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June 2012

VDOF Debuts Tomorrow Woods Program, Records Easement in Gloucester County

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has made a unique forest enhancement and conservation program – called Tomorrow Woods – available to landowners in southeast Virginia. Now, thanks to continued support from Dominion Virginia Power, the Tomorrow Woods program is also available to landowners in Gloucester County.

The goal of the Tomorrow Woods program is to conserve, establish and enhance forests, with a focus on productive, private working forests.

The VDOF recorded the agency’s first forestland conservation easement in Gloucester County when Dr. Gaylord Ray and his wife, Cindy Ray, developed a conservation easement on 100 acres of Mrs. Ray’s family land known as Rose Hill Farm.

Mrs. Ray’s grandmother purchased the property in the early 1960s and lovingly restored the house and landscape over the next two decades. Cindy and Gaylord Ray bought the property in 2000. Because of the many family memories, their attachment to the property, and the desire to keep it undeveloped, the process to develop a conservation easement was begun last year.

“We are proud to have preserved the property in an area that has seen significant development, particularly on Cow Creek Mill Pond,” said Mrs. Ray.

The VDOF has been serving Virginia’s forest landowners for nearly 100 years and, over time, has developed a high level of confidence and trust with local landowners. Dr. Ray said, “Because about 85 percent of the property is wooded, VDOF was a logical choice for us to partner with.”

The land conservation aspect of the Tomorrow Woods program provides funding to assist landowners interested in protecting their forestland from future development with the creation of a conservation easement. Typically, when developing a conservation easement, landowners are responsible for paying up-front costs, such as fees for attorneys, an appraisal, a title search and title insurance. The Tomorrow Woods program provides funding towards these costs by reimbursing the landowner directly.

The initial application period for the Tomorrow Woods program ends June 15th, or until the funding is exhausted. For more information about the Tomorrow Woods, please contact Rob Suydam at 804.328.3031.

Leave The Gypsy Moth Behind

Doing some serious traveling this summer? Planning to move? Don’t let the gypsy moth be a stowaway on your journey.

The gypsy moth can spread from an infested area to an uninfested area when egg masses, attached to vehicles or outdoor items, are transported and introduced. Each egg mass contains up to 1,000 eggs.

Help prevent gypsy moth infestations by following a few simple steps. When camping or traveling in infected areas, inspect your vehicle, trailer or camper. Examine outdoor household items — lawn furniture, grills, outdoor toys, camping equipment, etc. — for gypsy moth egg masses, and remove any that are found. Egg masses can be easily removed with a stiff brush, putty knife or similar hand tool. The unwanted hitchhikers can be disposed of in a plastic bag (seal it and leave it in the sun) or in a bucket of hot, soapy water.

The gypsy moth is known to feed on more than 300 trees and shrubs. Left unchecked, an infestation of gypsy moth can defoliate up to 13 million acres of trees in one season.

Additional information and a checklist—including areas under quarantine—can be found at YourMoveGypsyMothFree.com.

What’s Behind White Oak Bark Loss?

By Chris Asaro, Forest Health Specialist

Landowners throughout Virginia, and as far south as Georgia, are concerned about their white oaks losing their outer bark in large strips, resulting in piles at the base of the trees. Using their observations and some of my own thoughts, I’m sharing my ideas on the cause below.

But, whatever the cause, the main message here: shedding of outer bark is not harming the tree – it is superficial and a natural occurrence – it’s just happening a little faster than normal.

Cankerworms, which have devastated some areas, are defoliators and don’t directly affect bark. Some observers speculate that birds or squirrels may be foraging for the insects and knocking bark to the ground during the feeding process.

It’s possible that these opportunists are a factor in the bark loss, but I think the real culprit is less obvious. Bark loss happens all the time and every year, but I have yet to talk to anyone, especially foresters, who have seen a bark shedding event like this over such an expansive area. Looking at birds and squirrels as the sole cause of the shedding is problematic because we don’t have unusual defoliator outbreaks everywhere the bark shedding is occurring. Also, there is nothing new about insect outbreaks, or birds and squirrels feeding on insects.

I have seen many pictures of white oaks recently that look like shagbark hickories with long strips of bark hanging loose. Bark hanging like this isn’t normal. It seems to me that if birds or squirrels were the cause, we’d see this phenomenon more frequently.

So, what’s the common denominator to connect incidents occurring in various locations in several states? While I can’t explain the mechanism exactly, my hypothesis is: an unusually warm winter and spring.

