Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Acorn Crop Very Light This Year

Oaks are among the most common hardwood tree species in many parts of Virginia.  Because of their importance both as a source of forest regeneration and as a mast crop for wildlife, each year’s acorn crop is the subject of much attention.  Many reports from various parts of the Commonwealth indicate that the acorn crop this fall is very light, according to officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

VDOF Research Program Manager Jerre Creighton said, “Acorn production varies widely – from nearly zero to a quarter million or more acorns per acre. Different locations, years, species and even individual trees produce extremely different crops, and heavy ‘bumper’ crops occur only every two to seven years.”

Many factors – such as weather, insects and disease – that collectively influence acorn development from the time of flower initiation to acorn maturity.

Late spring freezes and high humidity during pollination are primary causes (we experienced both of these over much of Virginia in 2013).  In addition, research has shown that the inherent cycles between bumper crops and light crops may be an adaptation to allow the trees to restore their resources following a bumper crop.

Creighton said, “In other words, a large crop one year may reduce the trees’ resources resulting in lower production the following year(s). Since 2012 was a bumper crop of acorns for much of Virginia, this could be another explanation for this year’s light crop.  The overall consensus seems to be that there are inherent cycles of reproduction that are modified by the impact of weather conditions in a particular location.”

Gary Norman of DGIF said, “Acorn production in Virginia in 2013 was low – comparable to the previous low in 2008.  The white oak crop appeared to uniformly fail across the state, while some pockets (generally in eastern Virginia) of good red oak production were found.  Mast production has alternated from high to low levels since 2010. The impacts of acorns on wildlife populations are extensive and complex.  And they are most dramatic where there is little diversity of habitat types and few alternative food sources to acorns.”

DGIF officials are concerned about a light crop because acorns are a preferred food for many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, black bear and wild turkey.  Acorns are rich in fat, soluble carbohydrates and energy, which are important nutritional needs that contribute to the animal’s body condition, survival, harvest rates, reproduction and, eventually, population status.  The roaming range of black bear and wild turkey can increase two- to four-fold in years with mast failures, and long-range gray squirrel movement can be significant as they search for acorns.

Norman said, “Oftentimes the search for food creates situations that bring wildlife closer into residential areas to find human-related food sources resulting in unwanted interactions between animals and people.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Forests and Fall Migration

At this time of year, Virginia’s forests are changing in ways beyond the obvious fall color display. Forest dwellers are changing their seasonal habits as well. Birds and waterfowl, noticing the drop in temperature, shorter days and dwindling food supply, are beginning their annual migration.

A streamside forest is a great place to observe birds and waterfowl migrating from September through January. Follow the trails along rivers, streams and forested shorelines. These riparian buffer zones, with habitat and food for a variety of ducks and birds, are great places to watch the activity.

Migratory species require frequent meals to sustain their energy. Favorite foods include insects, small fish, fruits, small nuts and seeds.

Migrating finch are on the lookout for small seeds. River Birch, Sycamore, Sweet Gum, Cottonwood Poplar and pines all have smaller, nutrient-rich seeds to boost the energy level of migratory species. Turkeys scour for acorns. After a frost, fruits such as soft persimmons, holly berries and dogwood berries have high sugar content, making them a good migratory snack. Some fruits remain on trees throughout the winter, providing forage for the year-round residents that don’t migrate, such as cardinals.

To learn more about migratory species that frequent and live in riparian forests along waterways visit the following websites:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Find Fall Color Off The Beaten Path

Visitors come from near and far to admire Virginia’s autumn splendor. Some of our foresters have developed local scenic driving tours as an alternative to well-known, and well-traveled, locations.

