Game Commission resumes seedling sales to public

Commentary

Whether you just have a large backyard or many acres of land that you would like to make more attractive to wildlife, one of the best ways to do so is by planting native Pennsylvania trees and shrubs.

Not only do these plants have the potential to provide valuable food and cover to a wide variety of birds and animals, but they also offer aesthetic value and other benefits to your property such as erosion control or the reclamation of disturbed areas. Now is a good time to do some homework about what plants would be a good fit for the wildlife in your backyard. Several good places to start learning about plantings for wildlife are the websites of the National Wild Turkey Federation (nwtf.org), the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (dcnr.pa.gov) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (pgc.pa.gov).

One of the best sources for native tree and shrub seedlings at reasonable prices is the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery. The Game Commission began producing seedlings and other plants at this facility in Centre County back in 1954 to supply wildlife food and cover plantings on state game lands. Production at that facility now amounts to 2 to 8 million seedlings each year. In addition to supplying plants for state game lands and to landowners enrolled in the Game Commission’s various access programs, the Howard Nursery also takes orders for plants each spring from landowners interested in providing better habitat on their properties with the use of native trees and shrubs.

In 2018, The Howard Nursery was forced to suspend seedling sales to the public because of low inventories of many species and germination failure in several species of conifers. “Last year, game lands and partner demands for seedlings was greater than our supply,” said Brian D. Stone, manager at Howard Nursery. “This year, after fulfilling our commitments to our game lands projects and our partners, we will have a limited supply of surplus available for public sale.”

The Howard Nursery is now accepting orders for spring 2019 planting. An order form and information about the seedlings available and planting recommendations can be found on the Game Commission’s website. On the homepage, go to the “Information & Resources” menu bar at the top of the homepage and click on “Make a Purchase.” On the following page click on the “Order products from Howard Nursery” link. Completed order forms can be submitted online or printed and faxed or mailed. Order forms can also be obtained sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Howard Nursery, 197 Nursery Road, Howard, PA 16841.

A limited variety of seedlings will be available this year. Those species available include: buttonbush, graystem dogwood, Northern bayberry, ninebark, chokecherry, common elderberry, arrowwood viburnum, Washington hawthorn, black walnut, black locust, and black-gum. Seedlings are sold in units of 25. Orders of 12 or more total units qualify for applicable discounted pricing. With the discount, prices are as low as $5.50 per unit. Regular price ranges from $7.50 to $9.50, depending upon the seedling species.

It’s advisable to get your seedling order in as early as possible, as some species tend to sell out quickly. If you are not sure what trees or shrubs might be suitable for your property, check out the “Tree Seedlings Index” link, which provides a chart with information on each type of plant along its site preferences, what wildlife species it benefits and more.

Generally, seedling orders are shipped during April by UPS on Monday through Wednesday to assure delivery for weekend planting. Because the Howard Nursery is in the geographic center of the state, most orders will arrive the next day.

Arrangements can also be made to pick up orders in person at the nursery. For more information on purchasing seedlings from the Game Commission, contact the Howard Nursery at 814-355-4434, Monday thru Friday from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

New game warden class

For anyone who has considered a career as a Pennsylvania game warden, the Game Commission will be seeking up to 35 qualified candidates for its 32nd class of State Game Warden Cadets at its Ross Leffler School of Conservation in Harrisburg.

The State Civil Service Commission on or about Jan. 28 will post a job announcement for and begin accepting applications from prospective cadets, under the official application title of “wildlife conservation officer” through www.employment.pa.gov. The application period will remain open until Feb. 23, 2019, or until 1,000 applications are received, whichever occurs first. Applications will be accepted only online. Successful applicants will report for training in March 2020 and graduate in 2021. For more information about the position and how to apply to become a State Game Warden Cadet, go to the Game Commission website (www.pgc.pa.gov) and click on Information & Resources, then Careers and Volunteers.

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