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September 2012

VDOF Firefighters Combat Wildfires in Western USA

During recent wildfire activity in the Western United States, firefighters from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) assisted with suppression efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho. Individual resources were deployed in California, Nevada and Arizona and a crew of eight VDOF full- and part-time employees assisted in Idaho. The VDOF staffers worked in conditions ranging from steep, mountainous terrain as part of a wildfire hand crew to the relative comfort of a mobile command post as a dispatcher.

Mutual aid agreements facilitate sharing of personnel and resources during emergencies. Firefighters from 23 states were in Virginia earlier this year battling seven large wildfires that occurred on National Forest System lands during Easter week. During the last seven years, Virginia wildland firefighters have helped with suppression efforts in Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and California, and were assisting with recovery efforts in Louisiana within 48 hours of Hurricane Katrina’s arrival.

Board Appointments Announced

Gov. Bob McDonnell made the following appointments to the Board of Forestry:

  • Thomas C. Barnes, Jr. of Kenbridge, Corporate Secretary and Vice President at Barnes Manufacturing Company
  • Ervin Bielmyer of Wilsons, Area Manager for RockTenn
  • Nadine Block of Falls Church, Senior Director of Government Outreach at Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.
  • Joel L. Cathey of Keysville, Resource Manager for Ontario Hardwood Company, Inc.
  • Don Bright of Clarksville, President and Owner of Meherrin River Forest Products
  • J. Kenneth Morgan of Clarksville, Chairman of the Board at Morgan Lumber Company
  • Franklin Myers of Gasburg, Vice President of M. M. Wright, Inc.
  • Greg A. Scheerer of Lynchburg, Forest Manager with MeadWestvaco
  • David Wm. Smith of Blacksburg, Emeritus Professor Forestry at Virginia Tech
  • E. Glen Worrell, Jr. of Staunton, Branch Manager at F&W Forestry Services

The Board is composed of members appointed by the Governor. The State Forester serves as executive officer of the Board.

Gov. McDonnell Opens Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund

A newly created grant program will allow localities to support economic development and job creation efforts through agriculture and forestry development projects. The $2 Million Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund is broken into two categories with $750,000 going to large grants to assist local efforts in expanding current or attracting new agriculture and forestry processing/value-added facilities using Virginia grown products, and $250,000 dedicated to small grants to assist localities in improving local economic development efforts relating to agribusiness. This total is funded for each year of the biennium.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore said, “In addition to allowing investing companies to utilize and enjoy the benefits of Virginia’s high-quality agricultural and forestry products, this provision expands existing markets or opens new ones for Virginia producers, helps preserve working farmland, and encourages investments in our rural communities.”

Businesses interested in an AFID grant should first contact their local economic development professional or other appropriate representative to discuss the proposed project. AFID Guidelines may be obtained on the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) website at Applications will be taken on a rolling basis. The AFID program will be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry with assistance from VDACS and VDOF staff.

Agriculture and forestry are Virginia's largest industries, with a combined economic impact of $79 billion annually: $55 billion from agriculture and $24 billion from forestry. The industries also provide approximately 500,000 jobs in the Commonwealth according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

Workshop Series Honored

Left to right: Rex Linville (Piedmont Environmental Council) Mike Lachance, Peter Callan (Virginia Cooperative Extension); Becky McCoy, Julie King, Adam Downing (VCE) and Mike Santucci (VDOF).The Forest Transition Planning Workshop “Focusing on Land Transfer to Generation “NEXT’” was honored with this year’s Changing Roles Leadership Award presented by the Southern Group of State Foresters.

“Focusing on Land Transfer to Generation “NEXT’” is an annual 12-hour in-depth short course. The program draws from national curricula and utilizes the expertise of private legal and financial professionals, conservation specialists and extension agents who have developed new material and initiated participant planning.

Since its inception in 2009, 123 individuals representing 42 family units have completed the program. Follow-up surveys revealed that 77 percent of the participants had begun forestland transition planning, resulting in an estimated average family savings of $625,000. More than 42,000 acres of Virginia’s forestland are expected to remain sustainable, family-owned and intact as a direct outcome of the program.