The self-guided driving directions offer spectacular views in some of our most picturesque countryside. Scenic driving tours are listed for the following areas:

  • Charlottesville and Culpeper Area: counties of Greene and Madison
  • Harrisonburg area: counties of Rockingham and Shenandoah
  • Lexington area: Bath County
  • Roanoke area: counties of Bedford, Craig and Franklin
  • Staunton area: Highland County
To learn more about the fall foliage season in Virginia, and access or print driving directions, visit

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Fire Season Now Underway

As temperatures begin to dip and the leaves on the trees begin to change color, it’s time once again for the start of fall wildfire season in the Commonwealth. Officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) remind all Virginians that the threat of wildfire increases each autumn as leaves dry out and fall from trees, grasses turn brown, humidity levels drop and winds increase.

“Wildfires are directly linked to weather conditions,” said John Miller, director of resource protection at VDOF. “Whether it’s someone burning debris or trash, an unattended campfire or an intentional case of arson, wildfires have a greater chance of causing bodily harm or property damage in the fall and spring months because the conditions are right for fires to burn hotter and spread faster.”

Each year, Virginia experiences more than 1,200 wildfires that burn more than 10,000 acres of land. VDOF employees annually protect hundreds of homes from the ravages of wildfires, but each year there are always some homes that are destroyed by these wildfires.

Miller said, “Since more than 95 percent of wildfires that occur in Virginia are the result of human activity, taking even the simplest precautions with outdoor fires will significantly reduce the occurrence of wildfires and the threat to you and your neighbors.”

Fall Fire Season runs annually from October 15 to November 30.

Friday, September 20, 2013

VDOF Working to Plant Trees on Open Lands

As part of its Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative, the Virginia Department of Forestry has hired a mapping and outreach specialist to work out of the Mecklenburg County Forestry Office. Tim Minich will analyze land-use data from multiple sources, identify appropriate land for tree planting and conduct some field forestry work in one of three outreach focus areas of the Commonwealth.
The Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative is designed to prevent the loss of forestland; increase the sustainability of the forest resource, and improve water quality and diminished species concerns. The strategies to tackle these issues are to: promote and enhance forested watersheds; improve stewardship, health, diversity of forest products, and conserve the forestland base.
Senior Area Forester Adam Smith said, “The opportunities to consider in the open land outreach are to increase forests and benefits; plant pine in the more than 71,000 acres each year that revert back to a natural forest, and to overcome the natural reversion of forest stands that are under stocked with undesirable species.”
Minich will be working with area VDOF employees who have local knowledge and extensive county contacts, along with partner agencies, such as the Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency and Virginia Cooperative Extension. He will send letters to land owners, conduct presentations for community groups and develop landowner workshop opportunities.
Minich said, “The state target goals will be 200 new sites and more than 2,000 acres of open land on which to plant.”
Smith said, “We are confident the additional outreach efforts will pay great dividends. The Virginia Department of Forestry will provide the tools and the manpower to assist any interested landowner with available cost-share funds from state and federal sources. It is a win, win situation for all.”
Minich will focus his efforts in the counties of Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Brunswick but will also do some work in the counties of Prince George, Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight, Greensville, Southampton and the City of Suffolk.
To learn more about the Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative or to contact Tim Minich, please call 434.738.6123.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Southwest Virginia Residents Starting to See Widespread Decline of Hemlocks

Hemlock trees are an important component of the forests in southwest Virginia, but they are under attack by a tiny insect capable of killing the trees, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

While not a major timber species, hemlock trees have numerous environmental benefits due to their high tolerance for shade. Hemlocks grow particularly well along stream sides and moist cove habitats, providing deep shade that helps moderate temperatures, enhances habitat for fish and wildlife, and increases overall biodiversity.

Senior Area Forester Bill Miller said, “The tiny, aphid-like insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), which is an invasive species from Asia, poses a major threat to the hemlock resource.”

Accidentally introduced to Richmond, Va., in 1951, the insect has since spread throughout the entire native range of hemlock within the Commonwealth. However, despite its presence in Virginia for more than 60 years, it took most of that time to reach the southwestern Virginia counties bordering Kentucky and Tennessee, where it’s been known for only the last five to 10 years. New county records for the hemlock woolly adelgid were established for Russell and Tazewell in 2005; Buchanan, Dickenson, Wise and Lee in 2006, and Scott in 2007.

