VFA joins the state's forestry community in extending our sincerest condolences to the family of John A. Matel, Virginia Tree Farm Foundation President and current member of VFA's Board of Directors. John's obituary, commemorating a well-lived and incredibly full life, may be found by clicking here.
VFA Comments on DOLI COVID Reg, Hearing Continues Next Week
This past Wednesday, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board held an emergency session to consider a standard to regulate COVID-19 as a workplace hazard. The new regulation, prompted by an April 23, 2020 petition Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), and other labor groups, proposes new requirements for all businesses operating in Virginia under the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program. Under VOSH, civil penalties range from $13,047 for serious violations to $130,463 for willful and repeated violations.
VFA co-authored written comments with the Virginia Forest Products Association, urging the Board to reject the regulation as drafted, while offering potential amendments in the event the Board chose to proceed with a regulation. During Wednesday's seven-plus hour hearing, the Board voted to proceed with promulgating emergency regulations without accepting public comment. The Board will reconvene on Monday, June 29th at 9:15 AM to consider amendments and to vote on final adoption of the rule.
Governor Northam Announces AFID Grants, Flexibility to Address COVID-19
"As businesses continue to navigate COVID-19, Virginia’s agriculture and forestry sectors received some help through a grant program announced recently by the governor. Gov. Ralph Northam’s office billed the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program as 'a new way for local government to support agriculture-and-forestry-based businesses during the COVID-19 emergency.'"
For the full June 22nd story that appeared in the Winchester Star, click here. For details regarding updated AFID program guidelines in response to COVID-19, click here. Ashton Lewis to Establish New Pine Sawmill in Caroline County
“The Commonwealth has nearly 16 million acres of forestland, and the forest products industry is a vital component of our economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “We look forward to working with Ashton Lewis to further grow markets for private landowners and support Virginia’s forest products industry.”
For the full announcement, click here. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to be Renamed
"The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be undergoing a new change this summer. Starting July 1, the agency will be renamed the Department of Wildlife Resources. The change is because of a bill introduced into the Virginia legislature earlier this year. The department will have a name similar to other state agencies across the country and include “wildlife” in the name."
For the full June 22, 2020 article from the News & Advance, click here. Hit on State Revenues Could Be Lower, But Virginia Localities Hurt by Losses
“The economic damage the coronavirus shutdown has done to the state budget could be significantly less than the $1 billion revenue loss previously estimated for the fiscal year that ends June 30. However, Virginia’s top finance official warned that local governments dependent on sales and meals tax revenues could face a bigger fiscal challenge.”
For the full June 15, 2020 article from the Richmond Times Dispatch, click here. Virginia's Scenic Rivers Program Celebrates 50th Anniversary
The June edition of Virginia Living Magazine profiles the 50th anniversary of the Virginia Scenic River Program. In addition to a proclamation by Governor Northam, the nonprofit Scenic Virginia is hosting a photography contest to celebrate the occasion.
For the full article from Virginia Living magazine, click here. To learn more about Scenic Virginia's photo contest, click here.
Supreme Court Says Pipeline May Cross Underneath Appalachian Trail NPR - June 15, 2020
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a pipeline company in a dispute about whether a new 600-mile natural gas pipeline could cross underneath the...MOREFRA Issue Updates: Federal Transportation Reauth, H-2B, PPP Ending Forest Resources Association - June 19 and June 26, 2020
The full House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee advanced the $494 billion transportation re-authorization bill following a 36-hour mark-up session...MOREThe Worrisome Link Between Deforestation and Disease West Virginia Public Radio - June 22, 2020
In 2013, an 18-month old boy got sick after playing near a hollow tree in his backyard, in a remote West African village. He developed a fever and started...MOREForestry and Beekeeping are a Natural Match Alabama Cooperative Extension Service - June 23, 2020
Forestry is a huge part of Alabama’s economy and occupies 23.1 million acres of the state. Forestry also often co-exists with agriculture and tourism throughout the state...MORENew Podcast on Forest Invaders, Scientists Who Study Them Great Lakes Echo - June 22, 2020
As a daily weather forecast evaluates current atmospheric conditions and predicts if it’s likely to rain in the near future, Forestcast — a new podcast from the USDA...MOREWhen Planting Trees Threatens the Forest Stanford University - June 22, 2020
Campaigns to plant huge numbers of trees could backfire, according to a new study that is the first to rigorously analyze the potential effects of subsidies in such schemes...MOREThe New Escapism: Isolationist Travel Baltimore Sun - June 25, 2020
One solution: Seek private land. Websites and apps like Hipcamp and Campspace connect campers with landowners. “Getting outside is essential for human health...MORE