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November 2011

Public Comments Sought

Every four years, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is required to conduct a review of its regulations. VDOF personnel and members of agency boards suggest and draft proposed changes. The process includes the opportunity for the public to review and comment on the proposed changes.

The Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) and State Forest regulations are available for review and comment. The public comment period for the RT regulations ends November 10. The deadline to comment on the State Forest regulations is November 24. 

Once the initial comment period ends, VDOF will summarize the comments and recommend whether to amend the regulations. Comments may be made online at the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website.

One Million Acres of Southern Forests Protected from Destructive Insect

USDA Deputy Undersecretary Arthur 'Butch' Blazer, left, and State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison, right, present a plaque to Miles Johnston of New Kent County to mark the 1 Millionth acre of land protected from the Southern Pine Beetle.

USDA Deputy Undersecretary Arthur 'Butch' Blazer, left, and State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison, right, present a plaque to Miles Johnston of New Kent County to mark the 1 Millionth acre of land protected from the Southern Pine Beetle.

The U.S. Forest Service announced that the agency has protected one million acres of forest through its Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program (SPBPP). The milestone was reached this fall, on private land in New Kent County, Va., as a result of the Logger Incentive Program developed by the VDOF. This program makes treating small forests for southern pine beetle economically viable by paying loggers directly for their work on small (5- to 25-acre) pine stands.

The Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program spans 13 states and crosses boundaries from privately owned land to state and national forests, aiming to prevent future outbreaks and losses. Major southern pine beetle outbreaks have occurred every eight to 12 years, historically. The most recent outbreak affected more than a million forested acres and resulted in an estimated $1.5 billion worth of timber loss.

“The millionth acre is a tribute to healthy forests throughout the South, both here in these woods and throughout the regional landscape,” USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Arthur “Butch” Blazer said. “Preventing infestations by the southern pine beetle takes cooperation on a grand scale, and today we honor everyone who contributed—every acre and every effort.”

More than 13,000 individual landowners have participated in the program, together with hundreds of loggers and contractors across the South, to improve the health of southern forests.

“It’s a native insect, but the southern pine beetle is the most destructive forest pest in the South, both in economic and ecological impacts,” said Robert Mangold, director of Forest Health Protection at the U.S. Forest Service. “The prevention program is a proactive way to sustain and strengthen forest resources.”

The Forest Service established the Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program in 2003 as a comprehensive strategy to manage losses from the pest by reducing the stress to forests through good forest management. The program was developed through close cooperation with state foresters and national forest managers. Their strategy is proactive and broad—to increase the resiliency of pine forests across the South, crossing ownership boundaries and land uses.

Because the average forest landowner in the South owns 17 acres, officials said a landscape approach targeting small tracts was the right prescription. The work is accomplished through state forestry agencies and forest thinning programs.

Landowners who participate in the program are likely to continue growing trees, which translates into clean air and water, less erosion, healthy habitat for wildlife and scenic forests for all to enjoy.

State Forester for Virginia Carl Garrison said, “Without this program, hundreds of Virginia landowners could have suffered tremendous losses on thousands of acres of forestland.”

Virginia Loves Trees Specialty License Plate Show Your Love of Trees On The Road

Virginia offers more than 200 unique license plates for its citizens. These plates represent colleges and universities, branches of the military, localities and special interest organizations. Trees Virginia is at work to add another plate for interested drivers.

The “Virginia Loves Trees” specialty license plate was designed under the direction of Dr. Eric Wiseman and Dr. Susan Day with the Virginia Tech Urban Forestry Program. The first step in adopting a new plate design is achieving a pre-sale quota (450 plates) set by Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Once the quota is met, General Assembly sponsor Delegate Joe Johnson (D) – 4th District) will submit a Bill to the General Assembly during the 2012 Session to authorize adoption of the license plate by the DMV.

The Virginia Loves Trees specialty license plate is a new way to raise awareness of landscape trees and urban forests among Virginia’s citizens. Revenue generated by sales of the specialty plates will support Trees Virginia activities, such as workshops, grants, scholarships and outreach projects around the state.

You can see the new plate at the Virginia Loves Trees website, www.valovestrees.org.

Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material

The findings of a new U.S. Forest Service (USFS) study indicate that wood should factor as a primary building material in green building.

The authors of “Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction” reviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials.

“This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forestland, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.”

The USFS report also points out that a combination of scientific advancement in the areas of life-cycle analysis and the development of new technologies for improved and extended wood utilization are needed to continue to advance wood as a green construction material. Sustainability of forest products can be verified using any credible third-party rating system, such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or American Tree Farm System certification.

The use of forest products in the United States currently supports more than one million direct jobs, particularly in rural areas, and contributes more than $100 billion to the country's gross domestic product.

Research recently initiated by the wood products industry in partnership with the USFS Forest Products Laboratory will enable greater use and valuation of smaller diameter trees and insect- and disease-killed trees. Research on new products and technologies has been initiated including improved cross-lamination techniques and the increased use of nanotechnology.

To view the report, visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2011/releases/09/green-building-report.pdf

Chesapeake Watershed Forum Honors Forest Champions

Three Chesapeake Forest Champions were honored during the 2011 Chesapeake Watershed Forum. The awards recognize groups or individuals that have made a difference to people and/or the Bay through their promotion of trees and forests.

The “most innovative” Forest Champion award went to the team of Adam Downing and Michael Lachance of Virginia Cooperative Extension and Michael Santucci of VDOF for helping tackle a critical land conservation challenge.

The Virginia team was recognized for their Generation “NEXT” Family Forest Transition short course, designed to provide family forest landowners with the information and tools to ensure a smooth intergenerational transfer of their forestlands, while keeping them intact.  More than 21,000 acres of Virginia’s forestland are expected to remain sustainable, family-owned and intact as a result of the program. Virginia -  like other states - is on the cusp of the largest intergenerational transfer of family farms and forests ever and landowners need to know how to protect their land.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. The U.S. Forest Service and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay sponsored the inaugural Chesapeake Forest Champion contest in honor of the International Year of Forests. 

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay works to develop partnerships to address issues that affect the Bay and its streams and rivers. The alliance engages, educates, partners and inspires through work with other organizations, communities, businesses and individuals.

Richmond Area Quarantine Expanded for Walnut Trees and Products

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS)  has expanded a temporary quarantine area to include Goochland, Powhatan, Hanover counties and the City of Colonial Heights following the detection of Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD). In July, VDACS imposed the quarantine on Chesterfield and Henrico counties and the City of Richmond.

The temporary quarantine is an effort to prevent the artificial spread of TCD. Regulated articles cannot be moved out of the quarantine area. These articles 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 after being introduced by a beetle that tunnels beneath the bark. There is no preventive or curative treatment for the disease. If you need more information on the quarantine, contact the “Plant Industry Services” representative at your local VDACS Regional Office.

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.”

State Agency Newsletters Available

Virginia Tourism Corporation can help you find out what’s going on around Virginia. To receive their monthly newsletter, enter your email address in the section labeled “Travel Updates.” http://www.virginia.org/enewsarchive/.

Want the latest outdoors-related news delivered to your inbox? The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries “Outdoor Report” presents this information each month. You can subscribe online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/outdoor-report/.