Author: Ivette Lopez

What should I do if I hear Chainsaws in the UConn Forest? – #AskUConnExtension

Extension educator Thomas Worthley says, “The UConn Forest has a long history of human intervention.”
On this week’s #AskUConnExtension Showcase, we show how Forest Managers preserve the natural landscapes and beauty of the UConn Forest as a key educational resource for students.
Learn more about CT Forestry at s.uconn.edu/forestry

boxes with text and a tree background
Text: The UConn Forest, located around the UConn campus, comprises several parcels of land stretching over hundreds of acres through Mansfield, Willington, and Coventry. Its natural beauty, though open to the public, is a core educational facet of the Forestry program at UConn. The Forest has been carefully designed to model ideal land-use patterns for environments in Connecticut. Stretching across the Fenton River watershed, its tree diversity keeps students informed.


Text: Extension educator Thomas Worthley says, “The UConn Forest has a long history of human intervention.” Managers of the UConn Forest plant trees that are desirable, and remove trees that threaten habitats. When these trees are removed with chainsaws, it’s important to make a lot of noise so the operator hears!

USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Livestock Producers

USDA logo

Announcement for Livestock Producers

USDA to Provide Pandemic Assistance to Livestock Producers for Animal Losses

Farm Service Agency Will Begin Taking Applications for indemnity program July 20th

Livestock and poultry producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing can apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack announced the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP) in [recorded] remarks at the National Pork Industry Conference in Wisconsin Dells, WI.  The announcement is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Livestock and poultry producers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 20 through Sept. 17, 2021.

 The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized payments to producers for losses of livestock or poultry depopulated from March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access as a result of the pandemic. PLIP payments will be based on 80% of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animal. Eligible livestock and poultry include swine, chickens and turkeys, but pork producers are expected to be the primary recipients of the assistance.

“Throughout the pandemic, we learned very quickly the importance and vulnerability of the supply chain to our food supply,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Many livestock producers had to make the unfortunate decision to depopulate their livestock inventory when there simply was no other option. This targeted assistance will help livestock and poultry producers that were among the hardest hit by the pandemic alleviate some financial burden from these losses.”

 Additional Assistance Planned

 The previous administration proposed pandemic assistance using flat rates across the industry, which does not take into account the different levels of harm felt by different producers.   Pork industry supported analysis projected that disruptions in processing capacity in the pork supply chain create a situation with small hog producers and especially those that sell on the spot market or negotiate prices, bear a disproportionate share of losses.  USDA has examined the difference between the negotiated prices for hogs and the 5-year average and documented a significant drop during April through September of 2020 due to the pandemic.  USDA has set aside up to $50 million in pandemic assistance funds to provide additional assistance for small hog producers that use the spot market or negotiate prices.  Details on the additional targeted assistance are expected to be available this summer.

 PLIP Program Details

 Eligible livestock must have been depopulated from March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access as a result of the pandemic. Livestock must have been physically located in the U.S. or a territory of the U.S. at the time of depopulation.

Eligible livestock owners include persons or legal entities who, as of the day the eligible livestock was depopulated, had legal ownership of the livestock. Packers, live poultry dealers and contract growers are not eligible for PLIP.

PLIP payments compensate participants for 80% of both the loss of the eligible livestock or poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal based on a single payment rate per head.  PLIP payments will be calculated by multiplying the number of head of eligible livestock or poultry by the payment rate per head, and then subtracting the amount of any payments the eligible livestock or poultry owner has received for disposal of the livestock or poultry under the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or a state program. The payments will also be reduced by any Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1 and 2) payments paid on the same inventory of swine that were depopulated.

 There is no per person or legal entity payment limitation on PLIP payments. To be eligible for payments, a person or legal entity must have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $900,000 for tax years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

 Applying for Assistance

 Eligible livestock and poultry producers can apply for PLIP starting July 20, 2021, by completing the FSA-620, Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program application, and submitting it to any FSA county office. Additional documentation may be required. Visit farmers.gov/plip for a copy of the Notice of Funding Availability and more information on how to apply.

