Publications and websites to assist your natural area projects

Publications, programs and other resources are important tools to help you continue learning and able to provide information to others interested in forest stewardship.

Aerial Photos and Topographic Maps

Brush Piles

Wildlife Management: Brush Piles. Tjaden, R., and J. Kays, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. Fact Sheet #599, 2003.  

Buy Seedlings from State Nurseries

Chosen Tree Release

(Formerly known as Crop Tree Release)

Management Practices for Enhancing Wildlife Habitat. M. C. Brittingham. 

Technical Guide to Crop Tree Release in Hardwood ForestsGary W. Miller, Jeffrey W. Stringer, David C. Merker. 

Crop Tree Management in Eastern Hardwoods (USDA Forest Service) 

Crop Tree Management: A Tool to Help You Achieve Your Woodland Goals. Apsley, D.K., and R. Heiligmann, Ohio State University Fact Sheet F-50. 

County Extension Offices

Enhancing Wildlife Habitat

Habitat at Home (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)  

Backyard Conservation. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Association of Conservation Districts, and Wildlife Habitat Council, 1998.  

Enhancing Wildlife Habitats: A Practical Guide for Forest Landowners. Hobson, S.S., J.S. Barclay, and S.H. Broderick, Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service NRAES-64, 1993. Available as used textbooks through and

Enhancing Your Backyard Habitat for Wildlife. Picone, Peter M., Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, 1995. 

Windstar Wildlife Institute

Landscaping for Wildlife: Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Brittingham, M.C. Pennsylvania Wildlife No. 7, Penn State Cooperative Extension, 2017.

Management Practices for Enhancing Wildlife Habitat. Brittingham, M.C., Penn State Cooperative Extension, 2017. 

Sustaining America’s Aquatic Biodiversity: Salamander Biodiversity and Conservation. Bishop, D., and C. Haas, Virginia Tech Pub. 420-528, 2003.

Sustaining America’s Aquatic Biodiversity: Turtle Biodiversity and Conservation. Mitchell, J.C., and K.A. Buhlmann. Virginia Tech Pub. 420-529, 2003. 

Enhancement of Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands. Decker, D.J., and J.W. Kelley, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Dept. of Natural Resources Resource Center, 1998.

Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide. Sargent, M.S., and Carter, K.S., ed., Michigan United Conservation Clubs, 1999. 

Virginia Tech Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Firewood Cutting

About Buying Firewood (Maryland Department of Natural Resources) 

Managing Your Woodlot for Firewood. Marcouiller, D., and S. Anderson, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service F-9439. 

Food Plots

Wildlife Management: Planting Crops for Wildlife. Wade, R., University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet #598.

Forest & Backyard Woods Management

Forest Resource Management: A Landowner’s Guide to Getting Started. Sullivan, K. L., P.J. Smallidge, et al., Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service NRAES-170, 2004. 

The Woodland Steward: A Practical Guide to the Management of Small, Private Forests. Fazio, J.R., Round River Publishing Co., 1994.

Working with Your Woodland: A Landowner’s Guide. Beattie, M., M., C. Thompson, and L. Levine, University Press of New England, 1993. 

 Backyard Woods: Bring Your Vision to Life. USDA Forest Service Publication #NA-IN-02-05, 2005. 

Forest Health

Forest Pest Management (Maryland Department of Agriculture) 

Maryland Forest Health Highlights 2016 (USDA Forest Service & Maryland Department of Natural Resources) 

Forest Insects and Disease (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) 

Virginia Forest Health (Virginia Department of Forestry) 

Forest Statistics

Family Forest Owner Trends in the Northern United States. Butler, Brett and Ma, Zhao. Society of American Foresters, 2011.

Trends in Maryland's Forests. USDA Forest Service NE-INF-152-02.

Forest Statistics for Virginia, 1992. USDA Forest Service  RB-SE-131.

Forestry Equipment

Herbicide Use & Application

Invasive and Exotic Plants

Invasive and Exotic Species of North America

Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control (Southern Research Station USDA Forest Service) 

Invasive Plant Species of Virginia (Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation) 

Invasive Species Publications (University of Georgia, USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, & USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture) 

Seeing Change in our Forests - Weather, Insects and Forest Health (Penn State Center for Private Forests) 

Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) 

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas (National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office) 

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in Maryland (US Fish & Wildlife Service)

Managing Wildlife Damage

Wildlife Damage Control - University of Maryland Extension Woodland Stewardship Education

Forest Threats-Wildlife - University of Maryland Extension Woodland Stewardship Education

Help with Human-Wildlife Confilicts (Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources) 

Help with Human-Wildlife Conflicts (Virginia Cooperative Extension) 

Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments: A Technical Guide. DeNicola, A., K. VerCauteren, P. Curtis, and S. Hygnstrom, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Dept. of Natural Resources Resource Center, 2000. 

