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Howard G. Wurzbacher, Jr.

B.S. Forest Science, 1979

Howard G. Wurzbacher, Jr. earned a B.S. in Forest Science at Penn State 1979. Following graduation, he worked as a seasonal technician for the USDA Forest Service in northwestern Montana. He next worked for Fisher & Young and Endeavor Lumber companies as a log scaler, and later as a procurement forester (1982-87). In 1987 he began a long career with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), starting as forest technician. He was promoted to forester, assistant regional forester, and then regional forester in 2003.
     As regional forester for the PGC Northwest Region, Howard is responsible for the supervision of a staff of six foresters, several technicians and interns, and forest-management activities on approximately 190,000 acres of state game lands within a 10-county area in northwestern Pennsylvania. These activities include wildlife habitat improvement through timber cover mapping and habitat planning, commercial timber sale preparation and administration, herbicide application, prescribed fire, deer-deterrent fencing, and wildlife data collection.
     Howard has been a member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) since 1993 and an SAF-Certified Forester since 2002. He was recognized by SAF with the Robert W. Bauer Outstanding Service to Forestry Award in 2013.
     Howard assumed leadership of the PGC Northwest Region after Bob Bauer’s death in 2002. Due to retirements and transfers within his first three years in that role, Howard lost seven of his supporting forestry personnel and a tremendous amount of knowledge that went with them. He completely rebuilt the NW Region forestry staff.
     Howard was instrumental in the development of the first comprehensive PGC Forestry Manual, which was published in 2010, documenting the new standards for timbersale marking and administration procedures that were put into practice statewide.
     Howard’s never-ending positive attitude has kept his region at the top of the productivity curve when compared to the other five administrative regions in the PGC. He encourages his staff to continue their professional education by sending them to training updates in SILVAH and Oak SILVAH, as well as gaining credentials in the use of prescribed fire. He has championed the move to electronic data collection and GIS, and has been a driving force in incorporating prescribed fire into the PGC’s forest management activities. He has been a valuable mentor to many interns, including numerous Penn State students who have spent a summer working in the PGC NW Region and have gone on to become full-time foresters with the PGC, DCNR, and other organizations.
     Howard has also worked with USFS researchers in the development of a hemlock wooly adelgid study that incorporated several timbersale treatments on state game lands in the NW Region. His support and proactive attitude were also of vital importance with a “first-of-its-kind” 702-acre early successional forest management harvest in Erie County on State Game Land 314. His professionalism in dealing with local municipal leaders and other conservation NGO’s helped secure the necessary support for the project, which was featured in a PGC video about the early successional habitat efforts of the agency.
     Howard currently serves on the Roach-Bauer Forestry Forum Committee, has been on planning committees for joint meetings with the PA Chapter of The Wildlife Society and the PA Division of SAF, and organized an annual “Walk in the Forest” field day for Titusville School District students. He served on the Forest Resources Alumni Group board of directors for six years, including two as president. He is a member of Tau Phi Delta fraternity, the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation.
     Since 1994 Howard has been active with the Allegheny SAF Plateau Chapter, serving as secretary/treasurer, chair-elect, and chair. He has participated with planning several Allegheny SAF winter and summer meetings hosted by the Plateau Chapter. He has served the SAF in numerous other capacities, including as Allegheny SAF Awards Committee chair, Executive Committee member, PA Division chair, and the national Committee on Professional Recognition.
     Howard and his wife Cindy live in Titusville. They have two daughters: Ashley, who is a professor of creative writing and literature at Montevallo University in Alabama; and Sarah (2013g), who is a forestry extension educator with Penn State in Williamsport. Howard and Cindy are proud grandparents of Sandy, Sarah’s shelter rescue Australian red-heeler cattle dog, who loves to play ball.