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May, 2013

Department’s Forest Legacy Program Coordinator Wins National Award

Larry MikkelsonLarry Mikkelson, Forest Legacy program coordinator at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), earned the national Conservation Excellence Award 2012. The award recognizes his “exceptional leadership managing a state’s Forest Legacy program.” He is only the fifth recipient of this award in the 108-year history of the U.S. Forest Service.

“I’m both honored and surprised by this award,” Mikkelson said. “Virginia has a very active and successful Forest Legacy program, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

The USFS Forest Legacy Program (FLP) supports state efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forestlands. An entirely voluntary program, FLP helps the states develop and carry out their forest conservation plans. It encourages and supports acquisition of conservation easements. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices and protect other ecosystem service values.

Virginia has received 10 Forest Legacy grants since 2001. VDOF holds 11 easements on 5,287 acres of forestland. In addition, the Forest Legacy program helped purchase all or parts of three state forests (Sandy Point SF; Dragon Run SF, and Big Woods SF) and two natural area preserves (Chubb-Sand Hill NAP and South Quay Sand Hills NAP).

State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison said, “Larry has poured his heart and soul into conserving forestland across the Commonwealth. Collaborating with a number of landowners, land conservation organizations, state and local governments and the USFS, he has gone to great lengths to ensure these lands are forever protected and available as working forests. He truly deserves this national award.”

A 35-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry, Mikkelson lives in Bumpass with his wife. The couple has three grown children and five grandchildren. Larry graduated from Purdue University with a degree in forestry.

Forest Certification Training For Industry Professionals

Forest certification is a voluntary process that evaluates forest management practices against a set of sustainable forestry standards. This designation can benefit landowners.

If you provide forest landowners with management advice, write management plans, or give presentations about forest management, then you should have a good working knowledge of “forest certification.”

Forest Certification Workshops are targeted to resource professionals at VDOF, Extension and other agencies that provide educational and technical assistance. Participants will develop the knowledge base, and be provided with educational resources, that enable them to inform customers about the process for certification. Four workshops will be held in May.

Hike Virginia’s State Forests; June 1 is National Trails Day

Forestry officials invite citizens out to Virginia’s state forests to celebrate National Trails Day June 1.

Many of Virginia’s 22 state forests offer miles of trails for walking, hiking and bird watching. Trails allow for recreation and are a great way to get the public to increase their physical activity in an outdoor setting. Trail users can explore in solitude and find peace and tranquility. Or, join family or friends for an outdoor social activity.

Passive recreational opportunities, such as walking, hiking and canoeing, are provided free of charge. Horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and trapping all require a State Forest Use Permit when persons 16 years and older enjoy these activities on a state forest.

Located in the Richmond area, the Appomattox-Buckingham, Cumberland, Zoar and Prince Edward – Gallion state forests offer more than 60 miles of trails. A complete list of state forests can be found on the Virginia Department of Forest website at http://www.dof.virginia.gov.

In 1987, the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors recommended Trails for All Americans, which suggested Americans should be able to walk out their front doors and within 15 minutes be on trails that take them through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing any steps. The American Hiking Society launched National Trails Day in 1993.

Fall Cankerworms Attacking Richmond Area Trees

Fall cankerworm.For the third year in a row, the suburban Richmond area, including the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Powhatan and Amelia, is experiencing an outbreak of fall cankerworm. The native insect pest defoliates oak, beech, maple and other tree species. Other counties reporting activity are King and Queen, King William, and King George.

Though these insects present no health problems to the public, some homeowners with heavy defoliation around their property are distressed by the sudden appearance of defoliation; the large degree of webbing, and the insect excrement (called frass) that falls from the trees and covers everything.

VDOF’s Forest Health Specialist Dr. Chris Asaro said, “As for the trees, even those that are completely defoliated usually recover by leafing out again. Since fall cankerworm is an early spring defoliator, trees that are otherwise healthy will have time to refoliate and green up again by late spring.”

Cankerworm outbreaks can re-occur over several years, but typically populations die out as they are attacked by insect predators and parasites. Most trees with only one year of defoliation or less than 50 percent defoliation over multiple years will recover – provided that drought or some other environmental stress factor is not also present.

“In most circumstances, spraying an insecticide, such as B.t., is not desirable or practical over such a large scale, although some communities with chronic fall cankerworm infestations have opted to have trees treated,” Asaro said. “With the current outbreak, however, most of the feeding will have already occurred before the B.t. toxin, which needs to be ingested by the worms, begins to take effect. Spraying needs to occur just when larva are hatching from eggs to be most effective.”

Fall cankerworm caterpillars hatch in late March or early April over their range, and in eastern Virginia will quickly approach full size.

“While cankerworm outbreaks are unpredictable, they generally recur in the same areas,” Asaro said. “This is the third year of the outbreak, so natural control factors should start to kick in soon and cause the populations to crash. However, in Charlotte, NC, cankerworm outbreaks are an almost annual occurrence and the city has a spray program for them. It’s not entirely clear why outbreaks persist in some areas and not others.”

DOF Personnel News

John Burke III and Thomas Evelyn have been appointed to the Board of Forestry.

Blake Jordon has been promoted to the position of Forester in the NOVA work area in the Central Region.

Pamela Romanello is our new Grants Accountant in the Fiscal Division at Headquarters. She was previously a Grants Specialist at the University of Virginia.

Chris Wiedamann is our new Forester in the Clinch work area in the Western Region. Formerly a Service Forester at the Grays Harbor Conservation District in Washington State , Chris previously worked for the Kentucky Division of Forestry and is an experienced wildland firefighter. He has his Bachelor’s in Forestry from the University of Kentucky.

Margaret Carpenter, Housekeeping Supervisor at Headquarters, is retiring after 11 years with the agency.

Robby Boles, Technician in the Western Region, left VDOF to join the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection Division.

Nelson Shaw, staff forester in the Central region, died April 26 after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons, Joshua Daniel Shaw and Jeremiah Daniel Shaw. He served VDOF for 33 years and was a proud member of the agency's Honor Guard.