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November 20, 2013

Acorn Crop Very Light This Year

Acorns are important both as a source of forest regeneration and as a mast crop for wildlife. It seems almost every year there are concerns as to why there is either an over-abundance or scarcity of acorns. Reports from various parts of the Commonwealth indicate that the acorn crop this fall is very light, according to officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

VDOF Research Program Manager Jerre Creighton said, “Acorn production varies widely – from nearly zero to a quarter million or more acorns per acre.  Different locations, years, species and even individual trees produce extremely different crops, and heavy ‘bumper’ crops occur only every two to seven years.”

While it is impossible to pinpoint one specific cause that would explain the acorn crop for an entire region in a given year, there are many factors – such as weather, insects and disease – that collectively influence acorn development from the time of flower initiation to acorn maturity. 

Immature acorns can be lost due to summer droughts and high temperatures.  In addition, research has shown that the inherent cycles between bumper crops and light crops may be an adaptation to allow the trees to restore their resources following a bumper crop.

Insect predation can influence the acorn crop, but it is unlikely the periodical cicadas that emerged in much of the Commonwealth this year could be a factor.  “I don’t think they have anything to do with it,” said Dr. Chris Asaro, VDOF’s forest health program manager, “because the mast failure seems to be a lot more widespread across the state, including areas that saw no cicadas. While I think it’s physiologically plausible that some heavily attacked trees saw lower mast yields than they otherwise might have, I don’t think it’s a complete explanation for what’s going on.”

WWII Vets from VDOF Honored

Ten members of “The Greatest Generation” were honored for their service in World War II at a luncheon Nov. 4th that was hosted by the Forestry Retiree Group – an association of retired and former VDOF employees.  The honorees shared some of their memories and poignant stories of their experiences during the War when they each addressed the gathering at the American Legion Post in Keswick, Va.

The nine retired or former VDOF employees in attendance included: Samuel H. Cassell, Ray F. Duncan, Edward P. Furlow, Roland B. Geddes, Arthur W. Ordel Jr., Caleb M. Pennock Jr., Edwin E. Rogers, Delbert E. “Bill” Sheads, and Ernest R. “Bud” Shelton.  WWII veteran George Evans also attended.

The event was organized by VDOF retirees: Lawrence Cabell, Thomas A. Dierauf, Brian Edson, Phil T. Grimm, Milton A. Morris and Barbara A. Worrell.  VDOF Benefits Administrator Rita Moore assisted the organizing committee.

VDOF Presents Check to Central Virginia Burn Camp

Proceeds from a silent auction held at the National Association of State Foresters Annual Meeting that was held in Virginia in late September were donated to two charities: the NASF Foundation and the Central Virginia Burn Camp.  The silent auction raised more than $4,500, and each charity received half of the proceeds.

State Forester Carl Garrison, Central Region Regional Forester Ed Zimmer and Assistant Director of Resource Protection Fred Turck presented a check for $2,261 to Burn Camp Director Leslie Baruch that will cover the cost of two children to attend the week-long residential camp in 2014.

This year’s silent auction saw a record number of items donated and the money raised was almost double the amount of last year’s NASF silent auction.  Thanks to everyone involved for making this such a successful charity fundraiser. 

Forest Certification Information Dinners

Landowners interested in learning more about the benefits of having their woodlands certified are invited to attend one of two evening workshops. A workshop will be held Monday, December 2, at the Reynolds Homestead in Patrick County near Critz, Va. On Tuesday, December 3, at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, Va.

The three-hour workshops will run from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and cost $20 per person with dinner provided.  The deadline to register is Sunday, November 24.  You can register and pay online at, or you can print out a registration form and mail it in along with a check.

Sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education program and the US Forest Service, the workshop will cover such topics as: the pros and cons of woodland certification; the types of certification programs available in Virginia; concepts of sustainable woodland management; how to start the certification process, and the results of a recent landowner survey on certification.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Gagnon at 540.231.6391.

Interactive Map Displays Global Forest Changes

Tech giant Google has provided the computing power behind a new online map that shows how and where the world's forests are changing. The map compiles 100-foot-resolution satellite images of Earth's land area taken each season, every year between 2000 and 2012.

Globally, the map shows that 888,000 square miles of forest were lost between 2000 and 2012. During the same period, 309,000 square miles were gained. The map clearly shows the location of working forests in the southeastern U.S., where 31 percent of the forest cover was either lost or reforested during the time period.

To explore the online map, visit

Forest Service names Schwarzenegger as honorary ranger

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell named former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the agency’s third honorary forest ranger for his leadership on climate change.

He was honored for signing and implementing the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. As a result, California uses a ground-breaking mix of measures, including a low-carbon fuel standard, a renewable energy portfolio and a cap-and-trade program, to meet its targets.

Since leaving office in 2011, the governor co-founded the R20, the Regions of Climate Action. The R20 helps governments develop projects to reduce carbon emissions and to make forests and other ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

In August 2012, the University of Southern California launched the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy to develop leaders to find local solutions based on sound science.

Schwarzenegger, 66, served from 2003-11 as California’s 38th governor. The native Austrian joins actress Betty White and Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell as an honorary ranger.

Winter Preparedness Week is Dec. 1-7, 2013

Last winter, snowstorms and cold temperatures affected every part of Virginia. Citizens suffered in the wake of power outages, icy roads and bored school children.

Winter Preparedness Week – set for Dec. 1-7 – is the time to get ready for possible bad weather. Here’s how to start preparing:

  • Make a plan. Decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if your family is separated and cannot return home because of closed roads. Choose an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family’s point of contact for emergency communications.
  • Get a kit. Here are basic supplies for winter weather: three days’ food; three days’ water (a gallon per person per day); a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries; and your written family emergency plan.
  • Stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials. Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions.

Additional information and resources are available online at