VDOF Forest Health Specialist Dr. Chris Asaro said, “Hemlock woolly adelgids are immobile after finding a suitable place on the tree to feed. They insert their straw-like mouthparts into the terminal ends of hemlock branches, sucking sap and producing a white, waxy coating over their bodies, which looks something like tiny balls of cotton. Adult female hemlock woolly adelgids also lay their eggs within this protective wax. Most people never observe the actual insects, but are more likely to see these tiny white balls of wax scattered around the underside of twigs and terminal branches.”

While many species of insects suck sap in this way and are mostly harmless, HWA is unique in that its saliva is toxic to eastern hemlocks in North America, according to Dr. Asaro. Thus, their feeding causes localized tissue damage and death, which spreads from twigs to branches and, ultimately, to the entire tree. This process of decline and death from their feeding will often occur within five years of initial attack. However, this is highly variable, and many hemlock trees infested with HWA have survived for many more years without showing symptoms of severe decline. Scientists still don’t fully understand what factors dictate this variability; but older, larger trees seem to succumb more quickly than mid-sized trees and saplings, at least in some locations.

Increasingly, homeowners and landowners across southwest Virginia are becoming more aware that something is wrong with their hemlocks, but may not understand the cause. However, once identification of HWA occurs, there are some control options available. While it’s true that hemlocks will likely continue to decline and die in many forested locations, it is also possible for homeowners to protect their ornamental hemlocks using a variety of products available over-the-counter.

Miller said, “For smaller trees in which all parts of the tree are easily reached, insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils are quite effective, and are relatively safe to use and easy to apply. The down side is that they wash off fairly regularly and have to be reapplied with greater frequency, especially the soaps. Soaps, however, are extremely safe to handle and are relatively non-toxic. Oils are slightly more toxic than soaps but don’t have to be reapplied as frequently. Both are fairly inexpensive.”

For protection of larger trees, systemic insecticides that can be applied to the soil and root zone are available. Systemic insecticides are taken up by the tree through the roots over several months until the product is circulated through the entire tree.

Dr. Asaro said, “This can sometimes take up to six months depending on tree size and other factors, so it should be applied before trees start to decline significantly. Systemic insecticides work best if applied in the springtime. If too much of the crown is already killed, uptake of the insecticide will be poor.”

These products are considered easy to use but are more expensive. However, one application to the soil usually affords two to three years of protection to the tree before it needs to be reapplied.

Dr. Asaro said, “These systemic products should not be used near water or in areas with a high water table, or near trees or crops that are pollinated by insects. Follow all pesticide label directions exactly; the label is the law.”

Homeowners should be aware of their options for protecting their hemlock trees. Unfortunately, HWA is becoming a fact of life for this area and will no doubt impact many landowners negatively. For more information about HWA, please contact your local Virginia Department of Forestry or Virginia Cooperative Extension office.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Scattered yellow-poplar decline reported across Lee, Wise and Scott counties

Recent declines in yellow-poplar in Lee, Wise and Scott counties have landowners concerned over the health of one of the most abundant and resilient hardwood trees in Virginia’s forests. While not entirely certain about the reason for the declines, Virginia Department of Forestry personnel believe they may stem from past insect infestations that previously went unnoticed.

Yellow-poplar, or tulip poplar, is the most common hardwood tree in Virginia and one of the most important timber species in far southwest Virginia. Its rapid growth, straight trunk and wood properties, along with its abundance, make it an excellent tree for loggers to harvest in bulk and bring to the mills. Generally speaking, yellow-poplar is a resilient tree that does particularly well in moist cove habitats and fertile soils common to the lower slopes and valleys of the southern Appalachians. It also has very few insect and disease problems due to the fact that the leaves, bark and wood contain a host of chemicals that deter them. Even an invasive species like the gypsy moth, which can feed on more than 200 species of trees and shrubs, will completely avoid feeding on yellow-poplar.

