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March 26
Hellbender Hustle and Feast Like a Hellbender

Feast Like a Hellbender Mark your calendars April 11th for our all-you-can-eat Cajun cuisine dinner in support of hellbender conservation in the Blue River! Hundreds of dollars in door prizes. Menu consists of crawfish, shrimp, jambalaya, beans and rice. Activities will include face painting, coloring, hellbender movie, trivia games, and live animals. This event is for all ages.

Register at

Got Nature? Podcasts
iTunes - Got Nature?
The Nature of Teaching, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University

March 23
Landscapes with Rainscaping Capture Stormwater
Landscape, Purdue Rainscaping Education Program

Spring showers bring May flowers! This common phrase is very pertinent as we head out of March and soon into April. Spring showers are looming in the distance and will bring an abundance of rain...which will lead to runoff and flooding. Who wants their landscape to turn into mud when the spring showers come? Purdue Extension is offering a program which will teach attendees how to resolve this problem.

The Purdue Rainscaping Education Program will help attendees learn about rainscaping in residential and small-scale public spaces. Spring 2015 pilot workshops will teach master gardeners, landscape professionals, and agency staff how to promote community awareness and education for bioretention/rain garden planning, installation, and maintenance.​ 

The five three-hour sessions include flipped classroom instruction through online learning modules, experiential training activities, field techniques, and field trips to view rainscaping projects. Participants help create a demonstration bioretention/rain garden with community partners in a public space during the final session. Participants must attend all five sessions to receive the certificate of completion. 


Session Topics and Dates:

​Session 1 - Introduction to Rainscaping, Monday, April 6,2015
Session 2 - Site Selection and Analysis, Monday, April 13, 2015
Session 3 - Plant Selection and Design, Monday, April 20, 2015
Session 4 - Installation and Maintenance, Monday, April 27, 2015
Session 5 - Demonstration Garden Installation, Monday, May 4, 2015

Location: Purdue Extension-Tippecanoe County office, 3150 Sagamore Parkway South, Lafayette, IN 47905
Time: All sessions will take place from 3-6 p.m.
Cost: $25 for all sessions
Registration: View The Education Store site or call 888-EXT-INFO to register for the event.

Purdue Rainscaping Education Program, Purdue Agriculture
Sustainable Communities, Purdue University Extension
Climate Change: How will you manage stormwater runoff?​, The Education Store

Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources & Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator
Department of Horticulutre and Landscape Architecture​​

March 19
​New Indiana Woodland Steward Issue Now Available

Providing timely information to woodland owners and other rural landowners can be a challenging task. Developing partnerships is an important way that Purdue helps meet this challenge. One of our best examples is the Woodland Steward Institute, a 23-year partnership among many member organizations, whose purpose is to promote the wise use of Indiana's forest resources. The primary way the Institute achieves its mission is through the Woodland Steward, a 16-page, two-color publication that includes information on forest stewardship and health, wildlife habitat and management, invasive species, forest policy, pests and diseases, and much more. Three issues are printed and mailed to about 32,000 forest owners throughout the state each year.steward.JPG

The latest issue is now available online. Visitors can also browse or search for past articles and issues. Articles in the current issue include:

  • 2014 Timber Price Report
  • Calendar of Events
  • Regeneration Cutting on Private Woodlands
  • Water Bar for Continuous Road Use
  • Forestry Best Management Practices
  • Invasive Species: Best Management Practices – Part 1
  • Ask the Steward
  • Days Gone By

The Woodland Steward is a unique and high-quality resource for Indiana. Subscribers think enough of it that they donate money to the institute which pays for the printing and mailing of one issue each year. In a recent survey of readers, 54 percent regularly utilize information from the Steward; 51 percent, who own an estimated 1.2 million acres of woodlands, have implemented at least one practice they learned from the Woodland Steward

Anyone can subscribe to the electronic version of the newsletter here. If you wish, you may also sign up to receive a printed version by sending your name and mailing address to me at  

March 17
Invasive Plant Best Management Practices - Workshop

Garlic Mustard PlantSustainable Forests Roundtable will be hosting a Invasive Plant Best Management Practices webinar. Best Management Practices (BMPs) help you identify effective and realistic practices that can be integrated into any behavior. Whether you’re a gardener, a landowner, a forester to a logger; the movement of invasive species is always a concern. A BMP can be as simple as cleaning your shoes or as complex as pressure washing your bulldozer. Regardless of your practice, the goal is always to minimize the spread of invasive species. Learn how to create best management practices that help identify and minimize the spread of invasive species. The presenters for the webinar are Bernie Williams, Invasive Plants and Earthworms Outreach Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Brad Herrick, Ecologist and Research Manager, University of Wisconsin Arboretum, and Judy Kingsbury, Volunteer Coordinator, University of Wisconsin Arboretum.

Who: Sustainable Forests Roundtable
What: Invasive Plant Best Management Practices
Where: Webinar on the Sustainable Forests Roundtable site
When: March 24, 2015, 1:00 p.m. US/Eastern
Details: No registration is required. View the Sustainable Forests Roundtable site to see how to join the webinar.

