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August, 2013

First VDOF Easement Recorded in Roanoke County

Mr. and Mrs. John Connor have granted the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) a working forest conservation easement that protects 163 acres of land in Roanoke County. The easement combines two tax parcels into no more than two future divisions whose development is restricted, conserving a large block of forestland in perpetuity.

The Connor’s conservation easement is the first VDOF easement in Roanoke County and marks 1,174 acres conserved in easements with VDOF since Jan. 1, 2013.

The Conner Family Roanoke Property lies on the eastern slope and summit of Catawba Mountain. It shares approximately 1,500 feet of property line with The Havens Wildlife Management Area. The property is 100 percent forested, the management of which is guided by a Forest Stewardship Management Plan. All of the woodland is considered high conservation value by the VDOF based on forest quality and productivity, water quality and wildlife habitat. A rare and unique forest type made up of Chestnut Oak, Pitch Pine and Virginia Pine occupies the mid and upper slopes of the property. Abundant rock outcrops add to the aesthetic value of the property.

More than 2,800 feet of Mason Creek are either within the property or bordered by it. Mason Creek provides a source of drinking water to downstream communities. The easement will help protect water quality and aquatic habitat in the watershed, as well as mitigate potential downstream flooding.

For additional information on the VDOF conservation easement program, contact Mike Santucci, assistant director of forestland conservation, at 434.220.9182, or visit the VDOF website.

Conway Robinson State Forest is Closed Temporarily

The Conway Robinson State Forest (CRSF) is closed so that a crew working for the VDOF can harvest trees on a 32-acre tract within the state forest located in Gainesville. The Conway Robinson State Forest is a favorite destination for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and bird watchers across Northern Virginia. Officials expect to reopen by the end of August.

Senior Area Forester Terry Lasher said, “This harvest will provide three distinct types of forest management that can be used to educate landowners on the options that exist for good forest management on their properties. There are several areas in this state forest that are overgrown, overstocked (densely packed) or at the end of their healthy life.”

One area will be a shelterwood harvest in which selected trees are kept in place. Competing growth around selected trees is eliminated until there is a large free-to-grow area for the retained trees.

A second area will see a thinning. This is a silvicultural treatment used to reduce stand density. This will help improve the overall health and quality of the residual stand by cutting out dead, diseased and/or undesired trees.

The final area will be a regeneration harvest, also known as a clearcut. This type of forest management is a silvicultural treatment used for regeneration of even-aged forests. Lasher said, “This is where ALL of the good and bad overstory trees are removed to provide optimal sunlight for specific trees, such as yellow-poplar, loblolly pine and sweetgum, which excel in full sunlight. The clearcut will enable us to salvage the white pine trees that were damaged from different storms and replant the area with Shortleaf pine – a declining native pine species.

“When this important work is done, the Conway Robinson will be a healthier state forest,” Lasher said.

Equipment Demonstration on the Conway Robinson State Forest

The FTX90 can be outfitted with interchangeable equipment to perform many labor-intensive and environmentally beneficial treatments.

Representatives from forestry and natural resource agencies recently viewed a demonstration of the Fecon FTX90.  Little known to the Northern Virginia area, the FTX90 can be outfitted with interchangeable equipment to perform many labor-intensive and environmentally beneficial treatments. When outfitted with either a mulching/grinding head or a cutting head, the FTX90 performed effectively and efficiently in an area marked for a timber stand improvement (TSI) harvest.

Attendees will use their observations during the demonstration to compare the effectiveness of manually conducting the work versus the machine method. A cost/benefit analysis will also be developed. The six-acre mixed hardwood and pine stand within the CRSF will be used for similar education events for landowners, land managers and the public. Oden Cornwell Excavating partnered with VDOF on this event.

Family Forest Transition Planning Workshop Set

Many family forest owners want to preserve their family lands but don’t know how to involve family members in their ownership and management. If these issues concern you, an upcoming Family Forest Landowner short course may be able to answer some of your questions.

“Focusing on Forestland Transfer to Generation ‘NEXT’” is being offered August 13 and 20 at the Fredericksburg Country Club in Fredericksburg. The goal is to assist family forest landowners in successfully planning for the transfer of their woodlands, intact, from one generation to the next. By engaging the next generation in effective family communications; describing the estate planning landscape, and providing valuable planning tools, family members will be given the information and means needed to minimize tax burdens and ensure continued management of their forest resource, as well as pass their family woodland legacy to heirs.

Nearly two-thirds of Virginia’s woodlands, or 10.1 million acres, are in the hands of more than 373,000 family forest owners. The management decisions made by family forest owners play a crucial role in determining the sustained health and conservation of the natural forest systems.

The short course is co-sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the VDOF, with support from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tree Farm Committee, and the Piedmont Environmental Council.

For more information, please go to http://tinyurl.com/vagennext or contact the Northern District Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Program at 540.948.6881 or the VDOF at 434.220.9182.

DOF Personnel News

John W. Burke, Franklin B. Myers, Dr. David Wm. Smith and E. Glen Worrell Jr. have been appointed to the Board of Forestry.

Neil Brooks, forest technician for the Piedmont work area in the Western Region, was promoted to Forester for the Piedmont work area in the Western Region.

Joey Collard is our new forest inventory assessment (FIA) specialist in the western part of the state.  He has a bachelor’s in forestry from the University of Wisconsin.

Denise Lawhorn is our new project and change manager in the Information Systems Division.  She previously worked at the Department of Taxation where she served as a project manager and criminal investigator.