“Two notable exceptions to this rule, however, are native insects known as the tulip tree scale and the poplar weevil,” said Bill Miller, senior area forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry. “The scale is a tiny sap-sucking insect that produces a brown, waxy covering that looks something like a tortoise shell. Populations of these insects can occasionally reach such high levels in the forest that they can damage and even kill poplar trees, although this is rarely seen in southwest Virginia.”

On the other hand, the poplar weevil is a defoliating insect that is particularly common in southwest Virginia, especially in Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan, Russell and Washington counties, along with adjacent counties in Kentucky and Tennessee. In most of these counties, as many as six to eight poplar weevil outbreaks have been documented over the last 25 years by forest health personnel with the Virginia Department of Forestry. Feeding by individual weevils in spring causes little damage to newly emerged leaves, other than a small brown patch. During outbreaks, however, millions of weevils can result in poplar trees being heavily defoliated. These outbreaks are often patchy in nature but can span large areas.

VDOF Forest Health Specialist Dr. Chris Asaro said, “While the word ‘outbreak’ can sound very dramatic, the truth is that these defoliation events are often not noticed from the ground for several reasons: they are very patchy across the landscape and often occur in remote areas that are not easily visible. In addition, poplar trees are generally quite tall and most people driving by don’t have the tendency to look up. Furthermore, while complete defoliation of poplar can occasionally occur, trees with adequate moisture often leaf out again pretty quickly, erasing any evidence of past damage. Outbreaks typically don’t last very long in any one area either because poplar weevil has a host of other insects that prey on them, which usually causes outbreak populations to crash after a year or two.”

While one defoliation event by itself is probably not going to cause poplars to decline or die, several defoliation events over successive years can weaken trees and, combined with other stressors such as drought, lead to some localized dieback, decline or even death. Recently, some landowners across Lee, Wise and Scott counties have seen such poplar decline over the last few years and have expressed concerns to local foresters. In most cases, these areas of decline are small – generally from ½ acre to several acres in size – although several locations have exhibited decline spanning 50 acres to 100 acres.

“There appears to be no obvious reason why these declines show up where they do, other than the fact that these areas were known to have several weevil outbreaks during past years,” Asaro said.

“Because tree decline is a gradual process that can take many years and be caused by multiple agents, it’s always difficult to pinpoint exact causes. But knowing that the weevil is a major presence in the region and one of the few insects that can feed on poplar, it seems very possible that it is playing a prominent role in these decline events,” Asaro said.

The good news is that the affected areas are quite small, and most of the poplar trees are weakened but not dead. That means the wood is probably still sound and can be salvaged, so most landowners can still profit from forests with some poplar decline. Forest landowners concerned about their poplar stands should consult their local Virginia Department of Forestry office for further information and advice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Community Planning Resource Guide Available

Citizens or communities across Virginia will be better able to map their most significant natural resources and to prepare plans to conserve or restore them thanks to a new guidebook prepared by the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) in Charlottesville.

“Evaluating and Conserving Green Infrastructure Across the Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide” is a 132-page spiral-bound guide that presents a way to think about and catalogue a community’s natural assets as well as to prioritize them for long-term stewardship. The guide is based on six years of field testing from the Eastern Shore and coastal plain to the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley. It sells for $29.95.
Green infrastructure includes all the interconnected natural systems in a landscape. These include intact forests, woodlands, wetlands, parks, rivers, and soils that help provide clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and food.

“This is not a guide about how to stop development or limit population growth,” said GIC Director Karen Firehock. “It describes the steps a community can take to determine what is important and develop a rationale for what to protect. The guide helps planners, land trusts and community groups determine where their most significant natural assets, such as large intact forest blocks, are located. They can also determine which of these assets are the most important for achieving key functions, such as protecting clean water, supporting wildlife or providing outdoor recreation.

