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February 2012

Easements Continue to Conserve Forestland

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) recorded 24 easements for 8,005 acres in 2011. This figure brings the program total to just under 20,000 acres conserved in five years.

In Halifax County, Blue Wing LLC granted VDOF a conservation easement that protects 1,029 acres of working forestland. Located two miles west of Virgilina, the Blue Wing easement is now almost entirely forested. Bisected by Blue Wing Creek, a major tributary of the Hyco River, the property contains more than nine miles of stream frontage. The forested nature of the property helps protect the water quality and aquatic habitat in the watershed, affording flood control, recreational opportunities and drinking water for downstream communities.

The Blue Wing donation was the second VDOF easement recorded in Halifax County in 2011, both of which are greater than 1,000 acres. VDOF now holds four easements covering 3,649 acres in Halifax County.

In Fluvanna County, Robert and Graciela Lum granted VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects 205 acres of land. The Lum’s conservation easement is the first VDOF easement in the county.

Located south of Palmyra, the property contains 172 acres of loblolly pine stands, hardwood woodlands and riparian forests managed under a Forest Stewardship Management Plan. The Lum easement was the fifth to receive funding under the VDOF’s Forests to Faucets (F2F) Program. First introduced in 2010, the F2F program focuses on protecting water quality within the Rivanna River basin.

The property borders nearly a half-mile of Raccoon Creek and a short stretch of the Rivanna River, and contains 13 acres of forested floodplain. In addition to being a state-designated scenic river, the Rivanna provides a source of drinking water to downstream communities.

In Albemarle County, Benjamin, Terry and Thomas Warthen granted the VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects 223 acres of land. The Warthens’ conservation easement is the second VDOF easement recorded in Albemarle County in 2011.

Located just southwest of Charlottesville on the upper slopes and summit of Piney Mountain, nearly the entire property is covered with hardwood forests that are actively managed under the guidance of a Forest Stewardship Management Plan. The easement is within the viewshed of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and future Biscuit Run State Park, helping maintain the scenic vistas that support their historic sense of place.

The property contains the headwaters of several large streams that flow into Biscuit Run, which, in turn, is a major tributary of the Rivanna River. The Warthen easement received funding under the F2F Program.

VDOF will continue to offer the F2F program to other interested landowners through August of 2012 or until funding is exhausted.

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 VDOF conservation easement program is the only one in the state that focuses primarily on protecting working forests. To be considered, a property must be at least 50 acres in size, 75 percent forested, and the landowner must be willing to have a forest stewardship management plan prepared. Landowners who want to ensure that their land will be forever maintained as forest may consider a VDOF easement.

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.

S’more Than Trees at Forestry Camp!

Nominations are open for the 66th annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, to be held June 18-23 at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center. This action-packed camp is hosted by the Virginia Department of Forestry, with support and cooperation from other conservation agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals.

Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods. Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day.

Campers must be Virginia residents 13-16 years old with good academic standing, have an interest in natural resources, and must not have attended Forestry Camp before.

Financial sponsorship is generously provided by forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals. As a result, every camper selected to attend receives a scholarship and pays only $75 to attend the week-long residential camp. New sponsors are always welcome.

To nominate a camper, visit the VDOF website: www.dof.virginia.gov/edu/camp.htm. Nominations are due by April 16. For more information, please contact Ellen Powell at 434.220.9083 or ellen.powell@dof.virginia.gov.

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.”

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 2011, there were 829 wildfires that burned 12,072 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a seven percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (897) of fires in 2010. The amount of acreage burned increased 42 percent when compared to 8,485 acres that burned in 2010.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit www.dof.virginia.gov

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 Yellow Poplar, White Dogwood, Shortleaf Pine and Loblolly Pine (all varieties), 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.

Tax Tips

You can stay current on tax changes and related information courtesy the “Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2011 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.