Curdsville Community Center group gets a forestry lesson

Published 1:23 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

Originally, the area now known as the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest was farmland. And if you walk through that area today, you can still find evidence of the land’s former inhabitants, with cemeteries and old homesteads popping up through the trees. It was that history Michael Womack shared with residents at the Curdsville Community Center on Monday, Aug. 7.

Womack serves as head forester for the state forest. Coming in at almost 20,000 acres, it’s a fairly large part of the region that some may not know about. In speaking to the group, Womack hoped to fix that. 

He shared how by the mid-1930s, the federal government came in and bought up the land under the Bankhead-Jones Tenant Act. First the federals bought it and then they leased it back to the state. A portion of the act also made the area exempt from taxes, only able to be used for public purposes. The poor farmers who called the area home were relocated, with the help of the Farm Security Administration. 

Creating the state forest

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In 1954, Womack explained, the federal government deeded the land to the Commonwealth, officially creating the Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. Under the management of the Virginia Department of Forestry, the state forest consists of 19,800 acres in parts of Appomattox and Buckingham counties. It was originally called the Surrender Ground Forest, seeing as it’s close to Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park and the route of Robert E Lee’s Civil War retreat passes through the forest. 

There was a lumber yard in use at one point in the forest, where the materials were cut and milled in the lumber yard used through the state park and sold to the public. Sustainable timber production remains a key part of the forest’s operation, Womack said. It also serves as a site for applied research in forestry. For example, seed orchards on Route 612 and Route 24 that were planted in 1966 are growing 90% faster than others in the area. 

More about Curdsville 

The Curdsville Community Center is located at 122 School Road in Dillwyn. They have a monthly potluck and meeting on the first Monday of each month, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and members say anyone is welcome.