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April 2, 2014

Redbuds To Bloom with Project Plant It!

Lisa Deaton holds a redbud tree seedling that Dominion will distribute to all of the students enrolled in Project Plant It! for Arbor Day. Project Plant It! continues to blossom with new ways to engage elementary students in learning about trees and the environment.

Nearly 10,000 students in the Richmond region will participate in this free program offered by Dominion, the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power. More than 33,000 students in several states will learn about how trees improve the air we breathe, provide shelter for birds and wildlife, prevent soil erosion and can be strategically planted to help reduce heating and cooling costs, among other attributes.

Lisa Deaton, forestry education specialist for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), visited two schools in March with a special treat for some very lucky third-graders in Central Virginia. She shared her vast knowledge about trees during a fun and interactive forester presentation at Patrick Copeland Elementary in Hopewell and at Battlefield Park Elementary in Hanover County. Judging from the enthusiasm of the students throughout her presentation, the future of the environment is in good hands!

During the week of Arbor Day (April 25), Project Plant It! will distribute a redbud tree seedling to each student enrolled in the program. “The redbud is native to Virginia and grows well throughout the state,” said Deaton. “It is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring and is easily identified by its beautiful pink blossoms and distinctive red-tinged leaves. It will remind students about Project Plant It! for years to come.” Since 2007, Project Plant It! has distributed more than 250,000 tree seedlings to students in seven states. The program is provided by Dominion at no cost to schools.

The website, www.projectplantit.com, features videos and interactive games about trees. For more information, visit the website or “Like” Project Plant It! on Facebook.

Land Conservation Program Helps Landowner’s “Legacy”

Forest landowners interested in the future of their land are invited to protect their property by applying for the Forest Legacy Program (FLP). The program is administered by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) with funds provided by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service.

Grants are awarded annually, through a nationally-competitive process, to forest landowners with tracts of land at least 50 acres in size, and at least 75 percent forested (planting of trees on open fields to meet this percentage is acceptable); the title must be free and clear of any liens or adverse encumbrances.

The FLP pays up to 75 percent of the appraised value, with the required matching funds coming from private, State or local sources. For lands being offered for a conservation easement, a multiple-resource forest management plan is required. Landowners may benefit from reduced taxes if they choose to donate the required matching funds for the program by accepting what is called a bargain sale (or partial purchase).

“The program emphasizes protection of significant forests of regional and national significance,” said Larry Mikkelson, acquisition and easement coordinator with VDOF. “Almost every county in Virginia has an area eligible for the FLP. We review proposals that have been presented for competition, and that includes tract and landowner information found in the application.”

The Forest Legacy Program deadline for proposals is July 17, 2014. To learn more, and to download program materials, visit http://dof.virginia.gov/land/legacy/index.htm

VDOF Awards $108,000 in Grants to 24 Local Organizations

Through its Virginia Trees for Clean Water Program, the VDOF awarded $108,177 in grants to citizen groups and local governments across the Commonwealth. Funding is provided by the U.S. Forest Service Chesapeake Watershed Forestry Program.

The goal of the program is to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by creating and supporting long-term and sustained tree canopy cover. Grants were awarded for planting riparian buffers or trees in neighborhoods and communities.

Grant funding is provided on a 50/50 match basis with applicant funding and contributions, which can include volunteer time.  VDOF officials estimate the total value of this match at $616,292. The grant covers projects to be undertaken and completed during the spring and early fall of 2014.

To see the complete list, visit our website.

Tree seedlings selling fast; order yours before they’re gone

Each year, the VDOF grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends April 30. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don’t wait too much longer as several species, including Black  Cherry, Alleghany Chinkapin, Gray Dogwood, Red Mulberry, Wild Plum, Yellow Poplar, Redbud and Loblolly Pine (all varieties), have already sold out. Online orders are accepted until April 23.

Seedlings are available in quantities as low as 10 or 25; these small quantities can be beneficial to landowners of modest-size forested tracts. Order yours today by visiting BuyVirginiaTrees.com; calling the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.

Forest products employees visit Capitol Hill to share impacts of legislation, regulations

More than 83 members of the Pulp & Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC) visited Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress and administration officials to educate them on the impact of legislative and regulatory decisions.  During three days of meetings, PPRC members made 316 legislative and administration visits.

In addition to meeting with their members of Congress, PPRC members met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and the Forest Service.

They discussed issues including the regulatory burden impacting American manufacturing, the carbon neutrality of biomass and manufacturing byproducts; renewable energy; clean water and ensuring the competitiveness of the U.S. forest products industry. Exports account for about 15 percent of total U.S. forest products sales, and exports of paper and paperboard exceeded imports by about 20 percent in 2013.

The PPRC is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who educate on issues that impact jobs in their industry.

West Coast log and lumber exports increased 2013

Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California and Alaska increased by 20 percent in volume in 2013 compared to 2012. The total value of these exports also jumped, by nearly 37 percent for log exports and by 23 percent for lumber exports. Asian counties, including China and Japan, increased their wood product imports from the West Coast as well as from the remainder of the United States.

Compared to 2012, China increased its imports of West Coast logs by 48 percent and of West Coast lumber by 45 percent in 2013. Last year, total U.S. log and lumber exports to the country increased by more than 35 percent.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station reported the statistics using data from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, an annual publication on the region’s lumber and plywood production as well as employment in forest industries. The report is available online at http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/.

Flora of Virginia on View

Discover the power of the flower! Explore our Commonwealth’s phenomenal plant world through Flora of Virginia, an exhibition at the Library of Virginia.

Curated by the Flora of Virginia Project in tandem with the Library, the exhibition features colorful illustrations from the Library’s collections, as well as books, photographs, plant specimens, paintings, posters, models and sculptures - some pieces dating to the 17th or 18th century.

With an eye toward the art of botany, the exhibition covers John Clayton and other early botanists and native plants.

The exhibition is on view Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until September 13.

DOF Personnel News

GIS Program Manager Jason Braunstein ran the 2014 Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in 3:14:20, qualifying him to compete in the 2015 Boston Marathon. Jason credits CommonHealth with getting him back into shape in 2013. He has lost 50-lbs with the help of this program.

Lisa Burke is now our full-time program support technician at the Eastern Regional Office. She previously worked part-time for VDOF.

Lori Chamberlin is the new forest health technician at Headquarters.

Beth Burnam, forestland conservation specialist for the Central Region, is leaving VDOF. Her last day is April 9.