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May 1, 2014

Charlottesville Students Dig into Dominion's Project Plant It!

Special guests at the Arbor Day event included Rob Farrell (standing at left), acting state forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), and Jo McElwain (far right) from the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska.Second-graders at Clark Elementary School in Charlottesville celebrated Arbor Day during an outdoor event that included planting an American Beech tree. The students were enrolled in Dominion's Project Plant It!, an environmental education program for elementary school children. The students also visited learning centers packed with nature-based activities, such as thanking trees for their many benefits to the ecosystem. After the event, which was coordinated by representatives from the City Schoolyard Garden initiative, the students received their own redbud tree seedling to plant in honor of Arbor Day on April 25.

Special guests at the Arbor Day event included Rob Farrell (standing at left), acting state forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), and Jo McElwain (far right) from the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska.

Jeanette Abi-Nader, executive director of City Schoolyard Garden, expressed appreciation to the partner organizations for inspiring the next generation of tree-planters: “Thank you Dominion, Virginia Department of Forestry and Charlottesville City Schools Curriculum Coordinator Libbey Kitten, for hosting the Project Plant It! celebration at Clark Elementary. We love to see the students planting trees and digging in the garden!”

Hike Virginia’s State Forests; June 7 is National Trails Day

Forestry officials invite citizens out to Virginia’s state forests to celebrate National Trails Day June 7.

Many of Virginia’s 23 state forests offer miles of trails for walking, hiking and bird watching. Trails allow for recreation and are a great way to get the public to increase their physical activity in an outdoor setting. Trail users can explore in solitude and find peace and tranquility. Or, join family or friends for an outdoor social activity.

Passive recreational opportunities, such as walking, hiking and canoeing, are provided free of charge. Horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, fishing and trapping all require a State Forest Use Permit when persons 16 years and older enjoy these activities on a state forest.

Located in the Central Virginia area, the Appomattox-Buckingham, Cumberland, Zoar and Prince Edward – Gallion state forests offer more than 60 miles of trails. A complete list of state forests can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry website.

Making The Most Of Urban Forest Waste

Wood, brush and chips resulting from the pruning, felling or removal of urban trees is collectively known as urban forest waste (UFW). In many cases, UFW is disposed in landfills rather than utilized as a renewable natural resource. Virginia Tech has partnered with the VDOF to conduct research on UFW.

The goal of this research project is to understand the amount and fate of UFW in urban areas across Virginia and characterize the attitudes, perceptions and opinions of those resource professionals directly involved in UFW generation and utilization. The effort will also document existing or potential barriers to increased UFW utilization. The information generated by this project will inform future outreach and technical assistance activities aimed at improving UFW utilization.

On Earth Day, U.S. Forest Service Seeks Applications for Wood to Energy Projects

The U.S. Forest Service announced April 22 that it is seeking proposals that expand wood energy use and support responsible forest management.

The Hazardous Fuels Wood-to-Energy Grant program will provide about $2.8 million to help successful applicants complete the engineering design work needed to apply for public or private loans for construction and long-term financing of wood energy facilities. The agency also announced $1.7 million in funding available under the Statewide Wood Energy Team. This cooperative agreement program invites public-private teams to seek funding to advance wood energy. Activities may include workshops that provide technical, financial and environmental information, preliminary engineering assessments and community outreach needed to support development of wood energy projects.

This year, the Wood-to-Energy grant program encourages hospitals, prisons or school campuses to leverage project similarities to improve economies of scale and expand the use of woody biomass for energy. Since 2005, more than 150 Wood-to-Energy grants have been awarded to small businesses, non-profits and State and local agencies to improve forest health, while creating jobs, green energy, and healthy communities.

Application deadlines are outlined in the Federal Register and more information can be found at  www.na.fs.fed.us/werc. Applications may be submitted through www.grants.gov.

Managing Southern Forests under Climate Change

U.S. Forest Service scientists recently published a new comprehensive guide to help natural resource managers in the South. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options: A Guide for Natural Resource Managers in Southern Forest Ecosystems culminates a multi-year initiative by Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists and collaborators from the National Forest System, universities and other federal agencies.

The new 492-page guide represents an interdisciplinary approach to developing science-based management options to reduce threats and maintain or enhance the values of southern forest ecosystems under future climates and changes in disturbance regimes.

Topics in the publication focus on potential climate change impacts on wildfire, insects, diseases and invasives, and how these in turn could affect important values of southern forests, such as timber and fiber, water quality and quantity, species and habitats and recreation.

The publication is available for purchase from CRC Press.

VDOF Vehicles on Display

The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke will host an exhibit of VDOF vehicles beginning Saturday, May 10. The exhibition will run until June 30. Visit www.vmt.org for more information.

DOF Personnel News

Nathan Rutherford, forester in the Heartland Work Area, Central Region, is leaving VDOF to join a private consulting company.