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Back To Nature in Your Landscape

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Register now for a program sure to answer all of your questions about how to get more life (pollinators and other wildlife)  into your landscape.  Four outstanding natural resource professionals will be  presenting  September 28th from 8:30 am til 3:30 pm at Fuqua School’s Gee Price Center in Farmville, Virginia: Dr. Holly Scoggins, a Professor and Director of the Hahn Horticulture Garden at  Virginia Tech will present ”Plants that Make Honeybees Happy Bees”; Carol Heiser, the Wildlife Habitat Education Coordinator with the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will present “Meadow Habitat for Pollinators and other Wildlife”; Anita Tuddle, Environmental Specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality will present “Wild Natives for Civilized Gardens”, and Bob Glennon, Private Lands Biologist with Natural Resources Conservation Service will present “Wildflower/Grass Meadow Establishment and Native Seed Gathering.” For registration information see Heart of Virginia Master Gardener Website at www.HOVMG.org.


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5 Ways to Avoid Unleashing a Plant Menace

5 Ways to Avoid Unleashing an Army of Invasive Plants in Your Area

How would you like to have the next invasive plant menace named after you?  It happened to Alabama plantation owner Colonel William Johnson, who sowed Sorghum halepense seeds on river-bottom farm land circa 1840. The plant was already established in several US states a decade earlier, but Colonel Johnson’s name stuck, hence the name Johnson grass as the plant is commonly known today.

Johnson grass was introduced originally as prospective forage or accidentally as a seedlot contaminant.   Exotic plant species that are introduced into an area by people are considered non-native.  Many non-native plants have great economic value for agriculture, forestry, horticulture and other industries.  Other non-natives have become invasive and pose a serious ecological threat. Biologists consider invasive plants to be one of the two greatest threats to native plants and animals.  About 42 percent of the species on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Species are at risk primarily because of non-native invasive plants.

Non-native invasive plants reproduce rapidly and have few if any natural controls to keep them in check.  Invasives spread so rapidly that they muscle out most other plants, creating “monocultures” or stands of a single species that have little ecological value and greatly reduce natural biological diversity.

North America is divided up into 15 plant provinces.  Virginia is in the Coastal Plain Forests provenance. Plants that originated in our province are native, or naturally occurring in our region without human intervention.  Our native plants are perfectly adapted to the temperature, precipitation, elevation, soil types and other factors of our province.  Plants native to our province have a complex inter-relationship with the animals, micro-organisms, butterflies, birds and other creatures with which they co-evolved.

Avoid unleashing an army of invasive plants and disrupting the intricate web of life by following the five recommendations below:

  1. Become familiar with the invasive and native plant species in our province by attending the  Back to Nature in Your Landscape symposium scheduled for Saturday, September 28th, 2013. Registration information can be found at Heart of Virginia Master Gardeners’ website:  www.hovmg.org or by calling the Piedmont SWCD at 434-392-3782 ext. 131.
  2. When selecting plants for landscaping, avoid using known invasive species.  Ask for native alternatives at your nursery.
  3. Invasive Plants are likely to establish on disturbed lands.  During construction or other land disturbing activities, quickly establish ground cover to stabilize slopes and ditches.
  4. If you already have invasive species on your property, consider removing them and replacing them with native species.
  5. When visiting a natural area, be alert for invasive species.  If you see some, notify the agency or organization responsible for managing the land.  Before you leave, avoid carrying “hitchhiking” plant material by taking time to brush seeds from clothing and shoes and remove plant material from boats trailers and other items.

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Rick Weeks Attends Board Meeting

WeeksRick

Rick Weeks,  Director of the Division of Nonpoint Pollution Prevention  for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) attended the Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors meeting July 23, 2013 and is pictured here center, with directors Larkin Moyer, left, and Wilkie Chaffin, right.  Mr. Weeks was formerly Chief Deputy of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for 10 years and a 24 year veteran of DEQ, before moving to DCR after the 2013 session of the General Assembly consolidated many of DCR programs into the DEQ.


