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April, 2008

Furniture Retailer Partners With VDOF to Plant 26,000 Seedlings

Pictured, left to right: Jim McGlone, VDOF Urban Forest Conservationist; Terry Lasher, VDOF Assistant Regional Forester; Greg Winston, Regional Forester; Michael Huber, CEO, Belfort Furniture; Dan Kennedy, Senior Director, Belfort Furniture. Belfort Furniture has initiated a partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to distribute 26,000 seedlings. Based in Dulles, VA, Belfort Furniture has purchased the seedlings and will give them away to school aged children and individuals at Arbor Day and Earth Day promotions and events this 2008 spring season.

With the launch of the eco green program "Be Green," Belfort Furniture "will help restore our forests in our local communities" by planting a tree seedling for every furniture delivery it makes. In 2007, the company made 26,000 deliveries to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

"We are committed to give back to our community and to restore our threatened natural resources," said Michael Huber, CEO of Belfort Furniture. "Myself, our employees and our customers are all concerned about the environment; by working with the Virginia Department of Forestry, we are now actively involved in sustaining these resources."

Regional Forester Greg Winston said, "Stewardship of the environment and our forest resources is not merely a responsibility of a 'first user' or 'end user.' Everyone is affected by the availability of renewable resources. The 'Be Green' Program demonstrates this inclusiveness, and the program will be greatly appreciated by Virginia's forest landowners."

Wood Arson Investigation Results In Arrest

The VDOF has arrested and charged a Bedford County man with two counts of woods arson. The 21-year-old from Lynch Station was charged with the Class 6 felonies after VDOF investigators used a bloodhound to track the suspect from the scene of an arson fire right to the man's home.

Each felony count is punishable by up to five years in prison or, at the court's discretion, up to a year in prison and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.

During a fire suppression effort, a VDOF forester spotted a footprint, called for the bloodhound team and stayed all night to ensure the crime scene did not get contaminated. The tracking bloodhound, handler and another forestry technician - both of whom are specially trained in fire origin and cause - arrived from far Southwest Virginia the following morning. They inspected the crime scene; familiarized the bloodhound with the footprint, then followed the dog to the front door of the suspect's home. The suspect was interviewed and confessed to starting that fire and another fire that burned about ΒΌ of an acre of woods.

"That area of the county has experienced a number of suspicious fires over the past 12 months, and we've spent a lot of time investigating each and every one," said Todd Kready, VDOF's Bedford County forester. "It's a good feeling to know that if this individual is convicted, he won't be able to threaten the lives and property of other Bedford County residents."

State Forester Carl Garrison said, "The VDOF law enforcement officers involved in this case are committed to protecting the citizens of Virginia. Their hard work, persistence and dedication led directly to this arrest in Bedford County."

Arbor Day In Virginia

Arbor Day, the nationally-celebrated observance to encourage tree planting and care, occurs on April 25. Community events will be held throughout Virginia this month, including Tree City USA celebrations in 52 localities. The Town of Buchanan will earn its first Tree City USA Award this year; Falls Church has been with Tree City USA for thirty years and is the Commonwealth's longest running Arbor Day celebrant, having done so continuously for 116 years.

"Arbor Day is a great way to honor all the benefits that trees provide us," said Barbara White, VDOF Urban Forestry Coordinator. "Forested land is lost each day in Virginia's urban environments because of rapid land development. While development meets the needs of a growing city, maintaining trees and their health is even more important because of the economic, environmental, and social values trees bring to daily life."

To recognize Arbor Day, activities generally include a tree planting, presentation of awards to community stewards, group litter pickup in public parks, and demonstrations of tree pruning or tree identification.

Spring Fire Season Update

The VDOF has been busy since the historic rash of wildfires during the week of February 10th. Since Jan. 1, 2008, there have been 784 wildfires that have burned a total of 19,108 acres and damaged or destroyed 13 homes. During the same period last year, 736 fires burned 6,505 acres.

In addition, the 4 p.m. law remains in effect until April 30th. This important law prohibits any open burning within 300 feet of woodlands or dry grass or fields capable of carrying fire to the woods before 4 in the afternoon each day. The law is a prevention tool, and, in combination with the Department of Forestry's request that everyone be extremely careful with any use of fire even after 4 p.m., we will, hopefully, keep Virginia green.

Fred Turck, VDOF's assistant director of resource protection, said, "Weather plays a critical role in the ability for a wildfire to occur and in the suppression of the fire once it has started. Please keep an eye on the weather. If a warm, sunny and windy day is predicted, please postpone any outdoor activities, especially debris burning, that may cause a wildfire."