Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Preliminary Draft Text


State Forest Regulations Comprehensive Review and Amendment
Stage: NOIRA

4VAC10-30-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this regulation shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1)   "Bike Trail" means any road or trail maintained for bicycles.

(2)  "Bridle Trail" means any road or trail maintained for persons riding on horseback.

(3)   "Department" means the Department of Forestry as defined by the Code of Virginia §10.1-1100.

(4)  "Firearm" means any weapon  that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material; or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

(5)  "Forest or forests" means all state-owned lands designated as a state forest, including therein all sites, roadways, game food patches, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, beaches, and recreational areas, together with recreational areas, beaches and lakes assigned to the Department of Forestry, for use, development and administration.

(6)  "Group" means a number of individuals related by a common factor, having structured organization, and defined leadership.

(7)  "Hiking trail" means any road or trail maintained for pedestrians.

(8) "Hunting means the lawful hunting of game animals as defined by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.

(9)  "Motorized vehicles" means every vehicle which is self –propelled or which is pulled by a self-propelled vehicle (such as a camping trailer, fifth-wheel travel trailer, motor home, travel trailer, and truck camper).  A self – propelled vehicle shall include, but is not limited to passenger automobiles, mopeds, off-road vehicles (ORV), golf carts, motorcycles, mini-bikes, all-terrain vehicles, Segways, and go-carts.   This does not include motorized wheelchairs or other similar vehicles designed for and used by persons with disabilities.

(10)  "Multi-use trail" means any trail maintained for use by any of the following: horseback riding, bicycle, or pedestrian.

(11)  "Owner" means any person, firm, association, co-partnership partnership or corporation owning, leasing or having the extensive use of a sawmill, chipper, debarker, skidder or any machinery for use in harvesting forest products, vehicle, animal or any other property under a lease or otherwise.

(12)  "Parking area" means any area on a forest designated for parking of motor vehicles of all types, clearly marked on the ground and so indicated by signs.

(13)  "Permits" means any written license issued by or under authority of the department Department, permitting the performance of a specified act or acts. Such permits may be purchased through web based online service and from a limited number of designated agents located within the general area of the forests Commonwealth of Virginia.

(14)  "Permittee" means any person, partnership, corporation, company or association in possession of a valid permit.

(15)  "Person" means any natural person, individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, public or private institution, political subdivision or government agency joint stock association, firm or co-partnership.

(16)  "Public nudity" means a person's intentional failure to cover with a fully opaque covering the person's genitals, pubic area, anal area, or female breasts below a point from the to of the areola while in a public place.

(17)  "Regulation" means any regulation promulgated under the Virginia Administrative Process and adopted by the Department of Forestry for implementation on the state forests.

(18)  "Road" means any road, logging road, trail or path used in the harvesting and movement of forest products, hunting or recreation, irrespective of the state of maintenance.

(19)  "Rock climbing" means traversing a rock face that is steep enough to require the use of hands and feet to get up or down.

(20)  "Forest Superintendent" "State Forests Manager" means the individual designated the forest superintendent State Forests Manager by the Department department or any assistant or assistants the Forest Superintendent State Forests Manager may authorize to act for him to oversee and manage the State Forest.

(21)  "Swimming area" means any beach or water area designated by the Department as a swimming, wading and bathing area.

(22)  "Timber sale" means any written signed agreement wherein the State Forester agrees to sell and the purchaser agrees to purchase any designated forest products or agricultural crops for a mutually agreed price per unit or lot.


4VAC10-30-20. Construction.

In the interpretation of Virginia State Forests Regulations, their provisions shall be construed as follows:

(1)1. Any terms in the singular shall include the plural;

(2)2. Any term in the masculine shall include the feminine and the neuter;

(3)3. Any requirements or prohibition of any act shall, respectively extend to and include the causing or procuring, directly or indirectly, of such act;

(4)4. No provision hereof shall make unlawful any act necessarily performed by any officer or employee of the department in line of duty or work as such, or by any person, his agents or employees, in the proper and necessary execution of the terms of any agreement with the Department department;

(5)5. Any act otherwise prohibited by Virginia State Forests Regulations, provided it is not otherwise prohibited by law or local ordinance, shall be lawful if performed under, by virtue of and strictly within the provisions of a permit so to do, and to the extent authorized thereby; and

(6)6. These regulations are in addition to and supplement the State Vehicle and Traffic Laws which are in force in all forests and which are incorporated herein and made a part hereof.


