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Group Helps Rid Local Forests of Alien Trees

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

August 2, 2010

The picturesque forests of western Albemarle County, near White Hall, are one of the best remaining large forested landscapes in central Virginia.

Nature Conservancy Forester Jean Lorber, invited CBS19 cameras to join him to see how the Conservancy is helping landowners get rid of trees that don't belong.

"All the native wildlife, songbirds, salamanders, mammals - those have all adapted to grow up with oaks and maples and beeches. When we have exotic species come in and take the place, it disrupts the ecology," said Lorber.

The Conservancy is well known for protecting forests from development and bulldozers. Alien trees don't sound like much of a threat compared to that, but they are. Lorber kills the intruder trees to help give native trees a fighting chance.

"We use just a simple machete or a hatchet and make a chop in the tree around the perimeter. We spray a little bit of a selective herbicide into the wound, and that herbicide will get taken up into the tree's roots and foliage as well. By this time next year, the trees will be dead," said Lorber.

Lorber's work is part of the Conservancy's appeal to find landowners interested in protecting the forest with conservation easements. The landowners must give up the rights to develop, and in return, the conservancy agrees to protect the area.

"Every decade or so about a quarter million acres are lost to development," said Lorber.

The Conservancy can help landowners pay for some of the costs of restoring their forest and making it healthy again. There are also state and federal tax benefits available to landowners who agree to conservation easements.

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