West Virginia Universitys Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences will be working closely with a timber imaging company locating in Morgantown.

Image Tree Corp. announced Wednesday (June 21) plans to open a production facility and corporate headquarters in Morgantown.The firm wants to automate the forest inventory process, helping timber investment and management firms that buy forestland.

Michael Strager, visiting assistant professor in the divisions of forestry and natural resources and resources management of the Davis College, has taken the lead in coordinating collaborative efforts between Image and the college.

Thirteen students from the Division already have been hired for internships at Image and faculty are developing research collaborations,Stager said.

He and Dr. Jerry Fletcher, professor of resource economics and director of the WVU Natural Resource Analysis Center (NRAC), have worked closely with Image representatives.

NRAC is a multi-disciplinary research and teaching facility in the Davis College that provides research, teaching and service in environmental and natural resource issues with a geo-spatial context.

Joe McNeel, director of the division of forestry and natural resources, said WVU is committed to providing students with quality educational experiences both in and out of the classroom.

Our faculty conscientiously makes every effort to integrate teaching and research in the classroom, providing opportunities to develop skills in critical thinking, oral and written communication, creative problem solving, and the use of cutting-edge technology,McNeel said.Image Trees decision to expand its relationship with the division is a very flattering example of our success in building relationships with public and private entities that benefit our students, promote essential research in natural resource management, and support economic development in the state and region.

The WVU Division of Forestry and Natural Resources is one of the regions leaders in furthering the understanding, stewardship, and sustainable use of renewable natural resources.It offers undergraduate and graduate education in four program areas:Forest Resources Management; Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources; Wildlife and Fisheries Resources; and Wood Science and Technology.

The Division collaborates with WVU Extension to operate the Appalachian Hardwood Center.The Center provides relevant natural resource-based outreach programs, technical assistance and research for businesses, communities and individuals located in the Appalachian forest region.These efforts, where possible, promote multiple-uses of natural resources in ways that are sustainable and compatible.

WVU is also one of an elite group of land-grant institutions that house Centers for Wood Utilization Research.The Centers for Wood Utilization Research were established to generate the new knowledge and technologies needed to maintain a vigorous and competitive domestic forest products industry based on sustainable use of the nation’s forest resources. These centers address the major problems confronting the domestic forest products industry and have the breadth to span the sustainable utilization and harvesting of eastern hardwoods, southern pine, western softwood and northeastern species, with additional focus on the development of associated manufacturing and machining technologies.