Farm Bureau applauds additional funding for forestry department

virginia department of forestryThe Virginia Department of Forestry will receive increased funding for two vital forestry programs that the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has supported.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Aug. 29 that the DOF will receive money for its Reforestation of Timberlands program and fire suppression program. Farm Bureau legislative policy for 2016 supported both.

“Forestry is an important component of Virginia’s economy, contributing more than $17 billion and supporting more than 103,000 jobs,” said Martha Moore, VFBF vice president of governmental relations. “Foresters, like farmers, are conservationists, and funding the RT program will go a long way to support their efforts to replant trees so we can maintain healthy forestland. And the fire suppression funds also will help protect this valuable natural resource from a disaster, which is reassuring to landowners.”

McAuliffe noted that the state’s forestry industry “supports thousands of good jobs in our rural communities and provides important market opportunities for the commonwealth’s private forestland owners.

“Partnering with Del. (Steven) Landes (R-Verona) and others in the General Assembly, we have secured funding to ensure that Virginia’s forests are sustainable and healthy for years to come,” the governor said. “As we continue our efforts to build the new Virginia economy and promote Virginia’s forest products domestically and internationally, it is imperative that we ensure our forestlands are protected, productive and healthy for the future of this vital industry.”

For the first time since the 1990s, the state will fully match revenue generated by a self-imposed tax on commercial timber harvesting, as called for in the Code of Virginia since 1970. The RT funds are allocated to landowners to help pay for site preparation and replanting trees following a timber harvest. In addition, DOF will receive significant funding over the biennium through the Master Equipment Leasing Program to replace aging firefighting vehicles used to suppress the nearly 1,000 wildfires that occur each year in Virginia.

Moore encouraged landowners who recently harvested timber or are getting ready to harvest timber to contact their DOF regional forester to learn how the RT program can provide financial help for reforestation.

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