Woodlot walk

CASSADAGA – Saturday was a good day for a walk in the woods and Bill Dorman of Cassadaga has property that was good for a walk.

Dorman is a member of the New York Forest Owners Association, a group whose goal is to promote sustainable forestry practices and improved stewardship on privately owned woodlands in New York State. The group used Dorman’s land to give the public an opportunity to learn more about forestry, the natural world and stewardship. They also took time to honor Dick Patton, winner of the 2012 chapter service award, by presenting him with a plaque.

Otis Barber, chairman of the Allegheny Foothills Chapter of NYFOA welcomed the nearly 40 people in attendance.

He said, “This is the 50th anniversary of the organization. Woods walks are being held all over the state. The theme is ‘restore New York’s forests.’ Forests out here may look pretty good but some have been abused. We want to encourage sustainable forestry.”

Dorman’s grandfather bought the property in about 1910. It passed to his dad in 1930. In 1998, Bill became owner. He in turn wants to pass it on to his son and later his grandson.

Dorman said, “My dad, although not trained, had an instinct for when a tree should be harvested.”

Dorman joined NYFOA to improve his technical knowledge. Some members of the organization become Master Forest Owners, volunteers who can assist private forest owners with managing their land. Master Forest Owners are graduates of a 4-day training program sponsored by NYFOA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the United States Department of Agriculture Renewable Resources Exten-sion Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The program is held each fall in the Ithaca area.

Attendees were invited to walk on the woodlot and encouraged to ask questions about tree identification, wetlands, wildflowers, wildlife and other related topics. A variety of reference material was also available for attendees.

Several Master Forest Owners answered questions. Jeff Rupp, vice-chairman of Allegheny Foothills Chapter, carried his Biltmore stick with him. Looking like a yardstick, it is a device that helps a forester estimate the size and the yield of a tree.

Dan Anderson, a biology professor at Jamestown Community College, and Jeff Brockelbank, a DEC employee in forest management pointed out the characteristics of trees and other plants.

Anderson handed out twigs from a yellow birch tree, noting its spearmint fragrance. He also pointed out a witch hazel shrub which flowers late in the fall. Seeds from the shrub are contained in a capsule which splits so forcefully that the seeds travel a great distance. He said since he jokes with his students, they weren’t sure whether to believe that the seeds are ejected. He was pleased to note when he brought some branches to class, they cooperated to give his students a lesson.

Brockelbank said some trees are shade tolerant. Using the example of a hemlock, he noted it does well in shade, but given the opportunity to grow in the sun, it responds and will increase in size more rapidly. Annual rings of harvested Hemlocks will show a pattern of a small distance between rings and later a larger distance indicating more growth in a season.

Tony Pingitore, treasurer of the group, displayed some wood items, including bowls, he made from burls (rounded outgrowth) on trees as well as a small wooden vase fashioned from cherry wood.

A number of children came with parents or grandparents to enjoy the day in the woods. Barber’s granddaughter, Acacia, enjoyed walking with her grandfather. Barber said Acacia is also a name for a tree.

Dorman drove a tractor with a cart behind it to transport those who had trouble walking. His grandson Jared drove a smaller tractor with a cart. The children enjoyed riding with him on the trails.

Connie Pingitore, holding a walking stick, said many children don’t get the opportunity to enjoy or understand the outdoors, so events like this are important.

NYFOA membership is open to anyone who supports the objectives of the organization, whether or not that person has a woodlot. The organization’s website is www.nyfoa.org. A link to the Allegheny Foothills Chapter is available there. The local chapter’s area is Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

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