Forestry in Charles City 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: Jeremey Falkenau. Cell: 540.680.9209
Forester: David Slack. Cell: 804.393.2644
Forester: Clint Phegley. Cell: 540.333.6039
Forest Technician: Paul Reier. Cell: 804.393.2842
Natural Resource Specialist: Jesse Bander. Cell: 804.516.0551
Community Forest Specialist: Eli Podyma. Cell: 434.962.4941

Virginia Department of Forestry
Zoar State Forest – Capital Work Area Field Office
4445 Upshaw Road | Map and Directions to this office.
Aylett, Virginia 23009
Phone: 804.769.2962

Virginia Department of Forestry
Capital Work Area Field Office – Urban and Community Forestry
530 E. Main Street, Suite 800
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 434.962.4941

Virginia Department of Forestry
Eastern Region Office
11301 Pocahontas Trail | Map and Directions to this office.
Providence Forge, Virginia 23140
Phone: 804.966.2209

General Information

Forest Management

Forestry in Charles City County Statistics

  • Acres of forestland: 84,737
  • Percentage of total land area in forest: 73%
  • Acres of National Forest: 0
  • Acres classified as sawtimber: 44,606
  • Acres classified as poletimber: 21,566
  • Acres classified as sapling-seedling: 13,437
  • Reforestation Acres (5 year average): 13 tracts for 876 acres

Forestry in Charles City 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 taking land out of timber production, resulting in forestland ownership fragmentation, and causing land values to rise thus competing with forestry land uses. This seems particularly true for New Kent.

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.

Crawford's State Forest

Crawford's State Forest is a 257-acre property located just three miles west of Providence Forge on the south side of Rt. 60 provides an excellent place to enjoy nature along the Chickahominy River.

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.

Currently there is a small parking area near Rt. 60 and a main walking trail that leads over 3/4 mile to the Chickahominy Swamp. In time further walking trails may be developed as well as a possible access to the River and the area has good potential to be used as an outdoor classroom.

Forest Industry

Since its colonization, forestry has been a prime economic factor in New Kent and Charles City. In the early part of the twentieth century, there were many portable sawmills operating throughout the county. Evidence of this can still be seen by the large sawdust piles scattered in different parts of the county. Today the forest industry in the area consists of three stationary wood processing mills (Mountcastle Forest Products and Evelyn Piling Company in Providence Forge and Charles City Forest Products in Roxbury), two pallet mills using mainly recycled lumber (one north of Providence Forge and one in Barhamsville) and a number of logging companies and consulting foresters. Outside the county, there are other mills available including the large pulp mills of Chesapeake Corporation in West Point, Stone Container in Hopewell, Union Camp in Franklin, and Bear Island Corporation in Ashland.

The announcement came in April, 1997 that Chesapeake Corporation is selling its West Point Mill to St. Laurent, a Canadian company. This is not expected to alter the economic climate for the forestry community in the area as the mill will stay open.

While these forest based industries offer a steady market for forest products several interesting trends are emerging. First, in the last ten years New Kent has lost two primary wood processing mills due to family business closures. This leads to reduced competition for resources and a reliance on large forest corporations that show their own interesting trend. In the last few years, Chesapeake has been selling large tracts of forest land in New Kent to its subsidiary, Delmarva, a real estate development firm. In addition Union Camp has been selling large tracts of its landholdings in New Kent and Charles City counties.

This action may initially increase the demand for resources from private lands, but the long term effects are more difficult to predict. In any case, the industries are still operating and will need raw materials for a long time to come, so forest management will remain a viable land management option for forest landowners.

Last modified: Monday, 01-Mar-2021 14:38:56 EST

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