Forestry in New Kent County, Virginia
Capital Work Area
serving the counties of Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, James City, King and Queen, King William and New Kent
Senior Area Forester: Bryant Bays. Cell: 571.271.8893.
Area Forester: David Slack. Cell:804.393.2644.
Area Forester: Dave Terwilliger. Cell: 804.332.4497.
Technician: Kathleen Ogilvy. Cell: 804.314.5904.
Technician: Paul Reier. Cell: 804.393.2842.
Technician: Pickett Upshaw. Cell: 804.925.5791.
Virginia Department of Forestry
4445 Upshaw Road | Map and Directions to this office.
Aylett, Virginia 23009
Virginia Department of Forestry
11301 Pocahontas Trail | Map and Directions to this office.
Providence Forge, Virginia 23140
- New Kent County website.
Forestry in New Kent County
The forests in New Kent and Charles City are a unique natural resource providing a multitude of benefits to county residents. In addition to its commercial value, this renewable resource contributes significantly to the quality of the county's air and water, creates habitat for a variety of wildlife, and is of great importance to the county's aesthetic and recreational attractiveness.
The forest has always been a significant feature in the lives of local residents. Indigenous populations used the bounty of the forest to support their rich livelihood for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Since the beginning of colonization in the New World, New Kent and Charles city has been a commercial supplier of raw materials from the forest for a vast array of uses. In the early days of colonization, wood for shipbuilding was the premiere use, but today, construction lumber and pulp for paper products have become the prominent commercial use of the forest.
With proper management, it is easy to see how the forest can be a renewable, sustainable resource for the county. However, pressure from real estate development is threatening to take land out of timber production, resulting in forestland ownership fragmentation, and causing land values to rise thus competing with forestry land uses. New Kent County has several primary roads and an interstate running through it. This tends to increase development pressures on a county.
According to U.S. Forest Service data from 1991, New Kent forests today cover 98,183 acres in the County representing 72% of the total land mass. Charles City has 85,042 acres of forest land which accounts for 73% of the land mass. Nearly all these forests are capable of producing quality trees of commercial value with proper management. This forest is a diverse mixture of pine and hardwood in varying stages of growth of which 75% is owned and managed by private landowners.
Forest Management Trends in New Kent
The following graphs show various trends in the County. The money received by landowners through the sale of standing timber (also known as stumpage value) has a steadily rising trend over the last 16 years. This is occurring despite a decrease in pulpwood and in hardwood sawtimber volumes. Pine harvest volumes have been showing some increasing trends shown over the last 9 years.
The Acreage graphs also show some interesting trends. Clearcuts acreage has remained fairly steady with some ups and downs but pine thinning show an increasing trends. This is indicative of forest management work done in the 1970s and 1980s. Pine plantations established during that time are now reaching an age where they can be thinned. Landowners are taking advantage of this management option in a countywide show of forest stewardship.
These pine thinnings are important in the life of a pine stand. While they offer a modest intermediate income from the sale of pulpwood, their real benefit is increased growth of the crop trees, better health of the forest, improved wildlife habitat and more valuable timber production.
It is also interesting to note that select cutting in New Kent has gone through some wild fluctuations. This is not surprising given the nature of hardwood markets and the population pressures in the County. Select cutting is often used by a landowner who is ready to sell or develop the land. They can liquidate much of the timber value in a stand of trees and still leave it as a forested site. Unfortunately select cutting is widely misapplied in the County as it is in most of Virginia. Usually, only the biggest and best trees are removed in a select cut. This leaves the poorly shaped trees and lesser value species to occupy the site. Hardwood stands continue to decline in quality in the County due to this practice. Landowners often think they are taking the environmentally responsible track when they allow selective cutting to occur on their land, but it has long term consequences that are seldom considered.
Pine reforestation shows a slow but declining trend over the last 32 years. This is again in part due to real estate pressures and increased value of the land. The reforestation graph does not take into account natural hardwood regeneration that often occurs on clearcut acreage that is not reforested to pine.
Crawford's State Forest
Crawford's State Forest, located just three miles west of Providence Forge on the south side of Rt. 60, is an excellent place to enjoy nature along the Chickahominy River.
This 258-acre forest has a mixture of bottomland hardwood and loblolly pine stands. The forest is a wildlife sanctuary and used for demonstration and education for forestry, ecology, history, forestry research, hiking, and canoeing.
Most of the acreage is covered with loblolly pine and mixed hardwoods, with very large and very old bald cypress and tupelo on the property that covers the Chickahominey Swamp.
Parking and access: A small grass parking lot along Rt. 60 leads into the state forest. This lot allows approximately 5-6 vehicles.
The Department of Forestry received the land in 1995. It was donated in the will of Bessie R. Bowcock whose intentions were to have the property set up as a natural area and wildlife preserve in memory of her parents, Robert Emma Richardson and Julia Wickham Harrison Richardson.
Last modified: Tuesday, 25-Apr-2017 09:55:08 EDT