Got Nature? blog, click on "Invasive Plant Species", Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR)
Invasive Plants, Purdue Agriculture Weed Science
Invasive Plant Species, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Sustainable Forests Roundtable
Partners include:North Carolina State University's Extension Forest Resources, Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

March 11
New Podcast! Giant Salamanders Part 2: climate change and foraging ecology

​Eastern hellbenders have been in decline across many regions of the eastern United States. The Midwest has shown some of the most significant declines in hellbender populations.  Current conservation efforts in West Virginia and Ohio include eDNA surveys, establishing habitat corridors, and captive rearing and release programs. In this podcast our guest host, Dr. Steve Kimble, will be interviewing Joe Greathouse about how variability in water temperatures may influence the foraging ecology in these giant salamanders. Joe is the director of conservation science at The Wilds in Ohio.

Scientists placing hellbender concrete nest box in water.Kaitlynn Samborsky and Joe Greathouse putting concrete nest boxes created by our partners in the Sustainable Prison Program in a stream in West Virginia. Photo by Grace Winzeler.
Hellbender in concrete nest box.Hellbender in concrete nest box.

Listen here:
Giant Salamanders Part 2: climate change and foraging ecology, Got Nature? Podcast
iTunes - Got Nature?

To contact Joe Greathouse:
The Wilds:

Other resources:

Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University

March 09
Purdue Boiler Bytes highlights Discovery Park Global Soundscape Research Center led by FNR's Dr. Bryan Pijanowski
Global Soundscapes

​Have you ever wondered what an unfettered rainforest sounds like? Or maybe been curious about the sounds of the shifting coastal tides of Alaska? Well Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Professor Bryan Pijanowski and his students have now made it possible to hear sounds from a wide number of locations around the world. Dr. Pijanowski, Professor of Human-Environment Modeling & Analysis Laboratory, has lead teams to locations across the globe, including Costa Rica, Borneo, and the Sonaran Desert, in an effort to record and archive the sounds produced by various ecosystems. Dr. Pijanowski and his team have developed a series of applications for mobile devices and other technologies for soundscape recordings and research.

You can help capture and preserve sounds of the Earth and highlight their bellwether role in alerting scientists to environmental habitat changes by using the free app available at The Education Store, Purdue Extension. On Earth Day, April 22, 2015, The Global Soundcsapes Research Center will try to surpass the number of downloads these received in 2014 on Earth Day.

The app is available on Google Play and the App Store listed in The Education Store, Purdue Extension.

Soundscape Ecology Research Projects, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources
Conserving Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes: Model-based Planning Tools​, The Education Store
Managing Forest & Wildlife Resources: An Integrated Approach, The Education Store

Bryan Pijanowski​, Professor of Human-Environment Modeling & Analysis Laboratory
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue Univeristy

March 06
​Time to Start Those Wildlife Projects
nestbox.jpgRemove perches from wildlife nest boxes like the bluebird box pictured here. Perches allow undesirable birds to harass native cavity nesters and take over a nest box.

Even though we have had some rough weather lately, this winter didn’t seem so bad to me. Now that the weather forecast is looking positive and the days are getting longer (this month we gain about 75 minutes - I am embarrassed to admit that I check this frequently during the winter because it helps me get through the winter doldrums), it is a good time to think about wildlife habitat projects. Sometimes landowners and homeowners can be overwhelmed by all the different ways they can help wildlife on their property. An easy project that is also fun to build and place on your property is a nest box. You don’t want to wait much longer. Erect your nest box well before the average start of the nesting season (most birds start in mid-April, but some start sooner). Some species will set up their nesting territory 3 to 4 weeks prior to egg laying.

Many species of native birds and mammals will utilize nest boxes. When we put out a nest box, all we are doing is replicating what nature already provides with cavities in both live and dead trees. Woodpeckers are primary cavity users because they create their own. Other birds and mammals are secondary cavity users because they use what is already there – either those that occur in older, dying trees or those that are created by woodpeckers. Installing nest boxes in areas where cavities are likely scarce such as urban environments or young woods may be particularly beneficial.


  • ​Use quality materials that are weather resistant. Exterior grade plywood and lumber are good choices. Cedar and other rot-resistant woods are best. Avoid using treated lumber and metal.
  • Avoid painting or staining inside nest boxes. Painting the outside can prolong its life and may be attractive for some species (white for purple martins, for example).
  • The roof should be sloped to allow water runoff and should hang over the sides.
  • Drill at least four 3/8-inch drainage holes on the floor.
  • The roof or one side should open to allow easy access for cleaning.
  • Avoid perches. Natural cavities don’t have them and neither should your nest box. Perches also allow European starlings and English house sparrows, non-native invasive species, to harass native cavity nesters and take over a nest box.
  • Near the top of each side, leave gaps or drill 5/8 inch holes (at least 2 per side).

More tips on design, such as nest box specifics by species (dimensions, hole size and placement, box placement, and location), maintenance, and problem species, can be found in our Nest Boxes for Wildlife publication​.

