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December, 2013

State of the Forest Report Details Changes and Challenges

We have just published our 2013 State of the Forest annual report. We invite you to spend some time reading about all that has happened over the past 12 months. Forestry is still a $17 Billion economic engine in the Commonwealth and forest industry employs more than 103,000 Virginians.

While the state budget (and the national economy) continues to present the VDOF with many challenges, it hasn’t stopped us from protecting the public; providing services to landowners, and working with private enterprises to create and maintain jobs while developing new markets for Virginia’s forest products. It’s certainly made it more difficult operationally, but our employees continue to perform at a high level so that no citizen is unprotected or left unserved.

The report is a 7MB PDF file available for download from our website. http://dof.virginia.gov/print/aboutus/SOF-2013.pdf

Don’t Move Firewood

Trees are being destroyed through the transportation of invasive insects and diseases in firewood. Once transported into new areas, these insects and diseases can become established and kill local trees. You can help stop the spread: Use firewood from local sources only. DO NOT transport firewood across state lines or into campgrounds or parks. If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.

Even if an area is not under quarantine, it is a good general practice to not move firewood long distances. The quarantine regulations for an area usually lag well behind the arrival of a new invasive species.

For more information, visit the VDOF website and select “Forest Health.”

Wood Ash Disposal Safety

The improper disposal of ashes from fireplaces and woodstoves can cause wildland and structural fires. Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days. High winds can uncover still-hot embers and start a wildfire.

Follow these steps to cool down wood ash completely and prevent hot wood ash from igniting forest, field and structural fires:

  • DO keep ashes in a metal container that can be tightly closed with a metal lid.
  • DO teach other family members about the dangers associated with hot ash disposal.
  • DO NOT dispose of ashes in paper, plastic or cardboard containers.
  • DO NOT dump loads of wood ashes into one pile. The pile can retain heat and insulate embers for long periods of time.
  • DO NOT assume the ashes are cold and pour them onto the ground or into a hole. Leaves can blow onto them or the wind can stir up sparks.
  • DO NOT place ashes in a dumpster. Hot ashes could ignite a fire with material already in the dumpster.
  • DO NOT store your metal ash container on your home’s deck, in your garage or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from those hot ashes to nearby flammable items.

Wood ash, once completely cooled, can safely be dumped. To properly dispose of hot ashes, pour the ashes into the metal container. Soak the ashes with water. Place the metal lid securely on the container. Put the closed container outside your home away from combustible materials. Store ashes in the container for several days.

Once you are POSITIVE the ashes in your container are “cold,” spread them in a garden or a gravel driveway and then prepare your container for the next load.

Ash is composed of 50-70 percent lime and contains phosphorus, potash and trace elements. Gardeners can raise the soil’s pH by applying wood ash to their soil. To avoid altering the pH too drastically, take a soil sample before adding wood ash.

Weyerhaeuser, International Group Support Forest Certification

Weyerhaeuser Company joined 25 of the world's leading forest products companies in announcing the need to significantly scale up sustainable forest management. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Forest Solutions Group is responsible for nearly 40 percent of annual global forest product, paper and packaging sales.

The Leadership Statement on the Value and Future of Forest Certification recognizes that reducing forest loss is a global societal priority requiring immediate and concerted action. The announcement followed an international discussion including three forest certification systems - the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forest Initiative® and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) - at WBCSD's Council Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

PEFC is the world's largest forest certification system and has endorsed two North American certifications standards, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the American Tree Farm System. Landowners certified to SFI and Tree Farm also comply with the PEFC's standards.

PEFC has recognized certification systems in 30 countries which account for more than 593 million acres of certified forests. The PEFC and SFI labels help customers and consumers identify products from responsibly managed forests.

Weyerhaeuser is a real estate investment trust that owns, leases or licenses 20.5 million acres of forests in North America certified to SFI, and more than 300,000 acres in Uruguay certified to FSC and PEFC. PEFC is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification.

Forest Service Launches New Wildland Fire Website

The U. S. Forest Service (USFS) launched a new website to help the public learn about its activities before, during and after a wildland fire. The website covers how they feed their firefighters, how firefighters live while in fire camp and about the state-of-the-art technology used to protect communities and natural resources.

The USFS has managed wildland fire for more than 100 years. To see the website visit http://www.fs.fed.us/wildlandfire/

New My Fire Community Website Launched

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) has migrated three websites into a single web platform. The previous websites, www.wildfirelessons.net, www.myfirecommunity.net and www.imtcenter.net can now be found at www.wildfirelessons.net.

Your “My Fire Community” membership has been established on this site. Find your neighborhoods or Incident Management Team under the “Communities” tab. Your group’s coordinators can recreate communities, if necessary.

If you need assistance on the new website, please contact Connected Community Manager Brenna MacDowell, at bmacdowell@fs.fed.us or 413.569.2075.

New App for Fire Safety

“FireSafe Family VA” is a new home fire safety application for mobile devices from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs. The app features safety information and tools and is designed to run iPhones, iPads and Android devices. To download of the free app, please visit www.vafire.com.