Virginia marks 100 years of state forest system with new state forest

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- There are now 25 state forests in Virginia.

Earlier this week, Governor Ralph Northam dedicated the First Mountain State Forest in Rockingham County and joined officials from the Virginia Department of Forestry to commemorate the 100th anniversary of state forests in the Commonwealth.

The first state forest was founded in 1919 after a Prince Edward County resident gave the Commonwealth a gift of 588 acres near Farmville.

The new forest is on the southeastern slopes of First Mountain in the southern part of the Massanutten range.

It includes 573 acres of hardwood and pine stands, open fields, and more than 21,700 feet of stream frontage.

It is also adjacent to 583 contiguous acres of the George Washing National Forest.

"From tree planting to harvesting, Virginia's state forests demonstrate the best practices in forestry, provide important recreation cultural and heritage resources, and scenery, help keep our air and water clean and protect space for fish and wildlife," said Northam. "For a century, Virginians have benefited from health and resilient forests and I am delighted to announce our newest state forest. First Mountain, which will continue the legacy of sustainable forest management in our Commonwealth."

Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler says conserving forest land and managing it properly is key to the economic and environmental values of rural communities.

State Forester Rob Farrell adds the thousands of feet of stream frontage and vegetated buffers mean First Mountain will play an important role in improving water quality, recreation opportunities and tourism opportunities as well as having a potential impact on the Chesapeake Bay.

There are at least eight perennial and intermittent streams within the new state forest, which empty into the Shenandoah River, a waterway that was affected by mercury pollution at the former E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, or DuPont, facility in Waynesboro.

The old facility's property was purchased using funding from the DuPont natural resource damages and restoration settlement, which was valued at about $50 million in Virginia.

The First Mountain property was originally part of Boone's Run Farm, which was owned by long-time Charlottesville residents Virginia and Alfred Dofflemyer and had been in the family for generations.

"I speak on behalf of the entire Dofflemyer family in expressing our excitement that the family farm is now part of the state forest system and will be protected from future development," said Todd Dofflemyer. "Additionally, we are excited by the prospect of the VDOF actively tree farming like my grandfather, Alfred Dofflemyer, did for so many years."

Virginia's state forests are self-supporting and do not get any taxpayer funds for their operations. Instead, funding is generated through the sale of forest products.

Up to 25 percent of the revenue received from the sale of such products is also returned to the counties in which the forests are located.

Virginians can help support educational programs in state forests by donating part of the state tax refund to Virginia's State Forests Fund.

The Virginia Department of Forestry maintains nearly 16 million acres of forestland. There are more than 108,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products, and related industries, which provide an overall economic output of more than $21 billion annually.



 
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