As if outdoorsmen were not busy enough with flintlock season and the late archery, small game and waterfowl seasons, along comes New Year's Day with all the football games, parties and resolutions.
Keeping up with the football and party part is easy to do, but keeping – let alone making – resolutions can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. One resolution that is worth keeping, however, is to do something for wildlife habitat, and now is the time for landowners to begin making plans to help wildlife by planting tree and shrub seedlings offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Howard Nursery, which will accept orders beginning Tuesday, Jan. 3, and continue through Friday, April 20.
Order forms and information are available on the PGC website at www.pgc.state.pa.us  http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/  by clicking on "General Store" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, then clicking on "Howard Nursery" in the drop-down menu listing and scrolling down and choosing "2012 Seedling Order Form." Order forms can be completed and submitted on line, or printed out and faxed or mailed, and payments are not due until the order is confirmed by Howard Nursery.
For those without internet access, order forms can be obtained at PGC offices or various displays or booths at shows in which the agency participates through the spring or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Howard Nursery, 197 Nursery Road, Howard 16841.
Howard Nursery produces bare-root seedlings for wildlife food and cover on State Game Lands and has been producing and distributing 2.7 to 6 million seedlings annually for wildlife food and cover since 1954. Landowners who have land open to public hunting and are enrolled in one of the PGC's public access programs are eligible to receive up to 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, but free seedling orders are taken only in the fall through local wildlife conservation officers and land management group supervisors.
"Seedlings are available for purchase by landowners are suitable for a variety of uses, such as wildlife food and cover, watershed protection, soil erosion control, and for reclamation of disturbed areas, such as surface mine site and utility right-of-ways," Howard Nursery superintendent Annetta Ayers said. "Howard Nursery strives to offer the finest available tree and shrub seedlings that best provide for the various needs of wildlife, including food and shelter, and all of our stock is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture and certified to be 'disease-free.'"
Ayers noted that the nursery sells seedlings in unit bundles of 25. Orders of 12 or more total units receive discounted pricing, and prices are as low as $3.75 per unit of 25 seedlings, or 15 cents each.
These species will be available for purchase beginning January 3: Eastern white pine; red pine; white spruce; Norway spruce; Douglas fir; Eastern hemlock; Arborvitae/Northern white cedar; blue spruce; common elderberry; silky dogwood; graystem dogwood; flowering dogwood; arrowwood viburnum; American highbush cranberry; buttonbush; winterberry; sawtooth oak; scrub oak/bear oak; pin oak; mixed Northern red oak and black oak; white oak; black oak; black walnut; Chinese chestnut; American mountain ash; Washington hawthorne; assorted crabapple; American sweet crabapple; and assorted standard apple.
Those interested in red elderberry, Bartlett pear, Seckle pear, wild plum, Eastern redbud, wild black cherry, dwarf chinquapin oak and gobbler sawtooth oak should call Howard Nursery at 814-355-4434, as these species are in limited supply. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Ayers noted that, for evergreens, 1,000 seedlings planted at the recommended tree spacing of eight feet by eight feet will occupy 1.5 acres. Planting space for hardwood trees should be a minimum of eight feet by eight feet and up to 15 feet by 15 feet, depending on species.
For hardwoods, 100 trees will occupy one-quarter acre, and 1,000 seedlings will occupy 2.5 acres. Various shrub species can be planted on a six foot by six foot or eight foot by eight foot pattern.
A description of each species available, along with size information, is available on the website under "Tree Seedling Index." Some of the new native shrubs are available in limited quantities and are expected to sell out quickly. The selection of native trees and shrubs is being expanded annually. With the exception of black locust, all of the hardwoods are grown from seed collected and processed by Game Commission personnel from Pennsylvania sources.
The preferred method of delivery is by United Parcel Service, and shipping and handling charges do apply. This is very efficient and most orders are received next day, and orders are shipped only Monday through Wednesday to assure delivery for weekend planting, however, orders also may be picked up in person at the nursery once notified the order is ready.