Forestry and Gardening

While firefighters have their hands full out west, Virginia’s gearing up for the start of a second fire season. 

Jeff Koenig has been battling forest fires for 35 years – nearly a decade here in the Shenandoah National Park .  Out west, he says, the forest dries out in summer.  Not so in Virginia.

“Y’know the leaves coming back on, the green grass, we traditionally have a lot of summer thunderstorms that keep things pretty wet around here.”

Frog Watching

Aug 25, 2014
Photo by Nick Scobel

If you’re interested in birds, you’ve probably heard of the Christmas bird count.  On December 25th, volunteers head out to see what feathered friends are in their area and report to a national data bank. 

You may not know that a similar enterprise is underway for frogs.  In fact, the North American Amphibian Monitoring Project is looking for help here in Virginia.

Art of Smokey Bear

Aug 11, 2014
Rudy Wendelin, Trees Give Us Many Things, National Agricultural Library, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Virginia Department of Forestry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and fans of the forests will mark the 70th birthday of the best known fire fighter – Smokey Bear. 

Since he was introduced to the American public 70 years ago, Smokey’s been portrayed by a number of artists, but it was a Virginia painter, Rudy Wendelin, who made this bear the icon he is today.

“He made him more human, he has fingers, he smiles, he wears blue jeans, he has a shovel, and as we say, a little less bear-like.”

Just as the season for getting outdoors gets into full swing, so does a noxious weed that can take the fun out of summer outings.

Poison Ivy, which causes an itchy rash in eighty per cent of people who come in contact with it, is on the rise in the US, fueled by rising C-O2 levels.

But scientists at Virginia Tech have found that the weed contains the seeds of its own destruction –a kind of poison pill could be used to control the plant in the landscape.

 

American Chestnut trees used make up twenty-five percent of the Appalachian forest.  A blight, in the early 1900s changed that, and today they’re all but gone from the forests from Georgia to Maine. 

But the tree left us a way to resurrect it from the dead, and with it, a kind of message:  Only with the help of human beings will the towering Chestnuts return. 

"I was raised here in the valley and when I started hunting, about 1960 or so there were still these old gray giant trunks standing in the woods," says Carl Absher a semi-retired forester from the Catawba Valley.  

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