By Kristen Miller
State foresters from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kansas joined the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) for the group's regional forestry summit, Maximizing Forestry Resources in the Midwest, in Madison, Wisconsin, as speakers on a current issues panel. Their discussion covered the many issues Midwestern forests face, including invasive species, and how reauthorization of Good Neighbor Authority in 2018 Farm Bill will allow for more active forest management.
The meeting, held at the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Lab, brought together governors' office staff, state DNR staff, federal partners, trade groups, private industry, NGOs, and academia. Breakout sessions topics included expanding economic growth in the forestry industry, how wood is making a comeback in the building industry, how technology is creating new uses for Midwestern forests, Midwestern forestry management, and a roundtable discussion on the top issues facing Midwestern state foresters.
Attendees toured the lab and saw multiple projects in action, ranging from energy security to revitalizing our economy in the 21st Century, creating jobs, successfully competing in the global economy, and sequestering carbon with forest products. One of the projects focused on using cross-laminated timber (CLT) for residential storm shelters (pictured at right: CLT constructed panel with dents from simulated debris), which could be purchased from a large retail store and assembled at home.
Then chair of the association, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, concluded his leadership role at the meeting. In his keynote address, he said "our forests, in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest are some of our greatest resources. By working together, states can maintain our excellent reputation as a great outdoor activity destination for families, while also helping forestry grow by employing hardworking Midwesterners and contributing to each of our states' economies."
Ohio Governor John Kasich has since been elected as MGA chair.
Kristen Miller is the policy and communications director for the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.