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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Rich Solano is 2015 IHLA President

We are pleased to announce the induction of Rich Solano as the 2015 President of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association (IHLA) located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

IHLA is the second largest hardwood lumber association in the United States with members in 34 states, 4 Canadian provinces and members from around the world. IHLA’s primary mission is, “working to ensure a sustainable, affordable supply of quality North American hardwoods for the public good.” Established in 1898, IHLA also reaches out to educate legislators, architects, designers and teachers about the benefits of using hardwood lumber in building projects and furniture.

“I follow in a long line of “Pike’ers” who have served as IHLA president. The other past presidents include: Channing Utter, Dean Baker, Jim Mulligan, John Brown and Jim Steen”, said Solano. “As Indiana’s largest manufacturer of kiln dried hardwood lumber, it is important that we take an active roll in promoting our industry.”

Congratulations to Rich in his new position. We wish him luck as he leads IHLA for the upcoming year.

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The Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the largest, loudest, and most recognizable woodpeckers in North America.  Similar in size to the Common Crow, the Pileated was made famous, in part by the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker.  Prior to 1900, the Pileated was considered rare, but in recent years populations have shown strong increases across its range of Canada and the United States.

The mature forests of the Midwest provide excellent habitat for the Pileated Woodpecker.  These trees provide nesting posts along with an important food source, the carpenter ant.  Large, rectangular holes are carved into the trunks by these hard headed birds often times causing small trees to snap off.  The thunderous drumming sometimes heard echoing through the forest is the Pileated’s way of marking its territory.

These unique birds are non-migratory and do remain in their territories all year-round so look for and enjoy the sights and sounds of what Mother Nature and your forest resource has to offer.


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Best Management Practices

  • Best Management Practices, or BMPs as they are known in the industry, were established in 1998 through a cooperative effort from the logging, sawmilling, forestry, environmental and regulatory agencies.  As a forestland owner, you are well aware that the forest acts as a natural filter of water.  BMPs are a voluntary set of guidelines that mainly deal with water quality concerns as it relates to forest practices, more specifically timber harvesting.During actual harvest operations, the plan is implemented.  The goal is to minimize disturbance and direct water to undisturbed forest soil.  For some of the more sensitive areas such as stream crossings, Pike uses portable bridges for the equipment to cross.Waterbars consist of a trench, and mound of soil, and are commonly used on sloped skid trails to divert and slow down the movement of water.  The benefits of BMPs are enormous and are a vital part to any forest management plan.

    The key to success is proper planning.  A properly planned and well executed harvesting operation greatly minimizes the potential for erosion.  At Pike, the logging supervisors and loggers have successfully completed the Indiana BMP training course.  A well developed plan involves looking at the topographic maps to your woods, walking the site, and laying out the correct areas for skid trails, stream crossings, and landing sites.

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Leadership Change at Pike Lumber Company

As of January 1, 2015, John R Brown will step down as President of Pike Lumber Company, Akron, Indiana,handing the reins to James (Jim) W. Steen, who has served as Executive Vice President for the last 7 years.  Craig M.  Brouyette is promoted to Executive Vice President/Sales Manager.

John Brown will take on a part-time role as Director of Corporate Development, working on capital project planning, recruiting, training, and succession planning while continuing to serve as a member of the Pike Lumber Company Board of Directors.

Jim Steen has worked for Pike Lumber Company in various roles, starting as a production management trainee in June of 1982.  Prior to this, Jim served in the U.S. Army as a Ranger on Active Duty for four years and then attended  Ohio State University, graduating with a BS in Forest Industries Management.  Jim has a passion for the industry and has served on a number of association boards including Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, Hardwood Federation, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center Advisory Committee, Purdue Dean of Agriculture Deans Advisory Council. He currently serves as a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association Board of Managers. Jim and his wife Bonnie reside in Akron, Indiana, and are actively involved in the community.

In other changes, Richard (Rich) Solano, Marketing Manager, is promoted to Corporate Treasurer, and Samantha Howard, Vice President of Administration, is promoted to Corporate Secretary.

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