Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New State Forest Dedication

The Old Flat State Forest – a 320-acre highland meadow and upland forest with tree species typical of Appalachian forests – will be dedicated Sunday afternoon as Virginia’s 22nd state forest. The Commonwealth’s newest state forest is located near the summit of Mount Rogers (Virginia’s highest peak) in Grayson County. The property borders a private Christmas tree farm; US Forest Service land, and the Grayson Highlands State Park near the village of Whitetop, Va.


“We’re very excited about the Old Flat State Forest,” said State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison. “Its location and 5,000-foot elevation will provide a unique opportunity for us to conduct valuable forest research; establish a partnership with the Christmas tree industry – which means jobs and millions of dollars for Virginians; provide a demonstration site for best management practices as they relate to the growing of Christmas trees; enable us to protect and improve the Fraser fir seed source, and could become a site to re-establish the American chestnut and the red spruce.”

Old Flat SF was acquired by the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) to provide a site for a second-cycle Fraser fir seed orchard and research opportunities for high-elevation tree species. The property will be jointly managed by the Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers’ Association and the VDOF.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What is that purple box hanging in that tree?


Have you seen this purple box? Do you know what it is? If you guessed a trap used for detecting the Emerald Ash Borer, you are right! The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that has found it's way into Virginia.


EAB is already responsible for the death of millions of ash trees. First found in Michigan in 2002 this metallic green insect has wreaked havoc across thirteen states and parts of Canada. EAB was found in Fairfax, VA several years ago. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have been monitoring for the pest and fortunately have yet to find any significant moves. However, the EAB is a clever little bug and has figured out that it is easier to travel with unsuspecting humans than to fly from tree to tree. That is why it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not transport firewood 1) from any of the quarantined counties (check VDOF website for list or google EAB in VA) and 2) for long distances. I know paying for firewood in a park or forest is ridiculous when you can bring it yourself, but trust me, spreading EAB will cost much more.

So why do I care that this bug kills ash trees? What are they good for anyways? Well ash is most famously used for America's favorite past time, that's right, baseball. Ash is the best wood out there for baseball bats, dense and elastic. You might also find out that your electric guitar is made from ash (that could explain why they are so hard to break on stage). Ash also plays an important role in the forest as a common riparian species. Riparian species are found near waterways and can act as huge filters for sediment and chemicals trying to reach the water. Ash make great yard trees as they are both beautiful and provide excellent shade.

The traps this year are being installed and monitored by a private contractor working for the United State Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). If a trap has fallen down or if you have questions regarding a trap please call Delta 21 Resources Inc at 877-207-9406.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest

At the end of March, the maintenance crew of the state forests met at Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest to help stabilize a short stretch of the new Underground Line Trail where it comes out to Rt. 618. We fertilized, seeded, and strawed approximately a quarter mile of trail where it follows an old logging entrance. This area was seeded at the conclusion of the logging activity, however, due to dry conditions, the grass seed did not take the first go round. So in the interest of protecting the soil and trail bed, we decided to give it another go. Hopefully this time we will see success and it will add a nice "green" aspect to the trail.

Trout Stocking

On April 12th, DGIF and Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest once again stocked Holliday Creek with rainbow and brooke trout. As a reminder the trout stream is a delayed harvest site. The regulation reads as follows: Only artificial lures with single hook may be used in these waters between October 1st and May 31st. During this time all trout must be immediately released unharmed. General statewide fishing regulations apply between June 1st and September 30th.



I know this isn't a great picture but it really is hard to get a good picture of moving fish and those guys were too slippery to hold long enough for a good shot. Hopefully maybe some of our anglers will hook into one and can post a good picture of a caught trout!





