Friday, December 16, 2011

VDOF Employee Donates Working Forest Easement in King William County; Three Tracts Total 1,199 acres

E. Pickett Upshaw, a forestry technician with the Virginia Department of Forestry, has granted the VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects nearly 1,200 acres of land in King William County.

Upshaw becomes the first VDOF employee to permanently protect from development a large block of privately owned forestland through a donated easement to the VDOF. His conservation easement is the Agency’s 51st. The 1,199 acres of land, located near West Point, will be maintained with sustainable forest and farm management practices.

The donation is one of the largest of its kind to the VDOF and brings the total land conserved under this program to 16,813 acres.

Upshaw said, “Conservation easements are one of the tools that my family is using to ensure continuity of our farm and forestland usage. We want the land that has been in our family for six generations to pass to future generations without the pressures of residential development. The benefits of the rural lifestyle are something we want our family to continue to enjoy. Being surrounded by productive forestland and farmland and the pleasures of nature are some of the things we cherish. This donation to the VDOF will ensure that our land will be well managed for perpetuity.”

State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison said, “It’s always terrific when people permanently conserve their working forestland, but this donation is extra special because it comes from one of our own. This conservation easement will ensure a continuous supply of forest products, including lumber and pulp, and environmental services, including clean air and water. The forestland on Pickett’s property helps protect the water quality and aquatic habitat in the Mattaponi River.”

Virginia Sen. Tommy Norment said, “Mr. Upshaw’s personal commitment to conservation extends far beyond his professional responsibilities as a forestry technician. I am truly grateful for his donation, which will further enhance and preserve Virginia’s outstanding natural resources. His contribution stands as a model within our Commonwealth, and I thank him for his leadership and service.”

Virginia Del. Harvey Morgan said, “For six generations, Pickett’s family has sustainably managed this land and worked diligently to ensure the health of the nearby Mattaponi River. On behalf of every Virginian in the district I have been honored to represent, I thank and congratulate Pickett for conserving this large tract of his family’s land.”

In Virginia, more than 12.9 million acres of forestland are in the hands of 373,600 private landowners.

Garrison said, “Private forest landowners, such as Pickett Upshaw, determine the sustainability of Virginia’s forests and the benefits they provide. I cannot express enough my appreciation to him for his donation.”

The VDOF conservation easement program is the only one in the state that focuses primarily on protecting working forests. The VDOF’s goal is to work with private forest landowners to protect large blocks of working forests by keeping them intact and unfragmented. To be considered for a donation, a property must be at least 50 acres in size, 75 percent forested, and the landowner must be willing to have a forest stewardship management plan prepared. Landowners who want to ensure that their land will be forever maintained as forest may consider a VDOF easement.

For additional information on the VDOF conservation easement program, visit the VDOF website.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Million Acres of Southern Forests Protected from Destructive Insect

The U.S. Forest Service announced that the agency has protected one million acres of forest through its Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program (SPBPP). The milestone was reached this fall, on private land in New Kent County, Va., as a result of the Logger Incentive Program developed by the VDOF. This program makes treating small forests for southern pine beetle economically viable by paying loggers directly for their work on small (5- to 25-acre) pine stands.

The Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program spans 13 states and crosses boundaries from privately owned land to state and national forests, aiming to prevent future outbreaks and losses. More than 13,000 individual landowners have participated in the program, together with hundreds of loggers and contractors across the South, to improve the health of southern forests.

"The millionth acre is a tribute to healthy forests throughout the South, both here in these woods and throughout the regional landscape," USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Arthur "Butch" Blazer said. "Preventing infestations by the southern pine beetle takes cooperation on a grand scale, and today we honor everyone who contributed - every acre and every effort."

Major southern pine beetle outbreaks have occurred every eight to 12 years, historically. The most recent outbreak affected more than a million forested acres and resulted in an estimated $1.5 billion worth of timber loss. When it ended in 2002, the Forest Service calculated that more than 8.4 million acres of southern forestland were susceptible to the next outbreak, which led officials to take preventative action. Another outbreak could lead to even greater devastating losses for the region and for individual landowners.

"It’s a native insect, but the southern pine beetle is the most destructive forest pest in the South, both in economic and ecological impacts," said Robert Mangold, director of Forest Health Protection at the U.S. Forest Service. "The prevention program is a proactive way to sustain and strengthen forest resources."

The Forest Service established the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program in 2003 as a comprehensive strategy to manage losses from the pest by reducing the stress to forests through good forest management. The program was developed through close cooperation with state foresters and national forest managers. Their strategy is proactive and broad - to increase the resiliency of pine forests across the South, crossing ownership boundaries and land uses.

Because the average forest landowner in the South owns 17 acres, officials said a landscape approach targeting small tracts was the right prescription. The work is accomplished through state forestry agencies and forest thinning programs.