4VAC10-30-30. Territorial scope.

(1)  All Virginia State Forests Regulations shall be effective within and upon all state forests, lands, buildings, roads, sites, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, beaches, trails, food patches, and recreational areas in the Commonwealth which may be under the jurisdiction of the Department department and shall regulate the use thereof by all persons. Areas designated by the department as state forests are: Appomattox-Buckingham in Appomattox and Buckingham Counties; Bourassa in Bedford County; Browne in Essex and King and Queen Counties; Chilton Woods in Lancaster County; Conway-Robinson in Prince William County; Crawfords in New Kent County; Cumberland in Cumberland County; Devil's Backbone in Shenandoah County; Hawks in Carroll County; Lesesne in Nelson County; Mathews in Grayson County; Niday Place in Craig County; Paul in Rockingham County; Prince Edward-Gallion in Prince Edward County; Sandy Point in King William County; Whitney in Fauquier County; and Zoar in King William County together with such other areas as the department may from time to time designate.


4VAC10-30-40. Use Permits.

(1)   A permit to do any act shall authorize the same only insofar as it may be performed in strict accordance with the terms and conditions thereof. A Virginia State Forest Use Permit is required for certain activities allowed by the Department and authorized by law.  The Department may charge a fee for the Virginia State Forest Use Permit in accordance with the authority granted by the Code of Virginia §10.1-1152.  The holder of a Virginia State Forest Permit must abide at all times by the conditions and restrictions associated  with the Virginia State Forest Use Permit and its associated activity.  Any violation by its holder or his agents or employees of any term or condition thereof shall constitute grounds for its revocation by the department, or by its authorized representative. In case of revocation of any permit, all moneys paid for or on account thereof shall, at the option of the department, be forfeited to and be retained by it; and the holder of such permit, together with his agents and employees who violated such terms and conditions, shall be jointly and severally liable to the department for all damages and loss suffere§ by it in excess of money so forfeited and retained; but neither such forfeiture and retention by the department of the whole or any part of such moneys nor the recovery or collection thereby of such damages, or both, shall in any manner relieve such person or persons from liability to punishment for any violation of any provision of any Virginia State Forests Regulation. A state forest hunting special use permit will be required for all persons 16 years of age and older to hunt, or trap, fish, ride bikes, or ride horses on any state forest or portion thereof on which hunting, and trapping, fishing, riding bikes, or riding horses is permitted.

(2)  Conditional Activity Permit:  A permit that grants authority to individuals or groups for specific activities requiring permission from the State Forests Manager.

(3)  Organized Event Permit:  The State Forests Manager may issue an organized  event permit and charge organizers of a specific group event a single fee in lieu of individuals obtaining special use permits.  Permits for use of the forest involving organized events can be obtained from the State Forests Manager for a fee of two dollars per person participating  in the event.   Payment will be made to the "State Forester" and submitted to the State Forest office in Cumberland, Virginia.  This fee eliminates the requirement for one-time users participating in an organized event to obtain an annual Virginia State Forest Use Permit.

(4)  The State Forests Manager may waive fees for organized charitable events.


4VAC10-30-41. Virginia State Forest Special Use Permit Fees.

(1)  A Virginia State Forest Special Use permit will be required for persons sixteen years of age and older to hunt, trap, fish, ride a horse or ride a bike on any state forest or portion thereof upon which each respective activity is permitted.

(2)  Virginia State Forest Special Use permit fees will be waived for one year for volunteers completing ten hours of service on state forests, preapproved by the State Forests Manager.

(3)  No person 16 years of age or older shall make, use, or gain admittance to, or attempt to use or gain admittance to the facilities in any forest for the use of which a Virginia State Forest Special Use Permit is required by the Department  unless he shall obtain a Virginia State Forest Special Use Permit and pay an annual feed of $20.  Any person under 16 years of age may hunt, trap, fish, ride horses or ride bikes on any state forest and is not required to obtain a Virginia State Forest Special Use permit or pay an annual fee.



4VAC10-30-50. Preservation of the forest.

(1)  No A person shall not remove, destroy, cut down, scar, mutilate, take, gather or injure,  take or gather in any manner any tree, flower, artifact, fern, shrub, rock or other plant or mineral in any forest, except only for botanical or mineral rock collection and then only with approval of the Forest Superintendent.  Silvicultural activities performed in accordance with an approved State Forest Management Plan are exempt from this rule.

