VFA Past President John Carroll and his wife Virginia provided this year's state capitol tree that was lit during a virtual tree lighting ceremony at the Governor's Mansion on December 2, 2020. "It's a once in a lifetime experience to provide a tree this big," said John when interviewed by CBS-19 News. According to the interview, the tree took 25 years to grow, and it was one of the first ones that John and Virginia planted. "This particular tree was so beautiful and we just decided to let it grow. I'm glad we did because it wouldn't have gotten to be 25 feet tall if we harvested early," remarked John.
For the Carroll's full interview with CBS-19 News in Charlottesville (12/3/20), click here.
SAF Recognizes Lee Spradlin, Jennifer Gagnon, and Adam Downing
This past October, the Society of American Foresters recognized excellence and outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations in the field of forestry and natural resources during their virtual convention.
Lee Spradlin received the John A. Beale Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts over a sustained period by an SAF member in the promotion of forestry through voluntary service to the Society. Lee, a VFA member since 1982, has made exemplary contributions to SAF over the past 44 years, spanning from chapter chair to Virginia Division and Appalachian SAF chair to District 8 representative on the then SAF Council. Lee spent his career as a “boots-on-the-ground” forester managing both private and company-owned forestland in Virginia and West Virginia. "Lee doesn’t volunteer just to get the task done; he does it to make it better," says David Wm. Smith. "Whatever he does, it is done with total devotion, integrity, and professional expertise."
SAF also recognized its Class of 2020 Fellows, a recognition bestowed on a member by their peers for outstanding contributions and service to SAF and the profession. VFA members Jennifer Gagnon and Adam Downing received this outstanding recognition.
For the full article on these most deserved recognitions and more, click here.
Pandemic Has Sent Lumber Prices Soaring, Causing Home Construction Costs to Rise Amid Strong Demand
"From its large lumberyard in eastern Henrico County, the Ruffin & Payne Lumber Co. ships out building products to construction projects around the Richmond region. With 40 years of experience in the lumber industry, company president George E. Haw says he hasn't experienced anything quite like what has happened this year with lumber prices, as the COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with them almost all of 2020.
'It's been crazy,' Haw said. 'I've been around a long time, and I have never seen a lumber market behave like this in 40 years.'"
"Corey Connors, executive director of the Virginia Forestry Association, said the state was fortunate that most every business in the forestry supply chain was deemed "essential" and has continued to operate during the pandemic.
'With some quick action and adaptation, our member manufacturers were able to continue operating under enhanced safety protocols,' Connors said."
For the full story from The Richmond Times Dispatch (12/11/20), click here. Land Secured for VA’s Newest State Forest Along Roanoke River in Charlotte County
"The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and The Conservation Fund announced today the protection of 2,531 acres of working timberland near the town of Drakes Branch. The land will ultimately become part of Virginia’s 26th state forest, Charlotte State Forest, and the first publicly accessible state land in Charlotte County.
'Land conservation and retaining forests and farmland are top priorities of the Northam Administration,' said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. 'This property has a rich legacy of forest and wildlife stewardship. The shared vision and dedication among all partners will honor that history while safeguarding water quality along the Roanoke Creek for future generations.'”
For the full story from The Roanoke Star (12/4/20), click here. As Solar Farms Multiply Across Virginia, Officials Reckon with Land Use Challenges
"Just above the North Carolina border, in the heart of Southside Virginia, Halifax’s sunshine and abundant lands yielded some of the country’s largest crops of brightleaf tobacco. Mild and fragrant, the yellow-leaved variety sometimes known as 'golden tobacco' sparked awe among visitors to the county’s auction warehouses and brought wealth pouring into the county. It was, the local historical society would later recall, the golden age of Halifax.
Today, the landscape is far different. The population has shrunk and is aging. South Boston, once an independent city that until the Great Depression was the second-biggest brightleaf market in the country, reverted to a town in 1995 after ongoing fiscal struggles. Tobacco is a shadow of its former glory."
For the full story from Virginia Mercury (12/1/20), click here.
Northam OP-ED: Virginia Leading Chesapeake Bay Restoration Efforts
"As the new chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, I understand the urgency of saving the Chesapeake Bay from the pollution that has threatened it for so many years, as well as the magnitude of the challenges we face in the bay watershed, which includes six states and the District of Columbia.
It will be my job to ensure we have strong leadership on bay issues, and that all of our partners are working together toward the same goal as we approach our 2025 bay restoration deadline. That deadline was set in 2010, after 26 years of restoration efforts, and if states can’t meet it on their own, the EPA will step in and set requirements for us — not something any bay state wants to have happen. Virginia and all of our partner states must pick up the pace to meet that deadline, as a recent Chesapeake Bay Foundation report on the bay cleanup effort makes clear."
