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Latest from the Forest Landowners Association!

Reason for Optimism as Trump Administration Crosses 100 Day Mark

Just 100 days into his term, President Trump is moving quickly to make good on campaign promises. The executive orders, appointments and new policy initiatives coming out of the White House have gotten the attention of the Forest Landowners Association.

“The Trump Administration clearly understands that in many rural communities across our country, and almost all of the states in the Southeast, forestry is a primary economic driver to providing jobs and contributing to the funding of rural schools.  It all starts in the woods, with the landowners who own the land and grow the trees.” FLA CEO Scott Jones

We've prepared a rundown on all things forestry over the first 100 days, so please read on! (more)

Packed Agenda for Forest Conference

Regulatory changes under Trump administration provide optimism to forest landowners as FLA meets for annual conference in Asheville, N.C.

When FLA CEO Scott Jones welcomes members to the 2017 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners on May 30, the dust will have settled on the transition to a Trump administration and the view of his policy priorities and direction will have clarified.

This year’s conference will open with an informed discussion about what the Trump administration means for the policy priorities the association has been working toward for years.

“Like it or not, federal policy really does impact core components of our mission,” Jones said. “President Trump campaigned on a platform of regulatory reform, a fresh look at the tax code and a commitment to domestic manufacturing and all of those really resonate with our members. We look forward to discussing the opportunities we see within this administration.”

The discussion will be led by Alex Vogel, co-founder and managing partner of VogelHood, a policy advisement firm recently retained by FLA.

“We feel like with the Trump administration in place it’s time for the association to play some offense again and Alex and his team are a big part of that offensive strategy,” Jones said.

The conference is much more than a policy forum and this year’s event again features content designed for the younger members of landowner families that might be unfamiliar with the basics of land management or the markets that provide timber sale opportunities for landowners. (more)

How Healthy is Your Forest?

Proper management keeps a forest strong and better able to resist pest issues, leading to healthier and more productive forestland.

Forest health can mean many things. For forest landowners the primary consideration is how the health of the forest affects the ability to manage, monetize, and enjoy property.

Forest health is a function of tree health, but they are not synonymous. A healthy forest can have a few unhealthy trees, and an unhealthy forest can have some healthy trees. A healthy tree has adequate water, nutrients, and sunlight. It can acquire the resources it needs to grow, defend itself from insects and pathogens, and store energy in its roots. 

Any condition that limits a tree’s ability to do these things can impair the tree’s health and in turn cause that tree to be stressed. Stress can be devastating; think of your own body.  When you’re stressed, whether it’s from lack of sleep, poor eating habits or any number of factors, you’re more likely to get sick. When an animal is stressed, its immune system is compromised. When a tree is stressed, it’s more susceptible to insects and pathogens. Thus, staying healthy and free from stress is the key to a tree’s continued survival. (more)

Forest Landowners Association Applauds Trump’s Ag and Rural Prosperity Executive Order

The Forest Landowners Association (FLA) applauds the Trump Administration’s recognition of the contribution forests and forest landowners make to vital rural economies evidenced most recently by the Tuesday, April 25 signing of the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

The FLA has been working closely with the administration and are encouraged by their quick understanding of, and willingness to promote the amazing resource that are this country’s forests and their owners. We see this executive order as evidence that forestry and the forest products sector is finally being recognized by an administration for the incredible contributions it makes to our agricultural economy. (more)

Legislative Update: Endangered Species Act

Three new bills have been introduced to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that pertain to transparency and citizen suits.

Under current law, when a species is proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, the Department of Interior publishes the listing proposal in the Federal Register and allows for public comment for a 60 day comment period. To promote awareness of a proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then issues news releases, conducts special mailings, and informs the scientific community and other Federal and State agencies. In addition, the government publishes a summary of any proposal as a legal notice in newspapers serving each area in which the species is believed to dwell and holds public hearings in cases of high public interest or if an interested party requests one within 45 days of the proposal. (more)

Legislative Update: WOTUS Rollback Moving Forward

As the Trump administration prepares to pull back the Obama administration’s signature water rule, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, a longtime Waters of the United States critic, will preside over a hearing Wednesday aimed at detailing flaws with the 2015 rule and the process that produced it. His Environment and Public Works Committee hearing will host a who’s who of players from the WOTUS battle, including Michael Josselyn, a wetlands consultant and dissenting voice from the external EPA science panel that worked on the rule, and Ken Kopocis, the Obama administration water chief who oversaw it.  

