Learn How to Keep Woods and Wildlife Healthy

Feb. 22, 2018
The Ohio River Valley Woodland and Wildlife Workshop, designed especially for landowners in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, is set for March 17 near Cincinnati. (Photo: Red trillium, Joshua Moore, iStock.)

This news item originally appeared on the website of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and was written by Kurt Knebusch.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed millions of ash trees in Ohio, the Midwest and eastern North America, including possibly yours. But there are ways to help your woods bounce back.

For starters, you should scout for invasive plants on a regular basis, said Kathy Smith, forestry expert at The Ohio State University. If you find any, you should root them out.

With fewer trees in your woods and more gaps in the canopy, “the concern is that non-native invasive species can quickly get out of hand,” Smith said. She named buckthorns, honeysuckles, garlic-mustard and kudzu as a few of the many invaders you should watch for.

Woods hit by ash borers also may need selective thinning, seedling planting and changes in the owner’s management goals, Smith said, all depending on how many ash trees died and what kinds of trees remain. Harvesting timber may need to be reduced in some cases.

On St. Patrick’s Day, the carin’ for the green

Smith will speak on the topic at the Ohio River Valley Woodland and Wildlife Workshop near Cincinnati on March 17. The event offers 15 sessions on subjects including birds, bats, trees, bees, ponds, and timber and wildlife management. It’s for landowners in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana tri-state region. It’s also for anyone else interested in conservation.

Smith, who is forestry program director in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), and specifically in CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), is one of the workshop’s organizers. She said the session she’ll give, called “Woodland Management After EAB,” will share details on regaining a “healthy, functioning forest.”

Marne Titchenell, wildlife program specialist with CFAES and SENR, said invasive plants affect animals, too.

Which plants are better for animals?

“Forest wildlife depend on native plants for food and cover,” said Titchenell, who, like Smith, will speak at the workshop and is one of its organizers. But invasive plants often will outcompete natives and make good food and cover hard to come by.

Titchenell said invasive honeysuckle shrubs, for example, offer less-nutritious berries for birds and poorer cover for their nests. The birds’ fitness and breeding success go down.

She said invasive plants also can hurt people, noting that invasive Japanese barberry shrubs are linked to increases in ticks and tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease.

Such plants can be managed successfully, Titchenell said, but only if landowners make it a priority. She said her workshop session, “How Invasive Plants Impact Forest Wildlife,” will give tips and reasons for doing so.

Four university programs in the region are hosting the workshop: CFAES, University of Kentucky Forestry Extension, Kentucky State University, and Purdue Extension Forestry and Natural Resources.

Bees, trees, stranger things

A sampling of some of the other sessions includes:

  • “Native Bees” by Denise Ellsworth, director of CFAES’s Honey Bee and Native Pollinator Education program, the health of bees and other pollinators being a global concern because of recent population declines.
  • “Tree Identification” by Doug McLaren of University of Kentucky Extension, proper ID being helpful in determining which trees are native or invasive, produce food for wildlife or pollinators, or are saleable as timber.
  • “Ways to Manage for Bats in Your Woodland” by Tim Divoll and Joy O’Keefe of Indiana State University, the health of bats, too, being a growing concern because of white-nose syndrome, a new disease that’s been killing them.
  • “10 Ways to Manage Wildlife in Your Woods” by Brian MacGowan of Purdue University Extension.
  • “Timber Management Practices for Your Woodland” by Richard Cristan of Kentucky State University.
  • “Weird Things in the Woods: Some Common Pests and Diseases” by Joe Boggs, educator in the Hamilton County office of CFAES’s Ohio State University Extension outreach arm.
  • “Your Land, Your Legacy” by Dave Apsley, OSU Extension natural resources specialist.

See the full schedule of sessions and speakers at go.osu.edu/agenda.

Register by March 9

The workshop is at the Oasis Golf Club and Conference Center, 902 Loveland-Miamiville Road in Loveland, about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati.

Registration for the event is $45 by Feb. 28, $55 after Feb. 28, and includes lunch. The final deadline to register is March 9.

Find further details, including links to the event flyer and mail-in and online registration options, at go.osu.edu/2018OHRiverValley, or contact ohiowoods@osu.edu or 614-688-3421.


Kurt Knebusch


Kathy Smith

Marne Titchenell