Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GFC: Sometimes Forest Fires are Good

When people hear the words “forest fire,” they likely become alarmed. But fire in the forest is not always a bad thing, and the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) and Governor Sonny Perdue want that message to resonate with Georgians.

“When fires in the forest are carefully controlled, they actually improve the health of the forest,” said Neal Edmondson, Prescribed Fire Program Manager for the GFC. “Foresters know this tool as ‘prescribed fire.’ This type of burning helps protect the forest from devastating wildfires by reducing hazardous tinder on the forest floor that fuels wildfires and threatens homes and property.” Edmondson explained that prescribed burning also enhances reforestation, aesthetics and forest access, and is beneficial for many types of wildlife.

February 8-14, 2010 is Prescribed Fire Awareness Week in Georgia. Governor Sonny Perdue annually declares the first full week in February as a time to recognize this valuable tool for improving the health of Georgia’s 24 million acres of forest land.

To further educate Georgians about the benefits of forests and prescribed fire, the GFC and Southern Group of State Foresters are launching a special communications campaign. The new campaign leads Internet users to www.visitmyforest.org, which lists forested public areas by zip code. The site also provides messages about the benefits of burning, and offers access to www.goodfires.org, which details how prescribed fire helps maintain and manage forestlands. Television and radio advertisements will also be used in the campaign.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

2010 Georgia Centennial Farm Deadline April 30, 2010

The Georgia Centennial Farm Program was created to draw attention to historic farms and to encourage their preservation. Nominees must be a working farm with a minimum of 10 acres actively involved in agricultural production or generate at least $1,000 in annual income. In addition, farms must be continuously farmed for at least 100 years and owned by members of the same family for at least 100 years or be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Since starting in 1993, the program has recognized 359 farms around the state. Qualifying Centennial Farms are honored each October at a special award ceremony at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia.

The Centennial Farm Program is administered by: the Historic Preservation Division; Georgia Farm Bureau Federation; Georgia Department of Agriculture; Georgia Forestry Commission; and the Georgia National Fair and Agricenter.

Applications are available on HPD's Web site at http://hpd.dnr.state.ga.us/content/displaycontent.asp?txtDocument=119. For more information, contact Gretchen Brock at 404-651-6782 or gretchen.brock@dnr.state.ga.us Applications are due on April 30, 2010.

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia's state historic preservation office. Their mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia. HPD's programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance.

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia's natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.
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Fayette: Line Creek Nature Area Clean-Up Feb 13th

Join your friends and neighbors on Saturday February 13th to help improve the trails at Line Creek Nature Area, a popular nature preserve in Fayette County .

Southern Conservation Trust is hosting a Volunteer Work Day at Line Creek Nature Center in Peachtree City, off Highway 54 at the Coweta County line.

The 70 acre Nature Preserve features a stocked fishing pond and dock, a picnic area, granite outcroppings, and several miles of both easy and challenging trails that allow access to Line Creek.

Volunteers will block eroded trails, clear new trails, and move fallen trees.

“Public greenspace like the Line Creek preserve make Fayette County a wonderful place to live.
This Work Day is a great way for the community to come together, have fun, and improve a unique natural area” said Trust Executive Director Abby Jordan.

Southern Conservation Trust is a Fayette County-based conservation nonprofit that owns, manages and protects 1400 acres of farms, forests and environmentally sensitive land in the Southern Crescent. The Trust hosts environmental programs and enhances its preserves with trails, overlooks and re-introduction of native species.

As a regional land trust the Trust works with willing landowners to permanently protect open space that benefits the community and can offer tax benefits for the landowner.

The Line Creek Work Day is Saturday February 13th, noon – 4 p.m., weather permitting.
Volunteers should bring work gloves and wear hiking shoes. Helpful tools to bring: loppers, garden rake, hatchet or ax, shovel, garden hoe, gas blower, and chain saw.

Refreshments will be provided.

Volunteers should sign up in advance at 770-486-7774 or email info@sctlandtrust.org. For directions: www.sctlandtrust.org.

If weather is questionable, call 770-486-7774 after 9am on Friday February 12th to learn if Work Day will be re-scheduled.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Vidalia Onions struggle through wet Georgia winter

Georgia Vidalia Onion growers are ready for Mother Nature to turn off the tap. Record rainfall has dampened their crop, prevented them from getting into fields to take care of it and put it behind in development, says a University of Georgia onion expert.

