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April, 2013

Redbuds To Bloom with Project Plant It!

Redbud tree in bloom.Project Plant It! continues to blossom with new ways to engage elementary students in learning about trees and the environment.

In January, teachers received a kit with lesson plans, posters, stickers and other instructional tools. The program also distributes a redbud tree seedling to each participating student on Arbor Day. “This beautiful tree species is native to Virginia, and children will enjoy caring for it and watching it grow,” said Lisa Deaton, forestry education specialist for the VDOF. During the spring, Deaton will conduct her popular forester presentations at several of the elementary schools enrolled in Project Plant It! VDOF estimates that 400 acres of new forest would be created if all of the tree seedlings are planted and grow to maturity.

All of the Project Plant It! materials align with state learning standards for math, science, language arts and social studies. A new lesson plan for 2013 helps students understand energy sources and uses. The program is made possible by Dominion, the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.

Since 2007, Project Plant It! has distributed more than 160,000 tree seedlings to students in seven states. The program is provided by Dominion at no cost to schools.

Visit www.projectplantit.com, or the program’s Facebook page, for more information.

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

Trees are planted at a site in Pound, Virginia.On March 2, The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and its partners planted 625 potentially blight-resistant American chestnut seeds on 22 acres of a reclaimed coal mine site near Pound, VA.

This site includes a progeny test of Restoration Chestnuts 1.0 covering one-acre and a silvicultural demonstration on the remaining 21.5 acres. The progeny included pure American, pure Chinese and chestnut trees from different stages of TACF’s breeding program. Locations and identification of each seed was recorded for future monitoring. The site will be fenced to exclude deer browsing.

In addition to the chestnut seeds, the group planted more than 100 mixed hardwood seedlings. Professional tree planters will plant a mix of bareroot seedlings, including chestnuts at 20 trees per acre, for silvicultural demonstration on the rest of the site.

NRCS Funding for Chesapeake Bay Forestry Practices

Landowners in the York and Rappahannock watersheds can take advantage of $120,000 in grant funding to install forestry practices designed to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

If you own land within these watersheds or in the 26 counties listed below, you can receive incentive payments for up to 75 percent of the costs associated with developing forest management plans, establishing forested buffers, planting trees, improving forests, and/or excluding livestock from wooded areas. Eligible counties include: Caroline, Charles City, Culpeper, Essex, Fauquier, Gloucester, Greene, Hanover, James City, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Louisa, Madison, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Orange, Rappahannock, Richmond, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Westmoreland and York.

This is the third year of implementation of a five-year $600,000 project. Though program signup is continuous, deadlines for upcoming ranking periods are April 19 and May 17. To learn more about CCPI for Virginia forestry practices, contact your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office or visit the Agency’s website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov.

Gladstone Media Donates Trees to Virginia

Albemarle-based Gladstone Media has purchased 12,000 tree seedlings that will be planted in and around Albemarle County on private lands. One-thousand-five-hundred of these tree seedlings will be planted by the Nelson County Future Farmers of America (FFA) as part of their annual forestry project. Gladstone Media also donated $1,000 to The Nature Conservancy to help offset the tree planting costs associated with the Meadow Creek stream improvement project.

Since first partnering with the VDOF in 2001, Gladstone has donated more than 75,000 trees that help clean the air, protect our waterways and enhance the quality of life across the state.

VDOF Senior Area Forester David Powell said, “Gladstone has a strong track record of helping the local community improve the natural environment through generous donations of tree seedlings. The company donates enough tree seedlings to offset its paper use annually. The Virginia Department of Forestry facilitates matching the donated seedlings with local planting projects each spring. Not only does Gladstone provide trees to school groups, it has also generously donated trees to reforestation projects in the area. This year, I am especially excited that the company is providing trees to Nelson County High School’s FFA annual spring planting project. This project is a hands-on experience in which FFA members spend the day with forest professionals learning about careers in natural resources management and complete a reforestation project on a local landowner’s property.”

Gladstone President and CEO Leonard Phillips said, “We benefit so much by living and working in Central Virginia. It’s a pleasure to support these improvements to our environment.”

Del. R. Steven Landes said, “Let me congratulate the Department of Forestry and Gladstone Media for their partnership. The thousands of pine seedlings will help provide a better environment for Albemarle County and its citizens. This is a wonderful example of both the public and private sectors working together to improve our environment. Let me also thank the Nelson County Future Farmers of America for their efforts to assist with planting of these seedlings as part of their annual forestry project.”

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds said, “I applaud the stewardship and community spirit of Gladstone Media. The partnership will pay dividends for Albemarle County and will provide meaningful experience to the Nelson County FFA.”

If your school or organization is interested in submitting planting projects for consideration for future grants, please contact David Powell at 434.220.9179 or david.powell@dof.virginia.gov.

Task force created for wood products industry

Southeast Virginia’s wood products industries seem to be getting out of the doldrums. Wood-using industries are undertaking a number of new projects, according to the Southeast Virginia Logging Capacity Task Force. The task force was formed to ensure enough loggers are available to provide materials to the area’s growing wood products industry.

The $91 million repurposing of the International Paper mill in Franklin for manufacturing fluff pulp; the construction of two wood pellet plants by Enviva, and the conversion of two coal-burning power plants to wood-fuel by Dominion Power are creating new logging opportunities.

Based on these new projects, preliminary estimates indicate that annual wood consumption in the area would increase by more than 3 million tons by the end of 2013.

“We want to make sure the new and existing businesses can get the raw supply they need,” said Amanda Jarratt, president and chief executive officer for Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. “Those small businesses keep our large industry running. Our larger industry cannot be successful unless we have the small businesses.”

The task force hired Branchville forestry consultant C. Harrell Turner as its coordinator. The task force, which includes State Forester Carl Garrison, also plans to work with Paul D. Camp Community College to train potential logging employees and develop new companies.

A $12,000 grant through the PDCCC Regional Workforce Development Center helps fund the task force. Additional grants have been provided by International Paper Foundation and Enviva.

Kiesler Named Outstanding PLT Educator

Allison Hall Kiesler, a teacher and environmental educator, was named one of five Outstanding Educators by Project Learning Tree® (PLT), the national environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. Kiesler, who passed away in September 2012, will be honored posthumously.

Kiesler, who was one of the first educators in Virginia to participate in a Project Learning Tree workshop more than 30 years ago, enjoyed sharing her knowledge and experience with other educators. She led numerous workshops and mentored many preK-8 teachers, early childhood teachers and caregivers, and college students who are studying for their own careers as educators.

Generations of students and teachers recall the impact Kiesler had on their appreciation for the natural world and on their career decisions. Her daughter, Sarah Kiesler, a first grade teacher at Mary Munford Elementary in Richmond who last summer attended a PLT workshop with her principal and other teachers from her school, said, “My mom’s enthusiasm for environmental education spread to me and many others.”

Allison Kiesler will be honored at PLT’s 27th International Coordinators’ Conference. Her daughter will accept the award on her behalf.

PLT Outstanding Educators are selected for their commitment to environmental education, exemplary use of PLT, and exceptional teaching skills. Four other Virginia educators have won the National PLT Outstanding Educator Award since its inception in 1994.

Virginia Forest Products Association President To Retire

Officials with the Virginia Forest Products Association (VFPA) announced the retirement of VFPA’s President Randy Bush.

VFPA is a 55-year-old 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association representing forest industry interests in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The East Coast Sawmill and Logging Equipment Exposition is one of its many projects and programs. The organization has an active legislative and regulatory advocacy program, and publishes various publications for the industry.