Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources that can be used to do everything from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands.
What is this powerful tool? A 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, or drone.
Adam Downing, Virginia Cooperative Extension forestry agent for the Northern District, is pictured with the eBee at Clermont Farm in Clarke County. Clermont will install a silvopasture demonstration and research project in collaboration with Virginia Tech. The eBee was used to establish detailed baseline land-cover data and historical resources.
“Our drone, a fixed-wing eBee, carried two different sensors — true color and infrared — that gathered land-use and land-cover data to support inventory mapping,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.
The eBee’s sensors capture data that will enable researchers to measure vegetative vigor — places in which chlorophyll activity differs drastically across the terrain. If the ground vegetation is stressed in a confined area, it might indicate that a structure, perhaps a foundation, is buried underground.
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Course participants may attend an optional field trip. Retired forester Charlie Huppuch (left) explains concepts of active forest management to participants.
Virginia forest landowners looking to gain an understanding of how to keep their woods healthy and productive can do so in the comfort of their own home.
Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment are offering an online course to help private landowners become better stewards of their land.
The 12-week Online Woodland Options for Landowners course, which runs from May 15 to Aug. 4, teaches basic management principles and techniques for both novice and veteran private forest landowners. Materials provided include four reference books and access to an online a tree identification tutorial.
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Registration is now open for the Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tours.
Combining education, networking, sightseeing, and good food, the Fall Forestry and WildlifeField Tours have provided the opportunity to learn about sustainable forestry management for 40 years and counting. This year’s tours, offered by 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 start on Oct. 7.
The tours offer landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested individuals the opportunity to spend a day in the field visiting a variety of properties that are actively managed. Participants will visit private, industry, and public lands that center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices. At each tour stop, participants meet with landowners to hear their stories, learn from their experiences, and even share a meal.
Complementing the 40th anniversary of the tours, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program has recently created a series of videos highlighting the experiences of several participating landowners. In addition to the field tours, the award-winning program offers a number of training sessions and other resources throughout the year, including weekend retreats, short courses, online classes, and newsletters.
“We wanted to know if our programs were actually making a difference,” said Jennifer Gagnon, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program coordinator.
Professor John McGee, right, discusses the unmanned aircraft flight with Robert Stieg, CEO of the Clermont Foundation, which operates the Clermont Farm property. The aircraft was operated by Daniel Cross, an employee of Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute who is a licensed pilot, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations and other guidelines.
Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources, from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands. A small 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, commonly called a drone, showcased its potential to collect data in early May, flying over Clermont Farm in Clarke County.
“Our unmanned aircraft, a fixed wing eBee, flew about 350 feet above Clermont Farm, a site that is a Virginia Department of Historic Resources operating farm,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.
The unmanned aircraft’s sensors gathered information that will support future projects by supplying researchers with information about this cultural landscape.
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This cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata) may not be a state champion, but it has historical significance. Believed to have been planted in 1708, the tree stands on the grounds of the Violet Bank Museum in Colonial Heights, which served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the siege of Petersburg in the Civil War.
The state’s big trees might seem even a little “bigger” on the Virginia Big Tree Program’s newly redesigned website.
“The website lists information about the largest trees in Virginia,” said Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. He serves as coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program.
“We hope this redesign will encourage even more individuals to use the website,” Wiseman said. “We aimed for a simpler, intuitive layout that will be easier to use on mobile devices.” He added that updating the website in time for Arbor Day, celebrated this year on April 29, seemed appropriate.
Virginia’s big trees are those that are the largest of their species, measured by height, trunk circumference, and crown spread. The website lists the five largest trees of more than 300 different species and includes photographs of the honored trees as well as their location, the names of the individuals who nominated them, and in some cases, the name of landowner.
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