Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forest Info Available to Georgians from Georgia Forestry Commission

The latest comprehensive report detailing Georgia’s forest resource is now available in a convenient booklet and online at GaTrees.org. The information is a compilation and summary of the condition of forests in the state, collected from samples gathered between 1998 and 2004 from around Georgia.

“Forest Inventory Analysis plots are randomly located points across the state that are visited and remeasured every five years by Georgia Forestry Commission Foresters,” (GFC) said David Dickinson, Forest Inventory Analysis (FI) Coordinator for GFC. “Landowners can find important information about the state of our forests in the new booklet, ‘Georgia Forests 2004.’”

According to Dickinson, data on many forest variables are collected at FIA plots, including forest type, forest age, individual tree species, diameters, heights and other detailing wood quality. The latest data shows Georgia’s timberland acreage is remaining stable, with slight gains of the acreage recorded in 1997. Timberland acreage gains in the south and central parts of the state more than offset losses in the north central region, which includes the Atlanta Metro Area. Tree volume has increased for both softwood and hardwood, and average annual tree growth has exceeded annual removals. Average annual acreage of tree planting has continued to decline.

“Georgia’s Forests, 2004” can be obtained in hard copy by visiting your local Georgia Forestry Commission District Office, or by clicking on the link at GaTrees.org under the “Forest Management/Forest Inventory” tab.
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Georgia Aquaculture Farmers May Apply for Disaster Relief Funds to Recoup ‘08 Feed Cost

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin alerts Georgia aquaculture farmers that they may be eligible to receive disaster relief funds to partially off-set escalating feed costs associated with the 2008 calendar year.

The state has received $205,200 in assistance funds to help aquafarmers. The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Commodity Credit Corporation.

“This is a small grant but we are happy to receive it,” says Irvin. “Anytime we are able to help Georgia farmers we are going to do it. This money is good news that will help to off-set the higher-than-expected feed costs associated with doing business in 2008.”

Aquaculture, the farming of freshwater and saltwater organisms, such as fish and shrimp, is a growing industry in Georgia with nearly 300 small, family-owned fish farms. Trout, carp and catfish are the most popular species of fish grown in the state.

To be eligible to submit an application for feed cost reimbursement, aquaculture farmers must have: raised an aquaculture species in a
controlled environment that is still in operation today; experienced a financial risk; not have an adjusted income in excess of $2.5 million and had feed cost that was at least 25 percent of the producer’s total input cost.

The application, which can be found on-line at www.agr.georgia.gov, is due Friday, August 14, 2009. Hour-long telephone conference calls -- to answer specific questions of aquaculture farmers -- are scheduled for July 31 and August 7. Details relating to the conference calls and the program can be found at www.agr.georgia.gov.

For additional information contact Ms. Moreblessing Dzivakwe, Georgia Department of Agriculture 2008 Aquaculture Grant Program at (404) 463-8875 or e-mail her at mdzivak@agr.state.ga.us
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooper Hawk in Fayette County?

As I walked by the back door a few minutes ago I caught something out of the corner of my eye on the back porch that just didn't look right. I peeked through the blinds and saw what I first thought was an animal of some sort, like a gopher, except I knew we didn't have gophers around here and they really didn't look like that .

I went to the door and pulled back the curtain, only to realize it was a hawk perched on the porch.

Wow.

I ran to the car, got my camera bag, went through all you go through getting one turned on and ready to go thinking the entire time that the hawk would be gone by the time I got back.

Not so.

I carefully pulled the curtain back and tried to get a shot. Realized I was getting part of the curtain, so zipped around to the other curtain-less door on the other side of the porch. Surely I'd scare it away, but had to try!

Nope, it stayed for the shots. My hummingbird feeder was in the way though so headed back to the other side. Obviously the hummingbirds knew they weren't big enough to temp the hawk... or they simply didn't notice him sitting there.

More photos on the other side, still through the glass door.

Finally, not because it reacted to me at all, the hawk moved up to the roof for a better view.