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cumberland Multiple Use Trail

Just a quick update to let our visitors know that today I went out with my trusty chainsaw and cleared the Cumberland Multiple Use Trail (CMT). I didn't get every little stick crossing the trail but any that prevented the easy passage of a hiker, mountain biker, or equestrian were removed. There are still some hazardous trees near the trail that need to be addressed in the very near future but for now the trail should be passable and enjoyable once more. I did note a bad stream crossing, a major wet area that needs to be rerouted, and some erosion issues. Hopefully I will be able to get our staff to address these issues soon. Also I hope to get some fresh blazes put up to avoid confusion on forest roads and rogue trails. That is all for now, this weekend sure would be a pretty one to come on out and enjoy the CMT!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whitney State Forest

Thanks to the volunteers from the Fauquier Trails Coalition and Trail Blazers, the Whitney State Forest now has marked trails!  One trail is still in need of marking, then our trail system will be complete. We are working on providing a map to show these new blaze markings and the trails. Three markings will be seen on the trails to indicate the direction of the trails: Straight, Left Turn, and Right Turn.

 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mourning the loss of a great forester!

It is with a heavy heart that I bring this next update to the Virginia State Forest blog. On March 17, 2011 the Virginia Department of Forestry lost a great coworker and friend, Vance L. Coffey. Vance passed away on Thursday from cancer at his home in Cumberland County. Vance was a 21 year veteran of the Department of Forestry where he spent most of his career as the Forest Manger for Cumberland State Forest. He is survived by his wife, three sons, and daughter.

For those who had the pleasure of knowing Vance, he was an outstanding forester and a great friend who you could always rely on. He took great pleasure in his work on the forest, always thinking outside of the box as to how to apply different mangement techniques and make Cumberland State Forest an ideal setting to showcase silviculture. Vance would often say that if you looked and listened hard enough, the forest would tell you what it wanted. I like to think that as future managers of the forest are working in the woods, they will hear Vance whispering in the breeze, telling them to see the forest for the trees and so much more. We will miss you greatly my friend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Sign Welcomes Users to Carter Taylor Trailhead

I've often been asked where people visiting the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest can park to best access all of our trails and features. Hopefully this new sign at the entrance to the Carter Taylor Trailhead will take care of that. Located near the intersection of Andersonville (Rt. 640) and Francisco (Rt. 636) Roads, this sign directs users into the trailhead parking area. A new fence around the small parking lot by the picnic shelter should direct cars to park in that location while horse trailers or larger vehicles can proceed around the gravel loop to the larger gravelled parking area. From this location, users can access all 22 miles of multiple use trail on the forest. The only trail not accessible via this parking lot would be the hiking only Trout Trail which is accessed from Rt. 614 where Holliday Creek crosses the road.

In other news, I recently blazed a majority of the Orchard Trail. While it shows on the map as a "green" trail that runs through the northern portion of the forest, finding it was a whole other experience. Now users should be able to follow green diamond blazes to enjoy this 6 mile multiple use trail that ties into the Carter Taylor Trail. I still need to attach some blazes to pickets and drive them in the ground where there were no trees to attach to but in the meantime between the map and blazes, folks should be able to better figure out where to go. I know green isn't the most ideal color but it was easier to just blaze it that way than to order thousands of new maps with a changed color scheme. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Undergound Line Trail

I am pleased to announce that the new Underground Line Trail at Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest is now complete and open for use. This trail, accessible via the Carter Taylor Trailhead, stretches approximately 5 miles across the forest ending almost at Rt. 24. The trail is a double track shared use trail open to equestrians, mountain bikers, and hikers. This rolling trail takes users through a variety of forest stands including bottomland, multi-age pine plantations, hardwoods, and open fields. The trail is blazed with orange diamond markers with double blazes at key turns (of which there are few). I still need to fabricate a small sign where the trail crosses Rt. 640 as it is not a direct crossing but hopefully users will figure it out until I get a sign put up.

There are multiple stream crossings for watering stock, but please be careful as some of this are rather soggy on the approaches. I will be working on a solution for those which are truly bad. There are a few steep inclines where it might be best to dismount and lead your stock or walk your bike. Some small stumps still exist so be mindful of footing. Overall the trail is very pleasant and should offer users a great experience and chance to see wildlife. I am in the process of getting a small parking area put in on the Rt. 24 end but this will likely be restricted to car parking as I would prefer to have equestrian rigs come to the Carter Taylor Trailhead. I have noticed there has already been a fair amount of use along the trail. Please enjoy this new trail and let me know of experiences and post pictures if you wish (or you can send them to erik.filep@dof.virginia.gov and I will post them with your permission). Have fun!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Tips

With the weather improving daily, recreationists are beginning to take to the woods to seek relief from the cabin fever they've endured during the winter. Virginia's State Forests are a great place to "get away from it all" and enjoy a secluded visit with nature. With 21 State Forests, 19 of which are open to public (Devil's Backbone and Bourassa are not), there is plenty of land for folks to enjoy. Here are a few things to keep in mind when recreating on a state forest.

