Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
Chapter 11. Forest Resources and the Department of Forestry

Article 2. Duties of the State Forester and General Provisions.

§ 10.1-1104. General powers and duties of State Forester.

The State Forester, under the direction and control of the Governor, shall exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred or imposed upon him by law and shall perform other duties required of him by the Governor or the appropriate citizen boards.

1986, c. 567, § 10-31.3; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1105. Additional powers and duties of State Forester.

A. The State Forester shall supervise and direct all forest interests and all matters pertaining to forestry within the Commonwealth. He shall have charge of all forest wardens and shall appoint, direct and supervise persons he employs to perform labor in the forest reservations or the nurseries provided for herein, and he is authorized to employ temporary forest wardens to extinguish forest fires in the Commonwealth. He shall take such action as is authorized by law to prevent and extinguish forest fires; develop a program to promote the use of prescribed burning for community protection and ecological, silvicultural, and wildlife management; enforce all laws pertaining to forest and woodlands; prosecute any violation of such laws; develop silvicultural best management practices, including reforestation, prevention of erosion and sedimentation, and maintenance of buffers for water quality, pursuant to Article 12 (§ 10.1-1181.1 et seq.); collect information relative to forest destruction and conditions; direct the protection and improvement of all forest reservations; and, as far as his duties as State Forester will permit, conduct an educational course on forestry at the University of Virginia for credit toward a degree, at farmers' institutes and at similar meetings within the Commonwealth. He shall provide for the protection of state waters from pollution by sediment deposition resulting from silvicultural activities as provided in Article 12 (§ 10.1-1181.1 et seq.). In addition, the State Forester shall cooperate with counties, municipalities, corporations and individuals in preparing plans and providing technical assistance, based on generally accepted scientific forestry principles, for the protection, management and replacement of trees, wood lots and timber tracts and the establishment and preservation of urban forests, under an agreement that the parties obtaining such assistance shall pay the field and traveling expenses of the person employed in preparing such plans. The State Forester also shall assist landowners and law-enforcement agencies with regard to reported cases of timber theft. The State Forester shall develop and implement forest conservation and management strategies to improve wildlife habitat and corridors, incorporating applicable elements of any wildlife action plan developed by the Department of Wildlife Resources and the Wildlife Corridor Action Plan developed pursuant to § 29.1-579.

B. Records of the Department composed of confidential commercial or financial information supplied by individuals or business entities to the Department in the course of an investigation of timber theft are excluded from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

1986, c. 567, § 10-31.4; 1988, c. 891; 1989, c. 215; 1993, c. 948; 1997, c. 7; 1998, c. 156; 1999, c. 220; 2000, c. 997; 2019, cc. 348, 353; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 498.

§ 10.1-1105.1. Century forest program.

The State Forester shall establish and administer a century forest program to honor families in the Commonwealth whose property has been in the same family for 100 years or more and includes at least 20 contiguous acres of managed forest. In order to be eligible for recognition under the program, a property shall (i) have been owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years; (ii) be lived on, or actually managed by, a descendant of the original owners; and (iii) have a documented history of timber harvests or forest management activities.

2016, c. 6.

§ 10.1-1106. State Forester to control forest reserves and funds; reforesting; preservation of timber, etc.

The care, management and preservation of the forest reserves of the Commonwealth and the forests thereon, and all moneys appropriated in that behalf, or collected therefrom in any way, and all personal and real property acquired to carry out the objects of this chapter, shall be subject to the control of the State Forester.

The State Forester shall observe, ascertain, follow and put into effect the best methods of reforesting cutover and denuded lands, foresting wastelands, preventing the destruction of forests by fire, the administering of forests on forestry principles, the instruction and encouragement of private owners in preserving and growing timber for commercial and manufacturing purposes, and the general conservation of forest tracts around the headwaters and on the watersheds of the watercourses of the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 10-32; 1984, c. 750; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1107. Purchase of lands and acceptance of gifts for forestry purposes by the State Forester; management; definition of state forests.

A. The State Forester shall have authority to purchase in the name of the Commonwealth lands suitable for state forests. He may accept for state forest purposes gifts, devises and bequests of real and personal property as well as endowments, funds, and grants from any source. Unless otherwise restricted by the terms of the gift, devise or bequest, the State Forester is authorized, in the name of the Commonwealth, to convey or lease any such real property given to it, with the consent and approval of the Governor and the General Assembly and the approval of the instrument as to form by the Attorney General. Mineral and mining rights over and under land donated may be reserved by the donors.

