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Virginia Department of Forestry Dedicates Building to Former State Forester

Four State Foresters (from Left) Carl Garrison, Jim Garner, Rob Farrell (Currently State Forester), Bettina Ring (Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry).

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) dedicated and named its headquarters office the James W. Garner Building. Jim Garner served VDOF for more than four decades. He was appointed Virginia State Forester in 1984 and held that position for 21 years.

During Garner’s tenure with VDOF, the agency enjoyed significant success and under his leadership, Forestry grew from a state division to a state agency. “Jim’s vision, wisdom and guidance directly influenced VDOF’s current position as a leader within the forestry sector, and a vital partner among other natural resource agencies and organizations,” said State Forester Rob Farrell.

The James W. Garner Building houses not only the VDOF headquarters office, but also the agency’s Central Region offices, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia State Police. The building also hosts office space for the American Chestnut Foundation, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia ABC, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.  In addition, the Virginia Interagency Coordination Center, comprised of Federal agencies involved in fire response, has been reestablished there.

VDOF’s history is rooted in Charlottesville. The first office was on the University of Virginia campus. The land upon which today’s headquarters stands was originally a VDOF nursery. The site was cleared for construction in 1992 and the building was completed in the spring of 1994. The 32-acre campus also includes an educational nature trail and borders a section of the Rivanna Trail.

“Great thought and planning went into the creation of this building,” said Farrell, “and the benefits extend beyond those who work here. Many state agencies and organizations hold meetings and training in the building and the reopening of Aroma’s restaurant on the premises is a great draw for people throughout the Charlottesville area. It really is a wonderful place for partners to work together to care for and promote Virginia’s natural resources.”

Garner says he is honored and “a little embarrassed” by the dedication in his name. “It is a tremendous honor, but there are so many people who were instrumental in making this building a reality besides me,” he said. “Without the dedicated VDOF employees I worked with over the years and the support of my family, the story would be very different. I am grateful to all of them and very pleased with the good work VDOF continues to do across Virginia.”

With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 108,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $21 billion annually.

The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. The Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth, which it’s been doing now for more than 100 years.


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