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January 20, 2012

Dry Hydrants Keep Firefighters Wet

A dry fire hydrant is a non-pressurized pipe system permanently installed in existing lakes, ponds and streams that provides a suction supply of water to a fire department truck.Though it sounds like a contradiction in terms, dry fire hydrants are a real and valuable tool for firefighters. A dry fire hydrant is a non-pressurized pipe system permanently installed in existing lakes, ponds and streams that provides a suction supply of water to a fire department truck. These vehicles attach hoses to a dry fire hydrant and pump water out for use at a fire.

Communities can apply now for grant funding from VDOF to add a dry fire hydrant to their area. Last year, more than 30 applications were approved; 20 counties will have a dry fire hydrant installed or repaired under the program. The number of grant requests far exceeds the number that can be approved with the available funding.

“The dry fire hydrant provides a more reliable connection between fire department equipment and a body of water,” said John Miller, VDOF director of resource protection. “The location of these dry fire hydrants undoubtedly reduces travel time, which in turn provides firefighters with a better chance to save more lives and property.”

Virginia’s Dry Fire Hydrant Grant Program is funded by the General Assembly through the Virginia Fire Programs Fund. VDOF administers the annual program’s $100,000 allocation, ensuring 100-percent of it goes into the installation or repair of hydrants. To date, the program has provided 1,568 dry fire hydrants to communities across the Commonwealth. Virginia’s first dry fire hydrant was installed at the Atlantic Fire Department in Accomack County in 1988.

The Dry Fire Hydrant Grant Program application deadline is March 31.

Three Families Conserve 400 Acres of Private Forestland in Greene County

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) recently recorded its first working forest conservation easements in Greene County. Three families granted to the VDOF four separate conservation easements protecting 395 acres on Snow and Hightop mountains west of Stanardsville.

Collectively, the properties are 97 percent forested and contribute to the large, unfragmented forested landscape in the area. The easements protect several miles of headwater streams that are primary tributaries of Matties Run and Buffalo Creek, both within the Rivanna River watershed, ultimately contributing to drinking water supplies of downstream communities.

The Mason property is a 163-acre tract in a single tax map parcel that may never be divided. It shares almost 2,000 feet of property line with Shenandoah National Park, contributing to the large, unfragmented forested acreage on Hightop Mountain. In addition, the property contains one of several source springs contributing to Buffalo Creek, which flows into the Roach River and eventually the North Fork of the Rivanna River.

The Saunier easements on Snow Mountain are comprised of two parcels within a half mile of each other and the Mason easement. Totaling 170 acres, the property may never be more than three parcels, whose future development is restricted.

The Jones property is 62 acres in size and shares property lines with both Saunier easements. The single tax parcel may never be divided in the future, and the size and location of existing and future buildings is limited to protect the working forest conservation values of the property.

The four donations were the result of collaborative efforts by the Blue Ridge Foothills Conservancy (BRFC), Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the VDOF, with support from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

All four easements were among the first to receive funding under the VDOF’s Forests to Faucets (F2F) Program. The program is designed to maintain and expand forest cover in the watershed through financial incentives to landowners who undertake forest management and conservation practices, including easements.

For additional information on the VDOF conservation easement program, or the conservation easement portion of the F2F Program, contact Mike Santucci, forest conservation specialist, at 434.220.9182, or visit the VDOF website at www.dof.virginia.gov.

Agency Joint Venture Improves Shopping Options for Virginians

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced a partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) that supports his government reform initiative to streamline services. Beginning in late-January, citizens can register boats and boat trailers in one trip to either DGIF or DMV. They will also be able to purchase hunting and fishing licenses from both agencies.

The partnership also increases options for citizens purchasing State Forest Use Permits. These permits are required for persons aged 16 years-old or older who ride bicycles or horses; hunt or fish on Virginia’s 22 state forests. Previously, the permit was only available on the DGIF website or any location that sold licenses for hunting and fishing.

Two timber tax workshops to be offered in Southwest Virginia

Forest landowners, CPAs and foresters interested in learning more about forest casualty losses or the tax treatment of forestland should attend one of two timber tax workshops in Southwest Virginia next month. Organized by the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, the New River-Highlands RC&D Council and the Virginia Department of Forestry, these workshops will provide useful information about timber taxes, regardless of the individual’s experience level.

