The Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources is taking registration for the online Woodland Options for Landowners course, slated to begin March 1, and last 11 weeks. The non-credit course, which costs $60, is self-paced and all course material is available online through August. More information and the online registration form is available here.

The course is important to Virginia’s citizens because of changes occurring in land ownership patterns and because Virginia is going from a few large landowners (mainly private industry) to many smaller non-industrial private landowners. This has resulted in fragmentation of the landscape, which poses new management challenges. Land owners may need to manage smaller parcels differently than larger ones due to different objectives for the land.

Many of the more than 400,000 non-industrial private landowners in Virginia do not have experience with land management. The on-line course is a way to reach absentee landowners who may live out of state and are unable to attend a face-to-face class. Busy landowners can work through the course at their own pace and when their schedule permits.

Forest landowner education is critical for preserving Virginia’s forest land base. Geared toward forest landowners regardless of whether the owner’s goal is preserving forestland or extracting timber for profit, the course covers a wide range of topics and techniques, including the history of forest management in Virginia, tree species identification, and timber-harvesting methods. Course content also includes instruction on how to use helpful forest management resources such as deeds, topographical maps, and soil studies.

Conducted in a "mentored" learning environment, participants will be assigned a mentor team consisting of a local forester and outstanding forest landowner. Participants will interact weekly via e-mail discussion groups with their mentor team and with their working group consisting of other landowners enrolled in the course from their region.

For further information contact Jennifer Gagnon, Forest Landowner Education Program Coordinator, (540) 231-6391.