 Applications can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery or via electronic means. To find your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator. Livestock and poultry producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.

As USDA looks to long-term solutions to build back a better food system, the Department is committed to delivering financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions.  Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Assistance initiative in March, the Department has announced over $7 billion in assistance to producers and agriculture entities.  For more details, please visit www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance.

 USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Announcement for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

Farm Service Agency Will Begin Accepting Applications on July 22

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19 as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized this critical assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10% during the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2020, compared to the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2019, are encouraged to apply.

“USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative promised to get financial assistance to a broader set of producers and today’s announcement delivers on that promise,” said Secretary Vilsack. “On top of the existing challenges associated with natural disasters and trade, the pandemic caused a major disruption for loggers and timber haulers including lack of access to wood processing mills. This industry plays a critical role in our nation’s economy and we are proud to support these hard-working loggers and truckers as they get back on track.”

“Like many facets of the agriculture industry, the logging industry has experienced its share of financial hardships throughout the pandemic,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We’re happy to work with the U.S. Forest Service to develop this new program to provide critically needed support.”

“We’ve heard from loggers and truckers whose livelihoods were significantly impacted this past year by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are pleased that USDA can help alleviate some of the financial burden,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “I encourage those logging and log-hauling businesses hardest hit by the pandemic to learn more about the assistance offered through this new program.”   

Program Details

To be eligible for payments, individuals or legal entities must be a timber harvesting or timber hauling business where 50% or more of its gross revenue is derived from one or more of the following:

·         Cutting timber.

·         Transporting timber.

·         Processing of wood on-site on the forest land (chipping, grinding, converting to biochar, cutting to smaller lengths, etc.).

 

Payments will be based on the applicant’s gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 1, 2019, minus gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 1, 2020, multiplied by 80%. FSA will issue an initial payment equal to the lesser of the calculated payment amount or $2,000 as applications are approved. A second payment will be made after the signup period has ended based upon remaining PATHH funds.

The maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive directly is $125,000.

Applying for Assistance

Loggers and truckers can apply for PATHH beginning on July 22 by completing form FSA-1118, Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers Program application, and certifying to their gross revenue for 2019 and 2020 on the application. Additional documentation may be required. Visit farmers.gov/pathh for more information on how to apply.

Applications can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery, or via electronic means. To find a local FSA office, loggers and truckers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator. They can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.

FSA will host a stakeholder webinar on Wednesday, July 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Interested participants must register for the webinar.

As USDA looks to long-term solutions to build back a better food system, the Department is committed to delivering financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative in March, the Department has announced over $7 billion in assistance to producers and agriculture entities.  For more details, please visit www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

 

New Haven artist chosen for 2021 CTSG Arts Support Award

Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski
Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

Beachcombing with his wife and two children led New Haven artist Joseph Smolinski to the source of inspiration and raw materials for works he will create for Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2021 Arts Support Award Program that reflect on the human impacts of climate change.

His project, titled “Carbon Adrift: Sea Coal in the Long Island Sound” was chosen for the annual arts award program now in its 12th year. It awards $1,000 annually to artists to create works relevant to coastal and marine environments and Connecticut Sea Grant themes and who are expected to display their works widely.

“The older I get, the more I realize that creativity comes from things like leisure time, when you’re not trying to make art,” said Smolinski, chairman of the Department of Art and Design at the University of New Haven. “My family spends a lot of time on the shore exploring, and we started finding these dark rocks and I started wondering, ‘Are they natural or anthropogenic?’”

Those dark rocks turned out to be sea coal, both dislodged from coal deposits by natural forces and mined pieces that probably fell off barges and cargo ships.

