Outdoors photo

Food plot plantings can be engineered to help reduce soil erosion and water runoff with a little pre-planting planning to include diversion ditches while providing for wildlife.

Photo by Charlie Burchfield

When I was a youngster at this time of the year, things would get busy around our house. At home the seed catalogs were beginning to stack up getting higher each time the mailman left our doorstep.

But it was not only at home but at the store as well. Dad, along with his brother and nephew, had a well-established Farm Implement business located in the south central portion of the state.

Even as the snow was falling, the agricultural community was looking ahead to planting season. Back then food plots for wildlife were not high on the sportsmen’s agenda. But that has changed.

Today, with a little help, sportsmen can plant their own food plots or contract out the work. Regardless of the manner in which the work is accomplished, it’s important in knowing what needs to be done and a working knowledge of how to do it.

One information source sportsmen can use is through the PA Game Commission.

Each regional office of the PGC has on staff a Regional Wildlife Diversity Biologist who will work with landowners who have an interest in Pennsylvania’s wildlife and the property to make a difference.

The first step is to contact the Regional Wildlife Diversity Biologist or regional office serving your county. After a short interview, the biologist will send the interested property owner a landowner objective survey which identifies the property by habitat features and ranks the landowner’s interests and property uses.

After reviewing the survey, the biologist will visit the property and walk through it with the landowner. A detailed plan will be developed based upon the biologist’s findings and landowner’s chosen level of involvement.

There is no charge for participating in the program, nor is there a public access requirement. Biologists will follow-up their planning effort by checking with participating landowners to see if they have questions or need additional direction.

Timber management is another important component when considering wildlife habitat.

In PA, more than 70 percent of the woodlands are owned by private citizens. With theproper instruction, tools, and technical assistance, these landowners can managetheir land in ways that enhance the production of wood, water, recreation, andwildlife.

Making wise and informed decisions on how to manage land helps conserve the naturalresources of Pennsylvania and ensures that forests are resilient and able towithstand future changes.

The DCNR Bureau of Forestry has assigned a service forester to each county in thestate. These individuals offer information and advice to managers of rural andcommunity forests and are a resource for the citizens of Pennsylvania helping to guide landowners and residents in the practice of sustainable forestry.

There are 20 state forests within PA. These forests are managed by the PA Bureau of Forestry which is a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. By contacting the District office in the vicinity of where your land is located, the office staff can provide contact information for the service forester you’ll need to contact.

When making the decision to plant for wildlife, there are many options. At times the choices of just what to plant can seem overwhelming. A great resource and source of seed is available from a PA based company.

Ernest Conservation Seeds is the largest native seed producer and supplier in the eastern United States.

Ernest processes and sells hundreds of species of native and naturalized seeds and live plant materials propagated on more than 9,000 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania. And the products this company offers is impressive.

Equally impressive is the information Ernest has to offer which can be found on their web site at www.ernestseed.com. Since one seed or blend will not do it all, data is provided for a wide variety of applications.

Right now is the time to begin planning your wildlife food plot(s). And believe me there’s a lot to do before the spring planting season arrives.

SUPPORTING YOUTH OUTDOOR

EDUCATION

The Great American Outdoor Show continues to support youth outdoor education programs in PA.

This year marks the 35th anniversary for the special PA Outdoor Writers Association event. The event has raised $400,000 so far with every dollar going directly to education programs designed to introduce youth to the outdoors.

Auction items typically include vendor-donated outdoor products, guided fishing and hunting trips, wildlife art, signed books, hunting and fishing gear, and more.

A number of items featured at this year’s auction include the following: Ned Smith Conservation art prints donated by the Ned Smith Center for Nature & Art. A number of trips, one of which is a guided fishing trip with Jeff Woleslagle. Outdoor books from the personal library of the late Don Heckman will be offered. Many of the books were written by well-known authors, some of which are no longer in print or available.

The auction will be held on Feb. 11 beginning at 1 p.m. in the Erie Room located above the small arena.

Thanks goes to the folks at the Great American Outdoor Show and their support of this event. For those who attended the show in advance of the auction, your ticket stub from a previous day’s admission can be shown at the door for free admission to attend this event.

POWA is a professional organization of writers, artists, photographers, broadcasters and telecasters dedicated to informing Pennsylvanians concerning the wise use and management of natural resources.

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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net

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