|For Immediate Release
Contact: John Campbell 434.220.9070
|April 23, 2013
Larry Mikkelson, Forest Legacy program coordinator at the Virginia Department of Forestry, earned the national Conservation Excellence Award 2012. He is only the fifth recipient of this award in the 108-year history of the U.S. Forest Service.
Mikkelson received the honor at the USFS Southern Region Meeting in Arkansas. The award recognizes his “exceptional leadership managing a state’s Forest Legacy program.” Scott Stewart, national director of the Forest Legacy program, presented the award.
The USFS Forest Legacy Program (FLP) supports state efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forestlands. Designed to encourage the protection of privately owned forestlands, FLP is an entirely voluntary program. To maximize the public benefits it achieves, the program focuses on the acquisition of partial interests in privately owned forestlands. FLP helps the states develop and carry out their forest conservation plans. It encourages and supports acquisition of conservation easements, legally binding agreements transferring a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another, without removing the property from private ownership. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices and protect other ecosystem service values.
Virginia has received 10 Forest Legacy grants since 2001. VDOF holds 11 easements on 5,287 acres of forestland. In addition, the Forest Legacy program helped purchase all or parts of three state forests (Sandy Point SF; Dragon Run SF, and Big Woods SF) and two natural area preserves (Chubb-Sand Hill NAP and South Quay Sand Hills NAP).
“I’m both honored and surprised by this award,” Mikkelson said. “Virginia has a very active and successful Forest Legacy program, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison said, “Larry has poured his heart and soul into conserving forestland across the Commonwealth. Collaborating with a number of landowners, land conservation organizations, state and local governments and the USFS, he has gone to great lengths to ensure these lands are forever protected and available as working forests. He truly deserves this national award.”
A 35-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry, Mikkelson lives in Bumpass with his wife. The couple has three grown children and five grandchildren. Larry graduated from Purdue University with a degree in forestry.
The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.
With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 103,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide more than $17 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth.