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January, 2008

New Partnership Aims To Serve Forest Owners

NRCS State Conservationist John A. Bricker and State Forester Carl Garrison III.Forest landowners in Virginia can take advantage of many state and local programs to help them realize their goals. A new joint effort between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Virginia Department of Forestry takes a step towards offering "one-stop shopping" to advance conservation of forest lands and improve delivery of technical assistance to private forest operators. This effort is the first formal agreement between the federal agency and the state agency.

NRCS administers many federal programs for woodland owners, and employees from both organizations routinely work together on projects with landowners. This agreement recognizes this cooperation, and lays the groundwork for more detailed agreements to share staff and financial resources.

Some of the joint activities outlined in the agreement include promoting and advertising each other’s programs, establishing a list of agency responsibilities and procedures for each program, and sharing forms, guidance and training to carry out these programs.

State Forester Carl Garrison III says the availability of federal programs offers the state “the opportunity to expand traditional services to woodland owners. For example, federal funds can now be used to expand open field planting and plantings of mixed hardwoods for wildlife or water quality. Using federal programs, there are funds for forest management practices that were not available before.”

Education Options Abound For Forest Landowners

Are you thinking about going “back to school?” If so, consider taking a one-day course through the Virginia Forest Landowner Education program.

These courses are open to anyone interested in developing a working knowledge of basic forest and woodland management principles and include such topics as management planning, obtaining professional assistance, how to assess resources, and basic needs of wildlife.

A Woodland Options for Landowners course is to be held in the conference room of the Smurfit-Stone Corporation in West Point, Va., on Saturday, Feb. 9. Additional courses covering different topics will be held throughout the state.

“Landowners need to have a vision for their land,” said Rich Steensma, forester for Lancaster and Northumberland counties. “So, in these courses, we provide a picture of what various management strategies can do on a piece of land. Each property is unique. We discuss what's on the land; what the landowner wants it to look like; what can be done, and the costs involved. Sustainable forestry is the overall objective.” Steensma will teach a section of the class on hardwood management, and Gloucester County Forester Jeff Darr will also teach a section of the class.

The registration fee includes a comprehensive reference notebook, lunch, and refreshments. To register, call Helen Heck at 804.443.1118.

American Chestnut Seeds Planted

Forest Researcher Jerre Creighton holds acorns and marking flags
  at the Augusta Forestry Center. More than 1,300 American Chestnut seeds were planted at the Augusta Forestry Center. The seeds, hybrids of the American and Chinese Chestnut, were pollinated at the Lesesne State Forest in June and the nuts were collected in September. The germination of the seeds will be studied and documented for a year. The resulting seedlings will be transplanted back to Lesesne as well as at the Matthews State Forest in Southwest Virginia and the New Kent Forestry Center east of Richmond. Further research on the hybrids, several of which are 15/16 American Chestnut, will continue at these locations.