Texas A&M Aggie Foresters learn forest management and ecology

By Laura Carlton and Amanda Brooks

Ever wonder what Aggies in forestry do? The ESSM field studies course is an excellent way to explore your options in the professional world. From our experience in Arkansas, Louisiana, and east Texas we visited with professionals and applied our academic knowledge to real life field work. When we met with Plum Creek Timber Company in Crossett, Arkansas they showed us a direct view of their business and Silvicultural practices. The United States Forest’s Crossett Experimental Forest was a great opportunity for learning more about unevenaged forest management practices, and forest ecology, using neat technology like the Eddy Covariance tower. In Louisiana, we visited with a forester managing the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge who was focused on the wildlife side, different ecosystem functions of the wetlands, and effects of land management on species composition. Once back in Texas, our group traveled to a conference held by The Longleaf Alliance. They spoke about their mission to ensure a viable future for the ecosystem of the longleaf pine as well as the wildlife and native vegetation of east Texas. Temple-Inland gave us a tour of their factory in Diboll, Texas, where they showed us how their sawmill is run with state-of-the-art technology and very few people. We witnessed how a tree can be transformed into a material for consumption in less than sixteen minutes. After our tour, we visited the Texas Forestry Museum in Lufkin. Here we learned about the logging history of Texas; it was very humbling experience to see how forestry first began. Our tour guide explained his forestry job of dealing with the public that doesn’t understand our sustainable forest practices and is therefore against cutting trees or burning. The trip emphasized the practice of forestry, using Silviculture and Mensuration tools such as a cruising stick, clinometers, light sensors, compass, DBH tape, increment borer, and of course, adding it all up in Excel. It was a great experience to get out and learn more about what professionals in the field do and how timber companies manage their forests!

TX Longleaf Tour Aggies 2
Front row (left to right): Ryan Killough, James Cady, John Adams, Dr. Marian Eriksson, Laura Carlton, Amanda Brooks, Audrie La Fleur, Berry Isensee, Kent Evans (USFS, retired)
Back Row (left to right) : Jeff Hartman, Hunter Vess, John McNeil, Brian Tanner, Todd Nightingale (Texas Forest Service), Marco Neftali, Christapher Martin, Kevin Wessels, Alex Husby, Justin Penick (Acorn Forestry)