Landowners who participate in the program are likely to continue growing trees; which translates into clean air and water, less erosion, healthy habitat for wildlife and scenic forests for all to enjoy.

The millionth-acre milestone was reached on private land in New Kent County, Va., as a result of the Logger Incentive Program developed by the Virginia Department of Forestry. This program makes treating small forests for southern pine beetle economically viable by paying loggers directly for their work on small (5- to 25-acre) pine stands.

State Forester for Virginia Carl Garrison said, "Without this program, hundreds of Virginia landowners could have suffered tremendous losses on thousands of acres of forest land."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forest Service Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material

The findings of a new U.S. Forest Service study indicate that wood should factor as a primary building material in green building.

The authors of Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction reviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials.

"This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America."

The Forest Service report also points out that greater use of life cycle analysis in building codes and standards would improve the scientific underpinning of building codes and standards and thereby benefit the environment. A combination of scientific advancement in the areas of life cycle analysis and the development of new technologies for improved and extended wood utilization are needed to continue to advance wood as a green construction material. Sustainability of forest products can be verified using any credible third-party rating system, such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or American Tree Farm System certification.

"The argument that somehow non-wood construction materials are ultimately better for carbon emissions than wood products is not supported by our research," said David Cleaves, the U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Advisor. "Trees removed in an environmentally responsible way allow forests to continue to sequester carbon through new forest growth. Wood products continue to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after the building has been constructed."

The use of forest products in the United States currently supports more than one million direct jobs, particularly in rural areas, and contributes more than $100 billion to the country's gross domestic product.

"In the Rockies alone, we have hundreds of thousands of dead trees killed by bark beetles that could find their way into the building supply chain for all types of buildings," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "Taking a harder look at wood as a green building source could reduce the damages posed by future fires, maintain overall forest health and provide much-needed jobs in local communities."

The U.S. Forest Service report identifies several areas where peer-reviewed science can contribute to sustainable green building design and decisions. These recommendations address the following needs for use of wood as a green building material:

  • Information on environmental impacts across the lifecycle of wood and alternative construction materials needs to be updated and revised;
  • Green buildings codes and standards should include adequate provisions to recognize the benefit of a lifecycle environmental analysis to guide selection of building materials; and
  • A lack of educational, technology transfer, and demonstration projects hinder the acceptance of wood as a green building material.

Research recently initiated by the wood products industry in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory will enable greater use and valuation of smaller diameter trees and insect and disease-killed trees. Research on new products and technologies has been initiated including improved cross-lamination techniques and the increased use of nanotechnology.

These developments are especially important amidst a changing climate because forest managers will need to increasingly thin densely forested areas in the coming years to reduce the impacts from longer and more severe wildfire seasons. Continued research of wood-based products and technologies will contribute to more environmentally responsible building materials and increased energy efficiency.

To view the report, visit:

Friday, September 16, 2011

VDOF Names Toni Noreika New Regional Forester in Eastern Virginia

A 26-year-veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry has been chosen to lead agency’s Eastern Region – a 30-county area that extends from the Eastern Shore to Brunswick County up to King George County.

Toni Noreika, most recently an assistant regional forester in the agency’s Waverly office, was selected from a competitive pool of external and internal applicants and becomes the first woman to be a regional forester in the agency’s 97-year history. A resident of Suffolk, Noreika has held a number of increasingly responsible positions since joining VDOF in 1985, and she’s looking forward to the new job’s opportunities and challenges.

“I’ve worked as a county forester in Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Norfolk,” Noreika said. “And for the last 11 years, I’ve been managing the agency’s employees and resources in 10 counties. I’m honored to be working with a great group of people, and am excited to be part of the leadership group that will continue to move the Department of Forestry forward.”

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “We’re very fortunate to have Toni as one of our three regional foresters. She’s a strong leader, a knowledgeable forester and a hard worker who is committed to protecting and serving the citizens of Virginia.”

Noreika grew up around the fields and forests of northeastern Pennsylvania and developed a love of the outdoors at an early age. She holds a bachelor’s degree in forest science from Penn State and is the proud parent of two adult daughters.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Workshop for Women Landowners

If you are a woman who owns 10 or more acres of Virginia forestland or farmland; lives in some select counties or cities, and wants to learn more about programs that are available to enhance the productivity of your land, make plans to attend the one of the “Women and Land” workshops. Registration for either workshop, which costs $5 per person, is limited to 40 women landowners.

