Category: Public Information

Field Notes

A Natural Partnership

January 25, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator This is a tale of partnership, program creation, and a great idea brought to life. Early in 2004, Dr. Jeff Kirwan of Virginia Tech heard about a new volunteer program that had taken root in several states – one with enormous potential benefit for Virginia’s natural resources. In a matter of weeks, he pulled together a group of seven motivated worker bees and... Read More

Success Stories

Can Trees Save a Sinking Island?

November 10, 2021 - By Cory Swift-Turner, Public Information Specialist — Tangier Island is known for its soft-shell crabs and the unique lifestyle of its residents. But the very body of water that sustains the community is also threatening to swallow it. As ocean levels rise, coastal communities across Virginia are facing new challenges from storm-driven erosion, nuisance flooding, and tides that creep in further each year. Island communities such as Tangier, located 12... Read More

Field Notes

The Vine That Ate Charlottesville

September 29, 2021 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator I know what you’re thinking. But no, the vine that ate Charlottesville isn’t kudzu. It’s porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). You might know this species as an ornamental vine, often seen spilling over pergolas in fancy gardens. It’s great for covering a bare patch of ground or an unsightly old shed. The fruits are quite beautiful, with pale green, lavender, magenta, and blue berries often... Read More

Field Notes

Autumn = Asteraceae!

September 10, 2021 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Virginia’s forests in fall are showstoppers, dazzling us with their vibrant colors. But my eyes are often drawn to the weedy roadside ditches and field edges, where fall wildflowers paint the landscape in an Impressionist haze. Fall-blooming flowers aren’t just for looks. They provide an important late-season food source for bees, wasps, butterflies, and other pollinators. Keeping these insects fed and happy is... Read More

Field Notes

Prescribed Burning with Dragon Eggs!

July 16, 2021 - By Lisa Deaton, VDOF Area Forester; contributor: Rod Newlin, VDOF Water Quality Engineer The Virginia Department of Forestry has many tools for prescribed burning, from bulldozers that pull fire plows, to UTVs with water tanks, to drip torches, fire rakes, shovels and more. The following two photos are from a dormant season burn of loblolly pine stands at Sandy Point State Forest, with a combined goal of wildlife habitat improvement and... Read More

Field Notes

(Don’t) Pick Your Poison

July 9, 2021 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Walking along a forest path this time of year, it’s tempting to reach out and touch all those lush, green leaves. That’s not always a good idea, because Virginia has three species of plants in the genus Toxicodendron. When the botanical name translates to “poison tree,” it’s best to look, not touch. The most familiar of Virginia’s poisonous plants is poison ivy, Toxicodendron... Read More

Stories

In Memory of Page Hutchinson

February 4, 2021 - The Virginia Department of Forestry is mourning the loss of Page Hutchinson, Virginia’s Project Learning Tree Coordinator and member of the VDOF family, after she passed away unexpectedly this week. Page was a leader in the environmental education community. Beyond the work she did to build Virginia’s PLT program, Page worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Master Naturalists, and the Virginia Association for Environmental Educators. In... Read More

Field Notes

Field Notes: Fruits of Fall

October 13, 2020 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator With the autumn foliage season getting underway, it’s easy to miss a key feature of Virginia’s fall landscape: fruits. First, a disclaimer: Don’t eat wild fruits unless you can identify them positively and know they are safe. Many can be eaten by wildlife, but are toxic or even deadly to humans. In wildlife circles, fleshy or squishy fruit eaten by critters is known... Read More

Notices

Fired Up about Camp

February 28, 2020 - Did you know there’s a camp where teens get to fight fire? Not a scary western wildfire, but a well-behaved one that actually improves the environment? Last summer, a group of teenagers at Camp Woods & Wildlife learned firsthand how to manage a prescribed fire. These intrepid campers donned fire-retardant gear and set about preparing for a small understory burn. First, they raked a fire line down to bare soil... Read More