CRIMORA, Va. — The Virginia Department of Forestry is looking for nuts - and they want yours.
If you’ve got an oak tree in your yard or neighborhood, the department wants you to collect the acorns and mail them in. Foresters will plant them in the nursery.
Assistant Forestry Center Manager Josh McLaughlin said they need 12 different species of acorns and nuts “that will one day become the forests of tomorrow.”
“Oaks are always so find - [the] native seeds in our area," McLaughlin said. “We always ask the public to help us find those to help us collect them where we can get a good genetic makeup of Virginia seedlings.”
He said it’s a great social distancing activity that families can do with kids. It’s as easy as picking up acorns in a parking lot.
“It’s a good activity, it’s a good way to get people familiar with trees and what type of acorn they’re looking for,” he said.
McLaughlin said the department puts out a call-to-action, to save time and money when it comes to getting the acorns they need. Certain nuts can also be hard to find and availability can change every year.
He said the more acorns that are collected and planted, the more trees that can be planted around the state.
“If we do get the acorns from the public that does help us save money from a seed supplier or traveling all over the state of Virginia to find what we need," McLaughlin said. “We grow roughly 35 million seedlings a year for resource station and restoration and aesthetic reasons here in the state.”
According to a press release issued by the Department, The species the tree nursery needs this year are black oak, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, chestnut oak, live oak, northern red oak, pin oak, southern red oak, swamp chestnut oak, swamp white oak, white oak, and willow oak.
After you collect the seeds, you're asked to place the nuts in a breathable sack or bag, rather than plastic, and label the species and date of collection.
You can store the nuts in a cool area, like a fridge or basement, until you're ready to send them off.
You can drop them off at the VDOF office or mail them in by October 16th.
For more information, you can call the Augusta Forestry Center at 540-363-7000 or visit the VDOF website at dof.virginia.gov/tree/acorn-collect.htm.