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August, 2011

Virginia Quarantines Movement of Walnut Trees and Products From Richmond Area

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) placed a temporary quarantine on Chesterfield and Henrico counties and the City of Richmond following the detection of Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) in Chesterfield and Henrico. Richmond is included because of its proximity to the locations where the disease was detected.

The temporary quarantine is an effort to prevent the artificial spread of TCD. Regulated articles that cannot be moved out of the quarantine area include all walnut trees and plant parts of walnut, including nuts, logs, stumps, firewood, roots, branches, mulch and chips.

TCD is a disease complex that attacks walnut trees. The fungus Geosmithia morbida is vectored by the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, causing small cankers under the bark of the tree. The beetle introduces the fungus while it tunnels beneath the bark. As more beetles attack the tree, the number of cankers increases until they coalesce to girdle twigs and branches, restricting movement of nutrients and eventually killing the tree. Neither the beetle nor the fungus is native to the eastern U.S. Thinning or dead branches will initially occur at the top of the tree, which will die from the top down. Trees may be infested for many years before showing symptoms. There is no preventive or curative treatment for the disease.

TCD has been present in the western U.S. for years; this is the first detection in Virginia, and the first time it has been found east of Knoxville, TN, where it was detected in August 2010. Once established, TCD has the potential to spread to uninfested areas, either through natural means or through the artificial movement of infested articles. Click here for more information on Thousand Cankers Diseases in the Eastern United States.

Out-of-State Deployments Continue for VDOF Resources

Wildland firefighters from the VDOF continue to be utilized by neighboring states. Our Engine Strike Team #4, helmed by 11 full- and part-time personnel, is in North Carolina working on the Juniper Road Fire. The 31,140-acre blaze near Wilmington has been burning since June 19. This assignment is the fourth rotation for the Strike Team this summer.

More than 70 personnel and five engines have been deployed out-of-state since June 15.

Emerald Ash Borer Focus of Workshop

You’ve seen the purple prism traps hanging in area trees. Now, learn more about their intended target, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

A day-long workshop, “Preparing for Emerald Ash Borer” will take place Wednesday, August 17th, at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, VA.

Forest health specialists from the public and private sectors will provide an introduction to the EAB problem; basic EAB biology and control tactics; current EAB monitoring, and EAB message development and communication practices.

Early registration, which ends August 10th, is $30 per person. Any registration received after August 10th costs $40. The fee covers all materials, a continental breakfast and lunch. For those wishing to stay overnight August 9th, a block of rooms has been reserved. Contact the Comfort Inn at 276.676.2222 or the Comfort Suites at 866.611.6582 or 276.698.3040 and use the code “EAB Workshop.”

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

Working Forest Preserved in Page and Warren Counties

by Joe Lehnen

A working forest conservation easement on 170 acres of forestland in Page and Warren counties will protect that property from future development. Granted by Fred Andreae and his wife, Christine, the couple’s 170 acres can only ever be split into two parcels, an estate-planning decision based on the inheritance of the property by their two children.

In Virginia, more than 10 million acres of forestland are in the hands of 373,600 private landowners. Joe Lehnen, VDOF forester, said, “Private forest landowners, such as the Andreaes, determine the sustainability of our forests and the benefits they provide. Their commitment to conservation is evident in the time and attention they’ve devoted to their property.”

Located near Bentonville, the Andreaes’ property is known as Overall Farm and is almost entirely forested. The Andreaes purchased multiple pieces of adjoining properties that literally connect the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park. More than 620 acres of property are covered by five Forest Stewardship Management Plans (FSMPs) with an additional plan in the works. Most of the acreage is an actively managed oak-hickory-white pine forest where the primary objectives are outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat and the health of the forest resources. The FSMPs have included seven warm season grass burns for wildlife habitat; a hardwood riparian planting; a salvage harvest of beetle-killed and storm-damaged pines; establishing a wildflower area, and installing more than 2,200 feet of trail.