B. The State Forester shall have the power and authority to accept gifts, donations and contributions of land, and to enter into agreements for the acquisition by purchase, lease or otherwise with, the United States, or any agency or agent thereof, of lands for state forests.

C. The State Forester shall have authority to provide for the management, development and utilization of any lands purchased, leased or otherwise acquired, to sell or otherwise dispose of products on or derived from the land, and to enforce regulations governing state forests, the care and maintenance thereof, and the prevention of trespassing thereon, and such other regulations deemed necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. Approval by the Governor or General Assembly shall not be required for the sale or harvesting of timber on state forest lands or other lands over which the Department has supervision and control.

D. In exercising the powers conferred by this section, the State Forester shall not obligate the Commonwealth for any expenditure in excess of any funds either donated or appropriated to the Department for such purpose.

E. One-fourth of the gross proceeds derived from timber sales on any state forest lands so acquired by the State Forester shall be paid annually by the State Forester to the counties in which such lands are respectively located, and shall become a part of the general funds of such counties, except for Appomattox, Buckingham and Cumberland Counties. For the Counties of Appomattox, Buckingham and Cumberland, one-eighth of the gross proceeds derived from timber sales on any state forest lands acquired in these counties shall become part of the general funds of these counties and one-eighth shall be expended annually by the Department, upon consultation with each county, for the enhancement of recreational opportunities on those state forest lands located in the county. This subsection shall not apply to properties acquired or managed for nonstate forest purposes.

F. As used in this chapter unless the context requires a different meaning, "state forest" means lands acquired for the Commonwealth by purchase, gift or lease pursuant to this section. These lands shall be managed and protected for scientific, recreational and educational purposes. Uses of the state forests shall include, but not be limited to, research, demonstrations, tours, soil and water management and protection, hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

G. All acquisitions of real property under this section shall be subject to the provisions of § 2.2-1149. The Attorney General shall approve the form of the instruments prior to execution.

Code 1950, § 10-33; 1984, c. 750; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 1999, c. 201; 2007, c. 689; 2009, c. 43; 2012, cc. 197, 248.

§ 10.1-1108. Waste and unappropriated lands.

Any waste and unappropriated land, other than ungranted shores of the sea, marsh or meadowlands exempted from grant by the provisions of § 41.1-3, may be set apart permanently for use as state forest land, by a grant and proclamation signed by the Governor upon the receipt from the State Forester of an application requesting that a certain piece, tract or parcel of waste and unappropriated land be so set apart. The State Forester shall submit with the application a copy of a report describing fully the location of the land, its character and suitability for forestry purposes together with a complete metes and bounds description of the boundary of the tract. The Department of General Services shall review the application and recommend either approval or disapproval of the transaction to the Governor. If the Governor determines that the land is more valuable for forestry purposes than for agricultural or any other purposes, he may authorize the preparation of a grant which shall be reviewed for legal sufficiency by the Attorney General for the Governor's signature and the lesser seal of the Commonwealth.

All lands so granted shall be subject to statutes and regulations relating to the regulation, management, protection and administration of state forests.

Code 1950, § 10-34.2; 1950, p. 225; 1984, c. 750; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 1995, c. 850.

§ 10.1-1109. State forests not subject to warrant, survey or patent.

Lands acquired by the Commonwealth for forestry purposes shall not be subject to warrant, survey or patent.

Code 1950, § 10-42; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1110. Violation of regulations for supervision of state forests, etc.

Violators of any regulation for the supervision or use of any state forest, park, road, street or highway traversing the same, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 10-43; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1111. Kindling fires on state forests; cutting and removing timber; damaging land or timber.

Any person who kindles fire upon any of the state forests of this Commonwealth, except in accordance with regulations prescribed by the State Forester, or who cuts and removes any timber, or who damages or causes the damage of forestland or timber belonging to the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor for each offense committed.

Code 1950, § 10-44; 1986, c. 539; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1112. Notices relating to forest fires and trespasses.

The State Forester shall distribute notices, printed in large letters on cloth or other suitable material, calling attention to the danger of forest fires, to the forest fire laws, and to trespass laws and their penalties, to forest wardens, and to owners of timberland to be posted by them in conspicuous places. Any person other than a forest warden or the owner of the land on which notices are posted, who tears down, mutilates or defaces any such notice shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

1986, c. 567, § 10-31.5; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1113. Not liable for trespass in performance of duties.

