HARRISBURG – According to some almanacs, there is at least one more major winter storm in our future, but for those who chose to take a more optimistic outlook, the "muddy month of March" usually brings the first extended days of spring-like weather.
It also is the time for those who landscape land for the benefit of wildlife to "spring" into action. For those who make this an annual project or for those relatively new to the game, the Pennsylvania Game Commission offers the ideal handbook for developing everything from food plots to backyard habitat with "Landscaping for Wildlife in Pennsylvania."
Written by veteran Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Marcus Schneck of Hamburg, the 160-page book comes complete with descriptions, drawings and photos of ideal habitat for a variety of species, from hummingbirds to bats and construction plans for wildlife nesting boxes. There is also a chapter on nuisance wildlife and steps to address certain situations, as well as the importance of planting native species and a listing of recommended plants.
Books can be ordered on the PGC Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us  by clicking on "The Outdoor Shop" in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, then on "Pennsylvania Game Commission Outdoor Shop" in the lower left-hand corner, then on "Merchandise" from the banner listing and then on "Books" in the left-hand column. To order by phone, call toll free at 1-888-888-3459.
This is also the ideal time to take advantage of the annual seedling sale from the PGC's Howard Nursery, which is accepting orders until April 27. Order forms and information are available on the agency's Web site by clicking on "General Store" in the menu bar under the homepage banner, then choosing "Howard Nursery" and clicking on "2010 Seedling Order Form."
Orders can be placed on line or print out the form for faxing and mailing. Order forms are also available at PGC regional office or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Howard Nursery, 197 Nursery Road, Howard, PA 16841.
In addition to seedling sales, the PGC is once again offering its "Seedlings for Schools" program, which is available at no cost, and information is available on the agency Web site by clicking on "Seedlings for Schools" in the center of the homepage. This program provides two levels of involvement based on the grade level, and the agency has been working with the state Department of Education to publicize the program.
"Seedlings for Your Class" is primarily for third-grade students, and as part of this program, the PGC provides a classroom or one grade level with enough seedlings for each student to take a seedling home to plant. Seedling choices are silky dogwood or white pine, and a teacher's guide comes with the seedlings, which may be ordered until April 1.
"Seedlings to Develop Habitats" is primarily for middle and high school students, and as part of this program, the PGC provides a variety of seedlings to students interested in planting seedlings on school or community grounds to improve habitat, along a stream, develop a tree nursery or create an environmental area. Orders are being accepted until April 26.
"Seedlings come in bundles of 25, and will be shipped directly to schools by UPS during the weeks of April 19 and 26, dependent on order receipt and weather, to be available for Arbor Day plantings," Howard Nursery superintendent Cliff Guindon said. "Once seedlings arrive, it is important to keep them moist.
"Hand out seedlings with roots in plastic bags with moist shredded newspaper or plant them in juice/milk cartons for transplanting at home. Planting information and educational materials will be provided with seedlings."
Since 1954, the Howard Nursery has produced bare-root seedlings for wildlife food and cover on State Game Lands, producing and distributing 2.7 to 6 million seedlings annually for wildlife food and cover. Landowners who have land open to public hunting and are enrolled in one of the PGC's public access programs are eligible to receive a maximum of 500 free seedlings annually, as available.
Those enrolled cooperators with more than 500 acres are eligible for one free seedling per acre enrolled up to a maximum of 10,000 seedlings annually, as available. Cooperators are provided an order form each fall for following spring delivery, and free seedling orders are taken only in the fall through local wildlife conservation officers and land management group supervisors.