FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2021
Bipartisan Tax Legislation Introduced to Help Alabama Forest Landowners Recover After Natural Disasters
WASHINGTON, DC – Private forest landowners in Alabama and around the nation are applauding the introduction of bi-partisan HR 4210: The Disaster Reforestation Act, sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Buddy Carter (R-GA), which allows family and private timber growers to recover from the loss of timber destroyed by natural disasters and reforest their lands.
Alabama’s private forest owners own 21 million acres of private forestland and include families and small timber companies that produce products like lumber. These landowners face immense financial burdens when needing to reforest their lands after a natural disaster, which is often compounded at tax time when private forest owners find their ability to claim a casualty loss for destroyed timber is limited, often to zero dollars.
Reforestation is vital to the viability of the private forest owners not only to ensure a solid timber harvest down the road but for environmental benefits as well. An often-unseen benefit of these forest owners is that while they are growing trees, they are also sequestering carbon – a big contributor to the slowing of climate change. In fact, in Alabama alone, these forests sequester carbon emissions from 3.6 million cars.
“Congressional lawmakers are looking at the country’s 455 million acres of private forests as a major solution to achieving a lower carbon future, a significant contributor to clean air and water, and a way to protect wildlife,” said Forest Landowner Association (FLA) CEO Scott Jones. “While private forests do provide all of these environmental benefits, we cannot keep counting on forest landowners to maintain those forests when faced with the devastation of a natural disaster taking out their timber without the funds to help them recover. We need economically strong forest landowners, and the Disaster Reforestation Act is an important step in the right direction to keep these working forests healthy.”
Representatives Sewell and Carter have shown that they understand how important forest landowners are to rural economies, strong domestic wood supply and as a natural climate solution. The introduction of this bill will provide for the equitable tax treatment of casualty loss of their timber crop when disaster strikes.
“The economic impact of the forestry sector in Alabama is critically reliant on forest landowners’ ability to supply timber to our mills, especially here in Rural Southwest Alabama,” commented Mayor of Thomasville, AL Sheldon Day. “Congresswoman Sewell has proven time and time again that she understands the needs of her forestry constituents. The City of Thomasville sincerely appreciates her leadership in championing the Disaster Reforestation Act.”
Fixing the casualty loss issue would provide an immediate and permanent solution for Alabama’s forest landowners to keep their forests working – a vital part of Alabama’s economy and environmental health.
In addition to the other benefits mentioned above, Alabama’s private forests:
- Support $28 billion in economic activity and 119,000 jobs.
- Contribute $906 million in tax revenue.
- Provide safe drinking water for 1.4 million Alabamans.
- Provide oxygen for 214 million Alabama residents.
Along with FLA, more than 35 other forestry and conservation organizations support fixing the tax treatment of timber casualty losses.
Additional Support from Alabama Landowners and Organizations
“This legislation is key in helping family forest owners recover after natural disasters and keeping Alabama’s forests as forests. This will ensure the forest products consuming mills have trees in the future to maintain local economies. It will also ensure these forests, some of which are the most biologically diverse in the country, can continue sequestering carbon, supporting at-risk species, providing the clean water supply, and recreation for Gulf communities.” – Gray Skipper, Alabama Landowner and VP of Scotch Plywood Company
“Alabama’s 23 million acres of healthy forests supply the raw material for the state’s $28 billion forest industry that creates jobs for 123,000 Alabama workers. The investment required by forest landowners over the decades from planting to harvest is at constant risk from natural disasters. Under the current tax code, when disaster strikes landowners lose twice. They lose their timber and they lose the ability to deduct the value of the timber damaged. We are grateful that Congresswoman Sewell recognizes this inequity and applaud her for taking a leadership role in helping landowners and their local communities recover.” – Chris Isaacson, President & CEO of Alabama Forestry Association
Additional quotes from national organizations can be found online at forestlandowners.com/distaster_reforestation_act_support/.