Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
11/19/2019

Article 4. Forest Protection for Cities and Counties.

§ 10.1-1124. Counties and certain cities to pay annual sums for forest protection, etc.

A. Upon presentation to its governing body of an itemized statement duly certified by the State Forester, each county in this Commonwealth, or city which enters into a contract with the State Forester under § 10.1-1125 to provide forest fire prevention, shall repay into the state treasury annually any amounts expended in the preceding year by the State Forester in such county or city for forest protection, forest fire detection, forest fire prevention and forest fire suppression, not to exceed in any one year an amount measured by the acreage, computed, beginning July 1, 2008, upon the basis of seven cents per acre of privately owned forests in the county or city and beginning July 1, 2009, nine cents per acre, according to the most recent United States Forest Survey. In any additions or deductions of acreage from that given by this survey, any land, other than commercial orchards, sustaining as its principal cover a growth of trees or woody shrubs shall be considered forest land, irrespective of the merchantability of the growth, and cutover land shall be considered as forest land unless it has been cleared or improved for other use. Open land shall be considered as forest land when it bears at least 80 well-distributed seedlings or sprouts of woody species per acre. The amounts so repaid by the counties or cities into the state treasury shall be credited to the Forestry Operations Fund for forest protection, forest fire detection, forest fire prevention and forest fire suppression in the Commonwealth and, with such other funds as may be appropriated by the General Assembly or contributed by the United States or any governmental or private agency for these purposes, shall be used and disbursed by the State Forester for such purposes. In cities this subsection shall be subject to § 10.1-1125.

B. In any case in which the State Forester and the governing body of any county or city cannot agree upon the additions or deductions to privately owned forest acreage in a particular county or city, or to changes in forest acreage from year to year, the question shall be submitted to the judge of the circuit court of the county or city by a summary proceeding, and the decision of the judge certified to the governing body and to the State Forester, respectively, shall be conclusive and final.

Code 1950, § 10-46; 1964, c. 79; 1984, c. 715; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891; 2008, c. 254.

§ 10.1-1125. Application of Articles 4, 5 and 6 to cities; State Forester authorized to enter into contracts with cities.

A. In addition to the application of this article and Articles 5 (§ 10.1-1131 et seq.) and 6 (§ 10.1-1134.1 et seq.) to forestlands lying in counties, such articles shall also apply to forestlands lying within cities. For the purposes of such articles as applied to cities, forest land shall be considered as comprising land which bears at least eighty well-distributed seedlings or sprouts of woody species per acre and which is specifically included in the provisions of the contract with the city.

B. The State Forester is authorized to enter into contracts prepared by the Attorney General with the governing body of any city in which any such forestland is located. The contract shall include provisions for the State Forester to furnish forest fire protection, prevention, detection, and suppression services and to enforce state law applicable to forest fires on forestlands upon any such lands located within a city. The services so provided by the State Forester shall be of the same general type, character, and standard as the same services provided in counties generally.

1964, c. 79, § 10-46.1; 1974, c. 216; 1984, c. 750; 1986, cc. 188, 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1126. State Forester authorized to enter into agreements with federal agencies.

The State Forester is authorized to enter into agreements, approved by the Attorney General of Virginia, with agencies of the United States government holding title to forest land in any county, city or town. Any such agreement may include provisions for the State Forester to furnish forest fire protection, prevention, detection, and suppression services together with enforcement of state law applicable to forest fires on forestlands within such county, city or town. Costs of such services provided by the State Forester shall be reimbursed to him as provided in the agreement. The services provided by the State Forester shall be of the same general type, character, and standard as the same services provided in counties, cities and towns generally.

1974, c. 216, § 10-46.2; 1984, c. 750; 1986, cc. 188, 567; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1126.1. Silvicultural practices; local government authority limited.

A. Forestry, when practiced in accordance with accepted silvicultural best management practices as determined by the State Forester pursuant to § 10.1-1105, constitutes a beneficial and desirable use of the Commonwealth's forest resources.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, silvicultural activity, as defined in § 10.1-1181.1, that (i) is conducted in accordance with the silvicultural best management practices developed and enforced by the State Forester pursuant to § 10.1-1105 and (ii) is located on property defined as real estate devoted to forest use under § 58.1-3230 or in a district established pursuant to Chapter 43 (§ 15.2-4300 et seq.) or Chapter 44 (§ 15.2-4400 et seq.) of Title 15.2, shall not be prohibited or unreasonably limited by a local government's use of its police, planning and zoning powers. Local ordinances and regulations shall not require a permit or impose a fee for such silvicultural activity. Local ordinances and regulations pertaining to such silvicultural activity shall be reasonable and necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens residing in the locality, and shall not be in conflict with the purposes of promoting the growth, continuation and beneficial use of the Commonwealth's privately owned forest resources. Prior to the adoption of any ordinance or regulation pertaining to silvicultural activity, a locality may consult with, and request a determination from, the State Forester as to whether the ordinance or regulation conflicts with the purposes of this section. Nothing in this section shall preclude a locality from requiring a review by the zoning administrator, which shall not exceed ten working days, to determine whether a proposed silvicultural activity complies with applicable local zoning requirements.

