The Center for Natural Capital’s (Orange, VA) Virginia Community Energy Program, National Forest-based Enterprises Project, is a non-profit initiative working with the U.S. Forest Service to identify and support new enterprises that will help the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and the surrounding counties, towns and villages help each other.
Today’s economy has left many rural communities struggling to keep their jobs and tax base. Our national forests need help too. Without occasional small fires to remove sick trees, recycle nutrients, and open patches for new growth, the forests and their wildlife cannot thrive. Weak trees grow, invasive species spread and wildlife disappears. More concerning, decades of fire suppression has allowed the buildup of fuels, setting the stage for dangerous wildfires that can threaten our communities.
National Forest Managers are eager to test new partnerships with forest-based enterprises that create economic opportunities for our communities while achieving forest management objectives. These could be businesses that remove the buildup of wildfire fuels, diseased trees and invasive species, and use that material to produce heating fuels for homes and businesses. Other enterprises could exchange stewardship on the National Forest for raw materials to craft fine cabinetry and furniture. Any ideas that create jobs in our communities while improving the health of the National Forest can be explored. The Virginia Community Energy Program is ready to support any scale (from business concept to established corporation) of public, private, or NGO-based enterprise with information and possible financial resources.
The First Steps
Call Brian Becker, Virginia Community Energy Program Manager at 434-989-0050 to set up an exploratory meeting to help us help you grow a forest-based enterprise. Our vision is nodes of forest-based enterprises in the communities on the rim of the National Forests in Appalachia, improving the landscape for recreation and wildlife!