As I type I noticed a winged shadow go by the windows... maybe it found something to eat!
I made a quick slide show which I'll be adding to the Fayette Front Page later. I'll pop back over here and add a link just in case you want to see more shots.
I looked the hawk up in my bird book, couldn't decide if it was a Cooper Hawk or not. That's the closest I found, but the one in my book shows a darker breast and more red than "my" hawk had. Any ideas? Any bird folks out there who'll know right off the bat?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Terrance B. Gratton Receives the 2009 Walter F. Snyder Award

Award Recognizes Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Environmental Health

NSF International and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) announced recently that Terrance B. Gratton, Dr.P.H., D.A.A.S., R.S. was the recipient of the 2009 Walter F. Snyder Award. Dr. Gratton was presented with the award at NEHA’s 73rd Annual Educational Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, June 21, 2009.

This prestigious award, given in honor of NSF's co-founder and first Executive Director, is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of environment health. Dr. Gratton was recognized for his 40-year career within the San Antonio, Texas, Metropolitan Health Department, the U.S. Public Health Service and the University of North Texas School of Public Health.

“Dr. Gratton’s contributions to the environmental health profession have left a lasting positive impact in areas such as education, training and sanitation,” said Kevan P. Lawlor, NSF President and CEO. “It is his outstanding leadership and dedication to environmental health that resonate with the principles of Walter F. Snyder, and what make him an ideal recipient of the 2009 Walter F. Snyder Award.”

Early in his career, Dr. Gratton was employed as a sanitarian with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department (SAMHD), where he worked to improve and implement food establishment inspections in the lower income areas of the city. He was then promoted to the engineering section of SAMHD, where his primary responsibility was the inspection of daycare facilities, institutions and nursing homes. He later became the chief trainer of new sanitarians, where he taught food codes and San Antonio Metropolitan Health ordinances, improving the overall education and quality of sanitarians’ work with environmental health issues.

He joined the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service in 1977. During his career with the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Gratton spent 18 years with the Indian Health Service in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arizona, and five years with the Bureau of Prisons in Fort Worth, Texas. Throughout his tenure with the Indian Health Service, Dr. Gratton’s leadership and determination led him to organize and implement several environmental improvement projects, which provided quality of life improvements to tribes in his jurisdiction.

“Dr. Gratton has long been involved in environmental health activities at the local, state, and national levels and always with great devotion to the people whose lives were being affected by poor environmental quality,” said Nelson Fabian, NEHA Executive Director. “His dedication to IHS over the last 18 years improved the lives of thousands of families living on the reservations. It is because of contributions like this and his outstanding leadership that Dr. Gratton is receiving the 2009 Walter F. Snyder Award.”

Many of Dr. Gratton’s contributions to environmental health have been demonstrated through his dedication to education and research. After retiring from the U.S. Public Health Service in 2000, Dr. Gratton turned his attention to educating the next generation of public health service leaders. As a full-time faculty member at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of North Texas Health and Science Center School of Public Health, Dr. Gratton teaches the environmental health core courses for the Master of Public Health program and the environmental determinants core courses for the Ph.D. program.

“Terry is a strong leader, a talented educator and a role model for young sanitarians in Texas and across the U.S. Terry is generous with praise and never lacking for words of support,” said Steve Claybrook R.E.H.S., R.S., Past President of Texas Environmental Health Association.

Dr. Gratton serves on several institutional and academic committees, including Chair of the Health Science Center Safety Committee. He is a founding member of the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society and has received the Public Health Student Association Award for outstanding contributions for service and events. He has also received an Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of North Texas School of Public Health.
For more information about the Walter F. Snyder Award and previous winners, visit NSF's Web site.

About NEHA: The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is a national professional society that represents the profession and practice of environmental health (www.neha.org).

About NSF International: NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods (
www.nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Workshops Offered for Arthritic Gardeners

Gardeners who suffer from arthritis can learn to plant and tend vegetables and weed flowerbeds with less pain at a new workshop offered by the University of Georgia’s AgrAbility program and the Arthritis Foundation.

The workshop, “Gardening and Farming with Arthritis,” will be offered in Athens Aug. 5, Gainesville Aug. 12, Tifton Nov. 5 and Macon Dec. 9.

