Friday, December 16, 2011

VDOF Employee Donates Working Forest Easement in King William County; Three Tracts Total 1,199 acres

E. Pickett Upshaw, a forestry technician with the Virginia Department of Forestry, has granted the VDOF a working forest conservation easement that protects nearly 1,200 acres of land in King William County.

Upshaw becomes the first VDOF employee to permanently protect from development a large block of privately owned forestland through a donated easement to the VDOF. His conservation easement is the Agency’s 51st. The 1,199 acres of land, located near West Point, will be maintained with sustainable forest and farm management practices.

The donation is one of the largest of its kind to the VDOF and brings the total land conserved under this program to 16,813 acres.

Upshaw said, “Conservation easements are one of the tools that my family is using to ensure continuity of our farm and forestland usage. We want the land that has been in our family for six generations to pass to future generations without the pressures of residential development. The benefits of the rural lifestyle are something we want our family to continue to enjoy. Being surrounded by productive forestland and farmland and the pleasures of nature are some of the things we cherish. This donation to the VDOF will ensure that our land will be well managed for perpetuity.”

State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison said, “It’s always terrific when people permanently conserve their working forestland, but this donation is extra special because it comes from one of our own. This conservation easement will ensure a continuous supply of forest products, including lumber and pulp, and environmental services, including clean air and water. The forestland on Pickett’s property helps protect the water quality and aquatic habitat in the Mattaponi River.”

Virginia Sen. Tommy Norment said, “Mr. Upshaw’s personal commitment to conservation extends far beyond his professional responsibilities as a forestry technician. I am truly grateful for his donation, which will further enhance and preserve Virginia’s outstanding natural resources. His contribution stands as a model within our Commonwealth, and I thank him for his leadership and service.”

Virginia Del. Harvey Morgan said, “For six generations, Pickett’s family has sustainably managed this land and worked diligently to ensure the health of the nearby Mattaponi River. On behalf of every Virginian in the district I have been honored to represent, I thank and congratulate Pickett for conserving this large tract of his family’s land.”

In Virginia, more than 12.9 million acres of forestland are in the hands of 373,600 private landowners.

Garrison said, “Private forest landowners, such as Pickett Upshaw, determine the sustainability of Virginia’s forests and the benefits they provide. I cannot express enough my appreciation to him for his donation.”

The VDOF conservation easement program is the only one in the state that focuses primarily on protecting working forests. The VDOF’s goal is to work with private forest landowners to protect large blocks of working forests by keeping them intact and unfragmented. To be considered for a donation, a property must be at least 50 acres in size, 75 percent forested, and the landowner must be willing to have a forest stewardship management plan prepared. Landowners who want to ensure that their land will be forever maintained as forest may consider a VDOF easement.

For additional information on the VDOF conservation easement program, visit the VDOF website.