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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 8
    PUBLICATION YEAR 2006

    Document Title
    A Continuing Study on the Provision of Incentives to Preserve Private Forest Land in the Commonwealth

    Author
    Board of Forestry

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 367 (Regular Session, 2005)

    Executive Summary
    During the 2004 General Assembly, Senator Patricia Ticer, Fairfax, Virginia, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 75 (SJR 75) calling for a legislative study on... "incentives to private landowners to hold and preserve their forest land" and charged the Virginia Board of Forestry (BOF) with this study responsibility. As a part of SJR 75, the Board of Forestry is directed to..." seek comments and recommendations from citizens across Virginia." One of the recommendations of SJR 75 was to continue the study; hence SJR 367 was passed during the 2005 General Assembly session. In addition, this study called for examining the impacts of local ordinances on the ability of non-industrial private landowners to manage their forest lands.

    This study continuation, called SJR 367, went in-depth on the issues identified in the previous SJR75 work. Furthermore, the other promising state forest land conservation and tax programs were investigated and conclusions drawn with their applicability to Virginia. On the local impacts portion of SJR 367, county administrators and other planning staff were interviewed to ascertain why these ordinances were necessary or deemed important by the locality. Appendix I shows SJR75 and 367 as passed by the Virginia General Assembly.

    RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE BODY OF THE REPORT.

    Recommendation 1: Examine Land Protection Agreements as a model to conserve forest and other land. The Department of Forestry requests $150,000 to conduct this examination involving model development including economic analysis, legal issues, and related geographic information systems work.

    Recommendation 2: Increase and maintain funding for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) at the rate of $50 million per annum and establish separate "farm and forestry" categories within the VLCF funding scheme and ensure independent equitable funding amounts.

    Recommendation 3: Support the continuing strong role of the Virginia Conservation Tax Credit in increasing Virginia conservation efforts.

    Recommendation 4: In collaboration with local government and other stakeholders, examine the Right to Practice Forestry Act (10.1-1126.1) to more effectively contribute to non-industrial private forest landowners' management. The Department of Forestry, in conjunction with the forest stakeholder community, will lead this collaborative effort to examine and recommend any appropriate legislative changes to the Act and other forestry laws as it pertains to the preservation of private forest lands.

    Recommendation 5: Examine the efficacy of adopting a statewide Use-Value Taxation Program for Agriculture, Forestry and Open Space Lands. It is recommended that the General Assembly allocate $50,000 for this statewide land use study. Participation in this one-year study should include the Secretariats of Agriculture and Forestry and Natural Resources, the Department of Taxation, the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Natural Resources at Virginia Tech, along with the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League plus other interested stakeholders.