by Area Forester Kyle Dingus
In 2014 the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) celebrated its 100th anniversary. At the time, I was less than a year into my job as an Area Forester serving the NOVA work area. Through college I had always admired the VDOF and was excited to be a part of the agency. I was impressed by the diversity of management and conservation-related duties it is responsible for and implements. It wasn’t until last year that I realized how valued VDOF’s technical advice has been over the years to the landowners of the Commonwealth.
I have worked with Betsy and Rodger Hille of Rappahannock County since 2015, helping them manage the forest on their 59-acre property. While completing their Stewardship Plan last year I realized that I was the fourth-generation forester from the agency to work on this tract of land. This 66-year legacy included the work of four foresters: W.C. Vernam in 1952, Buck Cline in 1988, Martin Agee in 2002 and continues with me today. While I had come across those foresters in the landowner files in my office, I never encountered this many foresters associated with one tract. Initially, I did not make the connection, but when I was completing the final touches of the plan the significance of this management legacy hit home.
At least four different landowners have overseen this property and sought VDOF assistance since 1952. The landowners’ relationships with VDOF have resulted in timber harvests, tree plantings for pasture conversion, Tree Farm Designation, management plans, native warm season grass maintenance and invasive species control. None of these landowners had to go through VDOF, but over the generations they have come to us. I can see the positive effect our recommendations have had on the forest over time. While I’m happy the recommendations have been helpful and implemented, the best thing to come of this from my perspective has been the knowledge that VDOF has been and continues to be a reliable source of forest management information.
“When I was a young man I worked for the Forest Service in California on a fire crew and a TSI crew, so it seemed natural that when my wife and I needed assistance with our management plan that we would turn to the VDOF for guidance. We found Forester Kyle Dingus to be extremely knowledgeable about our property and its flora and fauna. His recommendations have been tailored to both our needs and resources. We would recommend him and the VDOF to any property owners concerned about stewardship of their land.” — Roger Hille, landowner