Participants will learn how to manage arthritis pain through planting modifications, tool adaptations and other strategies. A tai chi class will follow each workshop. The tai chi portion will focus on slow, meditative, physical exercise designed for relaxation, balance and health.
Georgia’s AgrAbility program promotes independence for those disabled in the agricultural community. Presented by UGA Cooperative Extension, it is part of a national program administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To register, visit www.farmagain.com/register, or call 706-542-0304 (toll free at 877-524-6264). The cost is $15. The workshops will be offered two times a day, at 9 a.m. (9:30 a.m. in Athens) and again at 2 p.m. Space is limited to 25 people per class.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Georgia Conservancy, DNR Announce Species of the Week in Photo Contest

Georgia Residents Encouraged to Submit Photos of the Greenfly Orchid

WHAT: The Georgia Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources announce the Greenfly orchid as the species of the week as part of a new statewide photo contest to encourage citizens to learn more about high-priority species and habitats listed in the State Wildlife Action Plan. The plan, commonly called SWAP, is a comprehensive strategy that guides DNR efforts to conserve biological diversity.

SPECIES OF THE WEEK: The Greenfly orchid, or Epidendrum conopseum, is the only orchid found on trees in Georgia. A small perennial herb that grows on trees or rocks from May through the end of July, its leafy stems attach to the orchid's substrate by a mass of roots. Marked by glossy evergreen leaves, the orchid can be found on shaded limbs of southern magnolia and live oaks, as well as other hardwoods in swamps and on bluffs. It is frequently hidden among the fronds of resurrection fern. The fruiting period runs from September to January, when its small, drooping capsules harden and then burst open, dispersing thousands of tiny seeds.

STATUS: The Greenfly orchid is state-listed as unusual in Georgia, where it has been recorded in 20 counties in the state's southeastern Coastal Plain. It is not federally listed, but is considered a high-priority species in Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan. Timber harvest is the major threat to this species, which grows only in intact old-growth oak forests. The species' frost-tolerant characteristic also make it a target in the wild of irresponsible collectors.

HABITAT: This species lives in maritime evergreen oak forests and in Georgia's outer Coastal Plain. It is found across the Southeast's Coastal Plain from North Carolina to Louisiana; Eastern Mexico has a separate population.

SWAP PHOTO CONTEST: The Great Georgia Photo SWAP contest, a new project sponsored by the Georgia Conservancy and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), highlights nearly 30 high-priority species in all eco-regions of the state as listed in Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).

Unaltered and original photos submitted by citizens to swap@gaconservancy.org will be posted on the Georgia Conservancy's Web site, and participants will be awarded prizes each month as well as a digital camera grand prize for the person who submits the most photos over the course of the one-year project. The Species of the Week schedule includes animals such as the painted bunting, gopher tortoise and bottle-nosed dolphin.

Online:
** State Wildlife Action Plan: www.georgiawildlife.com/statewildlifeactionplan_conservation.aspx
** Georgia Conservancy: www.georgiaconservancy.org
** Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division: www.georgiawildlife.com
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Conservation Landscaping Comes Home

/PRNewswire/ -- As homeowners seek more sustainable, energy-efficient homes, developers are recognizing the role that effective landscape architecture combined with shade can play.

In recent years, the demand for "green" has focused primarily on the residential structure. Now, builders and developers are turning their attention to the landscape surrounding each dwelling, to help create greater energy efficiency inside homes.

Shade trees, hedges and vines

Landscaping professionals have long promoted the benefits of trees, hedges, and vines to provide cooling summer shade. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, trees placed strategically around buildings can save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs; trees also reduce storm-water runoff, and remove carbon dioxide and other harmful air pollutants. (For more, visit Trees Pay Us Back.)

Pragmatically, not every dwelling can be surrounded on all sides by shading greenery. And in new developments, it can take up to 15 years before the benefits of newly planted trees and shrubs are fully realized.

Awnings and canopies

Where location, climate or existing hardscape prevent the planting of trees, shrubs and vines, or around newer buildings with less mature plants, fabric awnings and canopies are an energy-saving addition to sustainable landscape design.

When added above windows and doors, awnings can significantly reduce home cooling energy use. "Energy efficiency is really the number one concern with green or sustainable buildings, and awnings can directly affect energy use by simply blocking the sun," according to John Carmody, Director of the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota. "Heat gain through the windows is one of the main reasons why buildings need air conditioners. . . We found that awnings make quite a difference in the cooling energy equation. In some climates you can save 20 to 25 percent of your cooling energy just by using awnings."