The first workshop, offered Feb. 9, 2012 in Galax, will be geared to the forest landowner and will address: timber definitions; timber basis; the sale of timber; treatment of annual expenses and carrying costs; exempting cost-share from income; reforestation tax incentives; forest/casualty loss, and updates to the tax code affecting the treatment of timber tax accounting.

The second workshop – slated for February 10th in Abingdon – provides more detailed information and would be suitable for a forester, CPA or a forest landowner with some understanding of timber tax. This workshop will cover all of the topics listed above in greater detail, and will explore additional topics including: estate tax; conservation easements; the interaction of sale of personal residence with timber tax, and the tax treatment of Farm Bill Programs.

Workshop organizers are hoping to raise awareness of the tax treatment of sustainable forest management.

Registration has been set at $20 for the landowner workshop and $45 for the advanced workshop to cover the costs of meals and materials. Interested parties can learn more about the two workshops and register online by visiting http://cnre.vt.edu/forestupdate/. Any questions or correspondence about these workshops should be directed to the workshop organizers.

Partial support for these workshops comes from a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant awarded to the New River-Highlands RC&D Council.

If you are a person with a disability and require any auxiliary aids, services or other accommodations for this workshop, please discuss your accommodation needs with Jennifer Gagnon 540.231.6391* before February 3, 2012. *TDD number is 800-828-1120.

Woods and Wildlife Conference: Bring Out the Best in Your Property

Owners of woodlots large and small will learn how to maximize their property’s potential at the 9th annual Woods and Wildlife Conference. This educational event will be held February 18 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, on George Mason University’s Prince William Campus in Manassas.

“This conference is a virtual one-stop shop for woodland owners to learn about the latest issues, trends, and opportunities affecting their lands,” said Adam Downing of Virginia Cooperative Extension. “It’s a great chance for people to hear from professionals as well as talk with other landowners.”

Co-sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Forestry, the conference features expert speakers on diverse topics relating to wildlife habitat improvement, threats to forestland, forest management techniques, and making the most of a landowner’s resources. The conference cost is $45 per person or $80 per couple, which includes lunch and materials.

To register online or download a brochure, visit www.cnre.vt.edu/forestupdate and click on Woods & Wildlife Conference. The deadline to register is February 3. For more information, contact Adam Downing at 540.948.6881 or adowning@vt.edu. Persons with disabilities who desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity may also contact Adam during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations, no later than February 3. *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Step Out with The Lorax

As part of their ongoing effort to encourage children to spend more time outdoors and reconnect with nature, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council announced that they are joining Universal Pictures to launch a series of public service advertisements featuring characters and footage from Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s upcoming 3D-CG feature “Dr Seuss’ The Lorax.”

“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is an adaptation of the classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope. The animated adventure follows the journey of a 12-year-old as he discovers the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Danny DeVito lends his vocal talents to the iconic title character of the Lorax, while Ed Helms voices the enigmatic Once-ler. Also bringing their talents to the film are Zac Efron as Ted, the idealistic youth who searches for the Lorax, and Taylor Swift as Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams.

Research shows that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.

All of the PSAs encourage children and their parents to visit www.DiscoverTheForest.org (or www.DescubreElBosque.org) where they can find ideas for outdoor activities, an interactive map tool — powered by Google and Nature Find™ — that enables users to search for nearby forests and parks, as well as downloadable activities for them to print and take with them when they visit.

The Ad Council and the Forest Service will promote the new PSAs through a multifaceted social media effort on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Visit the campaign’s online communities at facebook.com/DiscoverTheForest, YouTube.com/DiscoverTheForest and twitter.com/cheecker.

The new PSAs are in addition to the campaign’s current parent-targeted ads, which encourage families to “un-plug” and experience the forest, and are being distributed to approximately 33,000 media outlets nationwide. Per the Ad Council’s model, all of the ads will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media. Since the campaign’s inception, media outlets have donated more than $48.6 million in time and space for the campaign.