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Whether you are a landowner who is tired of mowing your grassy plain or a have a little woodlands that you would like to improve, there will be plenty of information to get you on track at a forestry workshop being held at the Carroll County Agriculture Center on Jan. 17.

"Beyond the Lawn: Landscaping with Nature" is the theme of this year's annual winter forestry workshop, sponsored by the Carroll County Forest Conservancy District Board and the University of Maryland Extension, Carroll County Office. Spaces should be reserved by Friday to ensure enough meals and materials will be ordered.

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"Forestry is by far one of the largest natural resources in Maryland," said Steve Allgeier, horticulture specialist at the Carroll extension office. "Surprisingly, a lot of the property in woodlands is in private property, and this workshop, the goal is to give people research-based information on ways to care for and better manage your woodlands."

In Carroll, much of the woodlands are in small lots, Allgeier said, and some landowners think that if they just let their woods be, they will naturally grow into a pristine, healthy woodland. But like all types of land, woodlands require management, he said, and specifically protection against non-native and invasive plants, insects and other pests in order to thrive.

"A lot of the workshop itself is about how to keep your forest healthy and productive, especially in light of all the new invasive pests that are threatening it," Allgeier said.

Allgeier will be leading a talk on "Integrated Deer and Pest Management," explaining the threat that these pests present and tips for keeping them in check.

Fellow speaker F. Kirk Dreier, director and senior naturalist at Marshy Point Nature Center in Baltimore County, said it's important to work against these pests because they are significantly changing the ecology of our forests.

Dreier's talk, "Maryland of Yore," will give a historical background on Maryland's forests, in hopes of inspiring landowners to protect what's left of these natural resources.

"I want to kind of paint a picture of what early Marylanders would have seen, and what their impressions were of the landscape and the ecology," Dreier said. "Basically the nature that we're left with today is an impoverished, bankrupt bank at this point, compared to what they were seeing."

Early Marylanders would write letters back to Europe about all of the tall trees and wild game that they witnessed, their reports so outrageous that people couldn't believe them, Dreier said.

Today, there is much less biological diversity in the forests, as well as less wildlife and fewer trees.

"It's adulterated," he said of today's woodlands. "You almost need to know the botany of Southeast Asia to know these different weed-like plants and vines — none of that was here. Not even earthworms were here."

Other topics included in the workshop are "Landscaping for Birds, Bees and Butterflies," "Resources for the Weekend Warrior," and "Creating a Water-Wise Landscape."

Krisztian Varsa, a University of Maryland Extension associate agent and regional watershed restoration specialist, will be teaching the water-wise landscaping class, which he said is just as practical as it is environmental.

"Doing the water-wise thing on your landscape isn't just about doing the right thing for the streams and the creeks, which is obviously a good thing, but it's also about taking care of your property so that you don't lose valuable, high quality top soil; it's about reducing erosion and keeping your plants and your landscape healthy and attractive for your whole neighborhood," Varsa said.

Varsa said one of the big goals is reduce the hard surfaces in your landscape either with trees, whose leaves form a canopy and protect soil from the impact of rain, or other landscaping plants whose roots can hold the soil in place.

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"The trick however is to use plants that are accustomed to the native conditions, so even when we do have periods of drought, which are natural in Maryland, that they can survive through that period," he said.

There will also be two sessions that will discuss the importance of having a land management plan and then time to start developing that plan, while receiving assistance from the guest speakers.

If you go

What: Winter Forestry workshop, "Beyond the Lawn: Landscaping with Nature"

When: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 17

Where: Carroll County Agriculture Center

Cost: $50 for an individual, $75 for a couple and $15 for a student, which includes snacks, lunch and course materials. To reserve your seat, email ccforestryboard@gmail.com or call 410-386-2760.

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