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March, 2013

VDOF and Partners Conserve More Than 4,000 Acres in Southeastern Virginia During 2012

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), working cooperatively with the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, partnered with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), The Nature Conservancy, Isle of Wight County, a private investment company and a paper company to conserve 4,119 acres of land in Southeastern Virginia during 2012. The Forest Legacy funding, applied for by The Nature Conservancy, enabled the purchase of two conservation easements and the creation of a new State Natural Area Preserve to ensure conservation of valuable working forestland and ecologically significant forest habitat in the Nottoway River and Blackwater River watersheds.

A total of 216 acres was conserved along the Nottoway River in Southampton County through the purchase of a conservation easement on property owned by Goodwood Virginia LLC, a subsidiary of Conservation Forestry LLC, a forestland holding company based out of New Hampshire. The property is comprised of floodplain forest that will be protected through the easement and upland pine plantation that will be actively managed by Goodwood Virginia for its forest and wildlife resources.

Along the Blackwater River, VDOF and DCR worked with Isle of Wight County to secure an easement on 2,348 acres of diverse timberland owned by the County. This transaction created the 815-acre Blackwater Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, managed under DCR’s Natural Heritage Program, protecting important floodplain habitat along the Blackwater River. The County plans to utilize the property for public recreation for its citizens and Tidewater area residents as well as for income-producing timber management.

The third and largest acquisition project added 2,855 acres to the South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, located along three miles of the Blackwater River in the City of Suffolk. Forest Legacy funding contributed to the protection of more than 1,500 acres of the property, which contains the largest remaining Longleaf Pine seed trees in the state. The property will protect 23 rare plant species, three rare animal species and also provide critical lowland habitat along the Blackwater River for the rare Atlantic White Cedar, a tree species found only sporadically in southeast Virginia.

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “The Forest Legacy Program provides Federal grants to state agencies and other entities to conserve critical forested landscapes. The program’s purpose is to protect environmentally-important forestlands that are threatened with non-forest conversion. In the acquisition of these properties, VDOF and DCR have worked cooperatively with county governments and private entities to make these protected forests a reality, to benefit the citizens of the Commonwealth in perpetuity.”

American Chestnut Trees to Help Restore Mine Lands in Pound, Virginia

On Saturday, March 2, The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and its partners will begin to plant approximately 1,000 potentially blight-resistant American chestnuts with other mixed hardwood trees on 22 acres of a reclaimed coal mine site near Pound, VA. TACF’s potentially blight-resistant American chestnuts, called Restoration Chestnuts 1.0, are the result of 30 years of careful breeding and research by TACF’s scientists in an effort to restore this native tree.

Over three years, approximately 250,000 seedlings, including more than 14,000 blight-resistant American chestnuts will be planted by TACF and project cooperators on a total of 360 acres. This project is the largest planting of potentially blight-resistant American chestnut trees in the Foundation’s history and marks a milestone in the restoration of this once dominant native tree.

“This is truly a win-win project,” said VDOF Senior Area Forester Bill Miller. “The community in and around Pound benefits from the reclamation of the former surface mine, and our natural environment benefits through the re-establishment of this vital tree species. We’re honored to have a role in this important event.”

The planting and monitoring of chestnuts at the Pound, Virginia site is the result of a partnership between TACF, VDOF, the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) and Green Forests Work. The reclaimed surface mine site has been prepared using the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA), a method which breaks up the compacted soil so that trees can grow successfully.

The planting is funded in part by a grant from the US Forest Service to the Virginia Department of Forestry and by a Conservation Innovation Grant awarded to The American Chestnut Foundation from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to establish forest trees, including American chestnut, on 12 reclaimed mine sites in Appalachia.

Once the dominant tree in America's eastern forests, the chestnut was a giant – growing more than 100 feet tall and providing food for people and wildlife alike. A fungus, first observed in 1904 spread quickly, killing more than 4 billion trees and virtually wiping out the species. In 2005, TACF announced it had developed the first generation of potentially blight-resistant chestnut trees.

