Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Independence Lumber is rebuilding and expanding production at its sawmill operation in Grayson County that was destroyed by fire in November of 2012. The company will invest more than $5 million, retain 57 current jobs, create 25 new jobs at the site, and purchase 90 percent of its timber needs from Virginia forests. The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with Grayson County and Independence Lumber on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).
Speaking in Grayson County about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Virginia’s forestry industry supports good jobs in our rural communities, provides important market opportunities for the Commonwealth’s private forestland owners, and is a major driver of export sales through the Port of Virginia. Partnering with a company like Independence Lumber is a great way my administration can further the recovery of Virginia’s forest products industry, which was hit hard by the economic recession. Independence Lumber’s decision to rebuild this sawmill is a powerful symbol of their faith in that recovery and in Virginia more broadly. This new facility will bring much needed employment opportunities to the region’s citizens and economic vitality back to the this part of state, and more importantly, back to the Commonwealth, helping to build a new Virginia economy.”
VFA Executive Director Paul Howe states, "VFA is extremely pleased that one of our member companies, particularly one that suffered hardship, is benefitting from the AFID program we worked hard to establish."
Independence Lumber’s new sawmill will produce a variety of dimensional lumber sourced from the region, including Red and White Oak, Poplar, Birch, Hickory, and Eastern White Pine. Independence’s products will be sold domestically and exported into the global marketplace through the Port of Virginia.
Virginia Department of Forestry’s 100th Year Recognition
VDOF continues to receive deserved recognition for its 100th anniversary. After attending an August 18 reception held at the Governor’s mansion for VDOF employees and other forestry guests, State Forester Bettina Ring commented to DOF staff, “We are at a special point in this organization’s history as we commemorate our 100th anniversary. Many of us were fortunate to be able to represent all VDOF employees at a reception at the Governor’s mansion. Never before has a state agency been honored so personally and graciously by a Governor. The pride I have for you and our Agency is overwhelming, and it was on full display at the reception. The Governor and Secretary were effusive with their praise of you and the great work that you do. I only wish that every employee could have been there to hear their words. It’s obvious that they hold you in high esteem, as I do.”
Visit the VDOF website at http://dof.virginia.gov/print/index.htm to read about the history of the department and learn about events and activities that celebrate the agency’s 100th anniversary. Of special note is the 2014-2016 Official State Transportation Map. VDOT collaborated with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) to develop the theme and content if this new map that features the centennial of the Virginia’s state forestry system, established for the primary purpose of reforestation and preventing forest fires.
VDOF has evolved over the last century to encompass additional preservation and conservation responsibilities that include Virginia’s state lands and nurseries, waters and landowner incentive programs.
Order the official map online, pick one up at Virginia’s staffed welcome centers and safety rest areas, or request one from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
House Approves Measure Blocking EPA Water Rule
In early September the House of Representatives approved legislation prohibiting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from finalizing rules critics say would drastically expand federal regulation of private land and reduce state authority over non-navigable waters. VFA and other forestry-related organizations supported this legislations from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), the Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078), that would prohibit the EPA and the Army Corps from implementing a proposed rule expanding federal regulatory authority over bodies of water currently managed by or jointly with the states; prohibit an additional “interpretive rule” that limits existing exemptions for agriculture conservation practices; and require federal agencies to consult with state and local officials to identify which waters should be federally regulated and which should be left to the states.
“This bill isn’t anti-environment or anti-clean water. In fact, it’s just the opposite,” Southerland said in a press statement. “By preserving this federal-state partnership under the Clean Water Act, we will be able to build upon success stories of the past to keep our waters cleaner in the future….we’ve taken an important step forward in restoring the certainty our farmers, manufacturers, and construction and transportation industries need to grow America’s economy.“
VFA and more than 100 other forest resource organizations endorsed a September 8 letter to House members, advocating support of HR 5078 and listing exposures the WOTUS rulemaking opens up. The letter stated that, in initiating the rulemaking, EPA "goes well beyond any authority ever granted to it by Congress in the 42 years since the law's enactment—and even ignores two U.S. Supreme Court rulings."
A statement by Administration said the president would veto the bill because it “would derail current efforts to clarify the scope of the CWA, hamstring future regulatory efforts, and create significant ambiguity regarding existing regulations and guidance.” In spite of apparent widespread support for a similar measure in the Senate, it does not appear that there will be a vote on such a bill this session.
Project Seeks to Promote Careers in Logging
The American Loggers Council and the Forest Resources Association are working together on a project to help men and women considering a career in logging to understand what logging work is like and to link them with the connections they need to find employment.
A brochure, Is Working As A Logger For You?, describes basic qualifications for logging employment, characterizes several logging configurations, and presents statements from employers about what to expect from employment in logging. It also provides a link to a page on ALC’s web site, www.americanloggers.org/careers, which provides state association contacts who can connect motivated individuals to employers and training opportunities.
“The need for motivated and trainable entry-level woods workers is a big part of our concern about future logging capacity,” stated FRA President Deb Hawkinson. “Our intent is not just to guide new entrants into logging work but to help them realize if it is a career well-suited to them.”
“One of the major issues facing the timber harvesting industry today is finding enough motivated, career-oriented workers to fill the jobs that are opening up in the logging woods,” stated Danny Dructor, ALC Executive Vice President. “We have been working with members of Congress to address the anticipated worker shortage by focusing on succession with family members, but this brochure can help to educate others who are interested in a logging career.”
Anyone with distribution outlets such as ag education programs, career fair contacts, veterans organizations, community booster organizations, appropriate retail outlets, and others may contact FRA’s Neil Ward at email@example.com, 202-296-3937, who will arrange a shipment of the brochures. Brochures are available in multiples of 50 to distributors at no charge. The brochure may also be downloaded as a high-resolution PDF at www.americanloggers.org/2014_LoggerBrochure_v3final.pdf.