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October, 2008

VDOF Realigns Agency Offices

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has consolidated its total number of regional offices, reducing the number from six to three. The agency has also realigned the counties and cities served by each region. VDOF will now serve the Commonwealth from its current offices in Charlottesville, Salem, and Tappahannock. VDOF foresters will continue to cover each county in Virginia.

“Shifting the location of these offices is essentially transparent to our staff, who will continue to work from their field locations,” said Ed Zimmer, central regional forester. “By restructuring the distribution of counties, we allow our assistant regional foresters to be more active in the field, and this activity helps increase our efficiency.”

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “Improving productivity and efficiency is an ongoing effort and concern within state government. Especially during periods of tight budget constraints, we must look for and implement efforts that enhance our efficiency while still maintaining services to citizens. This realignment accomplishes that goal.”

Hurricane-Ravaged Texas Gets Help from Virginia

In Texas, Prince Edward County Forester Pat Murphy organizes supplies for distribution to survivors of Hurricane Ike.A team of 14 employees from the VDOF traveled to College Station, Texas, to assist with relief efforts associated with Hurricane Ike. The group coordinated requests from local emergency operations centers (EOC) for ice, water and freeze-dried meals (MREs) to points of distribution in seven Texas counties.

John Miller, director of Resource Protection, said, “The team provided organization to the distribution process. As the counties requested supplies, their orders would be filled. Our team members would follow-up on these orders, often meeting with the local EOCs and the county's judge. Through this communication, we were able to ensure that bulk distributions of supplies were actually getting parceled out to various neighborhoods so that no one missed out on supplies.”

The group worked 16-hour days and lived out of their vehicles or tents for the week-long assignment. Logistical support for the team was provided by the VDOF Central Office in Charlottesville.

VDOF Team Examines Urban Trees

A team of urban forestry specialists from the VDOF traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to assess the health and viability of the trees damaged during Hurricane Gustav. The group combed approximately 1,000 street miles during their stay.

Damaged trees were examined and inventoried. Trees with extensive damage, or that posed a threat to public safety, were recommended for removal. Pruning was suggested to repair damaged crowns. In addition, the health of trees not damaged by the hurricane will be determined and inventoried.

Paul Revell, director of Urban and Community Forestry, said, “Trees in urban areas have significant value to members of the community. Restoring the historical and aesthetic aspect of a community is vital to an area's recovery following an extreme weather event.”

All the team members are Certified Arborists who have storm damage assessment training. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimburses the community for tree damage based on the assessment process.

“Lost” Value of Hurricane and Severe Storm Damaged Timber

Over this past year, hurricane and other severe storm activity may have damaged or destroyed some forest stands in Virginia. This damage or destruction of forests is called “casualty loss,” and in some cases, timberland owners may be able to claim a deduction on their federal income tax returns for such losses.

The tax laws have specific requirements on calculating timber stand losses, and the rules may result in low or no deductions being available in certain cases. Timberland owners who think they may be eligible for this deduction should weigh the potential tax savings with the cost of hiring professional forestry and appraisal services to establish the required tax data and records before proceeding.

The USDA Forest Service has developed an information brief to help forestland owners learn more about this potential tax savings. You may view this information by visiting the Virginia Department of Forestry website at

New Blog for Leaf Peepers

Each season of the year is a great time to enjoy Virginia's outdoor beauty. As fall approaches, the bright greens of spring and summer yield to the rainbow of fall colors. If you like to watch this beauty unfold across the state, then stay tuned to our new blog, Fall Foliage in Virginia. You can share your leaf peeping experiences with us as the weather stays cooler. Visit us at