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February, 2011

Wheelin’ Sportsmen Help Manage Deer at the Matthews State Forest

Hunter Eric Higgins enjoyed participating.The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) hosted its annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen deer hunt on the Matthews State Forest. Six hunters tagged seven deer, including two antlered bucks – a seven pointer and an eight pointer - during a two-day period.

Wheelin’ Sportsmen, an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy sports, such as hunting and fishing.

This is the third year VDOF has partnered with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and the Grayson County chapter of the NWTF on this event. The NWTF chapter provided overnight accommodations; hearty meals; wheelchair-accessible portable blinds, and gifts for the hunters and their family members.

In addition to providing the site and facilities, VDOF personnel provided transportation and general assistance for the hunters; guide services; game recovery and processing, and logistical support.

Maintaining and sustaining wildlife habitat is one of the goals of state forest management. Heavy browsing on seed, seedlings and saplings can result in unacceptably low amounts of regeneration. Scheduled hunts of whitetail deer can help reduce this threat to forest health.

Landowner in Botetourt County Recognized for Excellence

Bob Boeren, Botetourt, Craig, and Roanoke County forester.

Louis Saville of Eagle Rock is flanked by his wife, Betty, and son, Trevor. Bob Boeren, Botetourt County forester, is pictured at right. A landowner in Botetourt County has received an award recognizing his forestry accomplishments.

Louis Saville of Eagle Rock received the 2010 Forestry Award from the Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District during its annual awards banquet. Saville also received state recognition from the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD), which honored him with its 2010 State Forestry Award.

Saville’s accomplishments include harvesting 164 acres and reforesting all but 17 acres that will be planted this spring; fencing out livestock from 1.25 miles along Craig Creek; planting nine acres of hardwood and nine acres of warm season grass, and releasing 32 acres of pine.

He received his state forestry award at a luncheon December 6th at the Hotel Roanoke during the VASWCD annual meeting. I am honored to have attended the awards luncheon along with Louis; his wife, Betty, and son, Trevor. Trevor is finishing his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2011. Trevor will then start his master’s degree in forestry the following fall at VT.

Recreation Enhancements on Two State Forests

This picnic shelter has barbeque grills and tables that can seat 32 people.Virginia Department of Forestry’s Erik Filep has been working on special assignment as a recreation forester on Virginia’s State Forests for the past year. While VDOF owns 21 State Forests, much of his time has been spent working on the Appomattox-Buckingham SF and the Cumberland SF. He’s inventoried recreation features on the forests and has worked to make those forests more open to recreational opportunities.

On these two State Forests there are roughly 18 miles of hiking trails; 38 miles of multiple-use trails; five lakes, and five picnic shelters. In addition, both of these forests surround state parks – Holliday Lake State Park and Bear Creek Lake State Park.

While the state parks adjoining these forests have trails suitable for equestrians, the facilities for these users are not fully adequate to meet their needs. Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest is serving as the pilot site for building a multiple-use facility to accommodate equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers. The biggest concern for these users was adequate and appropriate parking for their vehicles and horse trailers. ABSF Forester Mike Womack identified an open plot of land that was suitable for the development of a large-scale trailhead facility. The land was cleared and graded; gravel was laid down for a hardened parking lot that could support vehicle traffic in any weather condition. The parking area should accommodate 20 truck & trailer rigs along with 10 additional car-only spaces and give users a prime location to access the looped Carter Taylor trail that runs through a majority of the forest.

Filep next turned his attention to the development of a picnic shelter with barbeque grills and tables that can seat 32 people. An informational kiosk was built so that users can find relevant information as well as a large color map of the trails. A horse corral was then added to give equestrians a place to pen in their stock while resting, picnicking or exploring the forest on foot. In the next few months, this area will be officially ready for users, complete with a large sign directing people to the site and a well for drinking water and for watering trail stock.

Work will begin soon to bring the same level of recreational comfort to Cumberland State Forest with a new site located away from the headquarters building and giving better access to the forest’s trail system.

Filep said, “It is my goal to make Virginia’s State Forests more than a showcase for sustainable timber management. I want the citizens of Virginia as well as out of state visitors to be able to enjoy our State Forests as much as our award-winning state parks. Virginia State Forests offer horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, fishing, bird watching, interpretation and so much more.”

Virginians wishing to take advantage of horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting or fishing on these or any State Forest must purchase an annual forest use permit, which is available on our website; the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website, or anywhere hunting licenses are sold.

Board Appointments Announced

Governor Bob McDonnell made the following appointments to the Board of Forestry:

  • Anne M. Beals of Spotsylvania, Oakley Farm
  • Nadine Block of Falls Church, Senior Director of Government Outreach with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.
  • David L. Blount of Middletown, retired
  • Phillip A. Bradshaw of Carrsville, CFO of Isle of Wight County Public Schools
  • John W. Burke, III of Woodford, partner with Burke Woodlands
  • William G. Imbergamo of Vienna, Senior Professional Staff with the United States Senate
  • Hillary F. Little of Nasswadox, President of Waterford Printing Inc. and semi-retired
  • The Honorable Floyd H. Miles, Sr. of Providence Forge, retired
  • J. Kenneth Morgan, Jr. of Clarksville, President of Morgan Lumbar Company and Sunrise Shaving, LLC
  • Shelby L. “Lee” Spradlin, Jr. of Lynchburg, Forester with MeadWestVaco
  • David W. Smith of Blacksburg, Shelton H. Short Jr. Emeritus Professor of Forestry with Virginia Tech

The Board is composed of one member from each congressional district appointed by the Governor for a term of four years. The State Forester serves as executive officer of the Board.

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.”

Tax Info Available

You can stay current on tax changes and related information courtesy the “Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2010 Tax Year.” This annual publication from the U.S. Forest Service covers topics such as cost-share payments, selling timber and timber basis, with examples in each category. You can find these tips and much more on our Tax Information webpage.

No Burning Before 4 p.m. Until April 30

The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Feb. 15th – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

“This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires,” said John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become ‘forest fuels’ that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

In 2010, there were 897 wildfires that burned 8,485 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a seven percent increase in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (837) of fires in 2009. Similarly, the amount of acreage burned increased 13 percent when compared to 7,494 acres that burned in 2009.

Periods of wet weather during the spring and fall fire seasons were a critical factor in reducing the number of wildfires. Of the fires that did occur, citizens burning debris or yard waste continue to be the leading cause of wildfire in Virginia. Arson and equipment use also make up the majority of the fires.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit the VDOF website.

Tree seedlings selling fast; order yours before they’re gone

Each year, the VDOF grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don’t wait too much longer as several species, including Canaan Fir, White Oak, Redbud and Elite Loblolly Pine, have already sold out.

Seedlings are available in quantities as low as 10 or 25; these small quantities can be beneficial to landowners of modest-size forested tracts. Order yours today by visiting the VDOF Web store, calling the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.