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July 2012

Rob Farrell Named Deputy State Forester

Rob Farrell has been named Deputy State Forester.A 12-year-veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has been chosen to lead the agency’s operational efforts. Rob Farrell is responsible for overseeing the agency’s three operational regions, as well as the forest resource management, state lands, forestland conservation and resource protection programs.

Farrell, who has served as assistant director for forestland conservation for the past five years, joined VDOF in 2000 as an area forester in Gloucester County. Farrell replaces John Carroll, who retired as VDOF’s Deputy State Forester in May after 34 years of service.

“It is an honor to serve the VDOF in this role,” said Farrell. “These are challenging and exciting times for the agency and for the forest resource in Virginia.”

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “We’re very fortunate to have Rob lead our operations across the agency. He’s a knowledgeable forester who brings strong leadership skills and a dedicated work ethic. He is committed to protecting and serving the citizens of Virginia.”

Farrell is an ISA Certified Arborist and urban forester and serves on the Albemarle County Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) committee. A Virginia native, he received two degrees from Virginia Tech - - a B.S. in Forestry and Wildlife and an M.S. in Forestry and Forest Products. He and his family enjoy downhill skiing and other outdoor activities, including camping and canoeing. A resident of Albemarle County, he is married and has two sons.

Fireworks, Sparklers Remain a Fire Hazard

While legal fireworks and sparklers are a popular part of July 4th celebrations, in most areas of Virginia they could become a cause of wildfires this year.

Many areas of the state have experienced below-average rainfall, resulting in dry brush and grass.

“One spark is all it would take for a wildfire to start,” said Fred Turck, assistant director for wildfire prevention and education with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Fireworks that have finished burning are still extremely hot, and they can smolder in dry grass or leaves before a fire ignites.”

Turck recommends keeping a bucket of water; wet towel, and a fully-charged garden hose nearby. Children and pets should also be kept a safe distance away from igniting and spent fireworks.

A good alternative to personal fireworks are the community displays. Check your local news source for information on times and locations, or go online.

Forestry Camp Wrap-Up

The 66th annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp was another fun-filled, learning-packed success. Fifty-nine campers from 32 counties and cities participated this year.

Camp's core classes were Tree Identification and Forest Measurements; Sustainable Forestry and Wildlife Management; Forest Ecology and Management, and Environmental Protection, Reproducing the Forest and Tree Improvement. Other camp experiences included a field trip to Greif-Riverville paper mill, advanced forestry topics, and wildlife presentations. Exploratory short courses, Lumberjack competition, sports and swimming rounded out the program.

The campers took home excellent resource materials, including tree identification books. The top 10 campers (as scored academically throughout the week) received awards of outdoor recreation supplies. The top-scoring camper was Flint Lewis from Lunenburg.

This year's program included a Forestry Field Day for campers' parents. Eighteen parents experienced short versions of tree identification and forest measurement classes and toured Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest to see forest management in action. They took home information to use on their own property and to share with neighbors.

Donations from 30 organizations, businesses, and foundations - totaling more than $18,000 - allowed campers to attend at minimal personal cost.

Fire Academy Celebrates 12th Year

Gerald Crowell, standing upper right, provides instruction.More than 300 volunteer and professional firefighters from across the Commonwealth and eight other states gathered at Longwood University (Farmville, Va.) to take part in a training program that prepared them for the challenges associated with fighting wildland fires.

Participants enrolled in one or more of the 12 courses that range from basic wildland firefighting and effective use of chainsaws to advanced tactics and the use of bulldozers/fireplows in the suppression of wildland fires. Funding for the Virginia Wildland Fire Academy is provided by the National Park Service and the US Forest Service.

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “The Wildland Fire Academy is the most comprehensive training program we offer each year. The more techniques we can teach firefighters the better prepared they will be to safely attack and suppress wildland fires. And that will help reduce the loss of life and property.”

While many of the courses were classroom based, several involved field work. These included: the chainsaw operations course, where participants learned how to properly fell trees during a wildfire, and the bulldozer/fireplow course, where participants operated these important pieces of heavy equipment over and through a variety of obstacles they will encounter in the woods. In addition to the obstacle course, they worked through during the day, “students” in this course also attacked and suppressed – using only their bulldozer/fireplows – a real wildfire at night as part of the program.

