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Governor dedicates Virginia’s 26th state forest

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Virginia (WDBJ / Governor’s Office News Release) – Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced the grand opening of the Charlotte State Forest, opening the first public land accessible to the public in Charlotte County.

The 5,004-acre state forest is Virginia’s 26th state forest, according to the governor’s office. The Virginia Department of Forestry will manage the forest under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm Standards, retaining key habitat areas and providing new public access to outdoor recreation activities, Northam said.

“Virginia’s state forests are essential to preserving environmental sustainability and a strong economy throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Charlotte State Forest will conserve wildlife habitat, improve water quality, provide recreational opportunities for the public, and support local economies. We look forward to taking advantage of this new outdoor asset.

The forest was owned by Governor Thomas B. Stanley, who served from 1954 to 1958, and the Stanley Land and Lumber Corporation before the Conservation Fund was purchased in 2019. It was used to supply shortleaf pine and Virginia pine, as well as white and hickory oak, to local mills for furniture.

“As Virginia’s third largest industry, forestry plays a vital role in Virginia’s economy,” said Agriculture and Forestry Secretary Bettina Ring. “Close collaboration between the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Conservation Fund, the Stanley family and other public and private partners has made this important acquisition possible and will ensure its sustainable management for present and future generations. “

“This property is a very special place. Its heritage of sustainable timber and wildlife habitat management, combined with its significant water resources, have made it an important location here in Charlotte County, ”said State Forester Rob Farrell. “Today, we are celebrating the future of the Charlotte State Forest, its continued sustainability, its contribution to Virginia’s economy, and its importance to the many individuals and families who will have the opportunity to enjoy recreational activities here. “

“Ensuring the integrity of large forest landscapes and keeping them under sustainable management is one of the most important conservation strategies today,” said Heather Richards, director of the Virginia State Conservation Fund. “By continuing the legacy of three generations of the Stanley family and the Stanley Land and Lumber Corporation, and creating Virginia’s newest state forest, we are preserving the forest’s ability to provide vital climatic, economic and ecological benefits for generations to come. We thank our partners in the Commonwealth and the US Forest Service, the support of the US Congressional delegation from Virginia, and funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Together, we made this wonderful result possible.

To acquire forest lands from the Conservation Fund, the Virginia Department of Forestry mobilized federal, state and private funds through the USDA Forest Legacy Program, Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, agencies and additional funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the United States. , according to Northam.

“The United States Forest Service is pleased to support and partner with the Virginia Forest Department to protect this important and historic active forest that will provide wildlife habitat, numerous recreational opportunities, and timber resources.” thanks to ongoing sustainable management. “ said Ken Arney, Southern Regional Forester. “Forest Legacy projects can take several years to complete and require a high degree of commitment from partners and landowners. We applaud the amount of work that has gone into making this happen. “

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