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June, 2009

Governor Kaine Announces Conservation of 4,188 Acres Within Dragon Run Watershed

Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced that the Commonwealth and The Nature Conservancy have purchased 4,188 acres of environmentally extraordinary land within the Dragon Run watershed.Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced that the Commonwealth and The Nature Conservancy have purchased 4,188 acres of environmentally extraordinary land within the Dragon Run watershed.

“The purchase of this property will add significantly to our protected state forest land,” Governor Kaine said. “It will also ensure that this ecologically important land will never be developed and will be enjoyed by Virginians for generations.”

Dragon Run includes the northern-most tidal cypress swamp community on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Ninety bird species, such as bald eagles and prothonotary warblers, are found in the area, along with 55 species of fish. The waters provide vital nurseries for perch, rockfish, and alewives, which are important for Chesapeake commercial fishermen and sportsmen.

In April 2008, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) created the Dragon Run State Forest, an 1,811-acre property in King and Queen County on the Middle Peninsula that borders a major tributary to the Dragon Swamp, which feeds into the Piankatank River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

The Nature Conservancy originally purchased 4,188 acres from Hancock Timber Resource Group in November 2008. Of that, 2,411 acres were acquired by the Virginia Department of Forestry with bond funds and added to Dragon Run State Forest. The State Forest is used to demonstrate forest management that promotes sustainable forestry, contributes to the local economy, and promotes healthy wildlife habitat.

VDOF Begins Mass Controlled Pollination Program

Forestry employee Wayne Bowman injects pollen as part of the mass controlled polination program.Birds do it, bees do it, and so do forestry technicians at VDOF's New Kent Forestry Center. Pollination typically relies on Mother Nature to ensure successful tree breeding. However, with equal access to unimproved, average and above-average pollen, trees make only average genetic gains in terms of growth speed or best form characteristics.

Mass Controlled Pollination (MCP) is a way to increase genetic gains compared to traditional wind-pollination. The best-performing male and female parents are chosen in advance from seed orchard ramets. Once the best female parents are chosen, strobili are isolated by covering them with pollinating bags, which prevents pollen contamination. Pollen is extracted from the catkins of the best male parents, and introduced into the bags when the strobili are fully receptive. Removing the uncontrolled pollen sources will result in stands more uniform in growth and vigor.

Working on 123 individual trees of our 11 best selections, forestry technicians installed 4,133 pollination bags. The agency's research division estimates that the average productivity gain from a mix of the resulting seed will be 50% over unimproved seed compared with 37% from the best offering VDOF has previously produced. Individual crosses will have gains up to 60%.

If these efforts are successful, VDOF could have about 1 million MCP seedlings for its nursery crop in 2011. MCP will offer Virginia forest landowners additional gains of 10%-20% or more in volume and sawtimber quality over second- and third-generation, open-pollinated (OP) seedlings.

Virginia Cabinet Secretaries and Agency Heads to Observe Activities At Virginia Wildland Fire Academy

Two Virginia Cabinet Secretaries and two state agency heads will visit the Virginia Wildland Fire Academy on Wednesday, June 3rd, to observe the training being undertaken by more than 265 volunteer and paid firefighters from 70 departments across the Commonwealth.

Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall and Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry Robert Bloxom will join State Forester Carl Garrison and Virginia Department of Fire Programs Executive Director Willie (Billy) Shelton to see first hand what the firefighters are learning as they train to better protect the lives and property of Virginia's citizens.

The group will begin their tour with a visit to a couple of classrooms before heading out to see the “students” drive tractor plows (bulldozers) through an obstacle course at the Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest. They will return to the Longwood campus around 12:30 p.m. to have lunch with the firefighters before departing for their return to the State Capitol in Richmond.