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June, 2013

Conservation Easement Protects 306 acres in Sussex County

A 306-acre tract of forestland in Sussex County has been protected from development. John and Segar Guy granted the VDOF a working forest conservation easement on their property. Under the terms of the easement, the property may not be divided in the future, perpetually contributing the tract to a larger block of unfragmented forestland in the area.

In 1961, Mrs. Segar White Guy inherited her father’s property and made the long-term commitment to improve the quality of the woodland. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Consulting Forester Hunter Darden developed a Forest Stewardship Management Plan that eventually led the family to prosperity and a healthy forest. Fifty years and several forest management awards later, the timber on the land was both healthy and profitable for the Guy family.

In late 2010, however, the Guys learned Segar had pancreatic cancer, and, subsequently, the family decided it needed to protect their greatest family heirloom – the forestland. Segar’s goal was to keep the land in the family and pass it on to the next generation.

Like the Guy family, many Virginia forest landowners face the issue of how they will pass their land down to the next generation.  A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between the landowner and a government agency or land trust that limits future development of the land to protect its conservation values.  The landowner and the organization, in this case VDOF, create the terms of the easement.  The organization holding the easement is responsible for enforcing the easement’s terms, which are perpetual, applying to all future landowners.  Landowners continue to own, use and control their land, and are able to sell it or pass it on to heirs.

The Guy family, their attorney Lee Stephens and VDOF Forestland Conservation Specialist Rob Suydam recorded the conservation easement April 3, 2013 – nearly two years to the date of Segar’s passing.

Daughter Judi Guy said, “My mother wanted the land to go into conservation easement because of the feature of perpetuity for the land being used for sustainable forestry management using Best Management Practices. The tax benefits were of secondary concern to her.”

Zach Dowling, senior area forester for VDOF, said, “Segar was always willing to take good advice and use it in her forest management.  She was a good steward of the land and a good partner to VDOF.”

For more information about VDOF Forestland Conservation Easement Program, please contact Rob Suydam at 804.328.3031.

A cool, moist spring provides the perfect conditions for leaf diseases

By Chris Asaro

Have you taken a good look at your sycamore trees lately? If you have, chances are they don’t look very good. In fact, if you travel across a good portion of the state you will likely run across many sycamores with moderate to heavy defoliation. Blame sycamore anthracnose, a fungus that infects the leaves. Anthracnose diseases can also occur on other hardwoods, especially oaks, ashes and elms.

Or perhaps you’re seeing strange-looking orange stuff growing on your eastern red cedars? Cedar-apple rust or cedar-quince rust is the likely culprit. Rusts are fungi that infect two different hosts during their life cycle, usually alternating between cedar and a hardwood species like apple, hawthorn or serviceberry.

What about dead leaves and terminal shoots on your apples or pears? This time, it’s probably a condition called fire blight, which is caused by a bacteria rather than a fungus.

Finally, if your pines are suddenly turning brown, it may be due to a fungus that infects pine needles called ‘needlecasts,’ because the older needles are eventually shed.

While these diseases are not uncommon in Virginia, they are particularly abundant and widespread this year due to the unusually cold and wet conditions we’ve seen this April and May. Newly emerging leaves become infected with fungal spores, and continued moisture allows these spores to germinate and produce aggressive fungal infections on the leaves. The cooler temperatures limit evaporation and thus keep things moist – perfect conditions for most fungi to thrive.

If there is any good news, it’s that these diseases generally only infect leaf tissue (anthracnose), older needles (needlecasts) or terminal shoots (rusts, fire blight). Most trees will recover from this damage without intervention. The heavy precipitation fosters the growth of new leaves and shoots to replace what was lost, and the generally hotter and drier conditions of summer usually helps to slow down the disease process. Ornamental and landscape trees, however, can be seriously impacted by any of these diseases, particularly fireblight.

If you want to manage some of these problems, these links provide excellent information.

Leave The Gypsy Moth Behind

Doing some serious traveling this summer? Planning to move? Don’t let the gypsy moth be a stowaway on your journey.

The gypsy moth can spread from an infested area to an uninfested area when egg masses, attached to vehicles or outdoor items, are transported and introduced. Each egg mass contains up to 1,000 eggs.

Help prevent gypsy moth infestations by following a few simple steps. When camping or traveling in infected areas, inspect your vehicle, trailer or camper. Examine outdoor household items — lawn furniture, grills, outdoor toys, camping equipment, etc. — for gypsy moth egg masses, and remove any that are found. Egg masses can be easily removed with a stiff brush, putty knife or similar hand tool. The unwanted hitchhikers can be disposed of in a plastic bag (seal it and leave it in the sun) or in a bucket of hot, soapy water.

The gypsy moth is known to feed on more than 300 trees and shrubs. Left unchecked, an infestation of gypsy moth can defoliate up to 13 million acres of trees in one season.

Additional information and a checklist—including areas under quarantine—can be found at YourMoveGypsyMothFree.com.

DOF Personnel News

Tyler Price is our new Technician in the Northern Neck work area in the Eastern Region.  He received his bachelor’s in forestry from Virginia Tech.  Last summer, he served as an intern in the Resource Protection Division. 

Kyle Dingus is a new Forester for the NOVA work area in the Central Region.  He has a bachelor’s in forestry from Virginia Tech.  He has served as an intern on the Matthews State Forest and worked for the College of Natural Resources and the Environment at Virginia Tech.

B.J. Butler, Forester in the Blue Ridge work area in the Western Region, is transferring to the Forester position in the James River work area in the Central Region. 

Tracy McDonald, PST in the Central Region, has been on extended leave and is not returning to DOF. 

Ryne Conley, Forester in the Central Region, is leaving DOF to move to Lexington, Kentucky. 

Billy Apperson, a 50-year employee of the Virginia Department of Forestry, retired in 2012 after a remarkable career devoted to the wise stewardship of Virginia’s forests and the preservation and restoration of the longleaf pine tree. The 2013 General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution No. 559 commending Billy Apperson. You can read the full text of the resolution.