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December 2011

Forest Certification Survey Presentation

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) invites interested parties to a presentation of the results of a major survey undertaken in the Commonwealth to determine attitudes and beliefs regarding forest certification programs and the barriers to their widespread acceptance. The survey results will be used to develop educational programs, materials and other resources for forest landowners and other stakeholders.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Dec. 15th, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the VDOF Headquarters training room, 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville. Attendance is limited to 50 people.

“Demand for certified sustainable forest products is increasing domestically and internationally,” said Charles Becker, VDOF’s utilization and marketing manager. “Consumers are more concerned about the impact their purchases are having on the environment. This higher demand should provide certified forest landowners, timber harvesters and forest products manufacturers with expanding markets for their products.”

Funded by a grant from the US Forest Service, VDOF teamed with Virginia Tech to survey 2,000 landowners, loggers and forest products companies. Nearly 80 percent of Virginia’s 15.8 million acres of forestland is owned by 363,000 private individuals and families, most of whom have not yet gone through the process of getting their forestland certified. The project’s goal is to increase sustainably managed forests by assisting interested forest landowners and others with the certification process.

Virginia Government Restructuring Initiative Affects Forestry Boards

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the reform initiatives contained in his Government Reorganization Plan November 29. The plan includes proposals to eliminate 19 boards and commissions, and further merge 23 boards and commissions to form 11 boards and commissions. Other proposals include eliminating two state agencies; merging seven state agencies into others; moving four offices and initiatives, and de-regulating three professions.

In the proposed plan, the Foundation for Virginia’s Natural Resources (FVNR) and the Advisory Council to the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact would be eliminated. Several board mergers are also proposed: the Reforestation of Timberlands Board would be merged into the Board of Forestry; the Pesticide Control Board into the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Virginia Scenic River Board into the Board of Conservation and Recreation. Finally, the Virginia Office of Environmental Education would be moved from the Department of Environmental Quality to the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The proposals are a result of the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring. The Government Reorganization Plan will be considered as a resolution in the 2012 session of the General Assembly. Initial estimates by the Department of Planning and Budget find that the submitted reforms will save at least $2 million per year.

Speaking about his Government Reorganization Plan, Governor McDonnell said, “This coming General Assembly session we intend to advance even bolder reforms to reduce waste and ensure that we are providing the best services to our citizens in the most fiscally responsible manner.”

See the complete list of proposals and executive directives at

Belfort Furniture Donates 33,000 Trees to Virginia

Pictured: center left (with hoedad) Dan Kennedy, Senior Director, Belfort Furniture; center right (hand on shovel) Michael Huber, CEO, Belfort Furniture; third from right: Ed Zimmer, VDOF Regional Forester. Right: Jim McGlone, VDOF Urban Forest Conservationist. Left: Terry Lasher, VDOF Assistant Regional Forester.Dulles-based Belfort Furniture has donated 33,000 tree seedlings for planting in spring 2012 around the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since partnering with the VDOF in 2007, Belfort has donated more than 100,000 trees.

VDOF Assistant Regional Forester Terry Lasher said, “Belfort cares deeply about the community and has a tremendous track record in this regard. The company donates one tree seedling for every piece of furniture it delivers annually. The Virginia Department of Forestry gets the donated seedlings into the hands of schools and other groups so that they can be planted each spring. The trees absorb carbon dioxide; prevent pollutants from fouling our waterways; provide shade in the summer; are esthetically pleasing year ‘round, and provide more than 5,000 forest products we use every day. It’s a terrific partnership!”

Belfort President and CEO Mike Huber said, “Belfort Furniture is proud to be able to plant a tree for every delivery we make. It's a wonderful opportunity for us to give back to our community and our environment. It's part of our belief that together, we can support healthy forests, healthy communities and responsible industry.”

If your school or organization is interested in receiving at least 500 of these tree seedlings for planting, please contact your local VDOF Office.

Fincastle Honeylocust is the New National Champion

By Bob Boeren, forester, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke counties

The tree, estimated to be more than 200 years old, stands in a cemetery adjacent to the Fincastle United Methodist Church.Big trees generate big interest in Virginia, which ranks fourth in the nation for having the most big trees. The 2011 National Register of Big Trees includes a new national champion from Virginia – the Fincastle honeylocust. Already the Virginia state champion, this  honeylocust is one of 16 trees new to this year’s list.

Measured in August 2010, the Fincastle (Botetourt County) honeylocust stands 121 feet tall - as tall as a 10-story building; 234 inches in circumference (74+ inches in diameter), and has an average crown spread of 114 feet. The tree, estimated to be more than 200 years old, stands in a cemetery adjacent to the Fincastle United Methodist Church. The tree was probably planted in front of the first wooden log church structure that was built on the site in 1804. Today, the trunk of the tree is growing into an old headstone.