“If we don’t know where our best watershed areas are or where our best quality agricultural soils are located, this vital information isn’t included in the comprehensive plans, master plans or zoning laws that guide development,” Firehock said. “Once such natural resources are removed from the community, they are most often lost forever.”

The guide provides the steps for determining how to facilitate development in ways that reduce its impact on the landscape. It also provides the steps to use cost-free state models to develop maps that can inform planners, builders, community groups or agencies in making the best decisions on how and where to develop and what to conserve.

“While most people would prefer to make land-use decisions that restore rather than deplete our environment, land planners and decision-makers may still overlook natural resources,” Firehock said. “But, just as we plan for our gray infrastructure – roads, bridges, power lines, pipelines, sewer systems and so on – we should also plan to conserve landscapes and natural resources as our green infrastructure.”

To order a copy of the guidebook, send a check for $29.95 made payable to the Green Infrastructure Center, to P.O. Box 317, Charlottesville, VA, 22902 or visit . The guidebook was funded by the Virginia Department of Forestry, the US Forest Service’s Southern Region and the Blue Moon Fund.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Several Virginia Counties Seeing Increased Levels of Southern Pine Beetle

Based on the spring trapping survey, the southern pine beetle (SPB), once again, is not expected to reach outbreak levels in most VA locations, but there are several areas that have seen increased populations of the bug, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Populations increased somewhat in Cumberland and Chesterfield counties compared to last year, but overall numbers were still relatively low, according to Dr. Chris Asaro, forest health specialist.

“As always, this does not mean that localized infestations will not occur. In fact, western Hanover County has been plagued with SPB outbreaks for the last three years, and there is a fair probability that it will be declared an outbreak county by year’s end if current trends continue,” Asaro said.

An outbreak is defined as one SPB spot per thousand acres of host type (pine) per unit area, but this is a crude definition because many small spots can join together to form one large spot, which has happened in Hanover already.

“Folks in southern portions of Spotsylvania and Caroline counties as well as eastern portions of Louisa and Goochland counties may want to keep a close eye on their pines for any potential spillover from Hanover.The hope is that there is enough hardwood cover around to prevent any major spillover, but large areas of contiguous pine cover would obviously be a concern,” Asaro said. “Another area experiencing outbreak levels of SPB is Chincoteague/Assateague Island, although there is no widespread activity reported along the rest of the Eastern Shore.”

Virginia has not experienced a statewide outbreak of SPB since 1993, when more than 50 counties were affected and $14 million worth of timber destroyed.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Veteran VDOF Employee Honored for Education Efforts

A 34-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has earned the Bronze Smokey Bear Award.

Toano resident Paul Reier, a forestry technician who protects and serves the counties of Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, James City, King & Queen, King William and New Kent, was nominated for the “energy, dedication, and commitment” he demonstrated in countless Smokey Bear education programs.

Paul Reier, a forestry technician who protects and serves the counties of Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, James City, King &  Queen, King William and New Kent, has earned the Bronze Smokey Bear Award.“Paul works tirelessly, even after hours, to ensure Smokey is at numerous fairs, special events, baseball games and schools. He partners with everyone from local nursing homes to the local rescue organizations and fire departments,” said Fred Turck, VDOF’s assistant director of resource protection. “Paul always finds new ways to get Smokey Bear involved in community events and is proactive in his efforts.”

State Forester of Virginia Carl E. Garrison III said, “I'm so glad to see Paul's extraordinary efforts being recognized on a national level. He has been a leader in wildfire prevention and education efforts for many years, and he's so very good at making sure Smokey Bear's message (“Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”) is understood by children of all ages. His work has been an important part of our goal to reduce the number of wildfires casued by human activity. Paul Reier is most deserving of this Bronze Smokey award, and I congratulate him on his achievement.”

