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Field Notes

Far-Flung Seeds

September 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Plants are endlessly fascinating. Not only do they make their own food out of water, air, and light, but some lead exciting lives that put James Bond to shame. Theirs is a world of hostile takeovers, pollination trickery, chemical warfare, and ingenious travel methods. I may have a minor obsession with how seeds move from place to place, given that this is my... Read More

Field Notes

Tales from the Fireline

September 7, 2022 - Contributors: Delaney Beattie, VDOF Riparian Buffer Specialist- James River Buffer Program; Chad Briggs, VDOF Forest Technician; Jack Colyer, VDOF Forest Technician; Bill Perry, VDOF Area Forester; Travis Tindell, VDOF Area Forester; compiled by Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator   While Virginians enjoyed a fairly normal summer, the national news told of wildfires raging in other parts of the country. Virginia Department of Forestry personnel often provide fire suppression assistance to other states,... Read More

Field Notes

National Wildfire Deployments: A POV

September 2, 2022 - By Kinner Ingram, VDOF Rappahannock Senior Area Forester As a forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry, our phones go off at all times of the day (and night), and we generally never know who it is, unless it’s a weekend or evening. While calls during work hours are generally coworkers or landowners, calls outside of work hours generally lead to some kind of fire response. Those are the calls... Read More

Field Notes

Don’t Judge a Tree by Its Color

August 25, 2022 - A Brief Guide to Late Summer Tree Pests By Amanda Conrad, VDOF Forest Health Technician As the summer heat fades and autumn looms right around the corner, you may notice some changes to leaves that have nothing to do with the seasons. Late summer provides a unique setting for forest and tree pests that go mostly unnoticed until this time of year. One such pest, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea),... Read More

Forester Takes an Acting Gig

August 3, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, VDOF Senior Area Forester, Blackwater Work Area New Kent County, east of Richmond, experienced a rash of suspicious fires the week of July 18. Fortunately, the fires were intentionally set as part of an FI-210 Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination class, and were necessary to train the next cadre of wildland fire investigators in Virginia and the Southeastern part of the United States. During this week-long... Read More

Field Notes

Native Plants for Hummingbirds

July 21, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator You’re working in the garden when you notice a low-pitched hum, and you look around for its source. Could it be a territorial carpenter bee? A clumsy June beetle? Someone’s tiny, wayward drone? No, it’s a hummingbird – our favorite feathered pollinator! The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species that breeds in the East, although you might see an occasional rufous hummingbird during... Read More

Field Notes

Ghosts of Forests Past

July 6, 2022 - By Ken Sterner, VDOF Senior Area Forester, and Josh Bennicoff, VDOF Nursery Manager In eastern Mathews County, on the Chesapeake Bay, near the community of Diggs, sits a patch of woodland called “Old House Woods.” It is probably one of the most haunted places in Virginia, the subject of legends and spooky tales. Numerous locals claim to have seen ghost ships floating overhead, ghosts of British Revolutionary War soldiers digging... Read More

Field Notes

The Bike Shack

June 22, 2022 - By Joe Lehnen, VDOF Forest Utilization & Marketing Specialist Sometimes a chance meeting leads to multiple connections, with wonderful results. In the early fall of 2021, Nick Brinen, James Madison University (JMU) Professor of Architectural Design, and Jeremy Harold, Harrisonburg’s Greenspace Manager and Urban Wood Program Coordinator happened to cross paths and chat about a project idea. The result was an amazing collaboration on a very meaningful project…and the birth... Read More

Field Notes

Deadly Jewels of Virginia Forests

June 9, 2022 - By Amanda Conrad, VDOF Forest Health Technician The vibrant, metallic green of an emerald ash borer (EAB) makes it look like royalty of the forest. But this beautiful, invasive insect is also deadly. Just one beetle can lay 40-70 eggs on the bark of its preferred host: ash trees. The growing larvae disrupt the flow of water throughout the tree, which will ultimately kill the tree. A healthy ash tree... Read More

Field Notes

Sounding the Fire (Ant) Alarm!

May 26, 2022 - By Katlin Dewitt, VDOF Forest Health Specialist Can a fire alarm alert you to an invasive insect? Technically, no, but it seems an appropriate way to raise awareness about the red imported fire ant! The red imported fire ant (RIFA) is native to central South America and was first detected in either Alabama or Florida between 1933 and 1945. In Virginia, this species was first detected in 1989, and so... Read More