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Conway Robinson State Forest on US 29 in Gainesville to close 45 days for tree harvesting

Conway Robinson State Forest on US 29 southbound in Gainesville between Pageland Lane and Heritage Hunt will close for approximately 45 days so that a crew working for the Virginia Department of Forestry can harvest trees on a 32-acre tract within the state forest, according to a VDOF news release.

Senior Area Forester Terry Lasher said, “Since 2010, we have discussed with numerous stakeholder groups our intention to begin active forest management on 32 acres of the Conway Robinson State Forest.  There are several areas in this state forest that are overgrown, overstocked (densely packed) or at the end of their healthy life.”

The removal project will begin within the next two weeks.  To ensure public safety, the Conway Robinson State Forest will be closed to the public until the project is completed.  Lasher expects that closure to last up to 45 days.

“We’ve notified adjacent landowners and are posting signs at the forest’s access points and its parking lot, but we’d appreciate any help in sharing this information with the larger populace in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC,” Lasher said.

In addition to recreational opportunities, Virginia’s state forests are also important educational tools for landowners and school children. 

According to Lasher, this harvest will provide three distinct types of forest management that can be used to educate landowners on the options that exist for good forest management on their properties.

One area will be a shelterwood harvest in which selected trees are kept in place. Competing growth around selected trees is eliminated until there is a large free-to-grow area for the retained trees.  This treatment was chosen to help ensure the perpetuation of the white pine forest.

A second area will see a thinning.  This is a silvicultural treatment used to reduce stand density.  This will help improve the overall health and quality of the residual stand by cutting out dead, diseased and/or undesired trees.

The final area will be a regeneration harvest, also known as a clearcut. 

This type of forest management is a silvicultural treatment used for regeneration of even-aged forests.  Lasher said, “This is where ALL of the good and bad overstory trees are removed to provide optimal sunlight for specific trees, such as yellow-poplar, loblolly pine and sweetgum, which excel in full sunlight.  The clearcut will enable us to salvage the white pine trees that were damaged from different storms and replant the area with Shortleaf pine – a declining native pine species.

“When this important work is done, the Conway Robinson will be a healthier state forest,” Lasher stated

For questions about the closure, contact Terry Lasher at 540-347-6305 or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The forest is a favorite destination for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and bird watchers across Northern Virginia, according to a VDOF statement.

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