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NWTF Va. State Chapter President Ronnie Lambrich (R) and NRCS Va. State Conservationist Jack Bricker (L) sign the Operation Oak agreement.Click image for print quality version

VIRGINIA — The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Virginia state chapter and the Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently helped in the planting of 10,000 hardwood seedlings across Virginia as part of the Federation’s Operation Oak initiative.

The oak seedlings were distributed to 41 private landowners in 22 Virginia counties and are on their way to beautifying Virginia’s forests and benefiting wildlife. Established in 2000, Operation Oak was formed to combat the decline of oak woodlands in the eastern U.S. by planting seedlings on public and private lands. The seedlings are chosen for their hardiness, high growth rate and the potential to produce acorns in approximately ten years.

Jack Bricker, state conservationist for the Virginia NRCS, noted that many kinds of wildlife will prosper from the oaks as they mature, including the wild turkey.

“These seedlings are especially well-suited as a food source for wild turkeys and they provide valuable habitat. The NRCS appreciates being part of this team effort with the NWTF, knowing that both wild turkeys and landowners are benefiting.”

NWTF Operation Oak Coordinator Greg Boozer said that while the program has enjoyed great success, the Federation will continue to work to keep America’s woodlands strong for future generations.

“With the help of our partners, sponsors and volunteers, we’ve helped plant more than 400,000 oak seedlings and improve more than 640,000 acres of wild turkey habitat,” said Boozer. “Operation Oak represents the Federation’s commitment to protecting and enhancing America’s wildlife habitat. Together, we’re leaving a legacy that will be standing tall for decades to come.”

NWTF Virginia State Chapter President Ronnie Lambrich said his chapter was proud to help in the effort to keep Virginia’s woodlands beautiful, and appreciated support from partners and volunteers. The program’s corporate sponsors include Miller High Life, International Paper and DeltAg.

“Virginia is known for gorgeous fall foliage as well as great hunting,” said Lambrich. “By helping to plant these oaks, we’re ensuring that both of these Virginia trademarks continue to flourish.”