Other resources available:
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard, The Education Store
Birds of Benton County, Indiana, The Education Store

Brian MacGowan​, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University

March 05
Snap, Crackle and Pop - Walking in a winter wonderland
Snow covered forest

"When it snows…
and temperatures drop
That’s when you’ll hear
The Snap, Crackle, and Pop"

Few things can compare to the peacefulness of walking in a forest filled with snow covered trees until you hear a snap, crackle, or an explosive “POP” echoing through the woods. What on earth was that? If the noise is followed by a “whoosh” it may be a limb that just broke and crashed to the ground. If it sounded like a gunshot but nobody is there, you may be listening to the sound of a frost crack forming on a tree. 

What are frost cracks?
Nobody knows for sure. You may hear one happen, typically on a cold late winter morning after a warm spell. They sound like muffled to loud rifle shots. Typically, these cracks occur on the south side of the trunk between two and five feet up the tree (when measuring from the ground). With leaves on, water is pulled upwards from tree roots through the xylem vessels by the differences in water potential from the air to the soil, and escapes through the leaves (the soil-plant-air continuum).

Water in the plant is under a negative water potential or in common terms – under tension. In the winter, when deciduous trees have no leaves, the water pressure in the sap becomes positive. A flow occurs where water moves up in the xylem and cycles down in the phloem (food conducting cells). The mechanism of this winter flow in temperate trees is not well understood physiologically. The sap increases in simple soluble sugars as the cold weather begins and increases until midwinter to work like antifreeze, depressing the freezing point of water. This is why maple syrup can be tapped in late winter. 

Forest CrackScientists are challenged to study the phenomena of frost cracks. They involve thousands of xylem vessels in a very narrow vertical line bursting all at once – as if a line of sap is too low in sugar concentration – and then freezes hard explosively bursting the vessels. After several growing seasons, most trees will heal over the crack but callus growth makes them appear wider. Valuable timber logs can still be profitably harvested with frost cracks as millers can cut through them to minimize the defect. 

Species with darker colored bark and thinner bark can be affected by frost cracks. Some genotype effects have been found in black walnuts at Purdue. Field conditions and topography that effect cold air movement can affect frost cracks. Most form on the southwestern section of the trunk, the area most affected by warming from sunlight during winter afternoons. Somehow, this conditioning sets up the tree when temperatures plummet to single digits (in Fahrenheit) or lower, especially after a warmer period. 

So, if you wander through the woods this winter; stop and don’t “drop” when you are listening to the sounds of the trees.

"When the snow twinkles
and the skies are bare…
Temperatures drop
and a chill fills the air
If you listen real close
and adjust your cap
You just might hear
a tree go “Snap!”

Bark Splitting on Trees, Cornell University
How do trees survive winter? video, MinuteEarth
Winterize Your Trees​, The Education Store

Shaneka Lawson, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources 

James McKenna, Operational Tree Breeder
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources​​​​​

March 03
Plants and soil absorb unwanted water runoff, how?

Landscape, Purdue Rainscaping Education Program Purdue University, Agriculture News has just announced a new program - Purdue Rainscaping Education Program.

"Purdue Extension is starting a program that will provide training and resources on "rainscaping" practices used in residential gardens or small-scale public spaces to reduce pollution from runoff.

The Purdue Rainscaping Education Program will begin in April with pilot workshops focusing on planning, installing and maintaining rain gardens. The workshops will train Purdue master gardeners, personnel in conservation agencies and organizations, storm water professionals, and landscape professionals and consultants.

"Participants will visit and discuss existing rain gardens in the community, then learn how to site, design, construct and maintain a rain garden with a focus on community education," said Kara Salazar, sustainable communities Extension specialist.

Rainscaping uses landscape design and management practices - at both the household and community scales, such as at schools, community centers and fairgrounds - that enable plants and soils to absorb storm water, reducing runoff from fertilizers and other pollutants that eventually reaches lakes, streams and rivers." Read more...

The program offers five sessions on Mondays from April 6th to May 4th from 3-6pm. View the Purdue Rainscaping Education Program brochure for more details. Registration is now open at The Education Store.

Purdue Rainscaping Education Program, Purdue Agriculture
Sustainable Communities, Purdue University Extension
Climate Change: How will you manage stormwater runoff?​, The Education Store

Kara Salazar, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources & Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

John Orick, Purdue Master Gardener State Coordinator
Department of Horticulutre and Landscape Architecture

March 02
New Podcast! Giant Salamanders Part 1: climate change and immune function
Dr. Kimberly Terrell with hellbenderDr. Kimberly Terrell holds an eastern hellbender caught during a stream survey in southwest Virginia. Photo by JD Kleopfer.

​Eastern hellbenders are one of the largest amphibians on the planet.  They require cool, fast flowing streams and rivers with high levels of oxygen to breathe.  Changes in temperature can affect not only levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, but may invoke changes to the hellbenders immune system as well.  In this podcast our guest host,  Emily McCallen, with the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, will be interviewing Dr. Kimberly Terrell about how variability in water temperatures may increase immune function in these giant salamanders.

Listen here:
Giant Salamanders Part 1: climate change and immune function, Got Nature? Podcast
iTunes - Got Nature?

To contact Dr. Kimberly Terrell:
Twitter: @snototters
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute:

Other resources:

Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University

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