Urban wood transformed into works of art, white oak milled to become bourbon barrels, a sea of pine trees that will be harvested and replanted, and a 200-year-old farm that has grown into a showcase for grazing cattle while protecting wildlife.

This year’s annual Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours will traverse both scenic back roads and busy city streets to provide educational and networking opportunities for Virginia’s landowners, natural resources professionals, and anyone with an interest in the sustainable management of natural resources.

This fall marks the 46th iteration of the tours, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in the College of Natural Resource and Environment and in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, associations, and industry partners. According to Jennifer Gagnon, program coordinator, it’s the longest running program of its kind in Virginia.

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 a perfect setting for landowners to discuss their forest management issues with professionals in an informal setting as well as to network with their peers.

Both returning participants and new explorers are welcome. “The Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours provide participants with unique experiences, such as touring a bourbon cooperage, exploring a working pine sawmill, and visiting privately owned woodlands to hear directly from their owners,” Gagnon said. “And being in October, they also showcase the beauty of our commonwealth in the fall.” 

Three tours will take place throughout Virginia, and each tour will include multiple stops on diverse properties:

  • Oct. 7 - Amelia, Henrico, and Powhatan counties: The City Tree and Country Tree Tour highlights how the landscape changes from urban to rural and back again. Stops include the urban forest at Deep Run Park, a showcase of one-of-a-kind wood products created by John Russell of Sawmill Solutions, and an oak savanna habitat at the Amelia Wildlife Management Area.
  • Oct. 14 - Smyth and Washington counties: The Sapling to Snifter Tour has a special focus on bourbon production and its dependency on hardwood forests. Participants will visit a 25-year-old planted hardwood forest as well as a mature oak forest to learn about related Virginia Department of Forestry initiatives, and then tour the Speyside Stave Mill and Speyside Cooperage.
  • Oct. 28 - Louisa County: The Rock and Roll Tour travels through the site of the 2011 earthquake and stops include a pine plantation and nearby sawmill, historic Brackett’s Farm in the Green Springs Agricultural District, and a hardwood forest slated for management instead of mining.

Registration is required, as space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The registration fee, which covers lunch and transportation for an individual or a couple, varies by tour date. For questions, contact Jennifer Gagnon at jgagnon@vt.edu or 540-231-6391.

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