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February, 2013

VDOF, DCR and TNC Partner to Protect 2,855-Acre Longleaf Pine Tract

A 2,855-acre addition to the South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve will protect a large block of forestland, preserve a longleaf pine ecosystem, protect a vital source of drinking water for residents in South Hampton Roads and enhance the public’s recreational activities in the area.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) worked together to make this purchase a reality.

The tract known as South Quay (pronounced “key”) was purchased from International Paper. The land is an addition to South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve along the Blackwater River, near the North Carolina border. South Quay is the last-remaining longleaf pine sandhill community in Virginia. Longleaf pine forests once covered more than 1 million acres in southeast Virginia but have declined since Colonial times. Today, about 120 individual mature trees remain.

About 100 acres at South Quay still support mature longleaf pines that are suitable for seed production. Plans for the preserve include re-establishment of the trees on about 1,500 acres. DCR will partner with TNC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to implement a regime of frequent prescribed fire. Longleaf pine and many of the rare plants found at the site depend on fire for survival.

“The Legacy Program provided the funds for the portion of the tract that contains the last-remaining significant site of seed-producing longleaf pines in Virginia,” said State Forester Carl Garrison. “Without this seed source, it would be almost impossible for us to restore this once plentiful forest resource in the Commonwealth.”

General obligation bonds from 2002 and a grant from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program funded the purchase. The Forest Legacy Program protects environmentally important forests from being converted to non-forest use. The VDOF manages the grant program in Virginia.

South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve currently does not have public access facilities. For information about the Virginia Natural Area Preserve System, go to: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/natural_area_preserves/index.shtml

Glatfelter Company Donates Trees to Virginia

York Pennsylvania-based P.H. Glatfelter Company will donate more than 100,000 pine seedlings to Virginia landowners under a seedling match cost-share program. Since 1956, the company has partnered with the VDOF to provide seedlings for reforestation projects.

VDOF Assistant Director for Forest Management Todd Groh said, “Glatfelter has a long-standing relationship with Virginia landowners. By funding this cost-share program, Glatfelter helps landowners reduce their cost for seedlings by providing up to 10,000 seedlings per landowner for reforestation projects. They are truly a partner in both promoting healthy forests and sustaining the forest resource.”

James Kuykendall, Glatfelter’s Southern MD/VA district manager, said, “Glatfelter is proud to be able to provide trees in partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry. This cost-share program allows us to support landowners who recognize the value of the forest resource, as we do. Together, we have the opportunity to support healthy forests, healthy communities and responsible industry.”

Under the terms of the program, reforestation projects by private non-industrial woodland landowners are eligible in Amherst, Buckingham, Caroline, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Greene, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Warren counties in Virginia.

If you’re a landowner interested in participating in this program and have property located in the above counties, please contact your local Virginia Department of Forestry Office for more information.

In 2011, this cost-share program provided 166,000 pine seedlings to Virginians. Glatfelter owns and manages 10,000 acres of forestland in Virginia. Pulpwood from Virginia supplies the company’s mill in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.

Dry Hydrants to be Accredited in Virginia

A leading source of information about property and casualty insurance risk is working to accredit dry hydrants Virginia. ISO will evaluate the 1,613 dry hydrants in rural areas throughout the state. The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) and the VDOF work together to make sure firefighters have access to this community resource through the Dry Hydrant Grant Program.

Fire protection is one of the risk categories monitored by ISO. Their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) measures the components of a community's fire-suppression system and results in a numerical grade called the Public Protection Classification (PPC™).

The FSRS lists the facilities and practices a community should have to fight fires effectively. A community must meet minimum criteria to receive a rating on the PPC’s 100-point scale.

Forty percent of the overall score is based on the community’s water supply beyond daily maximum consumption. ISO surveys all components of the water-supply system, including pumps, storage and filtration. They observe fire-flow tests and review the condition and maintenance of fire hydrants. Homeowners may see future reductions in their insurance rates as a long-term result.

“The Dry Fire Hydrant Program has been a success story in Virginia for years,” said VDFP Executive Director Billy Shelton. “Our partnership with VDOF has made it possible to provide firefighters in rural areas with a better chance to save lives and property by making local water sources more accessible. The inclusion of the Commonwealth’s dry fire hydrants in the FSRS should be an additional positive benefit to our citizens.”

A dry 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 tank truck. The installation of a non-pressurized pipe system into a local water source provides a ready means of supplying water to fire engines.

To learn more about dry hydrants, visit www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/dryhydrant/index.htm

No Burning Before 4 p.m. Until April 30

The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Feb. 15th – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

“This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires,” said John Miller, director of resource protection at the VDOF. “Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become “forest fuels” that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

In 2012, there were 630 wildfires that burned 6,901 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a 24 percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (829) of fires in 2011. The amount of acreage burned decreased 42 percent when compared to 12,072 acres that burned in 2011.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit www.dof.virginia.gov

Tax Tips

You can stay current on tax changes and related information courtesy the “Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for the 2012 Tax Year.” This annual publication from the U.S. Forest Service covers topics such as cost-share payments, selling timber and timber basis, with examples in each category. You can find these tips and much more on our Tax Information webpage.

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:

  • The Emerald Ash Borer Marches on
  • Periodical Cicada Outbreak
  • Thousand Cankers Disease
  • Longleaf Pine Restoration
  • Pine Management on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands
  • What’s That Stuff On My Beech?

You can download the review from our website at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/health/resources/health-review-2013-01.pdf.

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 at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/health/publications.htm.