Financial support for the workshops is made possible through VDACS’ annual Farm Transition Grant and numerous sponsors, including Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, Virginia Tree Farm Committee, local Farm Bureaus, Piedmont Environmental Council, Bradley-Murphy Extension Trust, Ballyshannon Fund, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Conservation Partners, Valley Conservation Council, the Shenandoah Valley Network and the Virginia Forestry Association.

VDOF Tree Nurseries Seek Public’s Help With Acorn & Seed Collection

Virginians can help preserve native tree species by collecting acorns and seeds from 11 species and delivering them to the nearest VDOF office.

“Generally, the best time to collect acorns is the last week in September through the first week of October,” said Josh McLaughlin, nursery forester. “Every bag of acorns and seed collected by citizens will help us keep Virginia beautiful.”

The species most needed are: Alleghany Chinkapin; Chinese Chestnut; Hazelnut; Black Oak; Chestnut Oak; Northern Red Oak; Pin Oak; Sawtooth Oak; White Oak; Willow Oak, and Black Walnut.

“Lawns or paved areas are ideal collection sites,” McLaughlin said. “A single tree located in these areas makes identifying the acorns easier.” He added that you should not collect from trees in the forest, since it can be difficult to identify acorns when many different species are nearby.

McLaughlin reminds anyone who is interested in collecting acorns or seed to: not use plastic bags to hold the acorns or seed; identify the tree species on the non-plastic bag, and to not combine acorn or seed from different tree species in the same bag.

Acorn collecting will be the focus of VDOF’s exhibit at this year’s Virginia State Fair. You can learn more about acorn collecting online at the VDOF website.

Urban Tree Workshop to be held in Waynesboro

The 17th annual Waynesboro Plant Health Care for Urban Trees Workshop will take place September 21st. This year’s workshop will be held at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center on Apple Tree Lane in Waynesboro from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Participants will choose one of two tracks offered during the day-long event: 1. ArborMaster tree training for those interested in safe tree climbing and safe tree cutting, or 2. Fifty Shades of Green for people who are interested in caring for urban and suburban trees.

General registration is $85 per person. Municipal and nonprofit registration is $75 per person. Registration for students, tree stewards, master gardeners or master naturalists is $50 per person. All registrations include lunch. Visit to register. If you have any questions, please contact Becky Woodson at 434.220.9024 or Dwayne Jones at 540.942.6735.

The workshop is sponsored by Waynesboro Parks & Recreation; Trees Virginia; the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association.

Workshops for Women Landowners Planned Across State

Women who own or manage forestland or farmland in central and western Virginia are invited to participate one of two Women and Land workshops.

Created by women for women, each interactive workshop will be held Sept. 13. Women landowners in Henrico and Hanover counties are invited to a morning workshop to be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Dorey Recreation Center, 7200 Dorey Park Drive in Henrico, Va. Women in Wythe and surrounding counties may attend the afternoon session between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wytheville Community College – specifically Room 219 of Grayson Hall, 1000 East Main Street, Wytheville, Va.

Female natural resource professionals from the VDOF, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Farm Service Agency, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be the presenters. Representatives from the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District, the New River Land Trust and the Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District will also be presenters for their respective areas.

To register for the Henrico workshop, mail a registration form and a check, made payable to Henricopolis SWCD, for $8 to the Henricopolis SWCD, P.O. Box 90775, Henrico, VA 23273-0775. The $8 registration fee includes brunch and all workshop materials. For more information about the workshop, please call Kathleen Ogilvy at 804.798.8362 or Barbara McGarry at 804.501.5176.

To register for the Wytheville workshop, mail a registration form and a check, made payable to Big Walker SWCD, for $15 to Heather Dowling, Virginia Department of Forestry, 13209 Courthouse Road, Dinwiddie, VA 23841. The $15 registration fee includes dinner and all workshop materials. For more information about the workshop, please call Heather Dowling at 804.469.7343 or email her at

Reservations for either workshop must be made by Sept. 6. All participants will receive a three-ring binder packed with valuable information and tips to take home.