trained in the Plans section,” said Barrett, Assistant District manager for GFC’s Ogeechee District. “We’re in charge of all intelligence, weather information, maps; we conduct briefings at daily meetings and ensure personnel are accounted for. The Logistics folks use the information we gather and maintain to support personnel assigned to the fire. They get the food and set up the showers, and we keep the supplies going,” Barrett said. “Basically, we get everything mobilized so firefighters can work, eat, and sleep.” One of the improvements Barrett saw this trip was a new GPS-guided para-cargo drop system. When tools and supplies were needed by firefighters in remote areas, the package was guided there by a GPS unit. Barrett said the device enables pilots to fly at higher altitudes and reduces the hazards produced by thick smoke when making a drop. Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Stewardship Specialist, Reggie Lanier, traveled to montana on August 23. 24

Lanier’s ImT training centered on financial jobs, and he brought a great deal of experience to the summer fires. Lanier’s past work on finance teams included the 1996 Summer Olympics, Waycross fires of 2007, and Honey Prairie fire of 2011. Like Kline, most of his work was done at base camp, where as deputy finance section chief, he performed incident tasks related to land use agreements, contracted equipment, and personnel. “The incidents I’ve worked on in the past definitely prepared me better for the job,” said Lanier. “We go into these places to play a role and move forward. you don't hear a lot of complaining; people accept the situation and move on.” Lanier credits the people who handled public information with greatly aiding overall communications during the fire crisis. The public information officers (PIOs) ran ‘trap lines,’ which are routes that take the officers into nearby towns, so citizens and businesses can get the latest information directly from knowledgeable sources. “The PIOs really enhanced communications between fire services and the local community,” Lanier said. “People relied heavily on them. Plus, social media

played a big part. A dedicated Facebook page had updates and photos and was a great resource.” Moving Forward

The GFC contingent is back on southern ground now, and team members who served out west are sorting through their memories of the summer’s fire crises. Despite the heat, the smoke, the dust, and the danger, each person who went said they came back grateful for the experience, and better prepared for ‘next time.’ “There are always things to learn,” said Buck Kline. “Any time we’re exposed to different fires and different measures to handle them, our skill sets are expanding. We’re learning better ways to do our job.” “It better prepared me for anything that could happen here in Georgia,” said Reggie Lanier. Despite the hardships, Lanier said he is also grateful to have experienced such beautiful country. “montana’s just amazing,” he said. “There’s a reason they call it ‘Big Sky Country.’ It’s something else.” v November | December 2015

A Message from the GFA President Dear GFT Reader,

I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to represent Georgia’s forestry community as the new president of the Georgia Forestry Association. I am committed to making the Association the best it can be in an effort to ensure the viability of your forestry investments in land, operations, and manufacturing. e Association is well positioned to capitalize on the respect and strong reputation that we earned with the state legislature and with key decision makers under the 12-year leadership of Steve mcWilliams. We have experienced great success in recent years, and we now have the opportunity to ensure that forestry remains a vital economic and environmental resource for Georgia for generations to come. As we enter this new phase together, I want to share some of my background and some insight into what you can expect for the future of the Association. Who am I?

I was born in Bogota, Colombia. At a very young age, I came to Athens, Georgia, where my father was a professor of avian virology at the College of Veterinary medicine, and my mother was a medical microbiologist at the university Health Center, both part of the university of Georgia. I received a degree in Biological Sciences from uGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and went on to work for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, e Langdale Company, and Weyerhaeuser Company. Prior to serving as plant manager for Weyerhaeuser beginning in April 2014, I was the president of Catchlight Energy LLC, a joint venture between Chevron and Weyerhaeuser. ere, I was responsible for positioning Catchlight Energy as the preferred partner for advanced biofuels producers utilizing forest-based feed stocks and guiding the commercial, technical, and administrative operations of the company. I have also previously Georgia Forestry Today