  • Try to acquire a good map of the area. Some forests have a recreation map which can be found at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/ whereas others may rely on topographical or aerial photography maps found at local outdoors stores and websites.
  • Take plenty of food and water as these are not usually available at or near the site. Don't forget supplies for any furry friends you might have along.
  • Let someone know where you are going to be and roughly how long you will be gone for.
  • Check out the state forest rules and regulations found at http://www.dof.virginia.gov/
  • Bring a cell phone. Many of our state forests have limited reception but if something happens, it might be your only way to contact help. Call 911 for emergencies. We are working on implementing GPS help points to reference on some of our forests that will help EMS coordinators figure out how to best get to your location.
  • Check local kiosks for important information including safety numbers and warnings of dangerous conditions/wildlife.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Weather conditions change, bodies are fragile and despite your physical condition injuries can happen, and help may not always be close by.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles. We like our forests to remain as pristine and trash free as possible!
  • Respect other trail users! Not everyone is out for the same experience as you but with a little respect, we can all have a good time.
  • Have fun and let us know about your experience by contacting stateforest@dof.virginia.gov.

Attention Equestrians

Effective March 2, 2011, an updated regulation will take effect regarding the Coggins test for equine infectious anemia. The updated regulation specifies that “all horses assembled at a show, fair, race meet or other such function or participating in any activity on properties where horses belonging to different owners may come into contact with each other in Virginia must be accompanied by a report of an official negative test for equine infectious anemia.” For years horse owners have been required to have a valid Coggins test when horses are assembled, and the updated regulation clarifies this. Assembly of horses for a trail ride on public property such as a state park is an example of an activity requiring horse owners to have a valid Coggins report with them.


Starting March 2, rangers in state and national parks may check for Coggins papers, and owners without valid test reports could be charged with a Class I Misdemeanor and asked to leave the park. As is currently the case under existing regulations, owners presenting fraudulent paperwork can be charged with civil penalties as well.

“Equine Infectious Anemia is a serious disease,” said Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS State Veterinarian. “It affects all members of the equine species and is found in nearly every country of the world. All infected horses, even those that are asymptomatic, become carriers and are infectious for life. Infected animals must either be destroyed or remain permanently isolated from other equines to prevent transmission. The change in regulation is not drastic, but it is important and horse owners need to take seriously the need for a valid Coggins test each year prior to any assemblage with other equines.” Wilkes says that horse owners may get a Coggins test by contacting their local large animal veterinarian. They routinely pull blood samples and submit them for Coggins testing.

For more information, horse owners should contact their veterinarian or VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Predatory Beetles Released on Channels State Forest

This blog was borrowed from my sister blog: Virginia Forests, but since it is taking place on a state forest I thought my readers would enjoy a bit of education. Enjoy!

Researchers from Virginia Tech released 1,000 Laricobius nigrinus beetles into a stand of eastern hemlocks on the Channels State Forest. The tiny black beetles are known predators of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Raised under controlled conditions at Virginia Tech, the beetles are part of an ongoing research project under the direction of Dr. Scott Salom.


The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a non-native invasive pest that is devastating eastern hemlock trees. Since its introduction from Asia in the last century, the HWA has advanced throughout the range of the eastern hemlock, leaving a swath of dead and weakened trees in its path. With a plentiful food source and no predators to slow it down, HWA has spread unchecked for decades. Chemical treatments can control HWA on an individual tree by tree basis; chemical control of HWA on a large-scale forest landscape is not practical.

