Wild Notes Winter 2011 edition

Winter 2011

*You can also download the entire issue in PDF form.

Cosmo the flying squirrel


You can also download the entire issue in printable PDF form

Chris Firestone
Bureau of Forestry Botanist

Born in Connecticut and living in Texas early in life, I moved to central Pennsylvania at 8 years of age.  Growing up on 180 acres of woodlands in northwest Perry County, the outdoors was my playground because we lived so far away from anything!  My mother and father were very connected with the outdoors and the environment; as a family we frequently camped, canoed and hiked.  My mother was a teacher and started an environmental education program for her school's 4th grade.  Every year these students flocked to our woods, staying overnight in tents and having classes outside.  All through high school and college, I was there to help out, and at times even taught some of the classes.

As a biology major in college, I focused on ecology, botany and mammalogy.  My very first college course was Field Botany. I aced the class and was hooked for life.  In 1995 I began working for DCNR as a botanist.  As staff member for the Wild Plant Management Program within DCNR, I work on many different aspects of plant conservation: invasive plant species; permitting for collection of threatened and endangered species; the Wild Plant Sanctuary Program; ginseng management and collection; working with other botanists in the state to classify plant species; using native plants in the landscape; and working with the Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) staff to track native wild plant populations across the state.  The recent increase in natural gas development on state forestland keeps me busy — much of my time is now spent reviewing these areas to lessen the impacts to important and unique natural resources.

My job also keeps me involved with many WRCP projects.  Along with representatives from the Fish and Boat Commission and Game Commission, I am an agency coordinator for WRCP.  These three coordinators help set WRCP research priorities for the program's grant funding.  My favorite thing about my role with WRCP is working with the many different people
invested in the program: the grant applicants, project reviewers, other state agency biologists and the WRCP advisory committee members.

WRCP is important because it is the primary, and perhaps only, funding source in Pennsylvania for research and inventory of native wild plants, with a focus on the conservation of threatened and endangered plant species.  Much of the plant and animal inventory information that is contained in the PNHP database has been funded by WRCP grants.  The WRCP grants have also helped create wonderful posters, patches and videos that help educate the public and school children about Pennsylvania's native wild plants, invasive plants and fungi.

As you can tell, I am passionate about wild plants.  In my spare time I love to garden and grow native wild plants, cook with organic ingredients from my vegetable gardens and read.  When I'm not in the office I spend time with my 11 year old son and husband — an artisan blacksmith and builder of muzzleloaders — often walking through the forests of north-central Pennsylvania, looking and learning about new and unusual plant species.


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Pennsylvania Wild Resource Program