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January, 2011

Furniture Retailer Continues to Donate Trees

Dulles-based retailer Belfort Furniture renewed its seedling donation program with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). Under the program, Belfort donates a tree seedling for every delivery it makes. These trees help restore our forests, beautify the landscape and help offset carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2007, the company has donated more than 100,000 tree seedlings to the citizens of Virginia.

“This season, shortleaf pine and second generation loblolly pine are available,” said Terry Lasher, assistant regional forester and manager of the program for VDOF. “Shortleaf pine is a native species that has diminished in Virginia, and loblolly pine is one of our most important economic species. So, Belfort’s seedling donation program helps both restore a species as well as support the supply of raw material for the furniture industry.”

Seedlings can be used for school programs, outreach programs and reforestation projects. The seedlings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For ease of handling, minimum available quantity is 500. Interested landowners and groups should contact Terry Lasher.

According to the Belfort website, the company also recycles, on average, more than 3.75 tons of cardboard per month. For more information regarding Belfort Furniture and its community outreach and donation programs, visit belfortfurniture.com

Southern Finishing Company to Add Jobs in Martinsville

Southern Finishing Company Inc., a manufacturer of prefinished components for the cabinet industry, will invest $1.7 million to consolidate its eastern U.S. operations to the City of Martinsville. The consolidation to Martinsville includes the company’s manufacturing and distribution operations that are located in North Carolina. The company will occupy the former Hooker Manufacturing building, located across the street from Southern Finishing’s existing Martinsville location. The project will save 137 jobs and create 67 new jobs.

“This news represents an important expansion for Virginia's forest products industry,” said Charlie Becker, VDOF’s utilization and marketing manager. “The Martinsville area has a long, successful history of furniture production, and Southern Finishing will be able to benefit from the local resources that the region has to offer and provide quality jobs to the area.”

Southern Finishing Company was founded in 1978 and has more than 240 employees. The privately-owned company specializes in prefinished wood mouldings, accessories, panels, doors, kitchen and bath cabinet components and bedrails. Key partners include American Woodmark, Marsh Furniture, Armstrong Cabinets, Thomasville Furniture and Hooker Furniture.

Fall 2010 Fire Season Ends

Several large fires spiked the amount of burned forestland this season, according to officials with the VDOF.

From Oct. 15, 2010 through Nov. 30, 2010, a total of 63 wildland fires burned 2,586 acres of forestland in Virginia.  Fifty-seven homes and 34 other structures were protected during fire suppression efforts. No homes were damaged during the fall fire season but three other structures were damaged.

“This year, sporadic wet weather did help keep the overall number of fires down,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection. “Of the fires we did have, four were more than 100 acres in size and two were greater than 300 acres. These are big fires, and it’s worth noting that 57 homes were directly protected from wildfire damage as a result of our efforts. VDOF is very fortunate to have skilled personnel with great expertise along with the unwavering cooperation of Virginia's volunteer and structural fire services.”

Regular rainfall was typical of the 2009 fall fire season, when the Commonwealth experienced 25 fires that burned 638 acres.

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 pay special attention to the ashes from your fireplace and/or woodstove as they can retain enough heat to ignite a fire several days later. Put the ashes in a metal can, slowly stir in water, and keep them in the metal can for at least three days before dumping them out.

For more information on what you can do to prevent a wildland fire, log on to FireWiseVirginia.org.

Tomorrow Woods Estate Planning Workshop

Southeastern Virginia landowners interested in planning the future of their property can attend an estate planning workshop offered by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). This hands-on workshop provides legal and financial advice from experts experienced in estate planning and intergenerational land transfer. Landowner testimonials about estate planning issues and strategies will also be included.

Held in conjunction with VDOF's Tomorrow Woods program, this estate planning workshop helps property owners ensure that the goals for their property continue even after they’re no longer around to see it by providing funding towards the upfront costs of developing a conservation easement.

“Virginia landowners value their forest or farmland for many reasons, such as wildlife habitat, privacy, recreation, timber, hunting or the scenic qualities,” said Rob Suydam, a forest conservation specialist with VDOF. “They often know they want to preserve these values for the next generation of family members, but don’t know how to communicate that and make sure their wishes will be honored. In this workshop, we’ll show them what their options are, and how they can get started.”

The Tomorrow Woods Estate Planning Workshop will be held Jan. 19, 2011, at the Smithfield Center in Smithfield, Va. A $10 Registration/Application fee per person is required. Lunch will be provided. Registration and forms can be found at www.dof.virginia.gov/register/index.htm

Deadline for registration is Jan. 10, 2011. For more information, please contact Rob Suydam at 804.328.3031.

Don’t Move Firewood

Trees are being destroyed through the transportation of invasive insects and diseases in firewood. Once transported into new areas, these insects and diseases can become established and kill local trees. You can help stop the spread: Use firewood from local sources only. DO NOT transport firewood across state lines or into campgrounds or parks. If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.

Even if an area is not under quarantine, it is a good general practice to not move firewood long distances. The quarantine regulations for an area usually lag well behind the arrival of a new invasive species.

For more information, visit the VDOF website and select “Forest Health.”

“Resolve To be Ready” Winter Preparedness Campaign

Last winter, multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures affected every part of Virginia. Citizens suffered in the wake of power outages, icy roads and bored school children.

This month, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) continues to remind citizens to take steps to prepare for severe winter weather.The “Resolve To be Ready” campaign offers tips and suggestions to help you get ready for possible bad weather. Here’s how to start preparing:

  • Make a plan. Decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if your family is separated and cannot return home because of closed roads. Choose an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family’s point of contact for emergency communications.
  • Get a kit.  Here are basic supplies for winter weather: three days’ food; three days’ water (a gallon per person per day); a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries, and your written family emergency plan.
  • Stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials. Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions.

Additional information and resources are available online at www.ReadyVirginia.gov.

Master Naturalist Class

The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is offering its Basic Training Class starting Feb. 17, 2011 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

To become certified, Master Naturalists complete 40 hours of basic training, including classroom hours and field trips, plus eight hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer service per year. Volunteer projects include education, stewardship activities and citizen science. The VDOF is one of five sponsoring agencies for the program.

More information and a training application can be found at holstonrivervmn.org. To learn about other chapters' training courses and activities, visit VirginiaMasterNaturalist.org.