At the same time, farmers will be meeting with Trump on the issue. In addition to signing the aforementioned executive order geared toward rural America, Trump will hold a roundtable discussion with farmers on Tuesday. (more)

Legislative Update: Strengthening Timber Markets with Trade Agreements

The forestry sector in the United States has experienced extreme volatility, unprecedented challenges, and substantial change during the past two decades.  We are at a tipping point regarding the importance of increasing wood markets for the economic livelihood of forest landowners and sustaining healthy forests.  The future suggests both opportunities and challenges.  FLA has increased its commitment to public and government affairs work to leverage a policy atmosphere favorable to the use of wood as an environmentally preferred product.

The FLA is focused ensuring trade agreements advocate the interest of US wood markets and landowners to ensure access to emerging markets for forest related products. (more)

Legislative Update: Tax Policy Gaining Interest

President Trump indicated that the process to reform America’s tax code will kick into high gear this week, with an expected annulment of the Administrations tax reform plan on Wednesday.

There are three legs to the tax reform stool: the House, the Senate, and the White House. Little is known about what will be the priorities of the Senate and White House so we will be watching closely to see how their positions evolve this week. Knowing that tax reform is a high priority of the White House and Congress,  FLA is on the Hill weekly talking to members of Congress about key provisions (more)

 

Conference Preview: Mini-Q&A with Alex Vogel, Founding Partner, VogelHood Group

Everyone agrees that the Trump presidency will be like none other before it. Forest landowners are optimistic that Trump’s platform of tax reform, domestic jobs creation and better trade deals will be a very positive thing for them and their interests. Is their optimism well-founded?

I believe that optimism is well founded. The president has laid out a broadly deregulatory agenda focused on policies centered on incentivizing and promoting U.S. based producers and jobs. When combined with a broad push towards an America-focused trade policy, these initiatives should be viewed with optimism. (more)

Early Forestry Education

Auburn University’s summer forestry camp for high school students helps prepare the next generation of land managers.

On warm June mornings, you might notice groups of students in forests near Auburn, Alabama.  Listen and you might hear cicadas hum in the distance, the clinking of logger’s tapes and the unmistakable squeak of an increment borer biting into a pine. There is a murmur of voices as an Auburn University professor moves from group to group.

These are not, however, college students. They are high school participants in a forestry camp as part of Auburn’s summer youth programs. This fourth-annual, week-long residential camp, scheduled this year from June 25-30, gives students ages 15 to 18 the opportunity to learn about the profession of forestry and the management of associated natural resources. (more)


Being Prepared

Generations of boys have learned about the woods through Boy Scouts of America. With kids spending more time indoors and in front of screens, BSA’s efforts are increasingly important in educating the next generation of forestry.

Jimmy Sawgrass is leading a group of Boy Scouts and adult scout leaders through the woods at Camp La-No-Che. It’s a balmy afternoon a week before Christmas at this mostly wooded, 1,480-acre Central Florida camp on the border of the Ocala National Forest.

Sawgrass, a member of the Muskogee Creek tribe, is providing a running commentary on trees, animals, hunting, and living off the land. He points out a 100-year-old oak felled by Hurricane Matthew two months earlier, notes various edible and poisonous berries, and shows where scouts like my 11-year-old son, who hope to earn their wilderness survival merit badges, must construct lean-to shelters and spend a night with only the clothes on their backs. (more)

Barreling Along

Though Alexandra Richman’s grandfather and his siblings sold the Jack Daniel’s distillery six decades ago, the fourth-generation landowner manages more than 6,000 acres of Tennessee forestland in the shadow of where her great-great grand uncle founded his famous whiskey empire. 

Alex Richman is driving through history. On a crisp chamber-of-commerce morning in mid-October, with the sun accenting a kaleidoscope of fall colors, Richman pilots her SUV through Tennessee land her family has owned for more than a century.

She points out specimen white oaks on either side of the road while mentally reviewing a packed schedule that includes a forestry field event the next day, along with an ongoing red oak logging operation and a timber sale the following month. She’s a landowner, forester, hunter, graduate forestry student at the University of Tennessee and, on this day, perhaps the most insightful tour guide of Lynchburg, the tiny town that draws 300,000 annual visitors wanting a glimpse of how the world’s most famous whiskey is made. (more)  

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