Forest-Stewardship Plan Approved for Morgan Valley Property

Published 11.20.2001


The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recently approved Pennsylvania College of Technology's forest-stewardship plan for a property straddling Bald Eagle Ridge in southwest Lycoming County.

The primary goals set forth in the plan for the 439-acre Morgan Valley retreat center property are to generate forestry-education research projects, enhance wildlife habitat, improve recreational opportunities and promote sound forest-management practices.

The consultants who prepared the plan are Jack E. Fisher, a laboratory assistant for forest technology at Penn College, and Brian E. Salvato.

Fisher, Salvato and Gary Glick, the service forester for DCNR who approved the stewardship plan, are all graduates of the College's Forest Technology program. Fisher and Glick were both members of the Class of 1973; Salvato graduated in 1997.

One of the first actions to be taken under the plan will be to conduct a thinning harvest or "timber stand improvement" cut to remove diseased and poor-quality trees and promote the growth of desirable tree species.

In addition, nest boxes that can be used by squirrels, owls and other wildlife will be erected to compensate for a dearth of natural cavities in trees.

Finally, students will conduct a number of "mini-projects" on the property, including checking on regeneration of trees, surveying the effects of the deer browse and monitoring the population of the destructive gypsy moth and other pests, allowing for accurate projections of future losses from defoliation.

Penn College courses that will make use of the Morgan Valley property include Forest Ecology, Forest Mensuration, Timber Harvesting and Equipment, Wildlife Management, and Forest Land Management, Fisher said. Students will also use Global Positioning System/Geographic Information System surveying technology to map "permanent plots" that can be monitored on an annual basis.

"That's the whole idea here," he said, "getting more student activity at the Morgan Valley property."

The plan divides the land into five management units, based on the types of soils and tree species present. A history of each area is provided, along with prioritized recommendations for the next 10 years.

Oaks are the dominant tree species on the property, Fisher said, but there are significant stands of maple, birch and other species, as well. There are fewer conifers, but there is a management unit with a significant population of hemlocks.

The plan calls for the creation of some fenced-in areas where deer will not be able to enter and eat saplings. This will enable the forestry students to gauge the differences from areas where deer are able to browse. Another possibility is performing small-scale, controlled burns on the property occasionally to promote regeneration of desirable species.

Fisher said building a hiking trail for College visitors to the property is another goal of the plan. He said the trail probably will include signs identifying various tree species.

The plan devised by Fisher and Salvato also includes a glossary of forestry terms and a variety of useful handouts on forest ecology and forest management provided by DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Similar forest-stewardship plans are being developed for the College's Earth Science Center property near Allenwood and another nearby that is used for training in the Heavy Construction Equipment programs. Both plans are expected to be completed and approved by July.

Fisher said the impetus for the stewardship plans came from Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour.

"I'm very pleased, very appreciative that we have a president who has taken an active role in the management of forest lands that the College owns," he said.