(2)  A person shall not collect plants, animals, minerals, or other artifacts from any state forest without first having obtained  a conditional activity permit from the State Forest Manager.


4VAC10-30-60. Buildings, signs, structures, or other property.

(1)  No  A person shall not in any manner injure, deface, disturb, destroy, or disfigure any part of any forest, nor any building, sign, equipment, road, trail, parking area or other property found therein.

(2)  Temporary or permanent structures may not be constructed unless by permit, with the exception of a temporary tree stand or blind for the purpose of hunting, which may be placed in a manner that does not cause injury or damage to the tree and must be removed at the conclusion of the hunting season during which it was placed.  Any structure remaining ten days after the end of the hunting season for which the structure  was established  may be removed and disposed of by the Department.


4VAC10-30-70. Refuse and rubbish; disposal.

(1)  A No person shall not deposit paper products, bottles, in any part of any forest any garbage, sewerage, refuse, waste, fruit, vegetables, foodstuffs, boxes, tin cans, paper, or other litter or other waste material or any other trash or debris in a state forest, obnoxious material, except in receptacles containers designed for such materials. purposes, or on areas designated by and under conditions specified by the Forest Superintendent.  Where trash receptacles are not provided, persons shall pack and carry their trash out of the state forest and dispose of it in a lawful manner.


4VAC10-30-80. Pollution of waters.

(1)  A No person shall not in the streams, lakes, or other waters of any forest violate any statute of the Virginia Code relating to the pollution of streams, lakes, or other waters of any forest said waters.


4VAC10-30-90. Disorderly conduct, public nuisance, etc.

(1)  No A person, while in any forest, shall not disobey a lawful order of a Virginia State Forest Forests Manager Superintendent, caretaker, ranger, patrolman or other forest officer; nor commit a nuisance, nor use abusive, profane, or insulting language; nor unreasonably disturb or annoy others; be under the influence of intoxicants or unlawful drugs; nor do any act tending to or amounting to a breach of the peace; nor conduct himself in any disorderly manner whatsoever.


4VAC10-30-100. Gambling.

(1)   Gambling in any forest is prohibited and no a person shall not bring into the forest or have in his possession while there, any implement or device commonly used, or intended for gambling purposes.


4VAC10-30-110. Intoxicating liquors, beverages or unlawful drugs.

(1)  No A person shall not become intoxicated, or be under the influence of intoxicants or unlawful drugs, in public while within the confines of any forest. Public display or use of beer, wine, whiskey or other intoxicating liquor, beverage or unlawful drugs, or the containers thereof is prohibited.


4VAC10-30-120130. Picnic area.

(1)   Picnicking is allowed only in State Forests the areas designated as picnic areas.  Section 4VAC10-30-70 applies to persons who picnic in State Forests.


4VAC10-30-130140. Camping.

(1)   No camp, either temporary or permanent, shall be maintained in any forest except under a conditional activity permit, and at such places and for such periods as may be designated by the State Forests Manager Forest Superintendent.


4VAC10-30-140150. Bathing, where permitted.

(1)   No person shall bathe, wade, or swim in any waters in a forest except at such times, and in places as the State Forests Manager Forest Superintendent may designate as bathing areas, and unless so covered with a bathing suit as to prevent any indecent exposure or public nudity of the person.


4VAC10-30-160. Dressing and undressing. (Repealed.)

Dressing and undressing, except in bathhouses, tents, trailers, motor homes, campers or vacation cabins, is prohibited.


4VAC10-30-170. Explosives, firearms, etc.

(1)  No person shall bring into or have in any forest any explosive or explosive substance. This regulation shall not apply to the lawful carrying of firearms and firearms ammunition.  Unlawful discharge of any firearm except as permitted under lawful hunting activities, as defined by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is prohibited.


4VAC10-30-160180. Fires, lighted cigarettes, etc.

(1)  In any forest, no a person shall not kindle, build, maintain, or use a fire other than in places provided or designated for such purposes except by conditional activity special permit. Any fire shall be continuously under the care and direction of a competent person over 16 years of age from the time it is kindled until it is extinguished. No person within the confines of any forest shall throw away or discard any lighted match, cigarette, cigar, campfire, cooking fire, or other burning object. Any lighted match, cigarette, cigar, or other burning object must be entirely extinguished before being thrown away, abandoned, or discarded. All forest fire laws must be complied with.

(2)  Fires ignited for forest management purposes under the provisions of a prescribed burning plan, approved by the State Forests Manager or his designee, may be conducted on State Forests without violating this section.


