Dr. Michael Blazier speaks to the Forest Commodities division at the Arkansas Farm Bureau meeting Tuesday in Hot Springs.

Dr. Michael Blazier spoke to members of the Forest Commodities division at the Arkansas Farm Bureau meeting Tuesday at its annual meeting in Hot Springs.

Blazier, who started July 1 as the new director of the Forest Resources Center and Dean of the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Arkansas at Monticello, spoke on various topics.

He addressed the addition of five new faculty positions to forestry and natural resources.

Other topics included in the presentation included the Five Oaks research and teaching partnership that will launch this fall, with Dr. Doug Osborne heading the projects. Students will get hands-on education in waterfowl management practices at the Five Oaks duck club in Humphrey. The 3,500-acre property and lodge is one of the premier duck clubs in Arkansas.

Blazier also addressed the status of faculty research being conducted by Drs. Ben Babst, Mohamad Bataineh, and Don White.

Babst is in the midst of a multi-year study on root respiration and the impact flooding has on green tree reservoirs. Bataineh has been studying invasive plant species and how to control or eradicate them. In addition, he has a project on Emerald Ash Borer insect and its impact on Arkansas Forests. Bataineh has introduced wasp larva to the forests. It's hypothesized that the wasp's sting can neutralize the invasive insect.

He spoke to bear research conducted by Dr. White. The data collection of the year's final project is scheduled toward the end of July 2021. The black bear populations have slowly been returning to the state of Arkansas.

Dr. Blazier also discussed the recent development of a Forest Business Center within the UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources under the direction of Dr. Matthew Pelkki.

The Forest Business Center will be dedicated to developing publications and tools to facilitate new investments in Arkansas's forest products industry and to keep forest landowners, professionals, and the general public informed on economic contributions and trends associated with the state's forest industry.

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