Prior to its introduction in the eastern U.S., HWA was identified on western hemlocks in the Pacific Northwest. Western hemlocks have survived the HWA invasion much better than their eastern counterparts. The presence of predatory insects in the Pacific Northwest may limit populations of HWA. From this comparison, it is generally accepted that the only effective means of saving our eastern hemlocks will be biological control.

Not much bigger than the bug that it eats, Laricobius nigrinus is a native of the Pacific Northwest. And while it will feed on other species of adelgid, studies show that it prefers HWA. Also, L. nigrinus is active during the winter months, which coincides with peak HWA activity.

The slow-growing, shade-tolerant hemlocks provide crucial protection against erosion. Hemlocks shroud and protect most of the cold streams that tumble down our mountains and provide increasingly rare habitat for native brook trout and many other species. Multiple hemlock stands stretch along the numerous streams of the Channels State Forest. Over the next several years, the research team from Virginia Tech will monitor the selected hemlock stand to determine if the beetles are surviving, reproducing and having an effect on the HWA populations. The tiny bug with a big name may provide an opportunity to save an important species.

Zach Olinger, Matthews State Forest

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Holliday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!

Nominations are open for the 65th annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, to be held June 13-18 at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center. This action-packed camp is hosted by the Virginia Department of Forestry, with support and cooperation from other conservation agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals.


Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods. Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day.

Teachers, natural resource professionals and others working with youth may make nominations for this popular camp. Campers must be Virginia residents 13-16 years old with good academic standing, have an interest in natural resources, and must not have attended Forestry Camp before.

Financial sponsorship is generously provided by forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals. As a result, every camper selected to attend receives a scholarship and pays only $75 to attend the week-long residential camp. New sponsors are always welcome.

To nominate a camper, visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov/. Nominations are due by April 8.

For more information, please contact Ellen Powell at 434.220.9083.

I am normally both a counselor and a teacher of Forest Management and Ecology at this camp. It is truly a fantastic opportunity for youth to reconnect to the outdoors. Almost all of the teens attending Forestry Camp leave with either a smile from having such a good time or a frown because they don't want to leave. Many of the staff were once campers who have gone on to professional careers in Natural Resources and now want to give back to the camp that helped kick start their interest. If you know anyone who fits the requirements above, PLEASE get them nominated, they will thank you for it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Walk in the Forest

The Rappahannock Chapter of the Society of American Foresters presents a "Walk in the Forest"

When: Saturday, March 19, 2011 7am - 4pm
Where: The Virginia Department of Forestry's New Kent Forestry Center
             11301 Pocahontas Trail, Providence Forge, VA 23140
                                     Rain or Shine

7:00am           Guided Birding Trip
10:00am         Guided Nature Hike (also at noon and 2pm)
11:00am         Exhibits Open and Seedlings Available
                      Free Tree Seedlings and Planting Demonstration
                      Forestry and Wildlife Exhibits
                      Firewise Community Information
                      Papermaking and Other Crafts

Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the day with us. There is no cost to participate in this event!

Questions? Contact Lisa Deaton at 804-512-2933 or lisa.deaton@dof.virginia.gov

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest

Yesterday was a productive day down at Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. The morning started off with a prebid meeting for proposals on drilling a well at our multiple use parking area. This well will service users of the trails and allows trail riders to wash down their equipment or animals to keep from spreading invasive species as well as allow horse riders to water their stock. After the meeting I rode down to Holliday Creek where I was met by officials with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. With the help of two Gators and an ATV we stocked Holliday Creek with approximately 300 trout. These fish were beautiful, but unfortunately I forgot my camera! The trout stocking takes place twice a year allowing anglers in Central Virginia to have a chance at trout normally found in the cooler waters of the mountains. Holliday Lake is actually deep enough to allow the trout to live there year round and it is always exciting to hear from a fisherman who was lucky enough to land one.

When fishing for trout in Holliday Creek, you need to know that it is a delayed harvest site. The regulation reads as follows: Only artificial lures with single hook may be used in these waters between October 1st and May 31st. During this time all trout must be immediately released unharmed. General statewide fishing regulations apply between June 1st and September 30th.


