Tree farming - Case history

Outstanding Tree Farmer Award

History of this Tree Farm

When this property was purchased in 1986 it was a recently developed abandoned old farm. The entire farm property occupied land on both sides of Harp Road in Frederick County Maryland. The terrain was rolling and suitable for mostly dairy production. This portion of the farm of around 150 acres or more was originally purchased by the Girl Scouts of America. Later it was sold to Dr. Earl Vivino who developed it into a subdivision named Scouts Knoll. We purchased our choice of the woodland lots consisting of 28.8 acres. The holdings of Dr. Vivino were divided into rural lots of 85, 19, 16 and 29 acres. We purchased the first lot in the property and that was all we could afford although we would have loved to have purchased the 85 acre lot.. Dr. Vivino retained the 85 acres across Harp Road from us. Our property was in a state of neglect and had massive planting of alternating rows Scotch Pine and Southern White Pine. There was an additional eight acres of mixed hardwoods mostly Oak and other mixed hardwoods on the property. There was also another area of secondary growth from a previous timber cutting.

Satellite view of Eans Tree Farm

The pine planting on suitable portions of the entire farm was done by the Girl Scouts apparently under the supervision of a Forestry or Agricultural Agency at the time. A portion of the pine planting trees was originally intended to be harvested as Christmas Trees as a source of income for the Girl Scouts. The original intent as we understood the history was to harvest all the Scotch Pines and every other White pine for this use. Due to unknown circumstances these trees were not managed and no cuttings were made to the best of our knowledge.

When this property was purchased it was a jungle of tangled underbrush and the pine trees that was practically impossible to walk through. My intention was to establish a home here and to take care of the entire property as appropriate. I contracted with the power and telephone company and provided engineering design for services and installed an access road which is a part of our lot and allows access to the other two lots nearby in the Subdivision. . In 1986-87 our home was built on 2 acres of the property. Then work was started to clean, clear and restore order to the forest on the property. The potential tree farm was inspected, a Forest Stewardship Plan was developed and certification was obtained. Further work was accomplished to make the pine stands more accessible and to allow mowing where necessary and desirable. The farm goals were to provide wildlife habitat and the future harvest of timber products.

Tree Farm pond in Spring

Credit: frederick.forestryboard.org - Claude Eans

I build a 1/2 acre pond under the supervision of the Soil Conservation Service as a part of the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Program to control runoff from neighboring acreage. Our pond has wet weather springs and runoff from around 60 acres of drainage to maintain the water level.

The most notable effort was the removal of almost all of the Scotch Pine as they were very vulnerable to Pine Bark Beetle attack and were therefore undesirable at their size which was well beyond Christmas Tree when we purchased the property. Further thinning and other projects have been successful to the extent that we were named Frederick County Tree Farm of the Year in 1989. Once released for growth a lot of our pine stands have grown from an average of around 5 inches in diameter to some well over 24 inches in diameter. It is really amazing to look back at what the property once was and to see it now.

Current status

We continue to maintain our small acreage Tree Farm. The goals were to provide wildlife habitat and this is done by continuously maintaining food sources for various bird and animal species. Most years we have an abundance of acorns and hickory nuts. In the past we have planted buckwheat, sorghum, millet and other grain crops in small wildlife plots. We provide bluebird houses and brush piles for rabbits along with the continuing maintenance of our pond which is stocked with large mouth bass and bluegill. In addition to the bluebirds each Spring we have the pleasure of watching wild turkeys and Canadian Geese raise families. The availability of cover for the turkey and geese allows a successful crop of babies each year which are a joy to watch. These are wild animals and we do not make pets of them. We avoid contact with them and only observe. Last winter during the heavy snow cover however, I did feed both the turkey and deer population for a period of time to prevent starvation. Many would question the wisdom of helping to maintain the deer population, but we also allow controlled deer hunting on the property and strive to see that the harvest is made humanely and safely.

There is a wide variety of wildlife that we are able to observe and enjoy on our property. These include the following:

  • Deer
  • Turkey
  • Canadian Geese
  • Duck
  • Squirrel
  • Ground Squirrel
  • Rabbit
  • Groundhog
  • Skunk
  • Fox
  • Raccoon
  • Mink however not seen now for over 10 years
  • Beaver (on a neighboring farm)

Birds are a constant pleasure to observe over the various seasons:

  • Rufous and Ruby Throated Hummingbirds
  • Blue Jay
  • Blue Bird
  • Owl
  • Red Tail Hawk
  • Falcons-- Unknown Type seen only on occasion
  • American Eagles observed on an adjacent farm once
  • Cardinal
  • Crow
  • Dove
  • Buzzard
  • Baltimore Oriole are rarely seen along Harp Road
  • Finches of various types
  • Songbirds of various types
  • Warblers of various types
  • Water birds, duck, geese, Great Blue Heron

Spring time gobbler

Credit: frederick.forestryboard.org - Claude Eans

Friends and neighborhood children enjoy fishing in our pond which is maintained in a healthy state by various methods to prevent the buildup of scum and excessive aquatic plants which would deprive the water of oxygen. The plant matter is controlled by small quantities of a color dye fluid which prevents the penetration of excessive sunlight. This allows for clean water teeming with fish.