“At every beach I’ve been to on Long Island Sound I’ve found them, from pieces as small as grains of sand to some as big as a hand, four to five inches across,” said Smolinski.

Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach.
Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

He began reflecting on the processes that transformed plant matter into sea coal over millennium, and the use of coal as a fuel source by modern humans that contributes to climate change now threatening the planet. That evolved into the idea of using sea coal to make art that speaks both to its history in geological time scales, and to the impacts of the rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans. The result will be mosaics of intricately patterned pieces of sea coal fixed to wood panels that Smolinski described as “images of the setting sun over Long Island Sound” that are intended to depict the sun as “the energy source that gives coal its anthropogenic value.”

In a complementary project that will be created for the project titled “Open Water,” Smolinski will use images of sunsets over the open waters of the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean onto which water is sprayed, then various pigments applied. By pairing the monochromatic mosaics with the “highly colorful and energetic nautical renderings” of the seascapes, Smolinski hopes to call attention to the future of the world ocean and its central role in human survival. He also hopes to develop a website for schools and environmental groups with information from his research about sea coal and the works created for his project. The various works will be created over the next year.

The independent review panel for the arts award said Smolinski’s project stood out for its “strong conceptual relationship between humans’ effect on the environment and artwork.” The panel also noted that the work addressed issues of materiality associated with environmental issues, eloquently evoking the transformation of materials such as coal through time.

“The submissions that we receive in response to the Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support Awards program continue to amaze me with their varied aesthetic interpretations of Sea Grant’s mission,” said Syma Ebbin, CT Sea Grant research coordinator. “In addition to the creation of several art pieces, Joseph’s proposal will generate significant research and potentially will yield an educational website, gallery exhibitions, and a series of lectures to provide access to the art and science behind the art to local schools and the diverse communities within Connecticut.”

More information: Judy Benson, CT Sea Grant communications coordinator: judy.benson@uconn.edu; (860) 287-6426

One of the seascapes created for the "Open Water" series by Joseph Smolinski.
One of the seascapes created for the “Open Water” series by Joseph Smolinski. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

CT Sea Grant Post

CT Department of Ag. Urges Farmers to Report Crop Damage or Loss from Tropical Storm Elsa to USDA Farm Service Agency

vegetables in a wheelbarrow in a greenhouse
Photo: USDA

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers and agricultural producers who may have experienced crop damage or loss due to Tropical Storm Elsa to declare a loss to their United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office. Crop losses can be modified after the initial reporting as necessary.

The damage assessment for a USDA disaster declaration is based on a 30% loss of any crop per county.  Only losses reported within that initial three-day window count towards the 30% threshold.

 

 

Reports should include:

  • Crops damaged
  • Total acre(s) planted per crop(s)
  • # of acres destroyed or % of crop destroyed per crop
  • Livestock damage
  • Physical damage to equipment, buildings, fencing, trees, or damage caused by erosion

It is critical that producers keep accurate records to document damage or loss and report those losses to their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible. For more information on disaster assistance, visit farmers.gov.

CT Trail Finder – #AskUConnExtension

For our first installment of our #AskUConnExtension Showcase, we’re covering CT Trail Finder, a great new tool to help connect you to your next adventure. Perfect for walking, hiking, mountain biking, and exploring nature in our state, CT Trail Finder has got you covered with over 2,000 miles of trails to explore. Visit cttrailfinder.com for more!
boxes over trail image with text
Text: Connecticut Trail Finder, launched on June 5th, 2021, is a free, interactive website connecting trail-goers to over 2,000 miles of state trails. Kimberly Bradley, the CT Trail Finder Program Coordinator, says that the new platform will be the “go-to resource” for anyone looking to get off the beaten path in exploring nature in Connecticut.
green square with text and map background
Text: CT Trail Finder invites you to explore walking, hiking, horseback riding, and a host of other types of trails using their interactive mapping software that directs you where to go!

Save Your Boxwoods: Check Them for the Box Tree Moth!

