Virginia recognizes first 23 families in Century Forest program

Virginia recognizes first 23 families in Century Forest program
CHARLOTTESVILLE—The first 23 families whose land qualified for Virginia’s Century Forest designation were honored Nov. 21. The designation recognizes families who have owned working forestlands for more than 100 years.

The state law authorizing the Century Forest program went into effect July 1. 

“These families and their ancestors built Virginia, and they built America,” said State Forester Bettina Ring. “What a fitting recognition of their achievements this is—being part of the first group in the nation’s first Century Forest program.”

The inaugural families own land in the counties of Albemarle, Campbell, Caroline,  Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fauquier, Hanover, Henrico, Henry, Giles, King William, Lee, Mecklenburg, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski and Sussex.

To qualify for the Century Forest designation, 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 managed by a descendant of the original owners and have a history of timber harvests or forest management activities.

Andrew Smith, senior assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said the Century Forest program “encourages people to keep their land in production and shows generations have been involved. These families have a sense of pride in their forest heritage.”

Mike Santucci, forestland conservation manager for the Virginia Department of Forestry, noted that nearly two-thirds, or 10 million acres, of Virginia’s woodlands are controlled by family forest landowners, “and the decisions they make to manage and conserve them are crucial to sustaining the commonwealth’s $17 billion timber industry.”

Virginia’s agriculture and forest industries contribute a combined $70 billion annually to the state’s economy, and timber is the third-largest contributing sector. 

The Century Forest program addresses the important challenge of keeping forestland intact.

“The families who participate in the Century Forest program help keep Virginia’s forestland from getting fragmented. It helps keep family-owned forests intact as they pass from one generation to the next,” Smith said.

To request a Century Forest application, email or call the Department of Forestry at 434-977-6555.

Media: Contact Smith at 804-290-1021 or Santucci at 434-220-9182. 

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