What he takes, he puts back
Steve Schiano spends 2,500 hours in the woods every year.
He makes his living as a logger. He harvests the valuable black walnut trees which grow along Genesee River and Canaseraga Creek flats, from Avon to Groveland.
Black walnut is an indigenous and abundant species in the Genesee Valley. Walnut lumber is commonly used for veneer, furniture and flooring. It is presently the most sought after hardwood in North America, with the highest market value.
What makes Schiano an unusual logger is that he spends less than half of his time cutting down trees and skidding logs.
1,600 hours of Schiano’s work year entails silvaculture: Fostering growth of walnut and black cherry species in a natural forest setting.
For every tree he removes, Schiano is planting several dozen.
If his work is successful, Genesee bottomland forest acreage of the future will be several times more valuable than it is today, yet in no way diminished in its ability to support a great variety of plant and animal wildlife. Schiano emphasizes that he is not creating a black walnut plantation, rather he is preserving and enhancing a diversified forest.
Columns and rows of these tubes are now a familiar sight to motorists crossing bridges or glimpsing forest openings in river bottom locations throughout Livingston County. Schiano has steadily increased his annual plantings: 2500 black walnut in 2007 and another 2500 in 2008, and 500 cherry and 5500 black walnut in 2009.
In addition to the nursery stock, Schiano cultivates seedlings from the native nuts, which a helper collects and husks. The nuts are subjected to a ‘float test’ to determine their fertility. Nuts which float are not prone to germinate. As another condition of germination, nuts must first endure the cold of a winter.
Schiano is a member of The Genesee Valley Conservancy and believes in protecting and preserving our forest legacy. He is married with five children and lives in Swain.
Complete story appears in the June 18 print edition of the Livingston County News.