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Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE · November 4, 2021



Office of the Governor


Virginia Department of Forestry

Michelle Stoll



The Conservation Fund

Ann Simonelli



Governor Northam Dedicates Virginia’s 26th State Forest

~ New state forest is Charlotte County’s first publicly accessible land ~


CHARLOTTE COUNTY—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the dedication of the Charlotte State Forest, opening the first publicly-accessible state land in Charlotte County. The 5,004 acre state forest is Virginia’s 26th state forest in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Forestry will sustainably manage the forest under Sustainable Forestry Initiative and American Tree Farm Standards, conserving key habitat areas and providing new public access to outdoor recreation activities.


“Virginia’s state forests are critical to preserving environmental sustainability and a strong economy across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Charlotte State Forest will conserve wildlife habitats, enhance water quality, provide recreational opportunities for the public and support local economies. We look forward to enjoying this new outdoor asset.”


The forest was owned by Governor Thomas B. Stanley, who served from 1954 to 1958, and the Stanley Land and Lumber Corporation prior to The Conservation Fund’s purchase in 2019. It was used to provide shortleaf and Virginia pine, as well as white oak and hickory, to local mills for furniture.


Virginia’s forests contribute $21 billion annually to the economy and employ more than 108,000 workers. Charlotte County is located within the state’s highest timber producing region. The river, stream and wetland resources on these forests drain into Kerr Lake, which provides drinking water to nearly 500,000 residents in Virginia and North Carolina. 


“As Virginia’s third largest industry, forestry plays an essential role in Virginia’s economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Close collaboration between the Virginia Department of Forestry, The Conservation Fund, the Stanley family, and other public and private partners made this important acquisition possible and will ensure that it is sustainably managed for current and future generations.” 


“This property is a very special place. Its legacy of sustainable management for both timber and wildlife habitat, combined with its important water resources have made it an important location here in Charlotte County,” said State Forester Rob Farrell. “Today we celebrate the future of Charlotte State Forest, its continued sustainability, its contribution to Virginia’s economy, and its importance to the many individuals and families who will have the opportunity to enjoy recreational activities here.”


“Ensuring the integrity of large forested landscapes and keeping them in sustainable management is one of the most important conservation strategies today,” said The Conservation Fund Virginia State Director Heather Richards. “By continuing the legacy of three generations of the Stanley family and the Stanley Land and Lumber Corporation and creating Virginia’s newest State Forest, we are safeguarding the forest’s ability to provide vital climate, economic and ecological benefits for generations to come. We are grateful to our partners in the Commonwealth and the U.S. Forest Service, support from Virginia’s U.S. Congressional delegation, and funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Together, we made this wonderful outcome possible.”


To acquire the forestland from The Conservation Fund, the Virginia Department of Forestry leveraged federal, state and private funding through the USDA Forest Legacy Program, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, agency mitigation funds, and additional Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside grant funding.


“The United States Forest Service is pleased to support and partner with the Virginia Department of Forestry to protect this important and historic working forest that will provide wildlife habitat, abundant recreational opportunities, and timber resources through ongoing sustainable management,” said Southern Regional Forester Ken Arney. “Forest Legacy projects can take several years to accomplish and require a high degree of commitment from partners and landowners. We applaud the amount of work that went into making this happen.”




Charlotte County Welcomes Eastern Engineered Wood Products
to the Heartland Regional Industrial Park!
Charlotte County Named Certified Work Ready Community
Work Ready Community Photo
Workforce development partners celebrating Charlotte County’s designation as an ACT Certified Work Ready Community  - Pictured (left to right) Dr. Julie Brown (Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, or IALR), Dr. Keith Harkins (Southside Virginia Community College), Terra Napier, (Virginia Career Works South Central Region), Debra Crowder (South Central Workforce Development Board), Dr. Megan Healy (Office of the Governor), Dan Witt (Charlotte County), Garland Hamlett and Butch Shook (Charlotte County Board of Supervisors), Monica Elder (Charlotte County), Robbie Mason (Charlotte County Public Schools) and Lee Ann Mahan (IALR).
February 7, 2020 - Charlotte County and the Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) are pleased to announce that Charlotte County has been designated as a Certified Work Ready Community (WRC). The nationally recognized designation by the Commonwealth of Virginia and American College Testing (ACT) will help Charlotte County attract new businesses and jobs in addition to strengthening the skill sets of the region’s high school students, job seekers and incumbent workforce.  

Partners like the DRRC, Charlotte County Public Schools, Southside Virginia Community College, South Central Workforce Development Board, and regional employers supported Charlotte County’s efforts to achieve this important national certification. Some of the supportive regional employers include Morgan Lumber Company Inc. and Red Oak Excavating Inc. To become certified, a locality must achieve benchmarks in three areas of performance: high school graduation rate, number of ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®) credentials attained in the locality and number of employers recognizing the NCRC.   

“Charlotte County has been a tremendous partner in the effort to showcase the skilled talent of the region to new and existing employers,” said Dr. Julie Brown, Program Director of the DRRC and Director of Advanced Learning at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. “We are delighted with their certification by ACT as a Work Ready Community.”  

The WRC effort is a voluntary initiative guided by key community leaders – local elected officials, economic development teams, business leaders, chambers of commerce, educators and workforce development agencies. At the core of the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC). Since January 2006, more than four million Americans have earned an ACT NCRC. This national, portable credential includes three essential workplace skill categories: applied math, workplace documents, and graphic literacy.    

Four years ago, Site Selection Magazine added the number of National Career Readiness Certificates per 1,000 residents as one of five criteria used in its tabulations for its annual Workforce Development Rankings. This year, Virginia ranked as the top state in the Atlantic region, scoring ahead of highly competitive states such as Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware. 

Companies are seeing the benefit of the Work Ready Community effort which provides a system to verify work readiness, matching the skill level of prospective workers to the skill set required for a specific job. Improved recruitment, reductions in new-hire turnover, and improvements in employee engagement are just a few of the positive outcomes more than 504 companies across the region are experiencing. Such companies include Owens-Illinois, Eastman Chemical Company, Essel Propack, Amthor International and Ten Oaks LLC.  

“I want to thank the Certified Work Ready Communities Program personnel for all their hard work to qualify Charlotte County to become a Certified Work Ready Community,” said Daniel Witt, Charlotte County Administrator. “Charlotte County plans to use the designation as a means for economic development to assist existing businesses in both retention and expansion and as a recruitment tool for new businesses.”  

"Southside Virginia Community College applauds this significant achievement for Charlotte County.  As the host of our main campus in Keysville, Charlotte County is a key partner in the future success of our college,” said Dr. Keith Harkins, Vice President of Workforce Development and Interim Vice President of Academics at Southside Virginia Community College. “This designation will help all of us who are focused on improving the lives of our citizens deliver on our mission."  

In addition to serving existing companies, the Work Ready Community effort provides a third-party validated, data-driven system for economic developers to talk about the skill level of the region’s workforce. This effort supports the Commonwealth’s goal of expanding the number of Virginians who hold industry certifications that have value to employers. As the region considers further workforce investments and expanding the number of citizens with in-demand certifications, use of the National Career Readiness Certificate demonstrates that Charlotte County has a qualified and trainable workforce.  

In addition to Charlotte County, the counties of Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Amelia, Patrick, Henry, Halifax and Pittsylvania as well as the cities of Danville and Martinsville have been certified as Work Ready Communities. Other Commonwealth localities have launched their WRC initiatives and are on target to reach WRC status in the near future.    

For more information on the WRC initiative, contact Dr. Julie Brown at or 434.766.6711.