VDOF Employee Earns 2018 National Smokey Bear Award

The 2018 National Smokey Bear Awards were recently announced and Fred Turck (wildfire prevention program manager), along with other prevention specialists from the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact, were awarded the highest honor, the Gold Smokey. This award program is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

Since 1957 this prestigious award program has recognized organizations and individuals for outstanding service of at least two years with significant program impact in wildfire prevention at the national level (Gold), multi-stale level (Silver) and statewide level (Bronze). These awards remind us of the hard work done to reduce the threat of unwanted human-caused wildfires.

“Our Virginia Wildfire Prevention Program has been a National Leader for most of Smokey’s 75 years, and I am truly proud to be part of this organization and the overall Smokey program,” stated Fred. “To now be part owner of a Team Gold Smokey makes me even more humble to have been recognized at the Gold level for the second time.” Fred and another VDOF employee, Ed Roger, are only two of three folks who ever received all three awards — Bronze, Silver and Gold. Now Fred is the first individual to have received two Gold Smokey Awards. The Ad Council as an agency received the Gold Award twice but Fred is the first individual to have been so recognized.


VDOF in the Spotlight at Project Plant It! Event

by Suyapa Marquez, Senior Community Affairs Representative for Dominion Energy

VDOF representatives visited Oak Grove Elementary  (Richmond Public Schools) on April 24 to support an interactive Arbor Day event with the third-graders. The students were culminating their study of Project Plant It!, the free environmental education program created by Dominion Energy to teach kids about the importance of trees and how to plant trees.

Barbara White at Oak Grove

The rainy day didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the students as they gathered indoors to learn interesting facts about trees from Barbara White, VDOF’s urban forestry coordinator. She shared her expertise about how trees grow and how to take care of them properly.

At the conclusion of her remarks she presented Hunter Woods, a Dominion Energy forester, with a Tree Line USA banner from the Arbor Day Foundation. The Tree Line USA program recognizes companies that engage in best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens. Woods accepted the award on behalf of Dominion Energy.

Barbara White & Hunter Woods

The students then sang a special song called “Things That Grow,” which was followed by planting six redbud trees on the school grounds. Cynthia Scheuermann, urban & community forestry specialist with the VDOF, assisted with the tree plantings.

DOF Reps at Oak Grove

“It was so much fun to watch the students connect with nature in a fun and meaningful way,” said Barbara White. “When they visit the school in years to come, they’ll always remember planting the redbuds to celebrate Arbor Day.”

VDOF Headquarters Named

Virginia Department of Forestry Dedicates Building to Former State Forester Jim Garner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) dedicated and named its headquarters office the James W. Garner Building. Jim Garner served VDOF for more than four decades. He was appointed Virginia State Forester in 1984 and held that position for 21 years.

During Garner’s tenure with VDOF, the agency enjoyed significant success and under his leadership, Forestry grew from a state division to a state agency. “Jim’s vision, wisdom and guidance directly influenced VDOF’s current position as a leader within the forestry sector, and a vital partner among other natural resource agencies and organizations,” said State Forester Rob Farrell.

The James W. Garner Building houses not only the VDOF headquarters office, but also the agency’s Central Region offices, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia State Police. The building also hosts office space for the American Chestnut Foundation, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia ABC, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.  In addition, the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center, comprised of Federal agencies involved in fire response, has been reestablished there.

VDOF’s history is rooted in Charlottesville. The first office was on the University of Virginia campus. The land upon which today’s headquarters stands was originally a VDOF nursery. The site was cleared for construction in 1992 and the building was completed in the spring of 1994. The 32-acre campus also includes an educational nature trail and borders a section of the Rivanna Trail.

“Great thought and planning went into the creation of this building,” said Farrell, “and the benefits extend beyond those who work here. Many state agencies and organizations hold meetings and trainings in the building and the reopening of Aroma’s restaurant on the premises is a great draw for people throughout the Charlottesville area. It really is a wonderful place for partners to work together to care for and promote Virginia’s natural resources.”

Garner and his family at the dedication ceremony

Garner, a native of Amherst County,  says he is honored and “a little embarrassed” by the dedication in his name. “It is a tremendous honor, but there are so many people who were instrumental in making this building a reality besides me,” he said. “Without the dedicated VDOF employees I worked with over the years and the support of my family, the story would be very different. I am grateful to all of them and very pleased with the good work VDOF continues to do across Virginia.”

Field Notes: What’s in the Woods Today? May 9, 2018

by Area Forester Lisa Deaton

Flowers, Birds and Bugs

When the songbirds and wildflowers reappear each spring, it feels a bit like a reunion with long lost friends.  The migratory songbirds fill the air with familiar songs.  The month of May brings many beautiful wildflowers, including its namesake, the Mayapple (below).


Golden ragwort (top photo) is a common wildflower in cutovers, and this large patch of ragwort (below) provides some natural landscaping for an old house no longer surrounded by forest.

Dame house w flowers

As it turns out, the songbirds are not here just to greet us; they have arrived in time to eat the emerging insects and to drink nectar from the blooming flowers.

Zebra swallowtail butterflies have hatched on the Middle Peninsula.  This one (below) is feeding on the nectar of two species of purple flowers growing near the zebra swallowtail’s host plant, pawpaw.

Z Swallowtail original

If spring has a dark side, it is the arrival of some very annoying insects: deer flies, ticks, and mosquitoes.   These “biters” are present throughout the summer; but insects can have their magical moments, such as these baby spiders taking a leap towards their first adventures (below).

spider hatch