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January, 2013

Reward Offered for Information on the Dickenson County Wildfire

Wildland fire investigators suspect that a wildfire that burned in Dickenson County in December was caused by human activity. The Virginia Department of Forestry (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 fire that was reported December 1, 2012 in the Skegg Branch area of the county.

A team of investigators from the US Forest Service and the VDOF believes the fire may be a case of woods arson. The fire burned on private property as well as on National Forest System lands in the Clinch Ranger District of the Jefferson National Forest.

Woods arson is the common term for deliberately burning forests, grasslands or brush without the owner's permission. The VDOF and other law enforcement officials are concerned with the number and frequency of these dangerous, destructive and senseless criminal acts. Woods arson is a felony in Virginia and, when convicted, the guilty person could serve up to five years in prison, pay a fine of $2,500 and be liable for the cost of suppressing the fire.

The VDOF and USFS need citizens to be vigilant in the fight against human-caused fires. If you believe you have information relating to the cause of the wildfire in Dickenson County, please call the Dickenson County Sheriff's Office at 276.926.1600 or the VDOF Western Region Office in Salem at 540.387.5461 and report it. Your help may be worth up to $2,000 - the reward offered for information that leads to the conviction of responsible party. For other emergencies or to report a new fire, call 911.

Dry Hydrants Keep Firefighters Wet

Though it sounds like a contradiction in terms, dry fire hydrants are a real and valuable tool for firefighters. A dry fire hydrant is a non-pressurized pipe system permanently installed in existing lakes, ponds and streams that provides a suction supply of water to a fire department truck. These vehicles attach hoses to a dry fire hydrant and pump water out for use at a fire.

Communities can apply now for grant funding from VDOF to add a dry fire hydrant to their area. Last year, the number of grant requests far exceeded the number that can be approved with the available funding.

“The dry fire hydrant provides a more reliable connection between fire department equipment and a body of water,” said John Miller, VDOF director of resource protection. “The location of these dry fire hydrants undoubtedly reduces travel time, which in turn provides firefighters with a better chance to save more lives and property.”

Virginia’s Dry Fire Hydrant Grant Program is funded by the General Assembly through the Virginia Fire Programs Fund. VDOF administers the annual program’s $100,000 allocation, ensuring 100-percent of it goes into the installation or repair of hydrants. To date, the program has provided 1,568 dry fire hydrants to communities across the Commonwealth. Virginia’s first dry fire hydrant was installed at the Atlantic Fire Department in Accomack County in 1988.

The Dry Fire Hydrant Grant Program application deadline is April 1. For more information on Dry Fire Hydrants, visit www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/dry-hydrant.htm.

Workshops for Women Landowners Planned Across State

Women who own or manage forestland or farmland in northern 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 in January.

Women landowners in Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties are invited to participate in a free workshop and lunch to be held January 15th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Warrenton Visitors’ Center, 33 North Calhoun St., Warrenton, Va. Female natural resource professionals from the VDOF, the USDA Farm Services Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), Piedmont Environmental Council and the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District will be the presenters.

Women landowners in Alleghany, Amherst, Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Rockbridge or Rockingham counties are invited to participate in a workshop and brunch to be held January 26th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Virginia Horse Center, Mezzanine Room, 487 Maury River Road, Lexington, Va. Female natural resource professionals from the VDOF, the USDA Farm Services Agency, the NRCS, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation District will be the presenters.

To register for the Warrenton workshop, reservations must be made by January 8th and can be done by emailing VDOF’s Karen Snape (karen.snape@dof.virginia.gov) or calling her at 540.663.0181.

To register for the Lexington workshop, mail a registration form and a check, made payable to Natural Bridge SWCD, for $10 to Patti Nylander, Virginia Department of Forestry, P.O. Box 160, Crimora, Va. 24431. Reservations must be made by January 17th.

The $10 registration fee includes brunch and all workshop materials. For more information about the workshop, please call Patti Nylander at 540.363.7002 or Karen Stanley at 540-463-5253.

All participants will receive a three-ring binder packed with valuable information and tips to take home.

Timber Selling Workshop Planned

Forest landowners who want to earn income by selling their timber in Albemarle, Fluvanna, Goochland and Louisa counties are invited to participate in a “How To Sell Your Timber” workshop and dinner.

This informative workshop will be held Tuesday, February 5th at 6:00 p.m. and take place at the Three Chopt Community Center located at 2366 Oliver Creek Road in Troy, Va. Foresters and resource professionals from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Tree Farm System will be the presenters.

Seating is limited and reservations must be made by January 29 before 4:00 p.m. The $5 fee covers the cost of a BBQ plate dinner and all workshop materials. For more information about the workshop, please call the Fluvanna County Extension Office at 434.591.1950. If weather cancels the workshop, it will be postponed to February 12, same time and place.

Chuck Wright, VDOF forester, said, “Most landowners will be involved in very few timber sales in their lifetime. Our workshop will help them make sense of the timber selling process. They’ll come out of it much better prepared to manage the sale. Our speakers will cover all the questions they have, and landowners will know who they should talk to when they have questions down the road.”

Wheelin’ Sportsmen Help Manage Deer at the Matthews State Forest

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) hosted its annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen deer hunt on the Matthews State Forest. This year, six hunters tagged 6 deer, during a two-day period.

Wheelin’ Sportsmen, an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy sports, such as hunting and fishing.

This is the fifth year VDOF has partnered with the NWTF on this event. The NWTF provided overnight accommodations, wheelchair-accessible portable blinds and gifts for the hunters and their family members. The Matthews Foundation provided funding for the meals; the Bojangles Restaurant in Galax donated breakfast Saturday morning.

In addition to providing the site and facilities, VDOF personnel provided planning, transportation and general assistance for the hunters; guide services; game recovery and processing, and logistical support. There are also a number of volunteers who donate their time and resources each year to make the event a success.

“This is an event that we look forward to each year. It brings government agencies and private citizens together for a common goal. Memories are made and friendships are forged. It is always fulfilling to be able to provide these folks with an opportunity to hunt, when they may not be able to otherwise. And, to be able to accomplish a management goal at the same time is an added benefit.” said Zach Olinger, forester and event coordinator.

Maintaining and sustaining wildlife habitat is one of the goals of state forest management. Heavy browsing on seed, seedlings and saplings can result in unacceptably low amounts of regeneration. Scheduled hunts of whitetail deer can help reduce this threat to forest health.

State of the Forest Report Details Changes and Challenges

We have just published our 2012 State of the Forest annual report. We invite you to spend some time reading about all that has happened over the past 12 months. Forestry is still a $27.5 Billion economic engine in the Commonwealth and forest industry employs more than 144,000 Virginians.

While the state budget (and the national economy) continues to present the VDOF with many challenges, it hasn’t stopped us from protecting the public; providing services to landowners, and working with private enterprises to create and maintain jobs while developing new markets for Virginia’s forest products. It’s certainly made it more difficult operationally, but our employees continue to perform at a high level so that no citizen is unprotected or left unserved.

The report is a 9MB PDF file available for download from our website. http://www.dof.virginia.gov/info/print/SOF-2012.pdf