Wildlife Nuisance and Damage Series (Penn State Cooperative Extension) 

Wildlife Damage Management: Resistance of Ornamentals to Deer Damage. Kays, J., M.V. Bartlett, and L. Curtis, Maryland Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet #655, 2003. 

Managing Deer Damage in Maryland. Kays, J., Maryland Cooperative Extension Bulletin #354, 2003.

Vole Damage Control in Forest Plantations. Sharew, H., and J.S. Kays, Maryland DNR Forest Service, 2005. 

Managing White-Tailed Deer in Suburban Environments: A Technical Guide. DeNicola, A., VerCauteren, K., Curtis, P., and Hygnstrom, S. Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2000.

Wildlife Outreach Center - Penn State Extension


Enhancing Wildlife Habitat on Farmlands. Bakermans, M.H., and A.D. Rodewald, Ohio State University Extension W- 14-2002, 2002. 

Maryland's Wild Acres: Creating a Wild Backyard - Mowing Cycles for Wildlife (Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council

Plant Virginia Natives.

Natural Lands Income Options

Forest Farming (US Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center) 

Forest Farming (Virginia Cooperative Extension)  

Enterprise Ventures (University of Maryland Extension) 

Agricultural Alternatives (Penn State University Extension)  

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Forest Landowner’s Guide to Evaluating and Choosing a Natural Resource-Based Enterprise. Kays, J.S., and J. Drohan, Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, Cornell University NRAES-151, 2005. 

Planting Trees

Tree Planting (U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service) 

Shrubs: Functions, Planting, and Maintenance. Niemiera, Alex X., Virginia Tech Pub. 426-701, 2009. 

Planting Trees. Niemiera, Alex X., Virginia Tech Pub. 426-702, 2009. 

Tree and Shrub Planting Guidelines. Appleton, B.L., and S. French, Virginia Tech Pub. 430-295, 1996.  

Neighborly Natural Landscaping: Creating Natural Environments in Residential Areas. M. C. Brittingham,  Penn State University Extension. 

Northeastern Tree Planting and Reforestation. Ochterski, Jim, P. Smallidge and J. Ward, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, USDA Renewable Resources Extension Program, USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, & NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 2009. 

Planting Hardwood Seedlings. USDA Forest Service, Northeast Area State Foresters, and Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, FNR 134. 

From Turf to Trees: Converting Lawn to Forest - University of Maryland Extension

Backyard Conservation-Tree Planting - USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Shrubs: Functions, Planting, and Maintenance - Virginia Cooperative Extension

Planting Trees - Virginia Cooperative Extension

Pruning Trees

How to Prune Trees. USDA Forest Service Forest Service Publication NA-FR-01-95. 

Managing Winter Injury to Trees and Shrubs. Relf, D., Virginia Tech Pub. 426-500, 2001. 

A Guide to Successful Pruning: Pruning Basics and Tools. French, S.C., and B.L. Appleton, Virginia Tech Pub. 430-455, 1999. 

Riparian Buffers

Soil Surveys

Web Soil Survey. U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Soil Testing

Contact the agriculture or forestry department at your state’s university to locate a soil testing lab and get directions for collecting soil.

US Department of Agriculture Service Center Agencies Online Services. This site will help you to find the nearest USDA Service Center, where you can ask about soil surveys, cost share programs, and other assistance.

State Forestry Departments

State Wildlife Departments

Trail & Road Design and Construction

North Country Trail Handbook: Planning, Design, Construction, and Maintenance. 

Recreational Forest Trails: Plan for Success. Bardon, Robert E. (revisions), L. Harkins and M.A. Megalos, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, 2003. 

Trail Design for Small Properties. Baughan, Mel, T. Serres, University of Minnesota Extension Service, 2006. 

