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Fun facts about Kentucky forests

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I love trees! I always have. Perhaps that’s why I majored in Forestry at the University of Kentucky way back when. If you come to my house in Milton, one thing you will notice is, I have lots of trees in the yard. All of the trees in my yard are native to Ken-tucky.  I prefer natives to exotics because native trees are better adapted to our environment and growing conditions. There is so much to enjoy about trees, beautiful shapes and forms, fall color, cooling shade, the sound of the wind through the branches. Trees provide many benefits to us and that’s why I think you will enjoy the following fun facts about trees provided by Doug McLaren, University of Kentucky Forestry Specialist.
Kentucky has an abundance of trees—about 12.4 million forested acres. In Eastern Kentucky, forests are full of dense stands of hardwoods. In Western Kentucky, you’re more likely to see a riparian forest along a winding river, and in Central Kentucky, stately bur oaks often populate urban landscapes. Regardless of the species or climate, these forests help all of us breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water, enjoy forest wildlife and we use products from them daily.
Because we have a diverse climate and soil composition, many tree species grow in Kentucky. The array of trees gives us a chance to have some forest fun. Here’s an interesting tree species quiz.  (Answers below.)
1. What tree is often found in people’s mouths?
2. What tree always sighs and languishes?
3. What tree makes war on crops?
4. What tree grows nearest the sea?
5. What tree grieves more than others?
6. What tree is older than most others?
Tree species answers:  
1. gum
2. pine
3. locust
4. beech (beach)
5. weeping willow
6. elder
Now let’s look at the impact trees and tree products on our lives by answering the questions below. (Answers below.)
1. Kentucky has to replant many of the acres after tree harvesting. True or false?
2. Forest and related industries are important to Kentucky’s economy. True or false?
3. What percentage of Kentucky is forested? Is it 35, 50 or 60 percent?
4. The best time to view Kentucky’s fall foliage usually is between the second and third weekends in October.  True or false?
5. Sun is the only energy required to grow a tree.  True or false?
6. How many products are produced from trees? Is the answer 3,500, 4,700 or 5,000?
7. How much paper does each person in the United States use on average every year? Is the answer 250, 500 or 750 pounds?
8. Nationwide, approximately how many tons (2,000 pounds equals 1 ton) of paper are recycled? Is the answer approximately 28, 40, 46 or 53 million tons?
9. What percentage of a tree can be used to make wood and paper products? Is it 50, 67, 75 or 100 percent?
Impact of trees, tree products answers:
1. False.  Sprouting from stumps and from fallen seeds will quickly repopulate a harvested area.
2. True.  In Kentucky, 105 of 120 counties have some types of wood industries that employ approximately 51,000 people.
3. Fifty percent, or more than 12 million acres, of Kentucky is forested.
4. True.  For more information on times and locations to view fall foliage colors as October approaches, call 1-800-225-8747, or visit http://www.kentuckytourism.com.
5. True. Sun is the only energy needed for trees to grow.  As they grow, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen through photosynthesis.
6. Some 5,000 products are produced from trees, ranging from our homes and furnishings to the toothpaste we use.
7. Each person in the United States uses 750 pounds of paper per year.
8. We recycle about 46 million tons of paper yearly.
9. All of a tree (100 percent) can be used to make wood and paper products.
If you have questions, contact the Trimble Cooperative Extension Service at 502-255-7188.
Michael Pyles is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture.