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November, 2008

Agency Makes Changes During Budget Crisis

As the Commonwealth of Virginia faces a $2.5 Billion budget shortfall, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced budget cuts to state agencies October 9. For the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), this cut translated into a reduction of $2.1 Million.

The VDOF consolidated its total number of regional offices, reducing the number from six to three. The agency 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.

The agency also reduced its funds by deferring the purchase of heavy equipment, closing out capital outlay projects, and reallocating funding for general fund positions. The agency will also keep some employment vacancies unfilled, such as area foresters, forestry technicians and support positions.

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.”

Additional budget reductions could be called for prior to and during the 2009 General Assembly session.

Virginia's Tree Seedling Store Now Open

Virginians looking to plant trees on their land in the spring will have to go no farther than their computer - the VDOF opened its online tree seedling store October 27. The VDOF's two tree nurseries grow and sell 33 million tree seedlings each year.

This year's first customer, Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company in Galax, purchased 150,000 seedlings to donate to Virginia landowners as part of the company's 1-4-1 Program. This program, launched last year, matches one donated seedling for every tree harvested and used by Vaughan-Bassett in the manufacture of its furniture.

“The 1-4-1 Program is a huge success,” said Vaughan-Bassett Chairman John Bassett. “It clearly demonstrates that companies can practice true sustainability in their business operations. We are very pleased with our partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry.”

Virginians who are interested in purchasing tree seedlings can log onto the VDOF website at www.dof.virginia.gov and order from the more than 45 species available. The online store also includes information to help landowners choose the right species, as well as pricing and shipping details. A seedling price guide, with a mail-in order form, is also available at any VDOF office.

For more information, or to place an order over the phone, call the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000.

Carbon Trading and Ecosystem Service Markets

Hybrid vehicles are a visible way for citizens to limit their use of fossil fuels and reduce the “carbon footprint” of their lifestyle. This “green” initiative also occurs on a larger scale in governments and countries around the world, where a value is placed on the benefits of the environment. In Charlottesville, a two-day conference will explore the design and implementation of ecosystem service markets and the development of tools to enhance landowner participation in these markets.

The first day of the conference will feature a series of speakers giving a broad, national-level overview of ecosystem service market considerations and initiatives. The second day will feature a series of three panels: Carbon; Water Quality (nutrient trading), and Mitigation Banking. An interactive question and answer session will follow the panel presentations.

“Attending this conference will ensure a better understanding of how ecosystem service markets function and what opportunities exist for landowners,“ said Buck Kline, manager of ecosystem services for the VDOF. “Industry, government, non-governmental organizations, academia and Virginia landowners will all benefit from the information presented.“

The conference will be held March 12-13, 2009 at the Omni in Charlottesville. Learn more about the conference and register to attend online at http://www.cpe.vt.edu/esmes/index.html.