4VAC10-30-190170. Smoking.

(1)   NoA person shall not smoke in any structure or place in any forest where smoking is prohibited. Smoking may be forbidden by the department Department or its authorized agent in any part of any forest when it is deemed the fire hazard makes such action advisable.


4VAC10-30-200180. Hunting and fishing.

(1)   No person within the confines of any forest, shall hunt, trap, shoot, injure, kill or molest in any way any bird or animal, nor shall any person have in his possession any bird or animal, dead or alive, within the forest except any bird or animal designated as a game bird or animal by the Virginia Department Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the trapping of, hunting of, shooting at, or possession of any such bird or animal is prohibited except during the lawful hunting season set for the forest or portion thereof by the Virginia Department Board of Game and Inland Fisheries and only in those forests or portion thereof designated by the Forest Superintendent State Forests Manager as lawful hunting areas. A current Virginia State Forest Use Permit state forest hunting permit will be required. All provisions of the Virginia Code concerning hunting must be complied with. Only temporary structures, stands or concealments are allowed and must be removed at the end of the hunting season for which the structure, stand or concealment was established.  The Department shall not be responsible for any damage occurring to or injury resulting from the use of any temporary structure, stand or concealment while on any state forest.


4VAC10-30-210190. Fishing.

(1)   Fishing is permitted in designated areas in each forest, the only stipulation being that persons fishing must have a current Virginia State Forest Use Permit and a state fishing license and comply with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries rules and regulations. Waters where fishing is permitted will be designated by signs or indicated on state forest maps.


4VAC10-30-220200. Boating.

(1)  Use of boats on ponds, lakes or streams within forest areas assigned to the administration of the Department of Forestry in addition to other regulations of other state agencies, must comply with the rules and regulations of the Department and the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, and such use must be pursuant to a Virginia State Forest Use Permit.

(2)  Boats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats or other watercraft may be operated on the waters of state forests, provided they are manually operated or propelled by means of oars, paddles, or electric trolling motors.  Use of gasoline powered motors is prohibited on any waters of state forests, except for use by rescue squads, diving teams, or emergency operations or forest staff conducting maintenance operations. 


4VAC10-30-230210. Dogs and other animals.

(1)  No person shall cause or permit any animal owned by him, in his custody, or under his control, except those animals of a resident employee and then only in the general area around the employee's residence, and except a dog restrained by a leash or harness not exceeding twenty six feet in length, to enter any forest, and each such animal found at large may be seized and disposed of as provided by the law or ordinance covering disposal of stray animals on highways or public property then in effect at the place when such animals may be seized, except during the lawful hunting season in effect in the particular forest or portion thereof.

(2)  Owners of animals trained and accompanying their owners for the sole purpose of assisting the owner with mobility are exempt from 4VAC10-30-210(1).


4VAC10-30-240220. Sports, games and special events and games.

(1)  In any state forest, no games or athletic contests shall be allowed except in such places as may be designated therefor sports activities, contests or group events will be conducted only in areas designated for such events and indicated by signs or on state forest maps.


4VAC10-30-250230. Motorized vehiclesVehicles, where permitted.

(1)  No person shall operate a motorized vehicle anywhere on any forest except on a road or parking area, designated by signs or maps, indicating it is open to motorized vehicle traffic drive a vehicle in any forest on any road during any period where there is a sign or signs erected on or along the particular road indicating that any such road is closed to vehicular traffic.

(2)  Driving a vehicle on a gated road is prohibited, except by conditional activity permit. Any motorized vehicle used on state forest lands must be  a highway legal vehicle in compliance with Virginia Department of Transportation regulations and insured and licensed per Department of Motor Vehicles regulations.  Any operator of a vehicle must possess a valid driver's license issued by the person's state of residency.

(3)  Persons engaged in silvicultural activities are exempt from requirements of this section except legal requirements described in (2).


4VAC10-30-260240. Obstructing traffic.

(1)  In any forest, no person or persons shall cause or permit a vehicle or vehicles to obstruct traffic on any road by unnecessary stopping or parking, or to prevent or obstruct by any means the free use by others of any road.


4VAC10-30-270250. Speed limit.

Rate of vehicular speed in any forest in excess of the rate as posted by the Virginia Department of Transportation or State Forests Manager Forest Superintendent is prohibited. Vehicular speeds will be posted on signs.


4VAC10-30-280. View into vehicles.

Every car driven through any forest or parked in any parking space in any forest shall have the interior thereof open to full view at all times.