The Bronze Smokey Bear Award is the highest honor given for wildfire service on the state level, and is reserved for people or organizations that provide sustained, outstanding service in wildfire prevention. The award is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Advertising Council.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Forest Conservation Easement Protects 306 acres in Sussex County

In 1961, when Mrs. Segar White Guy inherited her father’s 306-acre tract of unmanaged forestland in Sussex County, she made the long-term commitment to improve the quality of the woodland. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Consulting Forester Hunter Darden developed a Forest Stewardship Management Plan that eventually led the family to prosperity and a healthy forest.

Fifty years and several forest management awards later, the timber on the land was both healthy and profitable for the Guy family. Cash from timber and pulpwood sales supported the family quite well, even covering the cost of their daughter Judi’s college tuition. In late 2010, however, the Guys learned Segar had pancreatic cancer, and, subsequently, the family decided it needed to protect their greatest family heirloom – the forestland.

Like the Guy family, many Virginia forest landowners face the issue of how they will pass their land down to the next generation. Private owners hold 13 million acres of Virginia’s forestland; landowners age 55 or older own seven million acres of that. With the decisions made today, these landowners will either protect our farms and forests or convert to them to other uses. For some families, perpetual protection from development provided by a conservation easement with VDOF is the answer.

Segar’s goal was to keep the land in the family and pass it on to the next generation.

Daughter Judi Guy said, “My mother wanted the land to go into conservation easement because of the feature of perpetuity for the land being used for sustainable forestry management using Best Management Practices. The tax benefits were of secondary concern to her.”

John Guy, Segar’s husband of 56 years, said, “Segar had a deep love of the land. She became actively involved with many forestry organizations that helped her become a good steward to the land.”

After 50 years of working with VDOF, Darden, the Virginia Forest Education Foundation (VFEF) and the Virginia Forestry Association (VFA), Segar’s vision of good forest management came to fruition by becoming certified under Virginia’s Forest Stewardship Program.

After several months of work, the Guys, their attorney Lee Stephens and VDOF Forestland Conservation Specialist Rob Suydam recorded the conservation easement on April 3, 2013 – nearly two years to the date of Segar’s passing.

Judi said, “This was such great news. The irony is it was two years ago we lost Mom. The timing could not have been more meaningful to me.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Forest Legacy Program Coordinator Wins National Award

Larry Mikkelson, our Forest Legacy program coordinator here at VDOF, earned the national Conservation Excellence Award 2012. He is only the fifth recipient of this award in the 108-year history of the U.S. Forest Service.

The award recognizes his “exceptional leadership managing a state’s Forest Legacy program.” Scott Stewart, national director of the Forest Legacy program, presented the award.

The USFS Forest Legacy Program (FLP) supports state efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forestlands. Designed to encourage the protection of privately owned forestlands, FLP is an entirely voluntary program. To maximize the public benefits it achieves, the program focuses on the acquisition of partial interests in privately owned forestlands. FLP helps the states develop and carry out their forest conservation plans. It encourages and supports acquisition of conservation easements, legally binding agreements transferring a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another, without removing the property from private ownership. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices and protect other ecosystem service values.

Virginia has received 10 Forest Legacy grants since 2001. VDOF holds 11 easements on 5,287 acres of forestland. In addition, the Forest Legacy program helped purchase all or parts of three state forests (Sandy Point SF; Dragon Run SF, and Big Woods SF) and two natural area preserves (Chubb-Sand Hill NAP and South Quay Sand Hills NAP).

A 35-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry, Larry graduated from Purdue University with a degree in forestry.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Paul State Forest Closed for 6 Weeks

The 173-acre Paul State Forest, located in Rockingham County, is closed for at least the next six weeks as work is done to salvage trees downed by three major storms. The Paul State Forest is a favorite of day hikers and bird enthusiasts.