The Virginia Department of Forestry has just 245 employees, and the Agency is responsible for 15.7 million acres of forestland (62 percent of Virginia’s land base).

VDOF Awards $191,000 in Grants to 122 Volunteer Fire Departments

Through its Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program, the VDOF awarded more than $191,000 in grants to 122 volunteer fire departments (VFDs) across the Commonwealth. The grants, ranging in size from $250 to $2,500, will be used by the VFDs for such purchases as personal protective equipment, communications gear, water tanks for brush trucks, wildland fire specialty tools and training materials.

The requests for support totaled $734,998 - far more than the $191,688 VDOF had available. Since the VFA program began in 1975, the VDOF has awarded more than $3 million to volunteer fire departments throughout the Commonwealth. Funding for the grant program is provided by the U.S Forest Service.

See the complete list at

U.S. Forest Service Hosts Russian Delegation

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) hosted a 10-person Russian delegation consisting of government and non-governmental organization members, to examine innovative American programs in wildfire mitigation and prevention. The VDOF was one of two state forestry agencies that shared success stories in the areas of Firewise and wildfire prevention and education with this delegation.

Participants explored multiple facets of fire prevention with a strong emphasis on community partnerships and local-level solutions to reduce incidents of unwanted human-caused wildfire and to reduce fire risk in rural communities. The tour took place in locations near Washington, DC, Harrisonburg, VA, and Denver, CO.

“Because Russia contains over 20 percent of the world’s forests, this tour presents an opportunity for the United States and Russia to learn from each other’s perspectives on forestry,” says Henry Hickerson, deputy forest supervisor for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Emphasis for the tour focused on local communities; however, participants also examined wildfire prevention at multiple levels of government from federal, state and local agencies.

“Our programs are recognized nationally for their achievements, and we are honored to be a significant part of this international information exchange. The U.S. Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Forestry have a strong partnership in the Commonwealth which provides opportunities for these achievements,” said John Miller, director of VDOF's resource protection division.

This tour is an activity under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Arctic Black Carbon program – a program supported by the U.S. Department of State. This program supports community-based pilot programs in Russia to mitigate open burning sources of black carbon, including wildfires and agricultural burning.

Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine Expands into Southside Virginia

EAB is a highly destructive, invasive beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada.The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) expanded the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to include the counties of Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Pittsylvania and the city of Danville. This action was taken following the detection of EAB in or near these localities. Localities that were previously quarantined include Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

The quarantine restricts the movement of regulated articles from quarantined areas to non-quarantined areas. The regulated articles, which include ash trees, green (non-heat treated) ash lumber and ash wood products, as well as hardwood firewood, pose a significant risk of transporting EAB and introducing the insect into new areas. These regulated articles may move freely within the quarantined areas.

EAB is a highly destructive, invasive beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada. EAB in the larval stage are difficult to detect as they feed under the tree bark, which enables EAB to hitch a ride to new areas when people transport firewood or other infested wood products.

For additional information about the Emerald Ash Borer and actions taken to combat its spread, call the VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services at 804.786.3515.

Workshop for Women Landowners Planned

Women who own or manage forestland or farmland in Pittsylvania and surrounding counties are invited to participate in a Women and Land workshop.

Created by women for women, the interactive workshop will be held July 19 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in The Olde Dominion Agriculture Complex in Chatham, VA. Female natural resource professionals from the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Farm Service Agency, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District will be the presenters.

Workshop creator Heather Dowling of the VDOF said, “This is a great opportunity for women to learn about proper management techniques for their property in a casual and welcoming environment. Our speakers cover a variety of important topics and provide information on a number of state and federal programs that provide funds to landowners to support good land management.”

All participants will receive a three-ring binder packed with valuable information and tips to take home. In addition to the presenters’ organizations, the workshop is made possible by The Olde Dominion Agriculture Complex and the Pittsylvania SWCD.

To register, send a check for $15 (payable to Pittsylvania SWCD) to Heather Dowling, Virginia Department of Forestry, 13209 Courthouse Road, Dinwiddie, VA 23841. Registration is due to Heather no later than July 12. For more information about this workshop, contact Heather at