A Message from USDA to Gardeners in Connecticut

boxwood
(Courtesy: Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)

A New Invasive Pest May Be in Connecticut

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to a significant plant health threat and needs your help. Please check your boxwood plants for the invasive and destructive box tree moth. During the spring, a number of U.S. nurseries received potentially infested Canadian boxwood plants. This invasive pest feeds on the plants’ leaves, and can cause complete defoliation, eventually killing the plant.

Many Connecticut residents have already purchased and planted these boxwoods. If you bought one, you may have infested boxwood on your property. USDA wants to prevent the box tree moth from spreading and establishing itself in the State and beyond.

Box Tree Moth
(Photo by iredding01, Adobe Stock.)

Help Protect Connecticut’s Boxwoods!

Here’s how you can help:

If you bought a boxwood plant during spring 2021, please inspect it for signs of the moth and report any findings to your local USDA office or State agriculture department. If State or Federal agriculture officials visit your home, please allow them to inspect your boxwood trees and place an insect trap. Box tree moths can produce several generations between June and October, so acting now is essential to prevent this pest from establishing itself in Connecticut.

This is what you should look for:

Caterpillars and webbing (larvae can reach 1.5 inches long)

Caterpillars
(Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)
Damage

box tree moth damage
(Photo by Lavizzara, Adobe Stock.)

Pupa

Pupa
(Courtesy of Ilya Mityushev, Department of Plant protection of the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.)

Adult moths (wingspan is 1.5 to 1.75 inches):

box tree moth
(Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)
box tree moth
Dark form of the moth. (Courtesy of Ilya Mityushev, Department of Plant protection of the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.)

Egg mass under the leaves

Box Tree Moth Egg mass under leaves
(Courtesy of Walter Schön, www.schmetterling-raupe.de/art/perspectalis.htm.)

Report signs of infestation to:

Your USDA local office: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd

 

The Importance of Boxwoods

Boxwoods are popular shrubs and are found all over the country. They make an excellent choice for hedges and topiaries.

Older boxwoods can hold great historical value, such as the 150-year-old boxwoods at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in North Carolina. Unfortunately, these plants were lost to boxwood blight. Many States have historical gardens containing boxwoods, which the box tree moth could devastate.

This pest threatens the thriving U.S. boxwood industry, as well as nurseries and other businesses that sell these plants wholesale and direct to consumers. Boxwoods have an estimated $141 million economic impact in the United States, according to one industry estimate.

About the Box Tree Moth

The box tree moth is native to East Asia. It has become a serious invasive pest in Europe, where it continues to spread. The caterpillars feed mostly on boxwood, and heavy infestations can defoliate host plants. Once the leaves are gone, larvae consume the bark, leading to girdling and plant death.

Females lay eggs singly or in clusters of 5 to more than 20 eggs in a gelatinous mass on the underside of boxwood leaves. Most females deposit more than 42 egg masses in their lifetime. They typically hatch within 4 to 6 days.

Pupae typically first appear in April or May and are present continuously through the summer and into the fall, depending on the local climate and timing of generations. Adults first emerge from the overwintering generation between April and July, depending on climate and temperature. Subsequent generations are active between June and October. Adults typically live for two weeks after emergence.

Box tree moths are highly mobile and are reported to be good fliers. Natural spread of this moth in Europe is about 3 to 6 miles per year. One analysis from Europe concluded that natural dispersal from continental Europe to the United Kingdom was possible, suggesting sustained adult flights of over 20 miles.

USDA’s Response with State Partners

In response to the incident, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a Federal Order on May 26, 2021, to halt the importation of host plants from Canada, including boxwood (Buxus species), Euonymus (Euonymus species), and holly (Ilex species). 