A few years back the overflow pipe to the pond rusted through and we had to do extensive repair work to maintain the pond water level. This was successful without disturbing the fish population. The pond is another source of pleasure for us and others. In addition it serves itʼs purpose to contain runoff which helps to protect the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and is a source of drinking water for various birds and animals.

We are in negotiations with a Master Logger, to do a thinning of our pine stand and to harvest some of the mature hardwood trees to encourage new growth and replacement Oak trees. We had negotiated a pine thinning in the past to the extent of obtaining and paying for a logging permit. Due to various circumstances and the eventual lack of desire of another pulpwood logger to harvest small wood lots this previously attempted pine stand thinning did not occur. However, it seems that we may finally be successful in this effort. The pine stands are currently exhibiting signs of pine bark beetles so the thinning is a desperately needed measure.

In the past we have also had the hardwood stand sprayed for gypsy moth prevention and we inspect for infestation annually. There have been no further gypsy moth indications to date.

We have also been reviewing and making efforts ot meet the 2010-2015 AFF Standards.

Our management plan is up to date and reflects our current goals and our schedule of activity implementation is up to date. Our management efforts ongoing have kept us in compliance.

Our primary problem other than my age of 71 years is the escalation of Property Taxes which is an encouragement to perhaps seek another place to live. So far we have avoided implementing a move from this property.

Forest health

Efforts are constantly being made here to maintain the health of the forest. The Gypsy Moth spraying efforts have been effective and the soon to be implemented pine thinning will serve to forestall an invasion of Pine Bark Beetle. This thinning effort is being made with the advice and assistance of the Maryland Forrest Service. The forest is being inspected by the owners at regular intervals and there are no signs of disease problems that are not being addressed.

Soil

Our current plan addresses and overviews the soil which is characteristic of the Piedmont Platiau physiographic region. This region is characterized by undulating hillsides and soils derived from shales and schists. The Manor soils are associated with the property. Manor soils are moderately deep, excessively drained soils that derived from thin, platy schistose bedrock with significant amounts of mica. Manor soil can be excessively impacted during dry periods like we are currently experiencing. These soils are prone to erosion and we are taking care to prevent to the extent possible erosion whenever the soil is disturbed during out tree farming activities. When we finish with the upcoming pine stand thinning we will insure that the disturbed soil is replanted as necessary to prevent erosion to the extent possible.

Water

We have addressed water issues here. One of our pine plantations stand is adjacent to our neighbors property that borders on a branch of Grape Creek. Our pine plantation helps to provide a buffer to this stream. There are dry waterways on the property that have never to our knowledge shown any flow of water. Nevertheless these dry gullies will not be disturbed or crossed during the pine thinning that will occur within a projected six weeks of this date. This is provided that the pulp wood logger is finished

with a current project and no problems are encountered with a logging permit. The pond water and its overflow are carefully monitored to insure good water quality and the pond impoundment is cared for to prevent any possible breach and loss of the pond during periods of extreme weather events. The overflow has been cleaned several times over the years and repaired once when the original steel culvert pipe with welded on trash rack rusted through. We are committed to adhere to State Forestry Best Management Practices

Threatened or Endangered Species

The property was reviewed using the most current GIS layers and no Threatened or Endangered species were found. This was accomplished by reviewing the GIS website.

Special Sites To the best of our knowledge and after review of historical records to the best of our ability there are no Special Sites such as historical buildings, historical burial ruins, old cemeteries, cave entrances, mineral outcroppings or unique ecological communities.

We have walked the property with Michael Kay a Maryland State Forester. This was done to mark trees for removal recently. We have also researched the ATFS Woodland Ownersí Resources on their www.treefarmsystem.org site several times.

Integrated Pest management and Invasive Species

We have taken steps to control Ailanthus Trees as necessary. Spraying of bacillus was implemented by helicopter for the control of Gypsy Moths in 2000 and no further intervention is necessary at the present time. Efforts have been made to eliminate poison ivy where necessary and desirable by careful mowing primarily.

Trees ready for thinning

Credit: frederick.forestryboard.org - Claude Eans

The soon to be implemented pine thinning is being conducted to make the forest less susceptible to the Pine Bark Beetle.

High Conservation Value Forest

Our small tree farm would not be considered a High Conservation Value Forest.

Article by Claude Eans, FCFCDB