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June, 2007

Mobile Computers Help Foresters Collect, Measure Forest Information

Forest Inventory Specialist Tracy McDonald enters information into the handheld GPS computer.

A mobile computing software application developed by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) was a finalist for the 2007 American Council of Technology’s Intergovernmental Solutions Award.

Since April 2006, foresters and field staff in Virginia have collected forestry data and keyed the information into a Web-based database, the Integrated Forest Resource Information System (IFRIS). Initially accessible only by desktop computer via the web, IFRIS has been adapted for use on GPS-enabled mobile devices.

“Foresters make a wealth of observations in the field,” notes John Scrivani, director of resource information with VDOF. “With this system, field data is collected in a timely and efficient way, and then immediately updated on the IFRIS database. Even the location of the observation is recorded using global positioning technology.”

Foresters can note the acreage of a forested tract and the tree species within it. Insect damage, wildfire hazards and water quality law enforcement information can also be entered.

For more information on IFRIS, visit the VDOF website at http://www.dof.virginia.gov

Fallen Firefighters Honored

VDOF Honor Guard members Robbie Lewis, Al Brooks and Nelson Hillyer pose with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Each year, emergency response personnel, government officials and others gather to honor the Virginia firefighters who gave their lives while serving our citizens. The annual Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial Service celebrates the courage and dedication of Virginia’s fire service employees.

A moment of silence preceded the ceremony in Richmond, where members of VDOF's Honor Guard represented the agency. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine paid tribute to the memory of these public servants, and praised the efforts of emergency response personnel. In the past twenty years, more than 80 Virginia firefighters have given their lives while serving the citizens of Virginia. Local fire departments were encouraged to sound their alarms and lower their flags to half staff in observance of the event.

Pictured with Governor Kaine are Honor Guard members Robbie Lewis, Al Brooks and Nelson Hillyer. Other guard members were on assignment fighting fires in Georgia and Florida.