Showing posts from May, 2015

Voices of the Future (12) - Wetland Draining: A Concern For the Future

by Shawn M. Seely
Wildlife and Fisheries Major, graduating May 2016

As I drive to and from school every day on Pennsylvania Interstate 99 my curiosity has always been sparked by the little wetland areas along the highways that sometimes have water in them but for the most part are dry. I know from traveling that they are not just on interstate 99 but they are along many highways as well as housing complexes and business corporations.

I have always wondered what exactly they were doing in this more populated area which, at one point, was under heavy construction. As I have taken classes, here at The Pennsylvania State University on wildlife and ecology I have learned that these little wetlands were put in in place of ones that were once destroyed by the construction of these highways and buildings. These are known as mitigated wetlands. To better understand this it is best to know that in order for land to be considered a wetland it is required to have hydrophilic soils, …

Voices of the Future (11) - On Reintroduction of Species

by Shelby Harkless
Wildlife and Fisheries Science major, graduating Spring 2016

In terms of policy, there are very few set guidelines when it comes to the reintroduction of a species. There are a few guidelines from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), but these only account for animals born or held in captivity, and they are not widely enforced. The IUCN does have guidelines on the reintroduction and translocation of species, but does not touch on specifically monitoring the stress of the individuals. Since the AZA and IUCN do not hold any legal power, it is essential to form laws ensuring reintroductions are performed as appropriately as possible, with minimal stress. This is a critical topic since it is believed we are entering the next great extinction. To slow, or counteract this process, we are able to take measures to reintroduce extinct or extirpated (absent from a specific area) species back into their native environments. Every species found on Earth ha…

Voices of the Future (10) - There’s No Crying in Water Issues!

“Seriously, we can’t afford the tears.”

By Sarah Xenophon
Environmental Resource Management Major, graduating Spring 2017


Water issues and water use policies have been a bit of a busy topic since, well the beginning of human collection of climate data. (A quick disclaimer: This is not a post about climate change gloom and doom. However, whether you believe that humans are the cause or not, there are many scientific studies that point to drastically changing global weather patterns and ultimately, climate change.) Recently, with California Governor Jerry Brown mandating a 25% reduction in water use across California, things are getting a little heated…literally. Now into its fourth year of record-breaking drought conditions, California is feeling extreme pressure to reduce its water consumption and save itself from desertification. Shown in the figure below, precipitation has dropped to dangerous levels and the temperature has been on the relative rise since t…

Voices of the Future (9) - Erosion & Sedimentation Plans are Necessary but can be Too Strict

by Zach Gentilesco
Forest Science Major, graduating May 2016

Over the breaks and a few weekends, I like to go back home from school to work in the woods for either of my uncles who are loggers. I first learned how to safely use a saw at 12 and learned how to operate a skidder before I learned how to drive a car. Working in the woods is something most of the males in my family are accustomed to.

This past winter break my uncle had a several-acre clearcut planned for us to do. Due to the strict environmental and sediment plan that was required we have yet to fell a single tree. This ordeal lasted several months and resulted in my uncle losing interest in the job. I guess I should mention now that the area that we were going to cut was not to be managed, but intended to be developed and have condominiums constructed.

The real work of logging is not felling and skidding. It is getting past all the red tape of erosion & sediment plans and getting bonds to use county…

Voices of the Future (8) - Wind Turbine Setback Regulation

by Ryan Conner
Majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, graduating May 2016

After our guest lecturer, Mr. Barton, gave his amazing speech, I decided I was going to look into the regulation for setbacks of wind turbines. Mr. Barton went through PA’s model for setbacks, things like the nearest building or public road should be at least 1.1 times the total height of the turbine, and that the nearest occupied building should not be within 5 times the hub height of the turbine. These all seemed like reasonable restrictions, but then Mr. Barton mentioned that these were just guidelines and they were not actually mandatory. This instantly struck me as being strange. I could not believe that there were not actual regulations that needed to be followed, especially because I felt like it would be really unsafe to have a turbine right next to a house. That is what spurred my interest in looking into turbine setbacks, and the first thing I stumbled upon was this video.

The video …

Voices of the Future (7) - Hours of Operation of Turbines to Minimize Wildlife Kill

by Ryan Klinedinst
Wildlife and Fisheries Science Major, graduating May 2016

Wind energy - it is renewable, environmentally friendly, and somewhat efficient...but with all good things there comes a cost. A hidden cost of wind energy and turbines is that it has an effect on song birds, birds of prey, and bats. Yeah, there will be some wildlife death when you change an environment and add something unnatural, but we can limit its effects on the wildlife.

The following statistics in bold are taken from a presentation Mr. Mike Barton gave us in class.

“The PA Game Commission did a study and found that one turbine kills about four song birds a year.” Now to some people four doesn’t seem like a big number, but think about how much turbines you see on one mountain and each one of them kill’s four birds a year! “Most of these deaths occur in the fall and spring time, when birds are migrating.” 

The birds of prey such as red-tailed hawks, coopers hawks, and turkey vultures are also …

Voices of the Future (6) - Wind Turbines are Worth Your Investment

By Todd Techentine 
Forest Science Major, Graduating May, 2016

Over the past couple years the amount of wind farms has increased significantly. In Pennsylvania alone there are 24 operating wind farms with a total of 717 wind turbines. With this increase of wind farms comes a lot of questions. Such questions as “Are they worth building, how long until they pay for themselves, what are the benefits of having then, and etc.” Most of these questions come from taxpayers and people who think they are worthless investments.

The total cost for everything when building a commercial wind turbine comes out to be around four million dollars for a two megawatt (MW) capacity turbine. The 2MW capacity turbine is the one you see mostly for commercial use. Now yes, this is a very high number to install these wind turbines, but compared to commercial solar energy per MW it is pretty cheap. There is no denying that. This money does come from grants from the government and yes al…

Voices of the Future (5) - Fuel From Poo? I think YES!

By David Snook
Forest Science Major, Graduating August, 2015

According to the U.S EPA there are over 2.2 million farms in the United States. Face it; the majority of farmers out there aren’t doing if for fun. Most of these farmers either raise beef, dairy, swine or and/or poultry to create either all or some of their income.

Either way… that is a lot of poop! What do these farmers do with all this manure? You may be familiar with driving through the obvious aromas of manure while farmers are spreading it on their fields.

There are many regulations to how farmers use their manure. I know from my own experience living on our family farm, that my father has to document the amount of manure every time we clean out our barns and when we spread it. For chicken and turkey farmers, they must store the manure in a building that is built simply for that purpose.

Ask yourself this. Is there anything else that farmers can do other than spread it on their fields? The answer is ye…