The land within the Middle James River Watershed contains a diverse mix of rural, residential and urban lands. Likewise, State Foresters in this region work with a diversity of landowners with a variety of land use goals. In the rural setting, landowners may contact a Forester to help plan a timber harvest, manage their forest land, educate landowners on financial assistance or incentive program, put their land in a conservation easement, or plan a reforest or afforestation project. In the urban or residential setting Foresters may help write urban land management plan, work with community groups by providing technical advice on tree planting, educate school groups on fire safety, advise on invasive species management and respond to storm related tree emergencies. Foresters are also trained in wildfire management and can carry out prescribed burns as a land management tool.

Since Foresters are stationed in specific work areas and counties they have strong knowledge about the landowners in their community. This is vital for building trust, which in turn leads to greater acceptance of Forester’s advice and recommended best management practices.

Ways that Foresters can help landowners preserve water quality include oversight of timber harvests to ensure best management practices are being followed to avoid land disturbance that lead to sediment inputs to waterways, aiding in application for the Riparian Buffer tax credit, coordinate with the Soil and Water Conservation District to enroll landowners in a cost share program and planning a riparian forest buffer.

The James River Buffer Program, carried out through the Virginia Department of Forestry, depends on coordination between the program manager and many State Foresters. Their strong local knowledge of both the land and landowners has led to many successful buffer projects being carried out in the Middle James River.

The Virginia Department of Forestry recently updated its website making it easier to contact a Forester. Follow the link and get to know your local Forester today!