You Can Help Ensure Virginia has More Hardwoods!

The Virginia Department of Forestry needs your help to continue producing quality seedlings for Virginia landowners. Virginia-grown seed generally produces trees that will grow well in our state. Every year, homeowners from all over the state donate acorns and other seed to help us produce the next season’s crop. Seed collection is a great activity for children and adults. It’s also a wonderful way to learn more about Virginia trees. Every year, homeowners spend countless hours raking up acorns and wonder what to do with them. We have the answer… donate your acorns to the Virginia Department of Forestry! VDOF needs seeds and acorns from the following trees:

  • Black Oak
  • Black Walnut
  • Chinese Chestnut
  • Chestnut Oak
  • Live Oak
  • Northern Red Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • Sawtooth Oak
  • Southern Red Oak
  • Swamp Chestnut Oak
  • Swamp White Oak
  • White Oak
  • Willow Oak

It is easy to pick up a lot of these seeds during the months of September and October in many yards and parking lots.  When collecting the seeds, please follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Make sure the tree is correctly identified.
  2. Try to keep as much trash out as possible (sticks, leaves, gravel, etc.).
  3. It doesn’t matter if acorns still have the caps on them or not.
  4. Place the seed in a breathable sack or bag (No plastic bags please!).
  5. One type of seed should not be mixed with another (For example: white oak acorns should be in one bag and red oak acorns should be in another).
  6. Make sure the bag of seed is labeled and dated correctly.
  7. Once the seed is collected, place in a cool area (Seed will spoil if it is over heated).
  8. Bring the seed into the the nearest VDOF office no later than October 16.

Find out more and get info to help ID acorns. If you need help identifying a tree, have questions about the process or need directions please contact Joshua at 540-363-7000.

Pretty is as Pretty Does: The Tale of an Emerald Insect Eating its Way Across Virginia

 

“They look so pretty!” That’s what I said the first time I saw an adult emerald ash borer (EAB). But I soon learned from our VDOF Forest Health team that this green insect’s destruction is anything but pretty.

EAB came to the United States from Asia, was first discovered in Northern Virginia in 2008 and is boring its way through ash trees from Michigan to Virginia. “Adult ash borers are metallic green beetles that can be seen flying around the tops of ash trees in late spring and early summer,” VDOF Forest Health Manager Lori Chamberlin said. “These beetles lay eggs on ash bark, and the larvae that hatch tunnel into the tree and feed under the bark. This disrupts the flow of water and nutrients within the tree – effectively choking it to death.”

No ash tree native to Virginia is resistant to EAB, according to Chamberlin. And, unless they are treated before or very early in the infestation, all ash trees that are infested will eventually die.

Hope for Landowners

But there is an arsenal to push these invasive insects back.  “We recommend either a stem injection or a soil drench,” said Chamberlin. “But the time to do this is now, because once an ash tree has lost more than 30 percent of its canopy, it’s too late to save the tree.”

Chamberlin recommends that landowners contact a certified arborist to discuss the treatment options, their costs and the timing of these treatments.

Chemical treatment is effective and most appropriate for high-value landscape trees. Unfortunately, treatment is not normally effective in a forest setting. According to forest survey data, ash makes up approximately two percent of Virginia’s forests. However, it can comprise a significant portion of individual forest stands, especially in riparian and mountainous areas. If you own forestland with a large component of commercially valuable ash, the VDOF recommends discussing your forest management options with a professional forester. Options may range from conducting a silvicultural harvest to doing nothing and leaving the dying/dead trees as wildlife habitat. Check out additional information about professional consulting foresters working in the Commonwealth.

Cutting Edge Push Back

I went out this summer with Lori Chamberlin, VDOF Forest Health Specialist Katlin Mooneyham and University of Virginia Forest Health Intern Kendra Counts  to try out an EAB management method in Cumberland State Forest (check out the video up top).  It was hot; there were mosquitoes and waist-deep poison ivy. But the work this team accomplished will go a long way towards learning how best to fight back against EAB.

As we waved off mosquitoes and navigated the underbrush, Chamberlin and Mooneyham explained that biological control is the most effective effort that we can use in controlling these beetles as they move through forested settings where other control options are not viable. The only other real shot we have at controlling EAB is use of insecticides, but in forests that is difficult because of the amount of ash present and the expense of treatment for that many trees.

“Biological control is a key tool in the integrated pest management toolbox for controlling invasive species,” said Mooneyham. “When we’re faced with a widespread attack, such as we are currently experiencing in Virginia with EAB, we need all the help we can get.”

