UI course will helps new family forest owners ask better questions

Christopher Schnepf, forest educator for University of Idaho Extension in Coeur d'Alene, is offering a course on family forest management.

Invasive species will take the spotlight next week during University of Idaho Extensions annual forest health program.

"Current Topics in Forest Health" will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The workshop will help landowners identify new invasive species and be prepared to manage for them, said Chris Schnepf, UI Extension forestry educator.

Five-spined ips, a new pine engraver or bark beetle species, is beginning to show up in places where it's not native. That's a growing concern for a number of insect pests, Schnepf said.

"I think it's something we have to learn to live with," Schnepf said. "For the most part, we're talking about insects that are moving of their own accord."

Tom Eckberg with the Idaho Department of Lands will speak about the insect invasions.

Tim Prather with UI Extension will talk about new invasive plant species.

If landowners find a plant they don't recognize, Schnepf recommends bringing it to the extension office for identification.

The agenda includes presentations about Roundup, herbicide use and how the state Department of Agriculture investigates application complaints.

The workshop also includes "the 10 best ways to kill plant seedlings and how to avoid them," Schnepf said.

"Most of our program, we focus on ways to do things correctly, sometimes it's useful to flip that on its head and what are the way we kill seedlings most commonly," he said with a laugh.

Seedlings are especially vulnerable to lack of moisture, he said. Herbicides can be helpful in reducing competing vegetation.

Schnepf says the biggest need in forestry remains the same: Favoring the best species for a site and reducing stand density. Taking care of those two things will prevent most insect and disease issues, he said.

"Our forests are denser now than they ever were prior to European settlement," he said. 

Some landowners are changing species composition, fixing stands falling apart from root disease by establishing larch pine, or reducing density, Schnepf said.

"Many times people are afraid to do anything because they fear messing it up or have a view that nature knows best," he said. "But we haven't let nature do what nature does in over 100 years, between non-native species and consistently putting out all manner of fire on all sites." 

The program is eligible for five Idaho pesticide license recertification credits,five Society of American Foresters continuing forestry education credits and five Idaho Pro-Logger continuing education credits. The program can accommodate up to 100 people. Registration fee is $24 or $26 online.

Contact Schnepf at 208-446-1680.

Field Reporter, Spokane

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