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 belfortfurniture.com