Upcoming forestry, wildlife field tours to showcase sustainable forestry

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Participants from a previous forestry tour examine the canopy of 28-year planting density study showing effects of overcrowded pines. -- SUBMITTED | NEIL CLARK

Participants from a previous forestry tour examine the canopy of 28-year planting density study showing effects of overcrowded pines. — SUBMITTED | NEIL CLARK

by Neil Clark

Southampton County, as well as the surrounding region, has been a hot spot for active forest management for decades due to excellent growing conditions and access to markets. Concern about sustainable supply and maintaining ecosystem services are also topics that have been debated, and studied for equally as long.

On Monday, Oct. 19, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, companies and associations, will hold their 39th Annual Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tour in Southampton County to highlight the latest insights on how to optimize the benefits from forested land. Other tours are taking place in Nelson County on Oct. 16 and Wythe County on Oct. 23.

The tours offer landowners, natural resource professionals and other interested Virginians the opportunity to spend a day in the field visiting a variety of properties that are actively managed for timber and wildlife.

The Franklin-Southampton area tour will feature a visit to the Franklin Lumber mill, a logging operation, and several sites were site preparation, planting, and thinning practices have been applied for economic and environmental benefits.

“The field tour series is the longest running program of its kind in Virginia, and perhaps even the country,” said Jennifer Gagnon, coordinator of the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program.

The tours promote wise resource management on private forestlands and focus on science-based forestry and wildlife management practices, public and private sources of technical and financial management assistance, and networking among landowners and natural resource professionals. The experience provides an ideal setting for landowners to discuss their forest management issues with professionals in an informal setting, as well as to network with their peers.

Pre-registration is required, as space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis and can be done by contacting Neil Clark at 653-2572. The registration fee, which covers lunch, refreshments and transportation, is due one week before the tour date.

Registration for the city of Franklin and Southampton County tour is $45 per person. Registration for both the Nelson County and the Smyth and Wythe counties tours is $35 per person or $60 per couple.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems and geography. As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech serves the Commonwealth of Virginia in teaching, research, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

NEIL CLARK lives in Sedley, and is the extension forester for eastern Virginia and interim extension agent for Southampton County. He can be reached at 653-2572 or southeast@vt.edu.