Nation’s state foresters approve three policy statements on ESA, climate change, federal tax policy

The National Association of State Foresters has adopted three positions in support of Endangered Species Act reform, climate change mitigation, and federal tax policy reform.

WASHINGTON—The nation’s 59 state and territorial foresters have agreed to back three national policy statements regarding Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform, climate change mitigation, and federal tax policy reform.

In its “Improving the Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act” policy statement, the association details its substantial interest in ESA implementation and its support for an updated ESA that encourages greater cooperation, more efficient regulatory processes, and a renewed emphasis on sound science in the management of threatened or endangered plants and animals.

“NASF ardently supports the goal of protecting threatened and endangered species. And while state foresters are generally supportive of the regulatory changes made to ESA implementation in recent years, we believe some issues remain,” said Joe Fox, NASF president and Arkansas state forester. “The recommendations set out in this policy statement would help to address these issues and provide relief to forestland owners and managers without compromising the efficacy of ESA.”

The association also updated its policy statement on federal tax policy reform. In “Federal Tax Policy and Its Relationship to the Sustainability of Private Forest Lands,” NASF enumerates the ways federal tax policy could be improved to help private forestland owners retain ownership of their forests and keep them producing clean air, drinking water, and forest products over the long run.

“Privately owned forests—which make more than 60 percent of the nation’s forestland—provide essential economic, environmental, and social benefits to society as a whole,” said Christopher Martin, NASF vice president and Connecticut state forester. “Federal tax policy should recognize these contributions with rules and regulations that encourage active forest management and the retention of forests despite generational land transfers and development pressures.”

“The federal tax code should be simpler,” Martin continued. “It should enhance forest management, not hinder it. It should make it easier for landowners to reduce their costs of owning and managing forests, and it should also give landowners full financial credit for their contributions to national conservation objectives.”

With the adoption of a third policy statement, “Enhancing Forest Resilience and the Role of Forests in Dealing with Climate Change,” state foresters agreed to support several changes to federal policy and funding priorities that would improve the capacity of America’s forests and forest products to sequester carbon, produce renewable fuels, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“State foresters have important roles to play in climate change mitigation. One role is advocating for the inclusion of forests and forest products in federal climate change policy and programming. Another, central to our agencies’ missions, is being active stewards of America’s forests, rangelands, and watersheds,” said Kacey KC, NASF treasurer and Nevada state forester. “The efficacy of forests, forest products, and woody biomass in addressing climate change depends on forest sustainability. Without active forest management, forests are less resilient to climate change and less effective at sequestering carbon.”

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