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October 2012

2300-Acre Conservation Easement Established in Isle of Wight County

Isle of Wight County has created a conservation easement on 2,348 acres of forestland that fronts the Blackwater River.Isle of Wight County has created a conservation easement on 2,348 acres of forestland that fronts the Blackwater River. This will conserve a large block of forestland, protect a vital source of drinking water for residents in South Hampton Roads and enhance the public’s recreational activities in the county.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) worked together to make this conservation easement a reality. Funds to secure the easement were provided by the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program and by TNC through a grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.

The easement will be jointly held by VDOF and DCR. Approximately 1/3 of the property will become the Blackwater Sandhills Natural Area Preserve and will include 500 acres of Tupelo-Gum-Baldcypress bottomland that helps protect more than five miles of the Blackwater River. This river is an important source of drinking water for residents of Norfolk. The other 2/3 of the forested property will be the responsibility of the VDOF, which will oversee the management of the resource for timber, wildlife and recreational use. The entire tract will remain the property of Isle of Wight County.

State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison said, “This easement will forever protect from development a key forested property that fronts a critical source of clean water while increasing recreational opportunities and enhancing wildlife habitat in the area. It’s a big win for residents of Isle of Wight County and all the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

Michael Lipford, executive director for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, said, “The property’s old-growth cypress forest offers a rare and inspiring glimpse of the majestic forests that once graced Virginia’s coastal region.

DCR Director David A. Johnson said, “With the addition of Blackwater Sandhills, the state’s natural area preserve system now totals 51,394 acres. In addition to protecting old-growth forest, we are preserving sandhills habitat that is suitable for re-establishment of native longleaf pine.”

Including this conservation easement, VDOF’s total easement holdings stand at 22,972 acres conserved – more than half of which (13,660 acres) have been protected during the McDonnell administration.

USDA Award for Prevention Program

The team leading the Forest Health Protection Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program received a 2012 USDA Secretary’s Honor Award. State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison was recognized for the state’s contributions to delivering the program to private landowners.

The purpose of the Secretary’s Honor Awards—among the most prestigious awards presented by the Secretary of Agriculture—is “to recognize exceptional leadership, contributions, or public service by individuals or groups who support the overall mission/goals of USDA.” The prevention program won for “ensuring our National forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change, while enhancing our water resources.”

Last fall the program reached the milestone of 1 million acres protected; the milestone was reached on private land in New Kent County, Va.

State Forester for Virginia Carl Garrison said, Without this program, hundreds of Virginia landowners could have suffered tremendous losses on thousands of acres of forestland.”

The Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program spans 13 states and crosses boundaries from privately owned land to state and national forests, aiming to prevent future outbreaks and losses. More than 13,000 individual landowners have participated in the program, together with hundreds of loggers and contractors across the South, to improve the health of southern forests.

Crown Award Bestowed Upon Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus

Dr. Jeffrey Kirwan, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech and resident of Blacksburg,  has been awarded the Virginia Department of Forestry’s highest civilian honor –  the Crown Award.Dr. Jeffrey Kirwan, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech and resident of Blacksburg, has been awarded the Virginia Department of Forestry’s highest civilian honor – the Crown Award. The award was presented by VDOF’s Lisa Deaton at a meeting of the faculty of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources.

VDOF established the Crown Award to recognize an individual or entity that has not only gone beyond the call of duty but has set a standard of excellence others can only admire. It is the highest honor the State Forester of Virginia can bestow, and Kirwan is only the fourth recipient of this award.

Kirwan pioneered the use of information technology to involve citizens of all ages in the care and appreciation of trees. He led a natural resources and environmental education program that reached more than 360,000 young people during a 12-year period. And he incorporated service learning into Virginia Tech courses long before the practice became commonplace.

“In addition to being an excellent teacher, Jeff served the public with distinction as a 4-H agent in Loudoun and Albemarle counties,” Garrison said. “We are proud to be able to recognize and thank Jeff for all he has done in service to the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

Seedling Store To Open October 9

Every year, VDOF offers hardwood and pine bareroot seedlings for sale through its online store. This year, container-grown longleaf pine seedlings are also available. The six loblolly pine varieties available this year range from 25 percent to more than 60 percent in improved growth and yield, when compared with unimproved seedlings. Most seedlings are available in quantities as low as 10 and 25.

The VDOF’s two tree nurseries grow and sell 24 million tree seedlings each year.

Beginning October 9th, Virginians who are interested in purchasing tree seedlings can log onto BuyVirginiaTrees.com and order from the more than 40 species available. The online store also includes information to help landowners choose the right species, as well as pricing and shipping details. A seedling price guide, with a mail-in order form, is also available at any VDOF office.

For more information, or to place an order over the phone, call the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000.

Fire Prevention Week October 7-13, 2012

Fire safety should be practiced all year long, and National Fire Prevention Week helps focus our attention fire safety and prevention. Many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fireproof their home. During the week of October 9 - 15, take some time each to review these points, since most hazards can be easily addressed.

  • Install and maintain a working smoke alarm outside of every sleep area and remember to change the batteries twice a year.
  • Designate and practice two escape routes from each bedroom.
  • Teach everyone the Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique in case clothing catches on fire.
  • READY – During wildfire season, take responsibility and prepare long before a wildfire threatens your home.
  • SET – When wildfires threaten your area, pack your vehicle with your emergency items and valuables.
  • GO – Leave Early! When authorities call for an evacuation do so immediately.

For more information, visit www.vafire.com and www.firewisevirginia.org.