The Governor’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund has been successful due to collective efforts in Virginia government to promote the agriculture and forestry industries and create new jobs in these sectors. VFA was proud to be a part of the effort to establish the Fund and continues to advocate for this grant funding.
To date, AFID facility grants total 18 projects in 16 localities for the creation of 1,329 jobs and capital investment of over $145 million, all using on average 70% Virginia grown inputs into their processes. Of those totals, three of those 18 projects are forestry related. These include Franklin Lumber, Independence Lumber and Trout River Dry Kiln, all detailed below. In total, Virginia has leveraged $350,000 in grant awards for forestry projects (see chart below) in three localities for $25 million in capital investment, 137 new jobs and 72% Virginia grown forestry inputs.
|COMPANY||AFID GRANT||CAPITAL INVESTMENT ($Millions)||JOBS CREATED||VA GROWN PRODUCT SOURCING||LOCATION||ANNOUNCED|
|Franklin Lumber, LLC||$150,000||$14.80||72||40%||Isle of Wight County||June 2013|
|Trout River Dry Kiln||$100,000||$5.47||40||85%||Nottoway County||Mar. 2014|
|Independence Lumber||$100,000||$5.05||25||90%||County of Grayson||Aug. 2014|
Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry Todd Haymore stated, “We thank you and your members for your continued support that allowed for the original creation of the program and has now led to these successful results. We look forward to bolstering the AFID program even more with our partners in 2015 as agriculture and forestry continues to be woven into the Administration’s strategic economic development efforts towards a New Virginia Economy.”
New George Washington National Forest Plan Balances Multiple Uses
In November the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Regional Forester released the Final Forest Plan that will direct management of the George Washington National Forest (GWNF). The plan revises the 1993 plan, as required by the National Forest Management Act, and contains guidance for managing nearly 1.1 million acres of national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.
“This forest plan provides a balance of management direction that addresses both the long-term ecological sustainability of the GWNF, as well as the long-term social and economic needs of those that depend on or are impacted by the Forest,” said Southern Regional Forester Ken Arney.
The plan works to fulfill the Forest Service’s mission of managing national forests for multiple uses and reflects extensive input from many deeply committed individuals, organizations, and communities representing diverse interests and uses, who have worked closely together over six years. As a result of this collaborative input, implementation of this plan will:
- Assure water quality with increased streamside protections
- Improve wildlife habitat, healthy forests, and local economic opportunities with prescribed fire and timber harvest
- Enhance and protect recreation opportunities, including recommending for congressional designation a 90,000 acre National Scenic Area on Shenandoah Mountain located in Rockingham, Augusta, and Highland counties and 27,000 additional acres to the Wilderness Preservation System
- Provide a comprehensive, balanced strategy for energy development consistent with other resource values, including for wind and oil and gas.
In a letter to planning participants, including VFA, Tom Speaks, forest supervisor of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stated, “Our work does not end with approval of this plan. The next step is to work together to develop and implement projects that move us toward the vision described in the plan.”
VFA endorsed a plan to focus on increasing active forest and wildlife management, including additional harvesting on the GWNF, with a goal of creating more early successional habitat and allowing for biomass removal. These changes will help improve forest health and potentially benefit local wood products industry. As a part of collaboration with a local stakeholder group, which endorsed increased management, VFA agreed to the concept of additional National Scenic and Wilderness areas for lands inaccessible for practical timber harvesting.
The plan includes a decision that limits availability for new oil and gas leasing, while establishing a comprehensive framework for potential development on about 10,000 acres where there are existing valid leases, as well as on 167,200 acres with existing private mineral rights. Presently, none of the existing federal leases or existing privately owned mineral rights on the Forest are active. There is also no mineral development occurring on adjacent private lands. The decision does not prohibit any specific technology for developing oil and gas resources, including hydraulic fracturing. Any proposal to develop existing leases on the Forest would undergo additional environmental analysis and provide opportunities for public comment and engagement.
To review the revised George Washington National Forest Plan, visit the Forest Website. For additional information, contact the George Washington National Forest at 540/265-5100.
American Forest Foundation Revised Tree Farm Certification Standards Promote Forest Health and Species Conservation
Updated Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification under the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation are available here. The standards, which are revised every five years, are the result of a rigorous, multi-stakeholder process and based on international guidelines for sustainable forest management and conservation.
VFA is an active state co-sponsor of Tree Farm, and VFA Programs Manager Shannon McCabe serves as the state Tree Farm administrator.
New SFI Standards and Rules Ensure the Health and Future of Forests
The launch of the new Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) 2015-2019 Standards and Rules marks an important advancement to support better decision making all along the supply chain and to promote sustainable forest management.
"The future of our forests depends on credible, transparent and auditable standards to enable sustainable resource use for today and generations to come," said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. "SFI plays a central role in strengthening the vital link between healthy forests, responsible purchasing and sustainable communities."
A major change to the structure of the SFI 2015-2019 Standards and Rules is the establishment of three stand-alone standards:
- The SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard promotes sustainable forestry practices based on 13 Principles, 15 Objectives, 37 Performance Measures and 101 Indicators. These requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.
- The SFI 2015-2019 Fiber Sourcing Standard promotes responsible forestry practices based on 14 Principles, 13 Objectives, 21 Performance Measures and 55 Indicators that address the 90 percent of the world's forests that are not certified. These fiber sourcing requirements include measures to broaden the conservation of biodiversity, use forestry best management practices to protect water quality, provide outreach to landowners and utilize the services of forest management and harvesting professionals. Because it directs how SFI Program Participants procure fiber from non-certified land, this standard encourages the use of responsible forestry practices.
- The SFI 2015-2019 Chain of Custody Standard tracks the percentage of fiber from certified forests, certified sourcing and recycled content through production and manufacturing to the end product. Organizations can use physical separation, average percentage or volume credit methods to track and communicate their chain of custody claims. The SFI Chain of Custody standard is applied globally.
The SFI standards are updated every five years to incorporate the latest scientific information and to respond to emerging issues. As part of this update, comments were received during two 60-day public comment periods and input was gathered from 12 public workshops across the United States and Canada. Approximately 10,000 stakeholders were invited to submit comments. Participants included public and private landowners, forest sector representatives, indigenous communities, conservation groups, industry representatives, academics and government officials. The responses to comments are posted on the SFI website.
VFA’s SFI Implementation Committee oversees SFI-related activities in Virginia.
Project Learning Tree Completes Analysis Linking PLT Activities to STEM Education
Teachers all across the country love using Project Learning Tree to introduce students to the science of forests. Now, thanks to a thorough analysis by PLT staff, they can do so with full confidence that PLT activities support Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) education.
PLT staff identified 40 activities that directly incorporate STEM principles. In addition, they found that PLT activities in general promote STEM education in three main ways:
- PLT engages students - some of whom might not think of themselves as being interested in Science or Math - in STEM learning.
- PLT helps improve teachers' ability to incorporate STEM into their lessons.
- PLT reaches diverse audiences with STEM education.
See the full analysis here, including a list of activities that correspond with STEM.
VFA is a state co-sponsor of PLT in Virginia along with the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Tech.