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Autumn Olive, AN ALIEN INVASIVE HABITAT SNATCHER

Autumn Olive  is one of the plants listed on Virginia’s  list of invasive species.  Why?  Because, Autumn Olive, or Elaeagnus umbellata, threatens native ecosystems by out-competing and displacing native plant species, creating dense shade and interfering with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling.    It was widely planted in the past for wildlife habitat, as windbreaks and to restore deforested and degraded land, but herbivorous animals are not known to feed on it and few insects seem to utilize or bother it. The plant is drought tolerant and thrives in a variety of soil and moisture conditions allowing it to invade grasslands, fields, open woodlands and disturbed areas.  Because autumn olive is capable of fixing nitrogen in its roots, it can grow on bare mineral substrates.  There are ways to control this noxious plant, but first and foremost, do not plant autumn olive.  Plant native species like spice bush (Lindera benzoin), northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), black haw (Viburnum prunifolium, or gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa).  TRhis is a good link for more info on Autumn Olive.


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COngratulations! Water Quality Improved in Flat Creek

The Environmental Protect Agency recently released a success story on their website that features the Piedmont SWCD and  their   landowner partners in Amelia and Nottoway County. Congratulations to everyone who implemented conservation practices in the FAlt Creek subwatershed.  Your sacrafice of time and money has improved water quality for everyone in Flat Creek and all Virginians in the Chesapeake Bay watershed..  Click here to read the success story on EPA’s website..


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EPA Recognizes Improved Water Quality in Flat Creek

Flat Creek flows into the Appomattox River, which empties into the James River.  This 90,752 acre watershed drains portions of Amelia and Nottoway Counties near Farmville, Virginia.  Flat Creek was recently featured in an Environmental Protection Agency Success Story found on their website that you can read by following this link.  Congratulations and thanks to all of the producers in the Flat Creek watershed who installed agricultural best management practices, making it possible to reduce the amount of nonpoint source pollution reaching the creek.


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Pollinators and Root Systems Program

On Saturday April 27, 2013, Bear Creek Lake State Park will partner with the Virginia Master Naturalist Central Piedmont chapter and the Friends of Bear Creek Lake to present a program: Pollinators and Root Systems.

Two outstanding presenters will be sharing their knowledge with presentations to be followed by informal and self-guided walks. Grace Chapman, Director of Horticulture at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will present on “Creating a Pollinator Garden with Native Plants”.  She will discuss how pollinators are ecologically and economically important creatures especially today with so many native pollinators in decline due to disease, habitat loss and pesticide use.

Alexander Elton, Plant Health Care Manager at Arborscapes, LLC, will present the “Root Systems of Trees”. He will discuss how taking care of tree roots benefit the residential garden.

The program is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  The cost is $5/person, payable at the door. Proceeds from the seminar will benefit the 2013 Virginia Master Naturalist youth nature camp.  Space is limited to 65 participants. To reserve a space, contact the Bear Creek Lake State Park Office at 804-492-4410. Immediately following the presentations, lunch will be available at the Hall at $4 to $5 per plate; proceeds from the lunch will benefit the Friends of Bear Creek Lake.

The park is located about 4.5 miles northwest of the town of Cumberland. From U.S. Route 60, go west on Route 622 and south on Route 629 to the park entrance.

Contact: Beverly Hines 434-392-3861 or bhines@hsc.edus


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Piedmont SWCD Radio Spot on WFLOW

Listen to WFLOW radio station at twelve o’clock on Wednesday, April 10 to hear the “voice of conservation” discuss the sixth most annoying thing in modern life…unscooped dog poop.


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Webinar for Beginning Farmers and Ag Entrepreneurs

“Politicians love small businesses; they also love farmers.  As a result, farmers and entrepreneurs in Ag-based businesses enjoy a bigger suite of government assistance programs than just about any other group.  However, there is also a lot of confusion about what really is available:  reasonable loans to beginning farmers (yes), grants to raise alpacas (no).  To help sort all this out, Stephen Versen, a Project Manager in the Agriculture and Forestry Development Services unit at VDACS (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), will be discussing some of the most useful state and federal programs and answering your questions about accessing them.  Major topics to be discussed are USDA loan and grant programs, as well as assistance available through the Commonwealth of Virginia, including:  the Virginia Grown/Virginia’s Finest programs and the new Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).

To participate in this webinar please call Cumberland Extension Agent David Smith at 804-492-4390

Check out the project website at www.vabeginningfarmer.org for recordings of past webinars and to see what other exciting initiatives are being developed!


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Secrets of Soil Unlocked

A website was recently made available by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for landowners, teachers, students and farmers.  The resources on the site are designed to help the visitor understand the basics and benefits of soil health – and to learn about Soil Health Management Systems from farmers who are using those systems.  Click here to visit the website http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/soils/health/

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