By Rich Christianson July 08, 2020
WASHINGTON – The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) is seeking an additional $500 million in federal State and Private Forestry (S&PF) program dollars to support its “COVID-19 stimulus platform.”
NASF said the additional funding would provide state forestry agencies with “the resources they need to create new jobs, strengthen the forest products supply chain and improve forest health, resilience and productivity nationwide.”
In addition to asking for additional Congressional funding, NASF’s wishlist includes the retention of current state forestry employees and hiring new recruits, jump starting rural economies through forestry work and continuing federal forestry program implementation at risk by state budget shortfalls. NASF also requests that Congress establish a loan program for loggers and timber haulers, create sustainable building tax credits to support forest product manufacturers, and invest in rural roads and bridges.
“Not only is the forestry sector foundational to rural economies, it is essential to the nation’s economic recovery,” said Greg Josten, NASF president and South Dakota state forester. “State forestry agencies are critical links in the forestry sector supply chain and provide essential support to our nation’s emergency response capacity for wildfires and other disasters, like the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge members of Congress to take our association’s recommendations into consideration as they work to facilitate economic recovery.”
“The private forests that state forestry agencies assist in managing are a tremendous economic engine for the U.S.,” said NASF Executive Director Jay Farrell. “Nationwide, these forests produce more than 90% of the nation’s wood and paper products, support 2.4 million jobs ($98.7 billion in payroll), contribute to $281 billion in timber sales, manufacturing, and shipments annually, and constitute 4.6% of the nation’s total manufacturing GDP…. Without robust timber and forest product markets, the forestry sector supply chain crumbles; and with it goes many of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of forests we simply can’t live without.”
NASF is composed of the forestry agency directors in the 50 states, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.