Watch what you burn with area’s firewood
An indispensable part of camping in the great outdoors, whether hunting or fishing or just enjoying nature, is the campfire. However, many outdoorsmen are unaware of the serious threat to our forests from the simple act of bringing firewood with you on your outing. The U.S. Forest Service is battling the spread of many tree diseases afflicting our forests, and the fight is hopeless without the public’s help.
The simple admonition is “Do not move firewood.” Burn local wood, either gathered there or purchased there. If you have moved firewood, burn it all up, especially the bark.
Our forests are under attack by many non-native insects that can decimate large numbers of trees, often wiping out a target species. It happened in the early 20th century when an Asian blight destroyed the American chestnut, the most prolific and useful tree in the eastern United States.
In recent years here in East Tennessee we have seen hundreds of acres of pine trees killed by pine beetles. Right now our hemlocks are under attack by the East Asian wooly adelgid insect. Ash trees all over the East are succumbing to the emerald ash borer.
Less conspicuous but just as serious is the threat to our black walnut trees from the “thousand cankers disease” (called TCD). TCD is a fungus spread by the walnut twig beetle. Other wood-infesting insects that can be transported long distances in firewood are the Asian longhorn beetle and the Sirex woodwasp.
Inspect your own trees for diseases. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has a website and phone number to help you, http://protecttnforests.org and 800-628-2631. Also there is the USFS website at http://www.na.fs.fed.us .
• Tennessee middle schools and high schools are eligible for grant money this year to teach a fly fishing curriculum to students. The National Fishing in Schools Program (NFSP) is offering up to $1,000 per school this year and applications may be filed through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The new “Cast a Fly, Catch a Student” curriculum is approved by the State Boards of Education and the NFSP offers it in more than a dozen states. The program enables middle school and high school students to earn education credits while learning to fly fish, tie knots, and explore aquatic entomology. Students also learn about the importance of water quality and habitat conservation.
Grant Applications are available online at the TWRA website http://www.tnwildlife.org and the deadline for submission is Dec. 31. For questions concerning these grants or the NFSP in Tennessee contact Don Crawford at 615-781-6542 or by email at (Don.Crawford@tn.gov) or learn more at http://www.flyfishinginschools.org .
• Hunting is once again gaining in popularity. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service the number of hunters age 16 and older in the United States increased nine percent between 2006 and 2011, reversing a previous downward trend. Figures show an increase from 12.5 million hunters in 2006 to 13.7 million in 2011. Hunters spent $34 billion in 2011 on trips, firearms and equipment, licenses and other items to support their activities.
In the same report anglers grew by 11 percent. Nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing one percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Tom Wiest welcomes news, questions and comments from readers. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)