The tract contains two perennial mountain streams including Overall Run, which flows into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Andreaes planted a hardwood buffer on an adjoining property to protect the streambanks along the South Fork. In 2000, a Civil War battlefield was discovered on the property. The Andreaes added Milford Battlefield to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Lehnen said, “The Andreaes are definitely forward-thinking conservationists. Fred and Christine feel very strongly about their property and its future. They demonstrate this interest through active forest and wildlife habitat management, culminating in their decision to convey the easement. We appreciate their generosity – this property will help maintain a working land base and protect water quality within the watershed.”

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or a non-profit conservation organization that protects the conservation values of a property. The landowner continues to own, use and control the land. The Andreaes granted their easement to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) and they receive tax credits for the easement.

Forest Transition Planning Workshop Set

Many family forest owners want to preserve their family lands but don’t know how to involve family members in their ownership and management. If these issues concern you, an upcoming Family Forest Landowner short course may be able to answer some of your questions.

“Focusing on Forestland Transfer to Generation ‘NEXT’” is being offered August 9 & 16 at the Lake Monticello Clubhouse in Palmyra. The goal is to assist family forest landowners in successfully planning for the transfer of their woodlands, intact, from one generation to the next. By engaging the next generation in effective family communications; describing the estate planning landscape, and providing valuable planning tools, family members will be given the information and means needed to minimize tax burdens and ensure continued management of their forest resource, as well as pass their family woodland legacy to heirs.

Nearly two-thirds of Virginia’s woodlands, or 10.1 million acres, are in the hands of more than 373,000 family forest owners. The management decisions made by family forest owners play a crucial role in determining the sustained health and conservation of the natural forest systems.

The short course is co-sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Forestry, with support from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Piedmont Environmental Council, Farm Credit, the Ballyshannon Fund and others.

For more information, please contact the Northern District Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Program at 540.948.6881 or the Virginia Department of Forestry at 434.220.9182.

Forest Legacy Does Not Equal Land Conservation

By Larry Mikkelson

Similar to the use of “Kleenex” in place of “tissue,” or “Xerox” for “photocopy,” the words “Forest Legacy” have evolved into a term used to describe land conservation or conservation easements. But the term is not synonymous with land conservation, and the Forest Legacy program is only one of the tools in the land conservation toolbox.

The land conservation toolbox includes county zoning ordinances, county Comprehensive Plans, green infrastructure plans, county or regional conservation target areas, estate planning, conservation tax credits, land acquisition and conservation easements. All of these tools are utilized by localities, regions and the state to conserve and protect our forest (and other important) resources. The Federal government also promotes the conservation of resources and land, and that’s where the Forest Legacy program comes into play.

The Forest Legacy program is a competitive, federally-funded, grant program to assist with funding purchases (rather than donations) of land or conservation easements. VDOF is the lead  state agency for the program and, thus, is the recipient of the grant funds. You can help VDOF receive good applications by promoting the program to appropriate owners, and encouraging them to contact me for further information and details.

VDOF has utilized this program in the past to help fund the purchase of Sandy Point, Dragon Run and Big Woods state forests. The program has also enabled VDOF to purchase conservation easements on privately-owned land in King William, Rappahannock, Halifax and Grayson counties.

Much of VDOF’s current conservation easement work is with donated easements. Only a small portion of this easement work involves the Forest Legacy program -- and only on those easements where the landowners are unwilling, or unable, to donate their easement.

Forest Legacy is one tool that we can use to conserve Virginia’s forestland base. For further information about the program, please give me a call at 434.220.9091.

Urban Forestry Workshop Planned in Waynesboro

If you are interested in learning more about trees in urban, suburban and community settings, the 16th annual Waynesboro Plant Health Care for Urban Trees workshop is a one-day program you won’t want to miss.

The workshop will take place Thursday, September 8th, at the Best Western Conference Center and at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The theme of this year’s workshop is, “Trees: The Best Vitamin G.”

Early registration, which ends September 2nd, 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 September 2nd costs $100. 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 7th, a block of rooms has been reserved. Contact the Best Western Waynesboro Inn & Suites at 540.942.1100 and use the code “Tree Workshop”.

“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.”

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).