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FLA Hosts Timber Talk, Welcomes Congressman Hice
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 FLA Hosts Timber Talk, Welcomes Congressman Hice

  by FLA Staff

On Friday, November 4th Forest Landowners Association CEO Scott Jones along with FLA Board Member, Derek Dougherty of Dougherty & Dougherty Forestry hosted Congressman Jody Hice from Georgia’s 10th congressional district for a Timber Talk.

“Georgia's 10th congressional district is heavily forested with private forestlands covering the entire district and a robust industry of forest products manufacturers that support the forests to markets supply chain vital to the sustainability and ownership of private forests,” said Hice. “I wanted to meet and engage my forest stakeholder constituents right away so together we can work to promote legislation that benefits private forest landowners and the entire timber market.”

The Timber Talk began with a tour of the Timbermen mill in Camak, Georgia led by mill owner and manager, Jim Hicks Jr. From there the tour visited the nearby timber stand of Margie Bidwell. Bidwell inherited her 150 acre family-owned timber in 2009 and is actively managing the property to maximize the soil and water benefits the forest provides. Timber harvests are an integral part of this overall plan, funding the conservation activities Bidwell is undertaking. “The amazing thing about Margie Bidwell is that despite owning just 150 acres, she’s doing extraordinary things on her property,” said Jones.

Talking about the motivation for the Timber Talk, Jones said, “we always welcome the opportunity to connect private forest landowners with their elected representatives, and vice versa. One of the key objectives for the day was to give Congressman Hice a boots-on-the-ground look at both the market and regulatory landscape private forest landowners  like Margie have to navigate to manage their land for maximum economic and societal value.”

Mike Harris, the at-risk coordinator for Region 4 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also participated in the Timber Talk and benefited from the boots-on-the-ground experience. “FLA is actively working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop strategies to address regulatory uncertainty and how best to marry the objectives of species conservation and economic opportunity for landowners,” said Jones.

Landowners face increasingly narrow margins for their wood fiber and at the same time are being looked to as a key component in the conservation of at-risk species, filtering the water supply to the Southeast’s suburban and urban areas, while trying to balance increasing regulations. Derek Dougherty, CEO and president of Dougherty & Dougherty, a forest management consultancy pointed out that increased regulation and/or certification requirements add to an already challenging economic situation for landowners.

Jones offered that the biggest takeaway of the day was to give the congressman an in-person look at the collaboration and innovation that is so prevalent in the forestry and forest product value chain. Jones summarized the day and said, “The point I kept making to Congressman Hice was that private forest landowners continue to innovate in order to provide economic and environmental benefits to the country and in order for landowners to continue to be successful it’s imperative for lawmakers to better understand the impact policy and excessive regulations can have on those efforts.”


 

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