For the full piece from Governor Northam as written in The Virginian-Pilot (12/5/20), click here. 25% Virginia Businesses are Closed Temporarily or Permanently
"During the Virginia Small Business Commission’s meeting on December 1st, Sean Brazier, Vice President of Economic Competitiveness at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) presented on the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and the efficacy of Paycheck Protection Program loans delivered in Virginia.
According to Mr. Brazier, nearly a 25 percent of businesses in Virginia have closed temporarily or permanently due to impacts from the pandemic."
"Businesses in rural areas faced more challenges in accessing loans, he explained. In densely populated areas, between 50-75% of businesses participated in the program. In less populated areas, that percentage dropped to between 25-50%. Brazier said this disparity is likely due to the fact that there are fewer banks in rural areas and that rural small businesses are less likely to have relationships with lenders."
For the full report from NFIB (12/2/20), click here.
Surveys Underway on Visitor Use at George Washington National Forest
"Through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service, West Virginia University (WVU) employees is conducting voluntary surveys of visitors recreating on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests through Sept. 30, 2021.
Visitors on developed recreation areas and trailheads, and along Forest Service roads who agree to participate in the National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey will not be asked their names. All responses are confidential. The basic interview lasts about eight minutes, and every other visitor is asked additional questions related either to economics or satisfaction, which may take an additional five minutes."
For the full article from Nelson County Times (12/2/20), click here. Governor Northam Awards Grants to Fauquier, Pulaski, and Roanoke Counties to Advance Local Agriculture and Forestry
"Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Fauquier County, Pulaski County, and Roanoke County will each receive a grant of $20,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture and forestry initiatives amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These grants will be matched by more than $67,000 in additional funding from the applicant communities, non-profit organizations, and local governments."
'In these unprecedented times, it is important to support our local food system, agriculture and forest products industries, and our citizens with both immediate and long-term solutions and improvements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased these localities have been able to identify creative ways to support agriculture, forestry, and agroforestry, and I am proud that VDACS can play a role.'”
For the full press release from the Governor's Office (12/9/20), click here. December is Proclaimed as Virginia Christmas Tree Month
"The Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association presented Gov. Ralph S. Northam with two Christmas trees and several wreaths recently for Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Following the presentation, Northam presented the association with a proclamation proclaiming December as Virginia Christmas Tree Month.
'The First Lady and I are proud to display Virginia-grown Christmas trees and wreaths in the Executive Mansion this holiday season,' said Northam. 'Growing up, my family would visit a tree farm each year to cut down our Christmas tree, and even during the pandemic, I hope families can safely enjoy this holiday tradition and support Virginia businesses. Tree farms are an important part of Virginia’s agriculture and forest industry, and we thank the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association for all they do for our farmers and growers.'”
For the full article from Times Virginian (12/9/20), click here. Brennan OP-ED: For Love of Nature: 500-Year Forests for the Future
"Twenty-three years ago, a handful of people had a vision for preserving old-growth forests in Virginia. Not that we had many. When Europeans first came here, the land was thick with old giants, but by the time of the Civil War, nearly the entire state had been clear-cut.
Less than one-half of 1% is truly old growth. Slowly, some larger areas are being allowed to regenerate. Old-growth forests provide critical habitat for many species, including salamanders, soil invertebrates, small mammals, songbirds and black bears. Standing dead wood is important for many wildlife species."
For the full article from The News & Advance (12/9/20), click here.
In Virginia Beach, City and Environmentalists Turn to Planting Trees to Slow Flooding Woes
"In Ocean Lakes, 100 more trees will soon be popping up in yards throughout the flood-prone neighborhood in southern Virginia Beach, each gifted at no cost from a local environmental group.
And in nearby parks and other green areas, dozens of volunteers recently planted nearly 400 oaks and bald cypresses, among other trees, with plans for another 500 to be in place next year. This roughly $25,000 initiative was a partnership between one of the biggest homeowners associations in the city and Lynnhaven River NOW, a local environmental organization."
For the full article from The Virginian-Pilot (12/6/20), click here.
Christmas Tree Farm Brightens Customers' Holidays
"At 86, Harold Hannah dusted off his Christmas tree yard sign last week in preparation for another season of greeting local families who want a real tree for the holidays. He’s not sure what to expect this year as far as sales go."
"Before the tree grower retired as a regional director for the Virginia Department of Forestry in 1991, he began dabbling with growing evergreen trees in the late 1970s.
'I know how trees grow, but growing Christmas trees is a whole different situation. Just like any crop, there’s maintenance. The trees require shearing, trimming and mowing around during the hottest part of the year,' he said."
For the full article from SWVA Today (12/2/20), click here.
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