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August, 2010

Two New State Forests Conserve Landscape and Habitat

The Commonwealth of Virginia has added two tracts to bring its total to 21 State Forests. The 2,353-acre Moore’s Creek State Forest in southwestern Rockbridge County and the 2,200-acre Big Woods State Forest in Southeastern Virginia bring the state forest acreage to 67,781 acres.

Moore’s Creek State Forest was purchased from the City of Lexington, and the tract features mountain vistas, scenic trails and abundant wildlife, including black bear, wild turkey and a host of migratory songbirds. Funding for the purchase, which totaled $2 million, was provided to the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) through the General Assembly’s 2008 conservation bond fund.

Big Woods State Forest (2,200 acres) and Big Woods Wildlife Management Area (2,208 acres) will be jointly operated and managed by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

Management of the 4,408-acre Big Woods tract will focus on success in multiple objectives including: wildlife management (northern bobwhite, turkey, deer and other game species); bio-diversity conservation (red-cockaded woodpecker, Rafinesque’s eastern big-eared bat, Bachman’s sparrow, southeastern fox squirrel); water and air quality; sustainable forestry demonstration; conservation education; recreation, and economic development.

VDOF and DGIF purchased the property from The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  The Nature Conservancy purchased the property in 2006 from International Paper to protect it from development. In addition to $4.3 million in state bond funding, $850,000 came from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, $550,000 came from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and $900,000 was provided by the Forest Legacy Program – a US Forest Service program designed to conserve forested areas that are environmentally important and that provide multiple-use working forests.

People wanting to hunt, trap or mountain bike on the two State Forests must have a State Forest Use Permit, which can be purchased through the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries website or at local retail outlets authorized by DGIF to sell hunting and trapping licenses.

Rockcliffe Farm Becomes First Easement in Appomattox County

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has secured its first conservation easement in Appomattox County – a 275-acre working forest easement owned by Joan Rockwell and Hugh Radcliffe.  The property, known as Rockcliffe Farm, borders the James River near the Beckham community.

The easement on Rockcliffe Farm ensures that the property will remain in its natural wooded state while still providing income for Hugh and Joan as a retreat.  Rockcliffe Farm has operated as a retreat and lodge since 2006, and the “peaceful woods are a critical amenity to the business.”  While the easement limits division of the property and construction of buildings, the property remains available to guests for fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, trail riding, camping and getting reunited with nature.

“We’ve always felt that a properly managed forest reaps greater benefits for the trees, wildlife and population around it,” Joan said.  “When we cut down a tree, we select it carefully, then try to use every bit of it, maybe using the bulk of it to make boards in our sawmill, but then we use the scrap for firewood, the sawdust for pathways, and the leaves for mulch.  We make things like coasters, benches and doorstops out of pieces that might otherwise get thrown away.”

Rockcliffe Farm is a certified Tree Farm and a Virginia Stewardship Forest.

The VDOF conservation easement program is the only one in the state that focuses solely on protecting working forests. To be considered, a property must be at least 50 acres in size; 75 percent forested, and the landowner must be willing to follow a forest stewardship management plan.

Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine Expanded

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) expanded the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to include Clarke and Frederick counties and the City of Winchester. These localities now join a quarantine area that includes Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

The quarantine restricts the movement of regulated articles from quarantined localities to non-quarantined localities. The regulated articles, which include ash trees, green (non-heat treated) ash lumber and ash wood products, as well as hardwood firewood, pose a significant risk of transporting EAB. These regulated articles may move freely within the quarantined areas.

EAB is a highly destructive, invasive beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada. The adult emerald ash borer is metallic green in color and about one-half inch long and one-eighth inch wide. The adult female deposits eggs on the bark of ash trees. The EAB eggs hatch into larvae which chew their way into the soft layer of wood beneath the bark, disrupting the trees’ vascular system and cutting off the flow of water and nutrients. EAB in the larval stage are difficult to detect as they feed under the tree bark, which enables EAB to hitch a ride to new areas when people transport firewood or other infested wood products.

For additional information about the Emerald Ash Borer and actions taken to combat its spread, see http://www.emeraldashborer.info/ or call 804.786.3515.

Waynesboro Urban Tree Health Care Workshop

The 15th annual Waynesboro Plant Health Care for Urban Trees workshop will take place Thursday, September 9th, at the Best Western Conference Center and at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The theme of this year’s workshop is, “Trees: The Best Shady Deal Around.”

“As has been the tradition at this workshop, there are two tracks from which to choose,” said Paul Revell, urban and community forestry manager for the Virginia Department of Forestry. “One track is for those interested in learning more about caring for urban trees, and the other track is designed for certified arborists and other tree-care industry professionals.”

Early registration, which ends August 31st, ranges from $40 per person for students/tree stewards/master gardeners to $75 for municipal governments and non-profit organizations to $85 for the general public. Any registration received after August 31st costs $95. The fee covers all sessions, which run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and a catered lunch. For those wishing to stay overnight September 8th, a block of rooms has been reserved. Contact the Best Western Waynesboro Inn & Suites at 540.942.1100 and use the code “Tree Workshop.”

Registration forms are available at www.treesvirginia.org. Questions may be directed to Dwayne Jones (540.942.6735) or to Becky Woodson (434.220.9024).