NASF Centennial Challenge


The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is excited to participate in the Centennial Challenge put forth by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) in 2020. Below is the campaign announcement from NASF:

“The National Association of State Foresters is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020 with a Centennial Challenge campaign, honoring both the work of the association in providing a unified voice for state and private forestry in the United States since 1920, as well as the tremendous social, environmental, and economic contributions state forestry agencies have made nationwide for over a century’s time.

NASF will be spotlighting state forestry agencies and their work to complete 100-themed challenges regularly throughout the year-long campaign. Keep an eye out for your state’s Centennial Challenge celebration on social media with the hashtags #CentennialChallenge and #NASF100​ or by following the handle @stateforesters on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Come January 2020, you’ll start to see the nation’s 59 state and territorial forestry agencies’ challenges appearing on a Centennial Challenge interactive map online. In the meantime, for more information about state foresters and their work to conserve, protect, and enhance America’s forests, visit​”

For the challenge, VDOF has committed to treating 100 ash trees to protect them against emerald ash borer (EAB) — an invasive wood-boring beetle that’s pushing most native species of ash (Fraxinus) trees in Virginia to the brink of extinction. Learn more about EAB in these Storymaps.

VDOF’s EAB coordinator Meredith Bean says, “Treating ash trees to protect them from EAB is not always easy, particularly because they tend to grow naturally in wet environments. Our preferred method of chemical treatment is trunk injection of a systemic insecticide product with emamectin benzoate as the active ingredient. Direct injections into the trunk avoids effects on non-target species, unlike bark spray or soil drench treatments with neonicotinoid products. We will continue to treat high-value ash on an individual-tree basis and support landowners and organizations treating on private property through our cost-share program, with the goal to sustain the environmental, economic, and social benefits these trees provide.”

In 2020, we’ll share updates (on social media and here on the blog) about our progress toward our goal of treating 100 ash trees, and we’ll highlight several ash tree stories from across the state. Be sure to follow @stateforesters and @ForestryVA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and check out #CentennialChallenge and #NASF100​ throughout the year to see how other agencies are responding to the challenge!


Field Notes: What’s in the Woods Today? March 18 2019

By Area Forester Lisa Deaton

Parasitic Plants

parasitic plants1American or eastern mistletoe, Phoradendrum leucarpum, is a common parasite of oaks and maples in the Coastal Plain of Virginia. Birds carry the sticky white mistletoe seeds from tree to tree.  The seeds sprout and their roots grow into the host tree to extract water and nutrients.parasitic plants2

In our eastern deciduous forests, winter provides a clearer view into the woods.  The deciduous leaves are gone, and we can see all of the things hidden by summertime foliage.parasitic plants3

For instance, it was quite a surprise to see this eastern redcedar tree, Juniperus virginiana, growing in a black walnut branch 20 feet above the ground (center of photo above).  This is especially unusual because black walnut, Juglans nigra, is famous for its competitive advantage of releasing a juglone chemical that is toxic to plants growing over the top of its root system.  Evidently, this branch presented the perfect sprouting conditions for an eastern redcedar berry.  Cedar berries are not sticky, but they sprout more readily after passing through the digestive tract of birds and animals.  This cedar has thrived for 4-5 years according to the landowner.parasitic plants4

The burl on this scarlet oak, Quercus coccinia, was also easy to see from a long distance away (below).  Burls are not parasites; they are wood formations in response to injuries or stress such as a virus, fungus, mold, insect or a gnarly combination of stressors. parasitic plants5


Field Notes: Pine Yellows

by Senior Area Forester Joe Rosetti

Every year, about 4-8 weeks after the deciduous trees lose their leaves, the pines of Virginia display a condition we will call Pine Yellows.  Pine Yellows is characterized by about half of the needles on the seemingly healthy trees turning yellow, then after 1-2 weeks falling off.  The trees do not display any other signs of disease or insect damage, and except for the changing color, appear perfectly healthy.  Upon closer inspection, you will see the needles that are turning yellow are only on the interior of the tree. The needles at the ends of the branches are staying green.  The yellow needles come off easily when pulled or brushed.  If this describes pine trees near you, then fear not.  Pine Yellows is perfectly normal.

pine yellowtall

Pine trees, along with spruce and fir, are evergreen, so it’s generally thought they keep their needles forever.  However, the trees needles are their leaves and leaves don’t last forever.  The needles you see turning yellow and falling off now are the needles that grew in the spring of 2017.  Every spring, the trees grow their branches longer and grow new needles at the ends of the branches.  They keep the previous year’s needles and grow through the summer with the needles from this year and last year.  When fall comes, last year’s needles fall off (resulting in the condition Pine Yellows) and the trees go through winter with the needles that grew this spring.  So in our case, the needles turning yellow now are the needles that grew in 2017.  The needles staying green grew in 2018, and they will stay through the winter.  In spring of 2019, the branches will grow and grow new needles, and the 2018 needles will turn yellow and fall off in November of December of 2019.

So if your pine trees are displaying Pine Yellows, don’t worry.  You can rest assured it is perfectly normal.