Public Comments for: HB541 - Trees; conservation during land development process, authorized localities.
Each of the four bills (HB 541, 706, 1316, and 1346) deals with tree canopy, tree replacement, conservation, and credits during the development process. VLA opposes bills which grant authority to localities to dictate certain canopy cover. We fear such restriction might be construed to give localities additional authority to dictate, restrict, or prohibit legitimate silvicultural activities. We also know of situations where legitimate forest harvesters are perceived to be part of the development and localities have tried to hold them responsible for erosion & sediment regulations. Forest harvesting is often the first land disturbance activity to occur in development. Legitimate silviculture is exempt from erosion & sediment rules although subject to the silvicultural water quality law in 10.1-1181.2. Forest harvesters can inadvertently become involved as part of the development when in fact they are secured only to perform the silvicultural forest harvesting. This incorrect interpretation can result in problems for the innocent. Localities have access to many experts who can help development project leaders determine best practices for water quality, shade, aesthetics, and control of erosion and sediment movement. VLA contends it is difficult to arbitrarily set canopy tree cover standards when it should be based on the professional judgements of skilled practitioners. VLA hopes this may help you to understand the concerns of our members and business owners. We are happy to discuss and help as needed. VLA appreciates your leadership on the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and the work you do to help your constituents.
Virginia has been losing its tree canopy for many years. We are losing many mature trees every day to developers who clear entire lots of every living thing before they erect a house. When they're done, they plant a few very young trees, some of which die the first year. Please give local governments like my town the power to preserve more mature trees. Mature trees clean the air and provide habitat. They beautify our communities and lighten our hearts. Please support HB1346.
I am in support of these bills.
Virginia Loggers Association does not support HB 541.