USDA appoints new members to the forest resource coordinating committee

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently appointed eight new members to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides advice on private forestry and USDA’s programs that assist landowners in managing their forests to protect, conserve and enhance the values they produce.

“The USDA Forest Resource Coordinating Committee’s new members will help us continue to make the right decisions for our rural communities, generating jobs, sustaining economic growth and conserving our working lands for future generations,” said Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman.

The appointed members are:

  • Leda Chahim, Washington, representing conservation organizations
  • Anthony Delfin, New Mexico, representing state foresters
  • Daniel Forster, Georgia, representing state fish and wildlife agencies
  • Allan Murray, Wisconsin, representing tribes
  • Tammie Perreault, Washington, representing non-industrial private forest landowners
  • Bettina Ring, Virginia, representing conservation organizations
  • Steven Sinclair, Vermont, representing state foresters
  • Bonnie Stine, Florida, representing USDA-authorized state technical committees

The new committee members join eight previously selected members and the heads of four USDA agencies – the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The Forest Resource Coordinating Committee provides expert counsel on actions and funds allocation that enhance the diversity and public benefits of forests. Important areas of focus include wildfires, natural disasters, insect and disease outbreaks, the economics of forest ownership, air and water quality, and public policy related to private forests and wildlife habitat.

The full committee will meet April 11-12, 2013, at the Forest Service headquarters building in Arlington, Va.

Tree seedlings selling fast; order yours before they’re gone

Each year, the VDOF grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don’t wait too much longer as several species, including Black Walnut, Redbud, Eastern Red Cedar, Black Cherry, Bald Cypress, Gray Dogwood, White Dogwood, Hazelnut, Mulberry, Persimmon, Yellow Poplar, Red Osier Dogwood and Loblolly Pine (all varieties), have already sold out.

Seedlings are available in quantities as low as 10 or 25; these small quantities can be beneficial to landowners of modest-size forested tracts. Order yours today by visiting the VDOF Web store, calling the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.

S’more Than Trees at Forestry Camp!

Nominations are open for the 67th annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, to be held June 17-22 at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center. This action-packed camp is hosted by the Virginia Department of Forestry, with support and cooperation from other conservation agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals.

Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods. Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day.

Campers must be Virginia residents 13-16 years old with good academic standing, have an interest in natural resources, and must not have attended Forestry Camp before.

Financial sponsorship is generously provided by forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals. As a result, every camper selected to attend receives a scholarship and pays only $75 to attend the week-long residential camp. New sponsors are always welcome.

To nominate a camper, visit the VDOF website. Nominations are due by April 15. For more information, please contact Ellen Powell at 434.220.9083 or ellen.powell@dof.virginia.gov.

Family Fun - A Walk in the Forest

A free day of family fun is planned for March 23rd at the New Kent Forestry Center in Providence Forge. Hosted by the Rappahannock Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, the “Walk in the Forest” will offer guided nature hikes, wildlife and forestry exhibits, papermaking and other crafts, and a guided bird-watching trip.

The VDOF will give away 500 tree seedlings - visitors will be able to choose from a mix of baldcypress, flowering dogwood, eastern redbud,persimmon, longleaf pine and Chickasaw plum. Galax-based Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. is providing the seedlings as part of the company’s 1-4-1 Program, which donates one tree seedling for every tree it harvests for use in the manufacture of its adult bedroom furniture.

People are invited to bring a picnic lunch and their own drinks as none will be available on site. For more information, please call Lisa Deaton at 804.966.2201.

Practice Preparedness during the Tornado Drill

During the past two years, 62 tornadoes hit Virginia, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100. Some 210 homes were destroyed, and more than 1,050 were damaged. Nearly every part of the state was affected.

This year, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed March 12, as Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. At approximately 9:45 a.m., the Statewide Tornado Drill will be held so that schools, government agencies, businesses and families can practice their tornado emergency plans.

Learn how to develop a tornado safety plan by visiting the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's website at www.vaemergency.gov.