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December, 2008

Governor Kaine Visits Charlottesville Headquarters

From left, VDOF employees John Pemberton and John Scrivani demonstrate a field data recorder to Governor Kaine during the governor's visit to Charlottesville.Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and members of his cabinet met with employees of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) as part of his "Cabinet Community Day." Secretary of Forestry and Agriculture Robert Bloxom and Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant were also in attendance.

In remarks to the group, Governor Kaine praised the agency's emergency response efforts and emphasized forestry's importance to the economy of the Commonwealth.

"Forestry and agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia. We just did a study at the Weldon Cooper Center at UVa that showed that it's a nearly $80 billion a year combined industry; forestry is about $28 billion a year," said Governor Kaine.

He also described the timeline of the economy, and the broader economy's impact on Virginia. "If families and businesses are having to make hard decisions, then government has to as well," adding, when making reductions, "we try to use performance and priorities, and not treat everything the same." Governor Kaine praised the efforts of his cabinet and agency heads in being creative in developing solutions.

VDOF employees described the agency's activities to Kaine as he toured displays in the main lobby. A brief showcase of IFRIS and a tour of the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center followed. The tour concluded with a demonstration by Summer, one of our arson investigation bloodhounds, successfully finding the bearer of a driver's license.

You can see the governor's remarks to employees on the video-hosting site YouTube - visit ForestryTV.

Holiday Tree Delivered to State Capitol

A 23-foot Colorado Blue Spruce now adorns the Virginia State Capitol, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). The 1,700-pound tree was harvested in the city of Roanoke, and VDOF employees transported the tree to Richmond and installed it today on the south portico of the Capitol.

Assistant Regional Forester Chris Thomsen located the tree and arranged for the donation. Governor Kaine and First Lady Anne Holton will preside over a tree lighting ceremony December 5th.

Fall 2008 Fire Season Ends

Virginia's fall wildland fire season ended on a relatively quiet note. From October 15th through November 30th, officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry responded to 67 fires that burned 304 acres - numbers that are in stark contrast to the 2008 spring fire season that saw 1,244 fires burn more than 26,256 acres across the Commonwealth.

During the fall fire season last year, the Commonwealth experienced 148 fires that burned 1,471 acres.

Director of Resource Protection John Miller reminds everyone that just because the "official" fall fire season has ended, it doesn't mean that wildland fires can't still occur - they can. So continue to take great care anytime you use fire in or near Virginia's woodlands.  And be especially mindful of the proper disposal of ashes from your fireplace or woodstove as ashes can retain enough heat to start a fire for several days.  For more information on what you can do to prevent a wildland fire, log on to www.dof.virginia.gov or www.firewisevirginia.org.

Agency Showcased At GIS Day

High-tech initiatives from the VDOF were highlighted during GIS Day at the University of Virginia. Students, faculty and interested community members attended the day-long event, which included technology demonstrations and exhibits. John Scrivani, director of resource information, was the keynote speaker and narrated a presentation on IFRIS, the agency's Integrated Forest Resource Information System.

"The use of GIS tools continues to expand into many different industries," said Scrivani.  "Through IFRIS, the Department of Forestry shows how these tools can be used over a wide range of agency needs -- from measuring forest cover to locating emergency response resources. Sharing information about these uses and their products helps facilitate research and development within the GIS community."

Following the talk, members of the resource information division gave individual demonstrations of Mobile IFRIS applications. Currently, IFRIS applications for Wildfire Incident Reporting and Woodland Homes Community Assessments are in limited release within the agency, and a full release is planned for later next year.