Awnings and canopies add style, functionality and sustainability to hardscapes, and are more economical to build and maintain than comparable masonry and wood structures. From a conservation landscaping perspective, awnings placed on or near a home can significantly reduce energy consumption for cooling.

To promote the benefits of adding fabric structures to landscape designs, the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA) launched www.DesignWithAwnings.com. The site provides landscape architects and designers with ideas and information about incorporating awnings and canopies into their designs.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Food preservation doesn’t save money for everyone

There are many reasons for preserving food at home. Some have to do with satisfaction, creativity or family tradition. Another may be economical. The practice may save money for some, but doesn’t for everyone.

If you are going to try and save money by freezing or canning produce at home, find low-cost sources for the raw food. To determine if you can save money this way, compare the cost of similar foods purchased at the grocery store.

Food and equipment costs

Food costs -- whether home grown or purchased -- can be a variable expense, depending on your situation. The cost of additional ingredients can also vary widely. You may just need sugar or fruit juice for packing fruits in containers, or your recipe may include herbs, spices, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic or other ingredients.

The cost of equipment, such as a freezer or canner, can be significant if you are just starting out. Supplies such as packaging, funnels, jars and lids factor into the equation, too, as well as the energy of running stoves and freezers.

If you assign a monetary value for your time, the expense of producing preserved items at home can suddenly become significant.

Canning

The two most common forms of food preservation are canning and freezing. Many foods can also be dehydrated for longer-term storage.

Canning can be less expensive than freezing, but more time and energy are spent to prepare and process the foods. There are risks associated with canning foods. Specific preserving methods must be used to keep the food safe when stored at room temperatures. Food can spoil and make you sick if canning directions are not followed exactly.

One cost to consider when canning is jars, which cost $8 to $14 a dozen. Jars can be used for many years if handled carefully. If taken care of properly, ring bands should last for years also. The flat lids, however, need to be purchased every year.

Freezing

Freezing is a faster way to prepare food for long-term storage than canning or drying. Frozen produce, if carefully preserved, tastes fresher than food preserved using other methods.

It costs between 38 cents and 50 cents a year to maintain a freezer for one pound of food. In general, chest freezers are less expensive to run, but upright freezers can be more convenient. Better insulated freezers can cost more, but cost less to operate.

A well-managed freezer can save time, energy and gas from fewer trips to the store. To get the most out of your freezer, freeze only foods that the family likes to eat, and in amounts that can be served at one time.

When freezing foods, be sure to use proper packaging to protect flavor, color, moisture content and nutritional value from the dry conditions of the freezer.

Freezer containers should be moisture-vapor resistant, durable, leak proof, flexible, crack resistant and easy to seal and mark. Rigid plastic containers can be used for liquids. Freezer bags and wraps are more suitable for dry-pack products that contain little or no liquid.

Vacuum packaging is a great choice for maintaining food quality and is fairly easy to do. Just be sure to read the instructions on how to package wet and dry foods. Vacuum packaging removes the air that can lead to drying, oxidation and off-flavors, even at freezer temperatures.

Vacuum packaging does add additional expenses to home food preservation. The packaging is more expensive than other flexible bags and wraps, and of course, there is the initial cost for the appliance.

There are different preservation methods for many foods. Choose one that works for your family and produces the form of food you like.

Saving money may not be the major goal in preserving food at home. You might find the effort and expense worth the value of creating your own food supply, supporting local farmers in your community or passing along family traditions.

By Elizabeth Andress
University of Georgia

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Choosing The Right Mulch

(NAPSI)-If you're looking for a simple way to add new life to a garden, boost curb appeal or spruce up your landscaping, it could be time to start mulching.

Mulch can improve the health of soil and plants by minimizing weed growth and retaining water and nutrients. Plus, a thick layer of mulch helps protect roots from cold weather and extreme heat-all while helping to define flower beds and "edge out" bushes and trees.

All mulch, however, is not created equal. Yard experts say using the right type can save you work and money in the long run.