I like to refer to this summer’s experience as “releasing the hounds,” but we actually released parasitoid wasps. Two releases occurred this summer, one in Whitney State Forest in Warrenton and one in Cumberland State Forest in Cumberland. At Whitney 600 Oobius agrilus (a species that attacks EAB eggs) and 855 Tetrastichus plannipennis (a species that attacks EAB larvae) were released. At Cumberland 400 Oobius agrilus and 403 Tetrastichus plannipennis were released. These wasps pose no threat to humans –– they don’t sting and in fact they are very tiny (really…check them out in the video!).  Tetrastichus plannipennis is only 3-4 mm in size and Oobius agrilus is similarly very small.

And don’t worry; they’re safe (unless you’re an EAB), legal and extensively tested. VDOF received approval to release thIMG_0813ese wasps from USDA APHIS since testing in quarantine showed that they were not a threat to other native insects or animals. This also means that since the wasps are so species-specific for their prey that their population rises and falls along with changes in EAB populations!

 

 

 

 

The VDOF Forest Health staff continues to monitor the establishment of these predators over the next few years at these two sites and hopefully more releases on other state lands will follow. Ultimately, the release of these parasitoids is one of the efforts VDOF is pursuing to protect ash throughout Virginia and gives hope that EAB’s march through our state can be slowed. F

Click here to learn more about EAB or these parasitoids.

 

To Do: Enjoy Virginia’s Fall Foliage

Have you looked outside lately? The leaves are beginning to change colors and it won’t be long before parts of Virginia are decked out in their finest foliage! Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year in Virginia. Whether you are traveling along the Blue Ridge, exploring Southside or journeying along the Eastern Shore, you’re bound to enjoy the vibrant colors of the Commonwealth’s fall foliage.

Each week VDOF provides a Fall Foliage Report. This summary of color, species and location helps travelers plan their trips around fall color in the state. In addition to weekly updates, you will also find suggested foliage drives to help avoid traffic during the season.

DSC_0780 20161029_1328 - Looking Down Toward Little Stone Mountain Gap and Powell Valley Overlook - Wayne Browning Photograph JPEG
Looking down toward Little Stone Mountain Gap and Powell Valley Overlook. Photo courtesy of Wayne Browning

So before you hit the highway to enjoy Virginia’s array of fall colors, check out the VDOF fall foliage report!

Additional fall foliage resources:

 

Hunting in State Forests: What you Need to Know Before you Go

October in Virginia brings cooler weather, eye-popping fall foliage and Pumpkin spice-flavored everything. But October in this state of natural beauty and abundant resources is also the beginning of hunting season for many game species in the state. Before heading out this season, become familiar with State Forest regulations and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Hunting & Trapping Regulations, and then check out the information below about hunting in Virginia State Forests.

Is hunting allowed in State Forests?

Hunting is allowed in the following State Forests:

 How is hunting in Conway Robinson and Whitney State Forests different from the other State Forests that allow hunting?

Hunting in these two locations is by lottery, is shotgun slugs only this season and the hunting season is limited to two days only (see above for specific dates).

You may apply to the lottery for hunting at the Conway Robinson, the Whitney, or both hunting locations with one application submission.  Only one submission will be accepted per person. The lottery officially closes Sunday, October 8th at 11:59 pm. More information and lottery application.

When are the hunting seasons in State Forests?

With the exception of the stated hunting seasons in Lesesne, Conway Robinson and Whitney State Forests, hunting regulations and seasons generally follow those of the county in which the State Forest is located. Contact the State Forest Office if you have specific questions.

Do I need a Special Use Permit to hunt in the State Forests?

On forests where hunting and fishing are allowed, a valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting or fishing license are required for persons aged 16 years-old or older in accordance with state regulations.

Where do I get a Special Use Permit?

Permits cost $16 and are valid for one year from date of purchase. Permits can be purchased two ways:

  • Go to any location where you purchase a hunting license. Ask the clerk for the “State Forest Permit” to be added to your license.
  • Use your credit card and purchase a permit online from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) website. After you sign in, find “Special Licenses” and select “State Forest use Permit.”

What time of day may I hunt in a State Forests?

State Forests are open daily from dawn to dusk. Hunting is permitted during non-daylight hours when Department and Game and Inland Fisheries allows hunting of a particular species at these times.

Do I have to pay to enter a State Forest?

There are no charges to visit the State Forests. A State Forest Use Permit is required for some activities, including hunting and fishing.

Can I bring my bike or ride my horse in a State Forest?

Foot travel, non-motorized bikes, and horses are permitted. A special use permit is required for mountain bikes and horseback riding.

Can I ride my ATV in a State Forest?

ATVs are not permitted on any of the State Forests. Vehicles on forest roads open to vehicular traffic must be licensed for travel on Virginia public highways and operated by a licensed driver.

I have specific questions about a State Forest. Who do I contact?

You may contact the State Forest Office at  804.492.4121 or contact the specific State Forest about which you have questions.

Other resources:

Local Firearms Ordinances. Please be familiar with the ordinances in the locality in which you are hunting.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Hunting Regulations

Photo courtesy of Meghan Marchetti, DGIF