The warm winter and spring come on the heels of the warmest 12-month period (April 2011 to April 2012) on record. Perhaps the warm temperatures and early spring caused unusually rapid growth resulting in atypically rapid exfoliation of outer bark on white oaks. In areas with increased caterpillar infestations, birds and squirrels are energetically feeding, shedding even more bark due to their activity.

White oak bark is also susceptible to a fungus called patchy oak bark disease. This superficial fungus does not harm the tree, but can result in patches that shed bark excessively. This fungus may also be occurring in some areas.

That is the best explanation I can give at the moment. If anyone has any additional information to share, I look forward to hearing from you.

Videos Focus On Forest Bioenergy

Biomass is plant matter used as fuel to generate electricity or produce heat. Forest residues, including dead trees, branches and tree stumps, can be considered biomass. A new website offers information and videos about forest biomass harvest and retention guidelines.

Landowners, foresters, loggers, policymakers, conservationists, energy producers and others can benefit from an easy to understand guide to sustainable forest bioenergy. Each of the videos focuses on common questions about forest biomass harvesting guidelines from a different perspective: forest management, conservation, policy or renewable energy production.

The website also features a library of detailed technical guidelines for forest biomass retention and harvesting by state, region and county. The Forest Guild and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation created the website, which was made possible through the generous support of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Learn more about it at forestbiomassguidelines.org

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 14 & 21 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton. 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 Virginia Cooperative Extension in Madison at 540.948.6881 or the Virginia Department of Forestry at 434.220.9182.

Hike Virginia’s State Forests on National Trails Day

Forestry officials invite citizens out to Virginia’s state forests to celebrate National Trails Day June 2. The theme for National Trails Day 2012 is "America’s Largest Trailgating Party."

Many of Virginia’s 22 state forests offer miles of trails for walking, hiking and bird watching. Trails allow for recreation and are a great way to get the public to increase their physical activity in an outdoor setting. Trail users can explore in solitude and find peace and tranquility. Or, they can join family or friends for an outdoor social activity.

Passive recreational opportunities, such as walking, hiking and canoeing, are provided free of charge. Horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and trapping all require a State Forest Use Permit when persons 16 years and older enjoy these activities on a state forest.

Located in the Richmond area, the Appomattox-Buckingham, Cumberland, Zoar and Prince Edward – Gallion state forests offer more than 60 miles of trails. A complete list of state forests can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry website at http://www.dof.virginia.gov.

Zimmer Named Forestry Association President

Edward H. Zimmer of Charlottesville, Va., has begun a year-long term as President of the Virginia Forestry Association (VFA), a group of forest landowners, forest products businesses and foresters. He was installed during the 2012 Virginia Forestry Summit in Wintergreen, Va., having served the previous year as Vice President of the organization.

Zimmer is Central Region Regional Forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry and has held a variety of positions in diverse areas of the forestry community over the past 20 years. He has served on the VFA Board of Directors since 2005. He has been a regional chair, vice-chair, and state chair of the Virginia Tree Farm Committee and was awarded the Tree Farm Leadership award in 1996. He was appointed by the Governor as a member of the Commonwealth’s Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) Board from 2001-2004. Ed is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of West Virginia University with a B.S. in Forest Resources Management and a MBA graduate of Averett University.

Located in Richmond, the Virginia Forestry Association is a private, not-for-profit organization of 1,500 landowner and forest industry members.

Deaton Receives Top Forestry Award

Lisa Deaton, Virginia’s Project Learning Tree (PLT) State Coordinator, received Virginia Forestry Association’s recognition as “Outstanding Member of the Year in Forestry.” The award has been given each year since 1949 to individuals who have made outstanding contributions for conservation, utilization, and enhancement of Virginia’s forest resources. She was recognized at the 2012 Virginia Forestry Summit in Wintergreen, Va.

Deaton has coordinated the PLT program in Virginia since 1999. During this time, she has nearly quadrupled the number of PLT workshops offered, and in 2011 she managed 76 workshops reaching 1,288 educators. She has served on the national PLT Education Operating Committee, 2009-11, and is a leader in the American Forest Foundation’s PLT advocacy efforts. In 2006, Deaton received the PLT Gold Star Award, the highest honor bestowed by National PLT to acknowledge her enduring and unflagging dedication to the mission and goals of Project Learning Tree.

Kathy McGlauflin, PLT Senior Vice President, added, “The staff at the national PLT office feels so honored to have Lisa Deaton as the Virginia PLT State coordinator. She is definitely top on our minds when we think about what makes for an excellent state coordinator.”