In addition, APHIS is working closely with the affected States, including Connecticut, to:

  • Find and destroy the imported plants in the receiving facilities;
  • Trace sold imported plants to determine additional locations of potentially infected boxwood;
  • Provide box tree moth traps and lures for surveys in the receiving facilities and other locations that received potentially infected plants; and,
  • Prepare outreach materials for state agriculture departments, industry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists stationed along the Canadian border, and the public

More Information

For more information about the moth and boxwoods, or USDA’s response with State partners, visit: www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/box-tree-moth 

 

1st marine economics fellow to focus on natural coastal resources

Ethan Addicott
Ethan Addicott

By Judy Benson

Oversimplified, shoreline beaches are where the sand meets the sea.
Too often, this two-dimensional view has become the foundation of efforts to restore storm and erosion-battered beaches on Long Island Sound and other coastal areas. These projects mainly seek to widen the flat open sand swathe to maintain maximum recreational worth and protect nearby areas from storm and flood damage. Dune grass, beach pea, and the dunes these and other plants inhabit along the shore have largely been left out of the equation.

But thanks to a new marine and coastal economics fellowship created by Connecticut Sea Grant, a Yale University doctoral candidate will spend the next year and a half developing restoration tools that account for the real-world complexity and value of natural and manmade features beyond the sand. The fellowship is funded with $20,000 of the federal funds allocated to CT Sea Grant.

“I’ve been interested in coastal ecosystems since I was young, growing up in Miami,” said Ethan Addicott, 29, who is pursuing his doctorate in environmental and resource economics at Yale and was chosen for the fellowship post. “I’m working to quantify the relationship between healthy dune ecosystems and property values, to enhance the relationship between natural resources and management decision making.”

CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise said Addicott’s project will accomplish the two main goals of the new fellowship. It was created to help train a new generation of students in marine and coastal economics, and to give coastal communities new resources to draw on in making decisions about threatened coastal areas.

Read More

UConn CLEAR Stormwater Pond Retrofit Workshop

Swan LakeUConn CLEAR is holding a Stormwater Pond Retrofit Workshop that will demonstrate how to retrofit existing dry and wet stormwater ponds and bioretention areas to allow for infiltration and/or better pollutant removal. The workshop will be presented by nationally-known expert Dr. Bill Hunt from North Carolina State University on Monday, July 26, 2021, from 9 am to 3 pm at the Mystic Marriott Hotel in Groton, CT.
 The workshop will cover:
– Introduction and retrofit motivations
– Retrofitting dry ponds for volume reduction & pollutant removal
– Retrofitting bioretention for volume reduction & nitrogen removal
– Retrofitting wet ponds for pathogen & nutrient removal
– Field sessions on retrofitting existing structures 
 
Workshop description: The Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) we design today are not the same as the Stormwater BMPs we placed in the ground 20 years ago. As such, lots of our older SCM infrastructure is dated and can be made to work better with simple retrofits. The motivations and types of SCM retrofits will be discussed, with a focus on dry detention, wet detention, and bioretention. The audience will learn that simple, cost-effective retrofits have the potential to greatly improve an SCM’s performance without increasing maintenance costs. In the afternoon we’ll be visiting several sites in the field.
 
REGISTRATION is $25 and covers coffee and lunch
Note: This will be an in-person workshop and attendance will be capped to maintain appropriate social distancing!

This program is part of the CLEAR MS4 Support Program, funded by CT DEEP.

Register at s.uconn.edu/registerclear

Suzanne Wainwright Evans talks Biocontrols for Greenhouse Ornamentals

UConn Extension Offers Biological Control Webinar for Ornamental Greenhouse Growers
Monday, July 19, 2021, 12:00 – 1 pm EST

Suzanne Wainwright Evans

Suzanne Wainwright Evans talks Biocontrols for Greenhouse Ornamentals Growers!

Register Here.

One pesticide recertification credit available (PA, 3A) for this online webinar.

For more information contact: Rosa E. Raudales (rosa@uconn.edu) & Leanne Pundt (Leanne.pundt@uconn.edu)