worked for Weyerhaeuser in North Carolina and uruguay in harvesting logistics and industrial development management roles respectively. Why am I here? First, I consider Georgia home and want my parents and family to be a more integral part of my five-year-old son’s life. Second, I consider many people in the forestry and natural resource community to be not only colleagues but also friends whom I hold in high regard. ird, I respect the values that the industry and people who manage it represent through their tireless efforts at sustainable land stewardship, forestry operations, and industrial production. you can grow trees and make products in many parts of the world, but it is how you choose to do it that matters, and Georgia’s forestry community has proven that it can grow trees and produce forest products in a sustainable manner. Why are we here? As clearly stated in our mission, GFA is the leading advocate for a healthy business and political climate for Georgia’s forest environment, forest landowners, and forest-based businesses. Deeper than that, our Association’s long-term vision is to protect and enhance forestry investments in our state through promoting the value of Georgia’s working forests and forest industries while educating business, environmental, and political leaders about responsible forest management practices and landowner rights. Whether it is environmental, financial, policy, market, or operations-based issues or concerns, your forestry investment faces external forces every day, and we are the only organization in the state that is focused on enhancing the entire supply chain by mitigating those threats. What is our focus?

We have developed clear direction from

our membership to influence policy at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure the long-term economic and environmental health of the forest industry in Georgia. As we continue to grow, we will continue to focus on four main areas: 1. Advocacy~ We advocate for policies that support working forests. 2. Education~ We focus the efforts of the Association and the Georgia Forestry Foundation on educating school children, teachers, and our Government and political leaders about the importance and benefits of working forests. 3. Economic Health~ Whether its taxes or market access for your products, we work hard for fairness and a level playing field for forestry in Georgia. 4. Collaberation~ We identify areas of common interests among all natural resource stakeholders to promote working forests in Georgia. What can you do?

As we work through the initial phase of my transition, I hope we will hear from you. As you think about your relationship with the Association, you should focus on three main questions: • What do we do well? • What can we do better? • Where do you see the Association in the next five years? We are taking this message across the state with our Forestry Forward events, a series of town-hall style meetings where you can hear about the future of the Association and give us feedback on what matters most to your forestry investment. To learn more, visit www.gfagrow. org/forestryforward. I look forward to the opportunity to talk with you in the near future, and I am excited to grow the Association together. Talk to you soon! Andres Villegas, GFA President v 25

The OUTDOORSMAN By John Trussell

Deer hunting from the ground looks better and better! 26

November | December 2015

s a young boy, I remember climbing trees to explore the world around me, and things looked pretty special from ten to 15 feet off the ground. Then after many tree climbing episodes, the inevitable happened. I was about ten feet off the ground and climbing an oak tree when my foot slipped, and I didn’t have a good hand grip. Before I could say ‘Oops,’ I was falling to the ground. I don’t remember the fall too much, but I sure remember the stop when I hit the ground. I knew I was still alive because I was in terrible pain. My lungs were on fire because I held my breath on the fall and when I hit the ground, I got the breath knocked out of me. Lying on the ground, looking at the sky, I wondered why I could not breathe or even cry out in pain. I could hardly moan! It took several minutes, but slowly I regained my breath and composure. Shortly thereafter, I found myself somewhat better educated through the ‘hard knocks of life’ and quit climbing trees for recreation. However in the late 1960s, we all started to deer hunt, and we were told it was time to start climbing trees so we could get our human scent above the noses of the deer and remain undetected in the woods. So back into the trees I went, this time by way of a climbing tree stand. I climbed hundreds of trees and shot lots of deer, then the inevitable happened again. I was high up a tree in a climbing stand on a cold, wet day, when I decided to come down. In trying to loosen the stand from the tree, I turned toward the tree. I put my feet close to the tree and then the ‘V’ notch of the stand lost its grip on the bark before I had a good grip on the hand bar and was ready to descend. In a brief dash of terror, I was rushing to the ground in a near free fall. I tried to hold onto the tree to no avail, but my thick coat at least helped keep most of the skin on my arms. I crashed onto the ground and was able to extract myself from the foot hold straps on the stand with only a few bruises. I was very lucky that I had not fallen over backward and broken my legs as has happened to other hunters. On another occasion, many years ago, I was helping with a hunting club work day, and we were doing yearly maintenance on club deer stands. They had stands built into trees, a really bad idea, and as I climbed the wooden steps, one step about six feet off the ground broke and sent me falling down the side of the tree. The bottom step was a large nail, a really bad idea, and my wallet caught the nail, literally saving my skin. Hunting from the ground started looking a whole lot better. Lessons learned- don’t ever drive nails into trees and don’t hunt or even work or repair old