4VAC10-30-290260. Use of roads.

(1)  No person shall operate an excessively loaded vehicle on any forest road. The determination of whether a load is excessive will be made by the Forest Superintendent and will be based upon the load and the condition of the road. In the exercise of his professional judgment, the Forest Superintendent The State Forests Manager may at any time close to use any forest road or trail for public use.


4VAC10-30-300270. Meetings, exhibitions, commercial Commercial enterprises, etc.

(1)  No person shall, in any forest, without a permit, sell or offer for sale, hire, lease or let out, any object or merchandise, property, privilege, service or any other thing, or engage in any commercial activity on state forest lands or in state forest structures unless an agreement is made and approved by the Department.  The agreement shall include conditions and payments to the Department any business or erect any building, booth, tent, stall or any other structure whatsoever. No person to whom any property of any forest by authorized permit has been entrusted for personal use shall hire, lease, let out or sell, the same to any other person.


4VAC10-30-310280. Advertising.

(1)  No sign, notice, or advertisements of any nature shall be erected or posted at any place within any forest, nor shall any noise be made for the purpose of attracting attention to any exhibition of any kind. The State Forests Manager may authorize exceptions to temporary signs coincident to activities approved by either a Conditional Acitivity or Organized Event permit  without permission in writing from the Forest Superintendent; nor shall any musical instrument, radio, talking machine, or drum be operated or any noise be made for the purpose of attracting attention to any exhibition of any kind.


4VAC10-30-320290. Meetings and exhibitions.

(1)  No person shall in any forest erect any structure, stand, or platform, hold any meeting, or exhibition, perform any ceremony, make any speech, or address except by permit written permission from the State Forests Manager Forest Superintendent.


4VAC10-30-330300. Alms, gifts and contributions.

(1)  No person shall within any forest solicit alms, gifts or contributions for any purpose without written permission by the State Forests Manager.


4VAC10-30-310340. Aviation.

(1)  No person shall voluntarily bring, land or cause to descend or alight within or upon any forest, any aeroplane airplane, flying machine, balloon, parachute or other apparatus for aviation except under with written permission of the State Forests Manager permit. "Voluntarily" in this connection shall mean anything other than a forced landing.

(2)  Emergency aircraft such as air ambulances and aerial search helicopters, and Department aircraft are exempt.


4VAC10-30-350320 Sale of forest products.

(1)  From time to time, forest Forest products and agricultural crops may be sold from forest land under conditions determined by the department and in accordance with law.


4VAC10-30-360. Rock or Cliff Climbing and Rappelling.

(1)   A person shall not engage in rock climbing, cliff climbing or rappelling within the boundaries of a state forest, except at designated areas and only after obtaining a conditional activity permit.


4VAC10-30-370. Horses.

(1)   No person shall use, ride or drive a horse except to, from or along a designated bridle path, multi-use trails, or roads designated for equestrian use.

(2)  Each equestrian user shall remove from designated parking areas all residues (including manure) generated by his horse.

(3)  Horses shall cross rivers and streams using bridges, culverts and designated  fords/crossings, if available.

(4)  Users shall possess valid Coggins documentation for each horse and make them available for inspection upon request.


4VAC10-30-380. Bicycles.

(1)   No person shall use or ride a bicycle except on a road or trail authorized for use by motor vehicles or specifically designated as a bicycle or multi-use trail.

(2)  When crossing rivers or streams, bicycle use shall be confined to bridges, culverts and designated fords/crossings, if available.


4VAC10-30-390. Hours of Operation.

(1)   State forests are open to public use during daylight hours only unless the forest user is camping or engaged in lawful hunting activities as defined by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and for other uses as permitted by the State Forests Manager.


4VAC10-30-400. Importation of Firewood.

(1)   The Department may prohibit the importation of firewood or certain types of firewood into any state forest or allow such entry only under specified conditions when such firewood may be infected or infested with a species of concern.  Any firewood transported to the state forest by a person found to be in violation of such prohibition shall be confiscated and destroyed.  Should any person charged under this section be found not guilty, the person shall be reimbursed for only the cost of the firewood. 

(2)  The Department may eliminate or restrict conditions offere in this section as determined to be necessary to properly address the infecting or infesting species of concern to the satisfaction of the Department.


4VAC10-30-410. Release of Animals or Wildlife on Forest Property.

(1)   No person shall release animals or wildlife captured or propagated elsewhere into any state forest.