Apr 10: Sustainable Forestry Field Day

Join Troy Firth, Guy Dunkle and Susan Stout for some time in the woods, looking at common-sense strategies for sustainable forestry under the guidance of some seasoned professionals.

How can landowners manage their forests to ensure that there is room to grow for new seedlings of species they want to have in the long-term future? Natural regeneration is the heart of sustainable forestry, but deer, fern, and slow-growing, shade-loving shrubs and saplings can make the forest floor so dark that the seedlings you want just can't grow.

The program will start with a walk through a woodlot that was harvested last summer. The discussion during the walk will include identifying interfering vegetation that hinders germination and tactics for controlling it to allow for optimum growth of the desired species.. The participants will then return to the Firth sawmill for some classroom time before lunch.

After lunch, we’ll head off to another woodlot to learn about “worst first” tree selection, logging with horses and uneven aged silviculture. There will be opportunity to watch a couple of trees fall safely and see the horses work as the loggers skid some logs. This woodlot is also tapped for maple syrup, too, and there will be discussion around that.

The material presented on this day will help you recognize problems and address them in manners that emphasize both the long-term health and ecology of the woodlot and the overall return to the owner as priorities.

This Field Day is one of many conducted as part of the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s year-round educational program. Cost for the program is $15 for PASA members and $25 for non-members. Contact www.pasafarming.org for registration information or call 814-349-9856.


Troy Firth owns and manages several thousand acres of woodlots in PA. In addition to timber management and forestry education, Troy, assisted by Guy Dunkle, also runs a sawmill and produces maple syrup. The Firth family has managed some sections of these forests for over a hundred years. Firth Maple Products is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the state, marketing over 5,000 gallons a year, primarily to the wholesale market where it is used as sweetener.

Troy’s unique strength lies in his talent for conveying the integrative manner in which the various components – from tree selection and silviculture to the vital contribution of horse logging - work in synergy around forest restoration and stewardship.

The Foundation for Sustainable Forests was created by Troy and Lynn Firth in 2004. A 501c3 nonprofit, the Foundation was designed to protect and manage working forests as an example to private and public landowners. Since 2004 the Foundation has grown to include more than 400 acres of land in three Pennsylvania counties. The Foundation has received independent certification by the Forest Stewardship Council of the Rainforest Alliance.

Susan Stout is a Research Project Leader for the USDA Forest Service research group. She leads a team of 13 forest scientists in PA, OH, and NH who conduct research on topics from regeneration through forest fire physics to climate change. Susan’s been in her current position for 18 years, and has worked on problems of sustaining Pennsylvania forests from the Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Irvine, PA for 29 years.

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Firth Maple Products, 22418 Firth Road, Spartansburg, PA 16434 (in Crawford County); 814-654-7265. Organized by the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture and the PA Chapter of the Sierra Club. Financial support from the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds.

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