Generally safer because they are not supported by trees, a condo type stand, with three or four legs, makes for some comfortable hunting, but make sure it’s anchored to the ground. Georgia Forestry Today

Author John Trussell Harvested this nice 13 point buck last November at Piedmont Refuge, near Macon, while hunting on the ground using a dove stool up against a large tree.

wood stands build into them. My accidents happened before hunter safety got serious press, but now after years of accidents and tree stand deaths, new technology has made climbing trees much safer. But hunters are still much more at risk from falling from a tree than they are from being injured or killed by firearms accidents. I don’t climb many trees to deer hunt any more, but when I do, I use the Hunter Safety System ( or (256) 773-7732) which involves using a chest vest/harness paired with a tree strap and sliding safety rope that allows hunters to safely climb, sit in a tree stand, and descend a tree without danger. I highly recommend that hunters use this system. I have been hunting from the ground for many years and let the terrain, the amount of leaves on trees, and the distance I must travel to drag a deer out of the woods be the primary factors that help me decide the best strategy for any particular hunt. When I hunt at Piedmont Refuge, for example, I usually walk a long distance from the road to get away from other hunters and almost always just take in a lightweight folding dove stool. Last year I found a line of scrapes about three quarters of a mile from my truck and put the dove stool just below the ridge line and leaned up against a big tree to hide my outline. I also made sure I was downwind from the location where I expected the deer to appear. I got into location before daylight, and about an hour later I noticed a big buck easing along, more interested in finding a doe than eating. Moving my rifle into position 27

Ground blinds, like this Comfort Zone blind from Dick's Sporting Goods, are easy to set up, conceal the hunter, and are safe to use.

only when the buck was looking the other way, I finally got on target and dropped the 13 point buck into the leaves with my .270 Winchester, loaded with 130 grain Hornady light magnum bullets. A big benefit of hunting from the ground is safety. Sitting on a ground stool is about as safe as it gets, and if you fall asleep and tumble to the ground it won’t normally hurt you. P.Sdon’t try sleeping in a stand 15 feet off the ground. Ground stools and ground camo blinds are very simple to use and lightweight to carry. Many brands of camo ground blinds use flat steel coil springs that when released, basically set up the blind for you. Take down is simple too, but some of the larger blinds require a little more work. Ground blinds protect you from the wind and rain, and if you hunt with young hunters, they can move around a little bit without spooking the deer. Human scent is somewhat contained within the blind if you keep the window openings to a minimum and a good cover scent helps too. Visibility from a ground blind can be outstanding as it is below the limb line and the situation improves as the leaves start hitting the ground in the fall. Visibility from a tree stand is often limited to the area beneath the tree unless a lot of limb trimming is done. 28

To make your ground blind quieter, rake out the leaves beneath your feet and smear a little chap stick on the zip-

pers to keep them quiet. To make it harder for the deer to spot you in the blind, sit in the middle and not next to a window and use a face mask. When possible, set up your ground blind a few days ahead of using it so the deer are used to seeing it in the landscape. After you have harvested several deer from your ground blind, you might wonder why you don’t hunt this way more often. Good luck in the deer woods this fall! v

November | December 2015


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