Tree Identification

Virginia Tree Identification (Virginia Department of Forestry) 

Common Trees of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry) 

Leaf Keys to Common Trees in Maryland (Maryland Cooperative Extension Bulletin #238)

Leaf identification key to eighty-eight Ohio treesApsley, D.K., and K.L. Smith, Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 899, 2002.  . PDF available at

Common Trees of Ohio (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) 

Tree ID Key (Virginia Tech University) 

Virginia Tech vTree app for Android

Virginia Tech vTree app for Apple iPhone

Many states make available through county cooperative extension offices a guide to the common trees of the state. In addition, there are dozens of commercially available guides such as the Peterson Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs, which has an excellent key that will help you through the identification process step by step. The Audubon Society’s Guide to Trees contains excellent pictures but lacks a good key for identifying trees and shrubs. Look for these and other guide books in your local library or book store.

Tree Selection

Forest Landowner Fact Sheets (Virginia Tech University) 

Tree Guide (Arbor Day Foundation) 

Silvics of North America: Volume 1 - Conifers (Forest Service Handbook 654, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service)

Silvics of North America: Volume 2 - Hardwoods (Forest Service Handbook 654, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service)

Virginia Urban Street Tree Selector

Tree Shelters

A Short Description of Plastic Tree Shelter Use by PA-TACF. Jacobson, M., and D. Jackson, Penn State University, 2004. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Maryland Woodland Stewards program, University of Maryland Extension. 

Pennsylvania Forest Stewards program, Penn State Extension. 

Maryland Master Naturalists program, University of Maryland Extension. 

Virginia Master Naturalists program

Water-Based Habitat Management

Management Practices for Enhancing Wildlife Habitat. M. C. Brittingham, Penn State Cooperative Extension, 2017. 

The Vernal Pool Association

Wildland Fire Safety

Firewise Living in Maryland (Maryland Department of Natural Resources) 

Wildfire (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)  

FireWise Virginia (Virginia Department of Forestry) 

Firewise WV (West Virginia Division of Forestry) 

Wildlife Tracks

Animal Tracks Identification Guide.

Wildlife Tracks

Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks. Murie, O.J., M. Elbroch, and R.T. Peterson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005. 

Professional Papers & Abstracts

Kays, J. S, J. Finley, & A. Downing. (2006). The Woods in Your Backyard: Reaching New Audiences. [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the Southern Regional Conference on Technology Transfer and Extension in Natural Resources, August 2-4, 2006, Hot Springs, AR: Southern Regional Extension Forestry, USDA Forest Service.

Downing, A. K., J. S. Kays, & J. C. Finley (2008). Backyard Woodlot Owners: A Growing Issue and New Approach. Journal of National Association of County Agricultural Agents, June 2008.

Kays, J. S. & A. Downing (2008, September). Are There Business Opportunities for the Green Industry in Backyard Woodlots? Groundwork: A Publication of the Landscape Contractors Association, September 2008.

Downing, A.K., J.S. Kays, and J. Finley (2009). Backyard Woodlots: Large Scale Education for Small Acreages. In International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) 3.08 Small Scale Forestry Symposium Proceedings, June 7-11, 2009, Morgantown, WV.

Kays, J.S. A.K. Downing, and J. Finley (2009). Backyard Woodlots: Filling The Small Acreage Service Provider Gap With The Green Industry. In International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) 3.08 Small Scale Forestry Symposium Proceedings, June 7-11, 2009, Morgantown, WV.

Kays, J. S., (2010). Educating Small Acreage Woodland Owners. [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters Annual Convention, October 27-31, 2010. Albuquerque, NM: Society of American Foresters.

 Kays, J. S., J. Finley, & A. Downing. (2010). The Woods in Your Backyard Program: Educating Small Acreage Landowners.  [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the Seventh Natural Resources Extension Professionals Conference: Lessons From the Frontier, June 27-30, 2010, Fairbanks, AK. Pg. 63.   

 Kays, J. S.. (2012). Best Practices for Impacting Small Acreage Owners. [Abstract]. In Proceedings of the Eighth Natural Resources Extension Professionals Conference: Natural Resource Programs and Partnerships That Work, May 20-23, 2012, Hendersonville, NC. Pg. 40.  

Kays, J. S. (2016). Small Acreage Forester Survey Report. College Park, MD: University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Extension

Kays, J.S. (2018). Compendium of Woods in Your Backyard Follow-up Surveys for Workshops and On Line Courses Offered to Landowner and Green Industry. College Park, MD: University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Extension

Kling, A. A. & J.S. Kays (2020). Successful Method for Converting an Existing Woodland Stewardship Program to an Online Program. Journal of Extension, April 2020, vol. 58, no. 2.