Environmental Science Students Take on the Field of Forestry


Jayland Smith, Reporter

On October 24, 2017  Twenty-five environmental science students embarked on a journey to plot the amount of foliage and find the timber value of the different tree and plant species found in the Brush Mountain Sportsmen’s Club. Senior Alexander Stewart said “ It was nice change in scenery working out in nature instead of the classroom”.

Plotting foliage consists of identifying the plant species and the percentage of their population in a given area. For example you can have nine square feet of land with a 110%   of foliage ground cover with 95% of that cover being daisies , 10% being New York ferns and the remaining five percent being red oak trees.

To determine the timber value of a tree, first you will need to see how wide the trunk is in diameter, the overall value of timber and how many sixteen foot logs the tree can produce. The logs can’t be forked, have knots or have branches shooting off from them because the value of the timber will be lost. This is due to the excess amount of work it will cause the timber harvesters.  Biltmore Stick is the tool used to measure the value of timber. First you flip the stick to the side labeled DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) in inches and measure the diameter of the tree at your breast height or at least four and half feet off the ground. The second step is to measure how many sixteen foot logs are in the tree. You do this by pacing sixty-six feet in front of the tree and position your Biltmore stick straight up on the side of the tree’s trunk with the side saying the number of tree logs is facing you.  When measuring, the tree you start from the trunk up and stop counting logs once either the tree’s canopies start, knots are present or the tree starts to fork.

The value of a particular tree species’ timber changes four quarters of the year or every three months. The value of a species of tree’s timber also varies on which part of the state you are in. For example the PSU Timber Report stated black cherry timber is worth on average $860 per thousand feet of logs in the Northeast but is only worth $269 on average in the Southwest.

During  the trip the students plotted over sixty different seedlings and found the timber value for about twenty different trees ranging from oaks to hickories in about 1/40 acre of land.

This trip was a great experience in teaching the next generation about forestry and the importance of maintaining our forest.