VDOF report on the spring fire season and a benefit for firefighters

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reports by email a review of the 2024 spring fire season.

In 2024 so far 411 wildfires burned nearly 20,000 acres in the first 3 months of the year alone.

On March 20 low relative humidity combined with gusty winds produced 88 wildfires in less than 24 hours.

Those fires occurring throughout Virginia damaged 29 homes and 28 structures.

VDOF and local firefighter suppression efforts are credited with preventing approximately $163 million in additional damage.

On that March Day Page County suffered some of the worst losses with over 8,000 acres burned.

Rockingham County had over 2,500 acres burned and those were some of the worst areas affected.

Fires and evacuations had to be ordered in Warren and Shenandoah Counties as well.

First responders and their resources across the valley were stretched beyond limits in their firefighting efforts.

To assist our firefighters and recoup some of those resources and losses 5 local bands are teaming up with the American Red Cross and Backseat events center to perform a benefit show.

The Fire in the Valley benefit show is Sunday June 2 starting at 1 p.m.

All proceeds go to the American Red Cross who have been assisting those who suffered losses.

For more information on the Fire In the Valley event click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VDOF battle a wildfire and have reminders for citizens

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reports that they are currently working to contain a wildfire that broke out Thursday May 2 in the Rockbridge County area.

The fire was reported between Natural Bridge and Glasgow Thursday night.

When firefighters arrived, they found approximately 70 acres involved and at last report about 30 percent was contained.

The fire is on private land but does pose a threat to National Forest property.

The VDOF anticipates total containment late Friday May 3.

The VDOF and your local firefighters advise caution with fire despite Virginia Burn Laws having ended April 30.

May is National Wildfire awareness month and fire burn permissions will always be governed by local weather conditions.

The leading cause of wildfires is escaping burning debris according to the VDOF.

Never leave any outdoor fire unattended and always keep some type of fire suppression item readily available like a water hose.

Always call your local Emergency communications center when planning any kind of outdoor burn.

Remember in many cases the person responsible for a fire will have to pay the cost of suppression of that fire.

Fire safety and prevention information is available from any local fire department.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VDOF Firefighter perishes while fighting a fire

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reports the loss of a firefighter during a brush fire fight in Scott County on March 30.

The fire was being fought in the Garland Drive area of the county when part time  Firefighter James C. Ward collapsed and was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center in Tennessee where he was pronounced deceased.

Ward was an experienced VDOF firefighter who had been with the agency since 1998.

The cause of the fire Ward and his fellow firefighters were fighting remains under investigation.

In the last two days the VDOF has suppressed more than 30 wildfires which have burned 1,000 acres in Southwestern Virginia alone.

Not to mention the recent firefights in the Shenandoah Valley region.

Firefighter Ward was just in the Page County area the week before helping with the fires there.

Virginia residents are reminded to be cautious with fire and remember it is illegal to burn before 4 p.m. until April 30.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP trail closures

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park has closed Hull School Trail from Skyline Drive to Thornton River Upper Trail and Thornton River Upper Trail from the intersection of Hull School Trail to Skyline Drive due to the Rocky Branch Wildfire.

Closures still in place include Skyline Drive from Thornton Gap (mile 31.5) to Mathews Arm (mile 22.1), Appalachian Trail from Elkwallow to Beahms Gap, Rocky Branch Trail, Neighbor Mountain Trail, Jeremys Run Trail, and Byrds Nest 4 shelter.

A parkwide fire ban remains in effect.

National Park Service firefighters are working in partnership with Luray Fire Department and Virginia Department of Forestry.

The cause of this fire is unknown.

No structures are immediately threatened by the fire.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Wildfires update

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) and Virginia firefighters have responded to over 100 wildfires within the last 48 hours.

While several fires in the region, including the Yeawood Fire in Culpeper have been contained.

The Coal Mine Fire in Shenandoah County is approximately 80% contained as of Friday evening.

Thankfully rain has began to fall in the area.

As fires become under control, crews are reallocated to wildfires in Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah Counties.

Additionally, Federal, State, and local resources are aiding in the efforts to protect lives and property.

In Page County, several fires including the 211 West Fire will be combined into one incident named the “Luray Complex,” under a partnership between the Southern Area Gold Incident Management Team, the USDA Forest Service and DOF.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Callery pear exchange program

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) is rolling out a new exchange program to help slow the spread of Callery pears from the urban landscapes into our natural areas.

DOF’s program incentivizes the removal of up to three (3) Callery pear trees from your property to receive an equal number of native, young, healthy, free, replacement trees.

The one-day event, April 20th, will be at the Charlottesville DOF Headquarters and preregistration is required.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VDOF expands “Throwing Shade Virginia” program to local nurseries

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry is expanding their “Throwing Shade Virginia” program to partner with more nurseries including a few in our area.

From now until May 1st, retail customers can receive $25 discounts on select native trees and shrubs valued of $50 or more from participating nurseries.

The goal is to incentivize Virginians to choose native plants that provide water quality benefits and offer a source of food or habitat to local wildlife and pollinators.

Native plants also require less maintenance and little to no fertilizer since they are already adapted to the climate and environment.

Last year, the program helped three nurseries sell over 1,500 native plants.

After positive feedback from nurseries and customers, the program will expand to 13 nurseries across the Commonwealth.

This program is supported by the state’s water quality improvement funds to reimburse nurseries for the discount.

Some of the closest participating nurseries include:

  • Woodstock Gardens
  • Burke Nursery and Garden Center
  • Seven Bends in Strasburg and Winchester

For more information on the program or a full list of participating locations, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Virginia’s spring burning regulations begin

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) joins fire departments across the state to announce the beginning of the spring fire season and raise awareness for the 4 pm Burning Law that is now in effect through April 30th.

The statewide burning law prohibits outdoor burning before 4 pm within 300 feet of woods or dry grass.

Violation of the burning law is a Class-3 misdemeanor punishable with fines up to $500.

Those who allow a fire that results in property damage can be liable for suppression costs.

Between Virginia’s fall and spring fire seasons, the spring season accounts for more than 60% of fires in the Commonwealth with an average of 700 fires.

The rising temperatures, dry and windy weather, and abundant fuel from dead vegetation and leaves increase the potential for wildfires and make them difficult to extinguish.

The Virginia Department of Forestry wants to remind citizens to never leave a fire unattended, keep a shovel, rake or hose close by to control a fire, and avoid burning in windy conditions or adding fuel after midnight.

Individual cities or counties may have specific burn laws to keep in mind.

For more information on the 4 pm Burning Law, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Throwing shade VA program

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) is partnering with three Virginia nurseries to launch a new pilot program featuring discounts on native trees and shrubs.

“Throwing Shade VA” helps nurseries promote native trees through customer discounts of $25 on eligible trees valued at $50 or more.

Incentives to purchase native species of trees and shrubs, which are adapted to their natural environment and thus more likely to thrive.

Native plants offer environmental benefits than ornamental species and provide food and habitat for wildlife, especially essential pollinators.

Three nurseries responded to DOF’s request for participation in the pilot program.

Burke Nursery & Garden Centre (Burke), Woodstock Gardens (Woodstock) and Coastal Landscapes & Nursery (Virginia Beach) all volunteered to participate.

The program is funded through state water quality improvement funds, the DOF is using to reimburse the participating nurseries for the
discounts.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Woods and wildlife conference offered

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

The Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Forest Landowner Educational Program are offering a Woods and Wildlife Conference in Culpeper on February 24th.

This full day conference educates landowners on tree identification, land conservation opportunities, introducing silvopasturing, working with wildlife, and much more.

For the link to register, please click Woods and Wildlife Conference.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.