A workshop in Petersburg will be held September 22nd, and is open to women who live in the counties of Dinwiddie, Chesterfield, Prince George, Sussex or Surry or in the cities of Petersburg, Colonial Heights or Hopewell. Registration deadline is Sept. 19, 2011. For more information or to register, contact Heather Dowling at 804.469.7343 or via email at

A workshop in Harrisonburg will be held September 29th, and is open to women who live in the counties of Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Augusta, Rockbridge or Frederick or in the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton or Waynesboro. The deadline to register is Sept. 23, 2011. For more information or to register, contact Joe Lehnen at 540.459.3151 or via email at

“This 4.5-hour program is for women and by women,” said Heather Dowling, area forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry in Dinwiddie County. “There are a lot of women in these areas who own forestland and/or farmland but who may not be aware of all the resources and funding sources that are available to help them better manage their land. This workshop will enable women landowners to meet each other, discuss their ideas and challenges in an open and welcoming environment, and hear from women who are experts in the natural resources field.”

The workshop is a cooperative effort of the Virginia Department of Forestry; the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

VDOF Researchers Study Loblolly Pine Pest

The Nantucket pine tip moth often reduces growth of loblolly pine but has been difficult to control with traditional insecticides. Imidacloprid and fipronil were evaluated side by side across multiple sites in Virginia. Significant reductions in Nantucket pine tip moth damage were noted in trees treated with either the imidacloprid or fipronil product compared with check trees. VDOF Forest Health Specialist Chris Asaro and VDOF Research Manager Jerre Creighton published the results of their study in "Use of Systemic Fipronil and Imidacloprid to Control Regeneration Pests of Loblolly Pine." You can read the entire article on our website.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Virginia Quarantines Movement of Walnut Trees, Products from Richmond Area

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) today placed a temporary quarantine on Chesterfield and Henrico Counties and the city of Richmond following the detection of Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) in Chesterfield and Henrico Counties.  The city of Richmond is included because of its proximity to the locations where the disease was detected.

Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner, has established the temporary quarantine in an effort to prevent the artificial spread of TCD. Regulated articles that cannot be moved out of the quarantine area include all walnut plants and plant parts of walnut, including logs, stumps, firewood, roots, branches, mulch and chips.

TCD is a disease complex that attacks walnut trees, Juglans spp. The fungus Geosmithia morbida is vectored by the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, causing small cankers under the bark of the tree. The beetle introduces the fungus while it tunnels beneath the bark. As more beetles attack the tree, the number of cankers increases until they coalesce to girdle twigs and branches, restricting movement of nutrients and eventually killing the tree. Neither the beetle nor the fungus is native to the eastern U.S.  Thinning or dead branches will initially occur at the top of the tree which will die from the top down. Trees may be infested for many years before showing symptoms. There is currently no preventive or curative treatment for the disease.

TCD has been present in the western U.S. for years; this is the first detection in Virginia and the first time it has been found east of Knoxville, TN, where it was detected in August 2010. Once established, TCD has the potential to spread to uninfested areas, either through natural means or through the artificial movement of infested articles. VDACS employees in the Office of Plant Industry Services are surveying the affected areas in an effort to determine the extent of this infestation and the source of TCD in Chesterfield and Henrico Counties. The actual source may be difficult to determine since the infestation likely occurred several years ago.

Click here for more information on Thousand Cankers Diseases in the Eastern United States.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cicadas Active in Virginia

In Virginia both the 17 and 13-year cicadas are active, and have drawn lots of notice from citizens. Cicadas are not poisonous and do not have a stinger, but the emerging cicadas create a substantial noise. The insects damage many ornamental and hardwood trees. Heavily infested areas reveal cicadas on just about any type of plant. Halifax and Hanover counties experienced heavy cicada activity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Purple Prisms Pluck Pests

More than 5,500 purple prism traps have been placed to help detect the emerald ash borer.The large, purple triangle-shaped objects you may have seen hanging in a tree are part of the 2011 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) survey. This year, the survey has expanded significantly. More than 5,500 traps have been deployed statewide. With one trap placed per 2x2 mile grid area, you’ll probably see one soon.

The traps are especially useful for revealing new infestations that would otherwise remain undetected. This year, a large swath of central, southern and western Virginia forms the trapping grid. The 14" wide by 24" long traps are baited with natural plant oil attractant and covered with a non-toxic glue to catch the insects.

The EAB larvae kill ash trees by feeding on the inner bark and disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. EAB was introduced accidentally into the United States and was first detected in Michigan in 2002. The first EAB detection in Virginia occurred in Fairfax County in 2003. Subsequent detections at multiple sites in 2008 resulted in the establishment of a quarantine for more than 10 northern Virginia counties and independent cities. The quarantine is an effort to slow the spread of this destructive beetle by restricting the movement of articles capable of transporting EAB.

Find additional information about the EAB at  Additional information regarding specific trap locations can be obtained by calling Delta-21 Resources, Inc. at 877.207.9406.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Restoration American Chestnuts Planted in Virginia

The Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), a conservation nonprofit, planted over 600 of its most advanced, potentially blight-resistant American chestnut trees at the Georgia-Pacific Big Island, VA mill just northwest of Lynchburg, today. TACF’s partnership with Georgia Pacific is part of a project funded through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) conservation grant program.