“While we don’t like to close a state forest, we must protect the public from the tree salvage work that is needed in the Paul State Forest,” said VDOF Area Forester Bruce Harmon. “More than half of this forest had significant damage from three large storms, including last year’s derecho. With all the harvesting equipment in place, it’s simply not safe for people to be in the forest at this time.”

VDOF has posted signs at the entrance and has informed the adjacent landowners of the closure.

For more information, please contact Bruce Harmon at 540.459.7834.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gladstone Media Donates Trees to Virginia

Albemarle-based Gladstone Media has purchased 12,000 tree seedlings that will be planted in and around Albemarle County on private lands.  One-thousand-five-hundred of these tree seedlings will be planted by the Nelson County Future Farmers of America (FFA) as part of their annual forestry project.  In addition, Gladstone Media has donated $1,000 to The Nature Conservancy to help offset the tree planting costs associated with the Meadow Creek stream improvement project.
Since first partnering with the Virginia Department of Forestry in 2001, Gladstone has donated more than 75,000 trees that help clean the air, protect our waterways and enhance the quality of life across the state.
VDOF Senior Area Forester David Powell said, “Gladstone has a strong track record of helping the local community improve the natural environment through generous donations of tree seedlings.  The company donates enough tree seedlings to offset its paper use annually.  The Virginia Department of Forestry facilitates matching the donated seedlings with local planting projects each spring.  Not only does Gladstone provide trees to school groups, it has also generously donated trees to reforestation projects in the area. This year, I am especially excited that the company is providing trees to Nelson County High School’s FFA annual spring planting project.  This project is a hands-on experience in which FFA members spend the day with forest professionals learning about careers in natural resources management and complete a reforestation project on a local landowner’s property.”
Gladstone President and CEO Leonard Phillips said, "We benefit so much by living and working in Central Virginia.  It’s a pleasure to support these improvements to our environment."
Del. R. Steven Landes said, "Let me congratulate the Department of Forestry and Gladstone Media for their partnership.  The thousands of pine seedlings will help provide a better environment for Albemarle County and its citizens. This is a wonderful example of both the public and private sectors working together to improve our environment. Let me also thank the Nelson County Future Farmers of America for their efforts to assist with planting of these seedlings as part of their annual forestry project."

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds said, “I applaud the stewardship and community spirit of Gladstone Media.  The partnership will pay dividends for Albemarle County and will provide meaningful experience to the Nelson County FFA.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

VDOF, Partners Conserve More Than 4,000 Acres in Southeastern Virginia During 2012

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), working cooperatively with the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, partnered with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), The Nature Conservancy, Isle of Wight County, a private investment company and a paper company to conserve 4,119 acres of land in Southeastern Virginia during 2012. The Forest Legacy funding, applied for by The Nature Conservancy, enabled the purchase of two conservation easements and the creation of a new State Natural Area Preserve to ensure conservation of valuable working forestland and ecologically significant forest habitat in the Nottoway River and Blackwater River watersheds.

A total of 216 acres was conserved along the Nottoway River in Southampton County through the purchase of a conservation easement on property owned by Goodwood Virginia LLC, a subsidiary of Conservation Forestry LLC, a forestland holding company based out of New Hampshire. The property is comprised of floodplain forest that will be protected through the easement and upland pine plantation that will be actively managed by Goodwood Virginia for its forest and wildlife resources. Conservation Forestry, an investment organization that aligns private equity with conservation capital for the purpose of acquiring and managing large forest landscapes, has land holdings throughout southeastern Virginia and 11 other states.

Along the Blackwater River, VDOF and DCR worked with Isle of Wight County to secure an easement on 2,348 acres of diverse timberland owned by the County. The property has more than five miles of river frontage and one of the state’s largest stands of old-growth cypress trees. The County plans to utilize the property for public recreation for its citizens and Tidewater area residents as well as for income-producing timber management. This transaction created the 815-acre Blackwater Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, managed under DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, protecting important floodplain habitat along the Blackwater River.

