The Eastern Box Turtle

shutterstock_329907089Woodland owners have the privilege of discovering the many fascinating animals that live here in the Midwest. One such species is the Eastern Box Turtle. Box turtles are categorized as the “Land Turtles.” They are commonly found throughout deciduous forests. The forest floors offer perfect moisture and provide good drainage in bottomland and foot-slope areas offering the best habitat. Box turtles are known to take baths in streams, ponds, and lakes. During the hot summer months, they often submerge in mud for days at a time in order to stay cool.

As opposed to the many neutral-colored animals, box turtles are known for their unique and colorful designs. The shell has a black background with random yellow-colored lines, spots, and blotches. The shells are made up of plates which continuously grow throughout the turtle’s life. Each year the plates grow a new layer or growth ring. It is common for a box turtle to live to be 25 to 30 years old, and can sometimes reach 40 to 50 years old.

A box turtle’s diet consist of earthworms, grubs, snails, fallen fruit, berries, and mushrooms. Because they are known to eat poisonous mushrooms, box turtles are not edible to humans. Box turtles live amongst down debris on the forest floor where food and cover is plentiful.

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Bees & Basswood Trees

IMG_0988 bee closer2During spring, the silent flowering Basswood tree commonly goes unnoticed to us, but not to the bees.  Basswoods produce fragrant, yellow flowers that dangle precariously underneath the heart shaped leaves.  Basswoods that bloom during May and July, produce prolific amounts of nectar that is favored by wandering bees.  Bees also help pollinate favored crops such as apples, squash, and pumpkins.  When bees are abundant, the beekeepers are busy tending hives and harvesting the light, delicious honey.

Basswood’s fall seed crop feeds wildlife such as mice, squirrels, and chipmunks as they prepare for winter.  During winter, deer and rabbits rely heavily on its tender seedlings and stump sprouts for food and cover.  In the latter part of its life, Basswoods often hollow out, creating new spaces for bee hives and bird nests.

It is advised to selectively open gaps in the dense canopy to allow seedlings and saplings underneath to retrieve light and grow into healthy Basswoods.  With this light, the next generation of your forest can vigorously grow into the strong flowering trees of tomorrow.


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In Memory of Jack Triplett

1709754_profile_picJune 20, 1937 – November 26, 2015
Pike Lumber Company mourns the passing of Jack Triplett, a retiree who dedicated over 31 years of service to the company. Jack studied at the National Hardwood Lumber Association in Memphis, TN and worked as an inspector for Pike. Jack served in the US Navy and he was a loyal member of the Riverview Community Church. He and his wife, Phyllis shared over 54 years of life’s adventures and had two children and many grandchildren.

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Pike Supports Teacher’s Institute

Had Pike Lumber Company not stepped up to sponsor me at the 2015 Indiana Forestry Teacher Institute, I would not have experienced a life-changing week as I did. While the discussions among colleagues are always enlightening, the explanations of how the state of Indiana manages its forests went beyond interesting and beyond important to the overall health of the ecological and economical infrastructure of the state. The facilitators, Donna and Lenny, inspired a group of diverse educators from all over the state of Indiana to help change the preeminent mind set of a negative perception regarding the DNR’s management practices, and the intentions of forestry product industries such as Pike Lumber Company.

The guests, who spoke of selective cutting, patch cutting, and clear cutting, spoke not just of economical benefits, but also of species health and diversity. The speakers relayed interests of promoting regeneration of tree species that might otherwise disappear. They spoke of increasing health of remaining tree stands through reducing over crowding. The HEE project is a scientific data collection method that is openly available for class discussions and analysis. As a high school environmental science teacher, I hear many misperceptions about how the state and forest product industries see forestry management. I now have a wealth of knowledge that fuels my intellect to create lessons and discussions to promote balance among students’ and their parents’ forestry management perceptions. I cannot thank you and Pike Lumber Company enough for providing me with this opportunity.  Please continue your support for future institutes.

Sincerely Yours.

Daniel K McGill

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Salamanders: Unique Indiana Critters

Salamanders are one of Indiana’s unique critters that often go
unnoticed to many people. Indiana’s woodland and wetland
habitats host twenty-two different species of salamanders.

They are fascinating to many people because of their striking color
patterns and distinctive habits. Particularly, they have the ability
to breathe and absorb moisture through their skin, as well as
regenerating lost limbs.

Salamanders are amphibians, which means “double life,” referring to
their two stage life cycle. As juveniles, many salamanders live in the
water with feathered gills and spend their time feeding and growing.
Once they reach adulthood, they lose their gills and climb onto land
ready to breed.

Many salamander enthusiasts enjoy finding these critters. Because
salamanders prefer damp and dark places, they can be found under
decomposing logs and rocks. Salamanders are quite shy and
harmless, and need to be handled with care.

Due to the increase in fungus, pollution, and destruction of
wetland habitats, many of the salamander populations
have decreased in recent years. But there are ways of
slowing down, or stopping, this decline. Farmers can make
efforts to prevent chemicals entering the waterways.

Landowners can harvest trees to create more logs for
salamanders to live under. With the combined efforts and
awareness, salamanders will be around for many people to

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Pike Hosts Annual 2nd Grade Tour

For the first time, a second generation of family walks the woods on Pike’s 23rd Annual 2nd Grade Tour for Akron Elementary students. Among first and second-generation students to attend were Ashley Potter and her son Oliver. Ashley’s father Brian also works for Pike in lumber sales.

The tour took place April 21. The partnership between Pike and Akron Elementary started when former teacher Dot Lynn and retired past President Dean Baker discussed making a forestry field day for students.

The tour has not changed much over the years except that Pike has actually run out of places for the students to plant seedlings.

The morning part of the tour takes the students to the Akron Sawmill where they learn how trees grow, how foresters select trees to harvest, what the lumber is used to manufacture and the difference between hardwood trees and coniferous.

The kids then get to learn how to plant a seedling, as well as tour the sawmill and dry kilns. After the tour at the plant, the students take the bus to Silver Creek Forest where they take a sack lunch and hike through the woods. Each student is given a Red Oak sapling to take home and plant.

The company’s goal is to teach each student the important of the renewable resource and that we can all participate in forest stewardship no matter how young or old.


Left: A forest guides the students through the woods
Right: Kirk Robinson and past President Dean Baker recognize Ashley Potter and her son Oliver as first and second-generation students to take the tour.

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