Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 252 into law and created the nation’s first Century Forest program during a special ceremony inside the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Va.
Developed by the Administration and patroned by Sen. Frank Ruff, SB252 is designed to honor and recognize those Virginians who have owned working forestlands for more than 100 years. Officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry, which will manage the program when the law goes into effect July 1st, estimate that there are more than 1,000 individuals or families eligible for this distinction.
“We’re very excited to be able to highlight those Virginians who have owned, managed and treasured their forestland for more than a century and hope to keep their woodlands intact, in forest and in their family for years to come,” said State Forester of Virginia Bettina Ring.
“We are grateful to Senator Ruff and all of his colleagues in the Senate and House for voting unanimously to approve this important legislation, and we appreciate all of the work and support of our partners, members of the Secretary’s office and the Governor for turning this dream into a reality.”
To earn the Century Forest designation, the property must:
- Have been owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years;
- Include at least 20 contiguous acres of managed forest;
- Be lived on, or actually managed by, a descendant of the original owners, and
- Have a history of timber harvests or forest management activities.
A landowner who believes she/he qualifies for this recognition will submit an application that will be reviewed by the VDOF. If approved by the State Forester, the landowner will receive a certificate and a Virginia Century Forest sign. Applications will be available near the start of the new fiscal year (July 1).