For instance, mulch made from wood, gravel or straw often needs to be replaced a few times throughout the year. But mulch made from recycled rubber requires little to no maintenance and lasts years without fading, decomposing, compacting or losing its original beauty. International Mulch Company even manufactures recycled rubber mulches that look just like their natural counterparts. In addition to being used in gardens and beds, the mulches can be spread under playground equipment to keep children safe.

An added bonus: The mulch keeps tires out of landfills. In fact, by the end of the year, the company will have recycled more than 200 million pounds of rubber into a full suite of landscaping and playground products-from mulch to mats, and timbers to tree rings. Try these additional mulching tips:

Pre-Mulching

Thoroughly rake and weed the area you plan to mulch before adding any ground cover. You might also consider using landscape paper to prevent the growth of unwanted grass or plants in a mulched garden.

How Much Mulch?

About 2.5 cubic yards of wood mulch will provide 4-inch deep coverage to 200 square feet of garden. But with rubber mulch you only need 11/2 inches as it doesn't compact. You can find a number of mulch coverage charts and calculators online to help you get a more precise understanding of your needs.

Spreading Mulch

Generally, you'll only need a rake and shovel to spread mulch. Start with a pile in the middle of the area to be mulched and spread the ground cover toward the garden's edges. After the mulch has been spread, fill in bare or thin spots by hand and water thoroughly.

For more information, visit www.internationalmulch.com or call (866) 936-8524.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Lengthen the life of your cut flowers

(ARA) - In the mood to bring the bounty of the outdoors inside? The amazing colors, fragrances and textures of your flower garden can easily be brought indoors, arranged and appreciated throughout the summer and fall months.

Here are a few simple steps from FTD.com you can use to ensure that your flowers last longer:

* Pick flowers in early morning or in the evening, when stems are fully hydrated and not stressed from midday heat.

* Take a tall bucket with lukewarm water with you and immerse the stems as you gather.

* Cut the stems on an angle with a sharp, clean knife or pruners, to allow greater uptake of water through the stem.

* Once all the flowers are gathered, re-cut the stems underwater and strip away any foliage that will fall below the waterline once stems are placed in a vase.

* Arrange the flowers in a clean vase filled with room-temperature water and floral food.

* Place arrangements out of direct sunlight and away from any drafty areas.

Here are some other tips from FTD.com that will make creating a bouquet from your flower garden an easy and rewarding task:

* Use a mixture of focal flowers like lilies, roses and peonies; filler flowers like gypsophila, lady's mantle and Queen Anne's Lace and line flowers like liatrus, larkspur and delphinium. Using these three types of flowers will make your arrangement a dynamic piece of art you will be proud to display.

* A beautiful trend in flower arrangements is to include ornamental grasses, such as wheat, zebra grasses and millet grasses to add texture and interest to your garden and bouquets.

* Some of the foliage that you are stripping from the stems of your flowers may be used as an ornamental green in your bouquet, adding another level of texture into your arrangement.

* Choose interesting containers and vases with a touch of color and texture to bring out the beauty of your arrangement.

* Be aware that certain flowers will not re-bloom for up to two years after being cut. This is mostly true for bulb plants, such as daffodils and tulips.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thwart thistle take-over on “Gardening in Georgia”

Thistle flowers are beautiful. But the damage the invasive plant can do in a pasture or landscape is not. Find out how to thwart its takeover on “Gardening in Georgia with Walter Reeves” July 11 and 15.

"Gardening in Georgia” airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations across the state each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and repeats Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Many architects say to plant vines to hide mistakes. Show host Walter Reeves doesn’t agree, nor does his guest Hank Bruno. The pair will showcase several favorite vines that decorate a large building and talk about how vines can enhance the beauty of a building.

It’s heartbreaking to harvest the first few squash and then have the vine collapse, it seems, overnight. The squash vine borer is hurting plants throughout Georgia right now. Watch to find out how to stop it.

Beautiful but deadly might describe a pitcher plant bog. Jenny Cruse-Sanders takes Reeves to a bog and opens up a pitcher plant to see what it had for breakfast.

“Gardening in Georgia” is produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and is supported by a gift from McCorkle Nurseries.

Learn more about the show and download useful publications at the Web site www.gardeningingeorgia.com.

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