C. The provisions of this section shall apply to the harvesting of timber, provided that the area on which such harvesting occurs is reforested artificially or naturally in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 11 (§ 10.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 10.1 or is converted to bona fide agricultural or improved pasture use as described in subsection B of § 10.1-1163.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to land that has been rezoned or converted at the request of the owner or previous owner from an agricultural or rural to a residential, commercial or industrial zone or use.

Nothing in this section shall affect any requirement imposed pursuant to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (§ 62.1-44.15:67 et seq.) or imposed by a locality pursuant to the designation of a scenic highway or Virginia byway in accordance with §§ 33.2-405 through 33.2-408.

1997, c. 7.

§ 10.1-1127. County and city levies and appropriations.

The governing bodies of the counties and those cities entering into a contract as provided in § 10.1-1125 are authorized to levy taxes and appropriate money for forest protection, improvement and management.

Code 1950, § 10-47; 1964, c. 79; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1127.1. Tree conservation ordinance; civil penalties.

A. The governing body of any county, city or town may adopt a tree conservation ordinance regulating the preservation and removal of heritage, specimen, memorial and street trees, as defined under subsection B of this section, when such preservation and removal are not commercial silvicultural or horticultural activities, including but not limited to planting, managing, or harvesting forest or tree crops. Such ordinance shall consider planned land use by the property owner, may include reasonable fees for the administration and enforcement of the ordinance and may provide for the appointment by the local governing body of an administrator of the ordinance.

B. Any ordinance enacted pursuant to this authority may contain reasonable provisions for the preservation and removal of heritage, specimen, memorial and street trees. For the purpose of this section the following definitions shall apply:

"Arborist" or "urban forester" means a person trained in arboriculture, forestry, landscape architecture, horticulture, or related fields and experienced in the conservation and preservation of native and ornamental trees.

"Heritage tree" means any tree that has been individually designated by the local governing body to have notable historic or cultural interest.

"Memorial tree" means any tree that has been individually designated by the local governing body to be a special commemorating memorial.

"Specimen tree" means any tree that has been individually designated by the local governing body to be notable by virtue of its outstanding size and quality for its particular species.

"Street tree" means any tree that has been individually designated by the local governing body and which grows in the street right-of-way or on private property as authorized by the owner and placed or planted there by the local government.

The designation of such trees shall be by an arborist or urban forester and shall be made by ordinance. The individual property owner of such trees shall be notified prior to the hearing on the adoption of such ordinance by certified mail.

C. The provisions of a tree conservation ordinance enacted pursuant to this section shall not apply: (i) to work conducted on federal or state property; (ii) to emergency work to protect life, limb or property; (iii) to routine installation, maintenance and repair of cable and wires used to provide cable television, electric, gas or telephone service; (iv) to activities with minor effects on trees, including but not limited to, home gardening and landscaping of individual homes; and (v) commercial silvicultural or horticultural activities, including but not limited to planting, managing, or harvesting forest or tree crops.

D. In the event that the application of any ordinance regulating the removal of heritage, specimen, memorial or street trees results in any taking of private property for a public purpose or use, the governing body shall compensate by fee or other consideration the property owner for such taking and the ordinance shall so state thereby notifying the owner of his right to seek such fee or other compensation. The provisions of Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1 shall apply to the taking of private property for a public purpose pursuant to such local ordinance.

E. Violations of such local ordinance shall be punishable by civil penalties not to exceed $2,500 for each violation.

F. Nothing in this section shall be construed to be in derogation of the authority granted to any county, city or town by the provision of any charter or other provision of law.

1989, c. 678; 2003, c. 940.

§ 10.1-1128. Acquisition and administration.

Each county, city and town acting through its governing body, is authorized to acquire by purchase, gift or bequest tracts of land suitable for the growth of trees and to administer the same, as well as any lands now owned by any such locality and suitable for the growth of trees, as county, city or town forests.

Code 1950, § 10-48; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1129. Purchasing real estate outside of boundaries.

Before any governing body purchases any real estate outside of the county, city or town which it represents pursuant to the provisions of § 10.1-1128, it shall first secure the approval of the governing body of the county, city or town in which the real estate is located.

Code 1950, § 10-49; 1988, c. 891.

§ 10.1-1130. State Forester to furnish seedlings and technical assistance.

The State Forester is authorized to supply from any forest tree nursery or nurseries forest tree seedlings and transplants necessary and suitable for reforesting any part or all of any lands acquired or owned and administered by any county, city or town as provided in § 10.1-1128, and to furnish technical assistance and supervision necessary for the proper management and administration of such lands and forests free of cost to counties, cities and towns. The respective counties, cities and towns shall agree to administer such lands in accordance with the practices and principles of scientific forestry as determined by the State Forester or the Board of Forestry.

Code 1950, § 10-50; 1986, c. 567; 1988, c. 891.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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