“The Virginia Chapter’s partnership with both Georgia Pacific and SFI represents giant step in our chestnut restoration program. We are now testing and evaluating these trees, which are the result of more than 30 years of scientific research, for blight resistance and American growth characteristics,” said Dr. John Scrivani, Virginia Chapter president. Assistance was provided by the Virginia Department of Forestry in preparing the site and raising the seedlings at its Augusta nursery. About 40 volunteers from the Foundation, Georgia-Pacific and the Lynchburg Tree Stewards turned out to help with the planting.

These plantings are part of an overall science program to test and evaluate the level of blight resistance and the growth characteristics of these American chestnut trees. TACF expects that landscape-level reintroduction of the potentially blight-resistant chestnuts could take another 75-100 years.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Estate Planning For The Future Of Your Land

More than 50 landowners and forestry professionals attended VDOF’s Tomorrow Woods estate planning workshop in Smithfield.

Attorney Julie King and Certified Public Accountant Becky McCoy covered essential estate planning and tax issues. Participants learned about current tax laws; selecting and organizing their business structure, and tips for a successful and efficient intergenerational transfer of their estate.   

A panel of landowners provided case studies of the estate and tax-planning process. Panel members Richard Carchman of Goochland County; Everette Prosise of Dinwiddie County, and Pickett Upshaw of King William County detailed their partnerships with VDOF. They described their conservation easements and the family communication challenges they faced.  The landowner panel permitted an open dialogue with the audience, allowing attendees to discuss the emotional side of the process, and their love for their family and their land.

Forestland conservation is an integral part of VDOF’s mission to protect and develop healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. VDOF will continue to offer estate planning workshops for landowners. For more information, visit the VDOF website.
Rob Suydam, Forest Conservation Specialist

Monday, January 24, 2011

Predatory Beetles Released on the Channels State Forest

Researchers from Virginia Tech released 1,000 Laricobius nigrinus beetles into a stand of eastern hemlocks on the Channels State Forest. The tiny black beetles are known predators of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Raised under controlled conditions at Virginia Tech, the beetles are part of an ongoing research project under the direction of Dr. Scott Salom. 
The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a non-native invasive pest that is devastating eastern hemlock trees.  Since its introduction from Asia in the last century, the HWA has advanced throughout the range of the eastern hemlock, leaving a swath of dead and weakened trees in its path.  With a plentiful food source and no predators to slow it down, HWA has spread unchecked for decades. Chemical treatments can control HWA on an individual tree by tree basis; chemical control of HWA on a large-scale forest landscape is not practical.
Prior to its introduction in the eastern U.S., HWA was identified on western hemlocks in the Pacific Northwest. Western hemlocks have survived the HWA invasion much better than their eastern counterparts. The presence of predatory insects in the Pacific Northwest may limit populations of HWA.  From this comparison, it is generally accepted that the only effective means of saving our eastern hemlocks will be biological control.
Not much bigger than the bug that it eats, Laricobius nigrinus is a native of the Pacific Northwest.  And while it will feed on other species of adelgid, studies show that it prefers HWA.  Also, L. nigrinus is active during the winter months, which coincides with peak HWA activity. 
The slow-growing, shade-tolerant hemlocks provide crucial protection against erosion.  Hemlocks shroud and protect most of the cold streams that tumble down our mountains and provide increasingly rare habitat for native brook trout and many other species.  Multiple hemlock stands stretch along the numerous streams of the Channels State Forest. Over the next several years, the research team from Virginia Tech will monitor the selected hemlock stand to determine if the beetles are surviving, reproducing and having an effect on the HWA populations.  The tiny bug with a big name may provide an opportunity to save an important species.
Zach Olinger, Matthews State Forest

Monday, January 10, 2011

Furniture Retailer Continues to Donate Trees

Dulles-based retailer Belfort Furniture renewed its seedling donation program with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). Under the program, Belfort donates a tree seedling for every delivery it makes. These trees help restore our forests, beautify the landscape and help offset carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2007, the company has donated more than 100,000 tree seedlings to the citizens of Virginia.

“This season, shortleaf pine and second generation loblolly pine are available,” said Terry Lasher, assistant regional forester and manager of the program for VDOF. “Shortleaf pine is a native species that has diminished in Virginia, and loblolly pine is one of our most important economic species. So, Belfort’s seedling donation program helps both restore a species as well as support the supply of raw material for the furniture industry.”

Seedlings can be used for school programs, outreach programs and reforestation projects. The seedlings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For ease of handling, minimum available quantity is 500. Interested landowners and groups should contact Terry Lasher.

According to the Belfort website, the company also recycles, on average, more than 3.75 tons of cardboard per month. For more information regarding Belfort Furniture and its community outreach and donation programs, visit