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August 2012

VDOF Begins Agency Reorganization to Better Protect and Serve Virginians

Under the “Going Mobile” concept, the state agency will further embrace new and emerging technology to enable employees to work in a mobile environment instead of a physical office.The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has shifted from a county-based to a multi-county, area-based life safety and public service agency under an agency reorganization plan. In addition, under the “Going Mobile” concept, the state agency will further embrace new and emerging technology to enable employees to work in a mobile environment instead of a physical office.

VDOF devised this reorganization plan to capitalize on efficiencies found in mobile technologies while at the same time reducing the need for general fund expenditures in support of agency operations during a time of decreasing state spending.

Newly appointed Deputy State Forester Rob Farrell, who will oversee the implementation of the reorganization, said, “By assigning a team of five to eight full-time VDOF employees to service areas comprised of three to seven counties, each jurisdiction will have better coverage and enhanced service.  And, with the addition of the mobile technology, VDOF employees will be able to ‘take the office’ directly to the landowners who need assistance.”

The teams will each be led by one of 23 senior area foresters. Full implementation of the Going Mobile plan will take several years. In the interim, citizens will experience a “hybrid” system as several county offices are consolidated into one office per service area and the smart-phone and laptop computer technology is launched.

Emerald Ash Borer Threatens 187 Million Ash Trees; Commonwealth Now Under Quarantine

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) expanded the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to include the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) expanded the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to include the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

First found in Fairfax County in 2003, it has been recently confirmed in the counties of Pittsylvania, Halifax, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Lee, Buchanan, Hanover, Warren, Caroline, Prince Edward, Giles, Loudoun and Stafford. Previous finds include the counties of Arlington, Prince William and Frederick.

According to the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plot data, ash in Virginia represents approximately 1.8 percent of total forested volume statewide – that’s 187 million trees. Northern and western Virginia have a slightly higher abundance of ash on average (2 percent to 2.5 percent) compared to the southern piedmont and coastal plain (1 percent to 1.5 percent). These are regional averages, and local variation in ash abundance can be considerable.

VDOF Forest Health Specialist Dr. Chris Asaro said, “EAB is capable of killing all 187 million native ash trees in Virginia, regardless of their initial health and condition. In addition to the ecological problems this will cause, it will have a significant economic impact on the Commonwealth.”

For the last four years, the VDOF has partnered with several other Virginia state agencies, private businesses and the federal government to slow the spread of the EAB through a “Don’t Move Firewood” campaign. Unfortunately – and in spite of state-mandated quarantines in several counties – citizens and visitors to the Commonwealth continue to carry firewood from infested areas to non-infested areas thereby delivering the shiny green and highly destructive beetles to new stands of ash trees, which they can kill in just three years.

The release of insect biological control agents against emerald ash borer is underway. Biological control, unfortunately, has shown more failures than successes in attempts to deal with other insect populations.

State Forester Garrison said, “Unless individual ash trees are of great size and of significant value – for example those found at Mount Vernon, in the City of Abingdon or at the University of Virginia, the cost and practicality of performing chemical applications on individual trees, let alone 187 million of them, every two to three years is prohibitive.”

Under the statewide quarantine, the regulated articles, which include ash trees, green (non-heat treated) ash lumber and ash wood products, as well as hardwood firewood, are no longer subject to localized movement restrictions and may now move freely within the state.

Recession Effects on the Forests and Forest Products Industries of the South

Southern forests and related industries suffered during the economic downturn. Between 2005 and 2009, more than 110,000 jobs were lost in three forestry sectors – wood manufacturing, paper manufacturing, and forestry and logging. As a result of the downturn, the South’s forest sector’s direct contribution to the regional economy decreased by 24 percent between 2004 and 2009.

A new report released by the Forest Products Society examines these changes in detail. The authors assess the effects of the recession on the southern U.S. by reviewing existing data related to economic and resource impacts, including employment, timber product output, production facilities, state economies, exports, and forest area and management activities.

Although wood products and furniture manufacturing experienced the greatest change during the period, developments such as rebounding paper consumption, expanding export markets, and bioenergy offer opportunities for future growth. The report is available for download at http://www.forestprod.org/assets/FPJ_articles_62_1/fpro-61-08-pg614-624.pdf

Arson Suspected As Cause Of Rockbridge County Wildfires, Reward Offered

Wildland fire investigators suspect that a series of wildfires that burned in Rockbridge County in April were ignited by one or more arsonists. The VDOF is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fires that were set April 13, 2012 in the Collierstown area of the county.

Investigators are also asking for any information on the fire that was set April 9, 2012 on the Rockbridge and Alleghany county line. This fire started off state Route 60 and subsequently burned in the Rich Hole Wilderness.

A team of investigators from the US Forest Service, Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office and the VDOF believes the fires were human caused and intentionally set. The fires burned on private property as well as on National Forest System lands in the James River and Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger Districts of the George Washington National Forest.

“When a wildfire is intentionally set, it endangers lives and can cause unbelievable destruction to land, trees and homes,” said John Miller, director of resource protection for the VDOF. “In addition, when firefighters are working arson fires, they and their equipment are not available to suppress other wildland fires. This depletion of resources puts even more people and their property at risk.”

The VDOF needs citizens to be vigilant in the fight against arson. If you believe you have information relating to the cause of the wildfires in Rockbridge County, call the Virginia Department of Forestry, Salem Office at 540.387.5461 or the VDOF Arson Tip Line at 434.220.9053 and report it. Your help may be worth up to $2,000 – the reward offered for information that leads to the conviction of an arsonist. For other emergencies or to report a new fire, call 911.

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:

  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Fall Cankerworm Outbreak
  • Periodical (17-Year) Cicada Outbreak
  • Southern Pine Beetle
  • White Pine Scale/Disease
  • The Search for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid-Resistant Hemlocks

You can download the review (PDF, 12 pp., 5MB) from our website.

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 on the Forest Health Publications page.

Forest Transition Planning Workshop Set

Focusing on Forestland Transfer to Generation NEXT is being offered August 14 & 21 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton. 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, the Valley Conservation Council, the Shenandoah Valley Network, Conservation Partners LLC, Virginia Tree Farm, and others.

For more information, please visit the website at: http://tinyurl.com/vagennext or by calling Virginia Cooperative Extension in Madison at 540.948.6881or the Virginia Department of Forestry at 434.220.9182.

Your Taxing Questions Answered

The US Forest Service has produced a new tax publication “Federal Income Tax on Timber: A Key to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions.” You can download a copy from its website at http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/coop/library/taxpubfaqs.pdf.