No action for trespass shall lie against the State Forester, or any agent or employee of the State Forester for lawful acts done in performance of his duties.

1986, c. 567, § 10-31.7; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1114. Establishment of nurseries; distribution of seeds and seedlings.

A. The State Forester may establish and maintain a nursery or nurseries, for the propagation of forest tree seedlings, either upon one or more of the forest reservations of the Commonwealth, or upon such other land as he may and which he is empowered to acquire for that purpose. Seedlings from this nursery may be furnished to the Commonwealth without expense for use upon its state forests or other public grounds or parks. Seeds and seedlings may also be distributed to private individuals pursuant to terms and conditions and at prices approved by the State Forester.

B. To the extent permitted by federal law and regulations, the preferred method of treatment shall be fumigation using methyl bromide in seedling plant beds prior to seeding.

C. The Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services or his designee may issue an inspection certificate for intrastate and interstate shipments of conifer and hardwood seedlings to certify that they are apparently free of pests and diseases.

Code 1950, § 10-36; 1968, c. 40; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 2012, cc. 101, 621; 2013, c. 124.

§ 10.1-1115. Sale of trees.

For the purpose of maintaining in perpetuity the production of forest products on state forests, the State Forester may designate and appraise the trees which should be cut under the principles of scientific forest management, and may sell these trees for not less than the appraised value. When the appraised value of the trees to be sold is more than $50,000, the State Forester, before making such sale, shall receive bids therefor, after notice by publication once a week for two weeks in two newspapers of general circulation. The State Forester shall have the right to reject any and all bids and to readvertise for bids. The proceeds arising from the sale of the timber and trees so sold, except as provided in subsection E of § 10.1-1107, shall be paid into the state treasury as provided in § 10.1-1116, and shall be held in the Reforestation Operations Fund for the improvement or protection of state forests or for the purchase of additional lands.

Code 1950, § 10-37; 1970, c. 31; 1986, cc. 539, 567; 1988, c. 891; 2008, c. 19.

§ 10.1-1116. Reforestation Operations Fund.

All money obtained from the state forests, except as provided in subsection E of § 10.1-1107, shall be paid into a special nonreverting fund in the state treasury, to the credit of the Reforestation Operations Fund (the Fund). Interest earned on the moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund, but shall remain in the Fund. The moneys in the Fund are to be utilized for state forest protection, management, replacement, and extension, under the direction of the State Forester.

Code 1950, § 10-39; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 2014, c. 263.

§ 10.1-1117. Specialized services or rentals of equipment to landowners, localities and state agencies; fees; disposition of proceeds.

The State Forester may cooperate with landowners, counties, municipalities and state agencies, by making available forestry services consisting of specialized or technical forestry equipment and an operator, or rent to them such specialized equipment. For such services or rentals, a reasonable fee, representing the State Forester's estimate of the cost of such services or rentals, shall be charged.

All moneys paid to the State Forester for such services or rentals shall be deposited in the state treasury to the credit of the Forestry Operations Fund, to be used in the further protection and development of the forest resources of this Commonwealth. Upon presentation of a statement, the landowner, county, municipality or state agency receiving such services or rentals shall pay to the State Forester, within thirty days, the amount of charge shown on the statement.

1964, c. 513, § 10-54.1; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1118. Account of receipts and expenditures.

The State Forester shall keep a full and accurate account of the receipts and expenditures of the Department.

Code 1950, § 10-40; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 2004, c. 58.

§ 10.1-1119. Preservation of evidence as to conserving forest supply; reports to General Assembly; publications.

The State Forester shall preserve all evidence taken by him with reference to conserving the forests of the Commonwealth and the methods best adapted to accomplish such object. He shall report his actions, conclusions and recommendations to each session of the General Assembly and from time to time publish for public distribution, in bulletin or other form, such conclusions and recommendations as may be of immediate public interest.

Code 1950, § 10-41; 1984, c. 750; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1119.1. State Forests System Fund established.

There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the State Forests System Fund, hereafter referred to as "the Fund." The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All contributions from income tax refunds and any other source shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of developing and implementing conservation and education initiatives in the state forests system. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the State Forester.

1999, c. 998.