Record rainfall swamped Georgia over the past three months and continues to keep things soggy in southeast Georgia, where farmers typically plant each year an estimated 12,000 acres of Georgia’s official vegetable.

“Right now, I’d say the condition of the crop is fair,” said Reid Torrance, UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator in Tattnall County and onion expert. “It’s the wettest I’ve ever seen. We’ve had record rainfall -- three to four times normal -- which has put everyone behind. We just can’t get in the fields. Basically, we’re trying to play catch up at this point.”

Farmers start transplanting onions into fields in November. Conditions were drier then. Onions planted that month had a good head start on the weather, he said. Then the sky opened, dropping 12 inches of rain in December around Tattnall and Toombs counties, where the majority of the crop is planted. Over the past 8 weeks, the region has received close to 20 inches of rain.

The crop is usually planted by the end of the year, he said. But this year, only 80 percent was in the ground by Jan. 1. The rest has trickled in during short dry spells.

Farmers are a month behind in weed management and fertilizer applications. What they’ve been able to do in fields, he said, in many cases, has been washed away.

In a few cases, Torrance has seen entire planting beds washed away, leaving the tiny bulbs once in them piled knee deep at the bottom of fields. In all, an estimated 15 percent of the planted crop is likely already lost.

If there is a silver lining, he said, foliar diseases, up to this point, haven’t been a problem for the crop. Prolonged freezing temperatures in January zapped what foliage had sprouted. So, there is nothing for diseases to attack.

The onions will be ready to hit the market in April, when harvest typically starts. “But whether it’ll be early or late April right now we don’t know,” he said.

Georgia’s climatologist David Stooksbury recently said the wet, cool weather that has blanketed the state this winter will likely continue through spring.

“We still have a lot of season left, and onions are resilient,” Torrance said. “But we’ve got to get a break here soon. Rain is the last thing we need.”

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Get rid of yellow jackets, ants and other pests... naturally

We need all these pesky insects to keep our gardens and yard healthy, but we don't want them in our home or eating next to us at the picnic table. Here are a few ways you can keep yellow jackets, ants and some other pests away from your picnic or outdoor event, and even keep them out of your home. Some will kill, so read carefully.

Yellow jackets

Homemade traps:
- Drill 3/8th inch holes in a plastic two-liter bottle. Add a mixture of roughly 10 percent molasses and water, a little bit of yeast (a pinch) and just a few drops of dish detergent.
- cut the top off a soda bottle. Turn the top upside down and put it into the top of the bottle so that it forms a funnel leading down to the bottom of the bottle. Tape it in place. Fill it halfway with water (to make it easier, add the water before taping the inverted top in place). Add a few drops of dish soap, and about a quarter cup of vinegar. The vinegar will help to repel honeybees. Coat the neck of the funnel with a sticky jelly or jam to attract the yellow jackets. They'll climb down to get to the jam, won't be able to get out and they'll eventually drown. Make sure you empty or change out the trap when you see it has a number of insects trapped inside.

Ants (and roaches)

- sprinkle baby powder around the area they frequent (ants, not sure about roaches on this one)
- some say to sprinkle corn flour around. The ants take it back to their home as food, but can't digest it and will starve.
- CAUTION on this one: make a mixture of roughly three parts peanut butter, two parts jelly and one tablespoon of boric acid per six ounces of mix. Be careful on this one --- while boric acid will kill ants (and roaches), and it's considered to be low on the scale of toxicity, it's definitely not good for pets and kids so please make sure you keep it away from both. We suggest doing a search on boric acid. Boric acid is a white, inorganic powder chemically derived from water and boron and you'll find it in many of your household products.
- 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, ditto on lemon juice and water. Either should kill the ants and if you spray vinegar around plants or areas it will repel ants.
- cucumber parings repel ants and roaches
- put epsom salt onto fire ant nests
- soak a sponge with decent size holes in a sugar and water mix. Leave it out on a plate or flat surface (it doesn't need to be sitting in the solution, just needs to be wet). Rinse it out daily to get rid of the ants caught inside
- catnip is a natural roach repellent