The third and largest acquisition project added 2,855 acres to the South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, located along three miles of the Blackwater River in the City of Suffolk. Forest Legacy funding contributed to the protection of more than 1,500 acres of the property, which was purchased from International Paper Co. The property, located five miles south of the City of Franklin, contains the largest remaining Longleaf Pine seed trees in the state. One of the South’s prized timber trees, Longleaf Pine is a species that VDOF is actively re-establishing across its former 1-million acre range in southeastern VA. The property will protect 23 rare plant species and three rare animal species, including the orange-bellied tiger beetle that depends on the deep sand soils for survival. The site also provides critical lowland habitat along the Blackwater River for the rare Atlantic White Cedar, a tree species found only sporadically in southeast Virginia.

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “The Forest Legacy Program provides Federal grants to state agencies and other entities to conserve critical forested landscapes. The program’s purpose is to protect environmentally-important forestlands that are threatened with non-forest conversion. In the acquisition of these properties, VDOF and DCR have worked cooperatively with county governments and private entities to make these protected forests a reality, to benefit the citizens of the Commonwealth in perpetuity.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

EQIP Program Provides Funding for Forest Landowners

Are you interested in improving the health and productivity of your forest land but don’t know where to start? The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can offer expert advice and financial assistance to help you better manage your property.

NRCS now has more than $800,000 in funding available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for forestland planning and conservation. A Forestry Conservation Activity Plan (CAP #106) is usually the first step in this process. The CAP #106 is personalized to the landowner’s property, goals and objectives, and includes a list of natural resource specialists who can offer assistance and advice. VDOF foresters can serve as another resource for landowners who want to manage their land for specific purposes such as recreation or wildlife habitat.

The CAP outlines recommended conservation practices and step-by-step instructions to reach the landowner’s goals. Eligible forestry practices for implementation include establishing or reestablishing forestland; stabilizing logging roads, trails and landings, and improving existing privately-owned, non-commercial forestland. Efforts to restore longleaf pine in its historic Eastern Virginia range are receiving special emphasis.

CAP #106 preparation expenses and associated conservation practices are eligible for incentive payments under EQIP. NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times. Interested landowners are encouraged to apply before the next cutoff (Feb. 15, 2013) for application review to be eligible for funding.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance to help landowners solve natural resource problems on their crop, pasture, and forestland. To learn more about the program and eligibility requirements, interested farmers and forest landowners should contact their local VDOF Senior Area Forester or the NRCS Service Center.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Glatfelter Company Donates Trees to Virginia

York Pennsylvania-based P.H. Glatfelter Company will donate more than 100,000 pine seedlings to Virginia landowners under a seedling match cost-share program. Since 1956, the company has partnered with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to provide seedlings for reforestation projects.

VDOF Assistant Director for Forest Management Todd Groh said, “Glatfelter has a long-standing relationship with Virginia landowners. By funding this cost-share program, Glatfelter helps landowners reduce their cost for seedlings by providing up to 10,000 seedlings per landowner for reforestation projects. They are truly a partner in both promoting healthy forests and sustaining the forest resource.”

James Kuykendall, Glatfelter's Southern MD/VA district manager said, “Glatfelter is proud to be able to provide trees in partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry. This cost-share program allows us to support landowners who recognize the value of the forest resource, as we do. Together we have the opportunity to support healthy forests, healthy communities and responsible industry.”

Under the terms of the program, reforestation projects by private non-industrial woodland landowners are eligible in Amherst, Buckingham, Caroline, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Greene, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Warren counties in Virginia.

If you're a landowner interested in participating in this program and have property located in the above counties, please contact your local Virginia Department of Forestry Office for more information.

In 2011, this cost-share program provided 166,000 pine seedlings to Virginians. Glatfelter owns and manages 10,000 acres of forestland in Virginia. Pulpwood from Virginia supplies the company's mill in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.