BLACKSBURG, Va., April 25, 2007 – Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are partnering with the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Museum of Natural History to get 11,000 tree seedlings planted across the commonwealth in commemoration of Jamestown's 400th anniversary.
“Virginia’s abundant forests in 1607 were a key contributor to the welfare and survival of the colonists,” explained State Forester Carl Garrison of the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF), “so we believe giving citizens 11,000 seedlings to plant is an appropriate project that not only honors but sustains our rich natural resource heritage.”
DOF’s Augusta Forestry Center, which grew the seedlings, will be sending out bundles of 100 to each Virginia Cooperative Extension Office in the state, where the 4-H clubs will handle the free distribution to citizens on or near Arbor Day, Friday, April 27. The local Extension office will provide distribution details. To help showcase the opening of the new headquarters for the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, that facility will also be distributing free seedlings
The forestry department at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources, coordinator of the project, is paying the shipping costs, and with DOF and 4-H assistance, helped prepare a planting guide and information sheet that will be given out with each seedling. Tree species that will grow well for that particular region are being sent to local Extension offices and VMNH.
Harold Burkhart, head of Virginia Tech’s forestry department and a University Distinguished Professor, said that when the Governor asked state agencies to plan an activity that could dovetail with the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown, “It was a natural to think about giving seedlings to citizens. At maturity, these trees will provide over 200 acres of canopy cover, which will shade buildings, intercept precipitation and help absorb storm water, provide wildlife habitat, and purify the air. That is a legacy.”
Cathy Sutphin, assistant director for 4-H youth development, noted that the seedling project compliments the many community service projects that members are conducting in conjunction with Arbor Day and the National Youth Service Day. More than 177,000 youth, ages 5 to 19, are members of the Virginia 4-H youth development program.
The Virginia Department of Forestry, headquartered in Charlottesville, protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. Forestry staff members are assigned to every county to provide service to citizens of the Commonwealth. With nearly 16 million acres of forest land and more than 248,000 Virginians employed in the forest products industry, Virginia forests provide more than $30 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth.
The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation with its forestry department scoring at the top of a 2006 ranking. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech serves the Commonwealth of Virginia in teaching, research, and Cooperative Extension.