Virginia has 76 national champion big trees, according to American Forests. The Fincastle honeylocust tree can be seen in “Remarkable Trees of Virginia.” This large-format book, co-authored by Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus Jeff Kirwan and Nancy Hugo Ross, features impressive photography by Robert Llewellyn.

You can learn more about the Fincastle honeylocust online. Visit the Big Trees of Virginia website or the American Forests Big Tree website.

State of the Forest Report Details Changes and Challenges

We have just published our 2011 State of the Forest annual report. We invite you to spend some time reading about all that has happened over the past 12 months. Forestry is still a $27.5 Billion economic engine in the Commonwealth and forest industry employs more than 144,000 Virginians.

While the state budget (and the national economy) continues to present the VDOF with many challenges, it hasn’t stopped us from protecting the public; providing services to landowners, and working with private enterprises to create and maintain jobs while developing new markets for Virginia’s forest products. It’s certainly made it more difficult operationally, but our employees continue to perform at a high level so that no citizen is unprotected or left unserved.

To read this report, visit our website.

Wintergreen Refresher

Wildfires can happen any day of the week, and more than 30 part-time firefighters proved their readiness for this possibility by spending a Sunday last month on firefighting training. The annual wildland fire refresher course took place at Wintergreen in Nelson County.

Participants started the day with the “pack” physical fitness test. Most of the group took the “moderate” test, which consists of carrying 25 pounds for two miles within 30 minutes. Successfully passing this test allows the firefighters to meet the minimum physical standard for fighting fire on behalf of VDOF. The remaining firefighters took the “arduous” test, which consists of carrying 45 pounds for three miles within 45 minutes. Successful completion of this test meets VDOF’s fitness standard as well as the national firefighter fitness standard, and eligibility to travel around the country fighting wildfires.

Firefighters worked in small groups and rotated through five stations. Hands-on activities and direct instruction took place for fire shelter deployment; structure protection; air operations; fire weather, and mapping.

During lunch, a fire shelter and entrapment avoidance video was viewed to remind firefighters of the importance of personal protective equipment, including the fire shelter.

“We tried to mimic a wildland fire scenario with the structure of the class so that students would be well prepared on what to expect with a large incident,” said Erik Filep, forester for Albemarle County. “These folks gave up part of their weekend for this training, and the positive attitude they show demonstrates how fortunate we are to have such a great crew.”

Forest Health Review Now Available

The latest edition of the Forest Health Review – VDOF’s periodic publication from the Applied Forest Research Program – has just been published. Topics covered in this issue include:

  • Thousand Cankers Disease of Black Walnut in Virginia
  • Updates on Southern Pine Beetle (SPB); SPB Prevention Program; Gypsy Moth; Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Trapping; Emerald Ash Borer Workshop, and Invasive Weed Control on Matthews State Forest.

You can download the review from our website at

And remember that the previous issues of the Forest Health Review as well as all publications from the VDOF Forest Health Program can be found at

Norway Spruce Is Capitol Christmas Tree

A 35-foot Norway Spruce tree from Floyd County will be the Capitol Christmas Tree.Holiday decorations at the State Capitol include a tree from Southwest Virginia. A 35-foot Norway Spruce tree was felled for the season. The tree, at least 25-years old, was found in Floyd County and donated by Archie Montgomery.

The tree should be installed by mid-December. The delay is due to filming the movie “Lincoln,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Norway Spruce can reach heights between 80 and 100 feet at maturity.

Donate a Tree to Troops

The holiday season can be difficult for families separated from an active duty military service member overseas. Trees For Troops (T4T) helps brighten the season with the gift of a real Christmas tree. More than 800 Christmas tree growers and retailers in 29 states provide the trees.

You can donate a tree that will be delivered to military men, women and families at military installations across the U.S. Approximately 300 trees are shipped overseas to troops in the Middle East; the rest are distributed to military families throughout the United States.

Participants can drop off a tree to be donated, or call and pay to donate a tree. Some tree farms accept FAX messages to be included with the donated tree.

Twin Fir Christmas Tree Farm, 540.789.2356, accepts donations until December 2. Trees will be accepted at the Glengary Farm, 540.937.2335, until December 6. Donations are tax-deductible.

In 2010, T4T delivered more than 17,200 farm-grown Christmas trees to all branches of the military. Additional donation sites and information can be found at

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.”

Winter Preparedness Week is Dec. 4-10, 2011

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

Winter Preparedness Week – set for Dec. 4-10 – is the time to 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