Thursday, September 5, 2013

Forest Conservation Easement Protects 306 acres in Sussex County

In 1961, when Mrs. Segar White Guy inherited her father’s 306-acre tract of unmanaged forestland in Sussex County, she made the long-term commitment to improve the quality of the woodland. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Consulting Forester Hunter Darden developed a Forest Stewardship Management Plan that eventually led the family to prosperity and a healthy forest.

Fifty years and several forest management awards later, the timber on the land was both healthy and profitable for the Guy family. Cash from timber and pulpwood sales supported the family quite well, even covering the cost of their daughter Judi’s college tuition. In late 2010, however, the Guys learned Segar had pancreatic cancer, and, subsequently, the family decided it needed to protect their greatest family heirloom – the forestland.

Like the Guy family, many Virginia forest landowners face the issue of how they will pass their land down to the next generation. Private owners hold 13 million acres of Virginia’s forestland; landowners age 55 or older own seven million acres of that. With the decisions made today, these landowners will either protect our farms and forests or convert to them to other uses. For some families, perpetual protection from development provided by a conservation easement with VDOF is the answer.

Segar’s goal was to keep the land in the family and pass it on to the next generation.

Daughter Judi Guy said, “My mother wanted the land to go into conservation easement because of the feature of perpetuity for the land being used for sustainable forestry management using Best Management Practices. The tax benefits were of secondary concern to her.”

John Guy, Segar’s husband of 56 years, said, “Segar had a deep love of the land. She became actively involved with many forestry organizations that helped her become a good steward to the land.”

After 50 years of working with VDOF, Darden, the Virginia Forest Education Foundation (VFEF) and the Virginia Forestry Association (VFA), Segar’s vision of good forest management came to fruition by becoming certified under Virginia’s Forest Stewardship Program.

After several months of work, the Guys, their attorney Lee Stephens and VDOF Forestland Conservation Specialist Rob Suydam recorded the conservation easement on April 3, 2013 – nearly two years to the date of Segar’s passing.

Judi said, “This was such great news. The irony is it was two years ago we lost Mom. The timing could not have been more meaningful to me.”

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