After finishing up with the stocking I headed out along the Trout Trail which is a hiking only trail that allows access to Holliday Creek specifically for trout fishing. The trail passes along a mixture of rapids, deep pools, shallow flat water, and waterfalls. As I hiked along the trail I put up some nice high visibility blue blazes. This should help prevent anglers from getting lost like I did when I missed a sharp turn that crossed the creek. Look for double blazes that indicate a turn so that you don't wander off into the forest. The Trout Trail runs approximately three miles and connect Route 614 to Route 640. There is also a small section that runs on the opposite side of Route 614 that ties into the Carter Taylor Multiple Use Trail. Pickup a map at the state forest office on Francisco Road, print one off online, or check out one of our kiosks for trail locations.
 
Whenever life is getting you down or you just need to get away, come on out to Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest and cast your line. Between the scenery, the solitude, and the fish, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ABSF Equestrian Parking

Last week a new feature was welcomed to the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest Equestrian Parking facility near the intersection of Andersonville Road and Francisco Road. A corral measuring 60ft x 120ft was built adjacent to the horse trailer parking area and picnic shelter. This corral will allow users to pen up horses while they enjoy other features of the forest or take a rest. A proposal for a hand pump well was issued this week and should be bid out in February. I am still hopeful that this area will be fully ready for users this spring. In the meantime users are more than welcome to park at this area and make use of the existing facilities. I hope equestrians and other users will find the improvements at ABSF a welcome change and will feel more at home at this beautiful state forest.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Picnic Shelter at ABSF

The Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest has a beautiful new addition to the multiple use parking area on Francisco Road. The picnic shelter and tables are part of a project to create a new multiple use parking area for recreationists visiting the forest. Equestrians will be especially pleased with the area as it will feature pull through gravel parking, a corral, hitching posts, a mounting block, and available water. The area is central to ABSF's expansive trail system and will serve as a trailhead for the new Underground Line Trail which stretches 5 miles across the forest. Two barbeque grills are awaiting installation to accompany the picnic shelter. The shelter is available on a first come first serve basis and can hold up to 32 and is handicap accessible (though we need to add some compacted gravel to form a short path to the shelter). Please stop by and have a bite to eat while enjoying the beautiful forest!


Ultra Marathon at Appomattox Buckingham State Forest

The 16th Annual Holliday Lake 50K++ is to be held on February 12, 2011 at 6:30am. This run will test runners endurance while pleasing their senses with a scenic forest backdrop. The race starts at the Holliday Lake 4H Education Center and follows forest roads and trails through the beautiful Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest as well as around the breathtaking Holliday Lake. There will be a pre-race pasta dinner the night before, a light breakfast in the morning for racers, and prizes for those who finish and qualify.

Last year, if you remember that far back, there was a horrible blizzard just in time for the race. But guess what, the race went on! So if you enjoy running long distances, come on out for some fun!


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Closing Dates for the Conway Robinson State Forest

The Conway Robinson State Forest will be closed to recreational use on Monday Nov 15, Monday Nov 22, Tuesday, Nov 30, and Monday Dec 13 for the Deer Management Program, which is continuing for its third year. According to data from the neighboring Manassas National Battlefield, deer populations are about 160 per sqare mile, even though biological carrying capacity is 40-60 per square mile. This overpopulation has affected tree regeneration in the forest and damaged the habitat for other species of wildlife. The goal of the program is to reduce the deer population. Hunting will be conducted only on those four days listed above. Please contact stateforest@dof.virginia.gov with any questions.


We appreciate your cooperation and understanding!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Just In: Hunting at the Lesesne

LIMITED HUNTING

Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County will be open for Archery and Black Powder hunting only during the following dates:

2010/2011 Season
Early Archery Season: October 2 – November 12
Late Archery Season: November 29 – January 1
Early Muzzle Loader Season: October 30 – November 12
Late Muzzle Loader Season: December 11 – January 1

• First come, first serve.

• Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries hunting laws apply.

• A State Forest Use Permit is required and can be purchased wherever DGIF permits are sold.

For more information or to purchase a permit on-line, visit www.dof.virginia.gov.