State foresters—citing their current contributions to America’s forest products supply chain—justify increased funding for the implementation of state Forest Action Plans in future stimulus legislation.
WASHINGTON—A dedicated $3 billion in stimulus funding for implementing state Forest Action Plans, as recently suggested by House members, would give state forestry agencies the resources they need to help create thousands of jobs, restore millions of acres of forest, and rebuild vital infrastructure critical to economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
“All of our work as state foresters is done in alignment with our Forest Action Plans and for the benefit of Americans and America’s forested landscapes,” said Greg Josten, NASF president and South Dakota state forester. “We use Forest Action Plans like roadmaps to attack the pests, disease, and wildfire that threaten the health, resilience, and productivity of our forests. We develop these plans with input from local residents, tree experts, outdoor enthusiasts, and wildlife advocates, and we partner with these groups to boost efficiencies so every cent and minute spent on meeting their objectives count.”
When Forest Action Plans are put to work, great things happen for America’s forests and the nation’s forest products industry:
- The management advice and resources state forestry agencies provide forest landowners increases the likelihood they’ll harvest timber on their properties by 270 percent. State forestry agencies’ 7,850 trained, full-time foresters provide technical support to more than 270,000 private landowners annually, boosting the active management of 66 percent – over 520 million acres – of America’s forestland held in state or private ownership. Private lands produce over 90 percent of the nation’s forest products, and state forestry agencies are their primary source for technical assistance.
- State forestry agencies help protect America’s forest resources from wildfire. State forestry agencies employ 12,280 wildland firefighters and train over 50,000 of these essential professionals every year to provide wildfire protection on 1.5 billion acres, including 1.1 billion acres in state and private ownership.
- State forestry agencies actively manage over 75 million acres of state-owned forests and operate more than 59 state tree nurseries and seed orchards. State forest lands fuel the forest products industry, provide treasured spaces to recreate, and sustain critical wildlife habitat. In addition to growing the trees for reforestation efforts in the U.S., state forestry agencies’ state tree nurseries and orchards provide the core infrastructure for reforestation work – site preparation services and tree planting crews – nationwide.
“State forestry agencies have an important role to play in economic recovery. With additional resources, that role becomes even more impactful,” said Jay Farrell, executive director of NASF. “Particularly with built-in flexibility and extended spending authority, stimulus dollars for Forest Action Plan work would undoubtedly bolster rural economies and provide foundational support to the forestry sector at a time we need it most.”
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