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September, 2013

VDOF Firefighters Combat Wildfires in Western USA

During recent wildfire activity in the Western United States, firefighters from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) assisted with suppression efforts in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Individual resource assignments such as Communications Technician, Division Supervisor, Public Information Officer and Safety Officer were deployed. A crew of 20 VDOF full- and part-time employees assisted on the Beaver Creek fire in Idaho, and a second crew of 20 battled blazes in Utah and Washington State.Assignments lasted from a few days to two weeks.

Widespread Decline of Hemlocks Seen in SW VA

Hemlock trees in the forests of southwest Virginia are under attack by a tiny insect capable of killing the trees.

VDOF Senior Area Forester Bill Miller said, “The tiny, aphid-like insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), which is an invasive species from Asia, poses a major threat to the hemlock resource.”

Increasingly, homeowners and landowners across southwest Virginia are becoming more aware that something is wrong with their hemlocks, but may not understand the cause. While it’s true that hemlocks will likely continue to decline and die in many forested locations, it is also possible for homeowners to protect their ornamental hemlocks using a variety of products available over-the-counter.

Miller said, “For smaller trees in which all parts of the tree are easily reached, insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils are quite effective, and are relatively safe to use and easy to apply. The down side is that they wash off fairly regularly and have to be reapplied with greater frequency, especially the soaps. Soaps, however, are extremely safe to handle and are relatively non-toxic. Oils are slightly more toxic than soaps but don’t have to be reapplied as frequently. Both are fairly inexpensive.”

For protection of larger trees, systemic insecticides that can be applied to the soil and root zone are available. Systemic insecticides are taken up by the tree through the roots over several months until the product is circulated through the entire tree. These products are considered easy to use but are more expensive.

Homeowners should be aware of their options for protecting their hemlock trees. Unfortunately, HWA is becoming a fact of life for this area and will no doubt impact many landowners negatively. For more information about HWA, please contact your local VDOF or Virginia Cooperative Extension office.

Tree Planting Initiative Underway on Open Lands

Planting trees is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to help the environment. VDOF’s Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative will increase forests and their benefits by locating 200 new sites and more than 2,000 acres of open land on which to plant.

Senior Area Forester Adam Smith said, “The Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative is designed to prevent the loss of forestland; increase the sustainability of the forest resource, and improve water quality and diminished species concerns. To accomplish these goals we’ll promote and enhance forested watersheds; improve stewardship, health, diversity of forest products, and conserve the forestland base.”

The initiative’s efforts will take place in the counties of Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Brunswick but with some additional work in the counties of Prince George, Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight, Greensville, Southampton and the City of Suffolk.

Tolearn more about the Open Lands Tree Planting Initiative, contact Tim Minich at 434.738.6123.

Honoring the Greatest Generation

Plans are underway to honor VDOF retirees and former employees who are World War II veterans at the November 4, 2013 Forestry retiree luncheon. In addition to inviting you to attend, we need your help to spread the word about this special event and to help us locate those we wish to recognize. This program will honor the living WWII veterans and provide a remembrance of the deceased.

The luncheon will be held at the American Legion Hall, 3025 Louisa Road, Keswick, Va. (approximately four miles east of Charlottesville at the intersection of Routes 250 and 22, behind the gas and convenience store) on Monday, November 4th. The program will begin at 11:30 a.m., with lunch at 12:30 p.m.

Lunch will be catered, and the price per person is $20.00 – honorees and one guest excluded. Relatives and friends of the honorees are encouraged to attend. Reservations are due by Oct. 15, 2013 and can be made by writing a check (payable to Lawrence Cabell) and mailing it to Barbara Worrell, 105 Grover Court, Charlottesville, VA, 22901.

If you have any questions, need additional information or know of a VDOF retiree or former employee who served in World War II, please contact Larry Cabell via email at or by phone at 434.973.2988.

Urban Tree Workshop to be held in Waynesboro

The Waynesboro Plant Health Care for Urban Trees Workshop will take place September 20th. This year’s workshop will be held at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center on Apple Tree Lane in Waynesboro from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Participants will choose one of two tracks offered during the day-long event: 1. ArborMaster tree training for those interested in safe tree climbing and safe tree cutting, or 2. Weathering The Storm for people who are interested in caring for urban and suburban trees.

General registration is $85 per person. Municipal and nonprofit registration is $75 per person. Registration for students, tree stewards, master gardeners or master naturalists is $55 per person. All registrations include lunch. Visit to register. If you have any questions, please contact Becky Woodson at 434.220.9024 or Dwayne Jones at 540.942.6735.

The workshop is sponsored by Waynesboro Parks & Recreation; Trees Virginia; the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of ISA.

New Community Planning Resource Guide Available

Citizens or communities across Virginia will be better able to map their most significant natural resources and to prepare plans to conserve or restore them thanks to a new guidebook prepared by the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) in Charlottesville.

“Evaluating and Conserving Green Infrastructure Across the Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide” is a 132-page spiral-bound guide that presents a way to think about and catalogue a community’s natural assets as well as to prioritize them for long-term stewardship. It sells for $29.95.

Green infrastructure includes all the interconnected natural systems in a landscape.

The guide provides the steps for determining how to facilitate development in ways that reduce its impact on the landscape. It also provides the steps to use cost-free state models to develop maps that can inform planners, builders, community groups or agencies in making the best decisions on how and where to develop and what to conserve.

To order a copy of the guidebook, send a check for $29.95 made payable to the Green Infrastructure Center, to P.O. Box 317, Charlottesville, VA, 22902 or visit . The guidebook was funded by the VDOF, the US Forest Service’s Southern Region and the Blue Moon Fund.

Forest Service announces new Director for Forest Products Laboratory

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced that Michael T. Rains will be Director of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wis.

Rains has served as FPL’s Acting Director since March, 2012. He holds a BS in Forest Management and a MS in Watershed Management from Humboldt State University.

For more than 100 years, the Forest Products Laboratory’s work with academia, industry, and other government agencies has led to many beneficial discoveries. Learn more about the FPL at

DOF Personnel News

Gregory Evans, voluntary mitigation program manager, has been appointed to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council.

Jeremey Falkenau is our new Forester in the Blue Ridge work area in the Western Region.  He received his Bachelor’s in Forestry from Virginia Tech.  While in college, Jeremey served as an intern with Virginia Cooperative Extension. He is coming to us from the Boy Scouts of America in Pennsylvania where he was an Executive Director. 

Courtney Heckler, forester in the Blackwater work area in the Eastern Region, and Houston Roberts, technician in the James River work area in the Central Region, have left VDOF to pursue other opportunities.