The USDA Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) have signed a Good Neighbor Authority master agreement that provides a framework for cooperative efforts that enhance national forestlands and their watersheds, the two agencies announced Monday.
With this agreement, the two agencies will now partner to address some of the most pressing environmental concerns facing the national forestlands in Virginia.
In Craig, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests covers about 112,000 acres— more than half the county.
Authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, the Good Neighbor Agreement allows the federal and state agencies to work together to treat insect- and disease-infected trees; reduce hazardous fuels to lessen the risk of wildfires, and conduct other activities that will restore or improve the forestland and corresponding watershed, to include fish and wildlife habitat.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” said State Forester of Virginia Bettina Ring. “By combining forces and being intentional about the work that needs to be done, we can make truly substantive improvements to the national forests for the benefit of all Virginians.”
Forest Service Supervisor Joby Timm said, “By enhancing the partnership between the National Forest and the Commonwealth of Virginia, we can expand capabilities and opportunities to achieve conservation goals on all lands: federal, state, county and private. I am looking forward to working even more closely with the VDOF on a variety of conservation projects.”
The completed master agreement between the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and the Virginia Department of Forestry follows similar agreements signed by national forests across the country.
-Submitted by John W. Campbell Jr.,
Director of Public Information