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Stories

Which Settled First: the Oak or the Acorn?

January 25, 2023 - By Dean Cumbia, Director of Forest Management — As the site of the first permanent English settlement and a hotbed of activity during the American Revolution and Civil War, Virginia has a rich history.  All throughout that history, trees have played a role.  Have you ever wondered whether some of the first trees settlers saw when they arrived are still standing? VDOF recently tried to find out. Last December, VDOF... Read More

Field Notes

Evergreens? Ever Useful!

January 13, 2023 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator In a bare winter landscape, our eyes are often drawn to any remnants of green, stirring the memory and promise of warmer days. But our native evergreens have winter value far beyond their looks. Perhaps the greatest winter benefits of evergreens go to wildlife. Plants that keep their foliage through the winter provide thermal cover, or protection from cold temperatures. Dark needles absorb... Read More

Field Notes

A Getaway in the Middle of It All

December 22, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Are you looking for a family day trip during the school holidays? Consider the Conway Robinson State Forest in Gainesville, where you can slow your pace and your kids can expend some year-end energy. Imagine more than 400 acres of woodland placed right next to sprawling subdivisions, near the busy junction of Interstate 66 and US Route 29. That’s the “Con Rob” (as... Read More

Field Notes

Fighting Bugs with Bugs

December 9, 2022 - By Cory Swift-Turner, Communications Specialist Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a coniferous tree that favors the cool and humid climate along the Appalachian Mountains. Hemlocks can grow more than 150 feet tall and live for more than 800 years. Their short, dense needles provide excellent habitat for many kinds of wildlife, from warblers to bobcats. Unfortunately, healthy hemlocks are becoming increasingly rare. In the early 1950s, an invasive insect called... Read More

Field Notes

Holiday DIY from the Yard

December 2, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Want to save some money during the spending season? With a little creativity, you can get a lot of holiday décor from your own yard. Decorating with what I have on hand gives me a sense of efficiency, as well as a connection with my paternal grandmother. Growing up in the rural South, she often foraged for wild foods like “creasy greens” (winter... Read More

Field Notes

Does Every Picture Tell a Story?

October 13, 2022 - By Scott Bachman, Area Forester This summer, my colleague Evan Richardson was asked by a landowner to prepare a Forest Stewardship Plan on a newly acquired property in southern Suffolk. One of his concerns was the management of a pond on the property. As foresters, our expertise is in trees and forests. Our officemates at the Portsmouth Office, however, work for Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The relationship we... Read More

Field Notes

A Prickly Problem

October 5, 2022 - By Ellen Powell, VDOF Conservation Education Coordinator Did you know that one of Virginia’s State Forests was established specifically for research on a single species? That site is the Lesesne State Forest, located at the base of Three Ridges Mountain in Nelson County. The species is the iconic American chestnut (Castanea dentata). American chestnut was once so abundant and ecologically important that it was considered a foundation species. But in... Read More

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