Every year in the early part of February, the Forest Landowners Association Staff and Board of Directors convene in Washington, DC to discuss the interests and concerns of private forest landowners across the US, with the missions of both educating our representatives about issues affecting their forest landowner constituents and promoting policies that would benefit them.
It is usually a three-day event, beginning with internal meetings to discuss the workings of the Association, including its vision, direction, budget and membership. Informational sessions are held as well with various experts, including high-ranking government officials and consultants, to keep its members on the forefront of legislative and policy issues that affect private forest landowners.
We just came back from this year’s meeting and hill visit event, and it was successful on many fronts. The major topics of concern were the Forest Recovery Act, Expanding Forest Products Markets, the Taxation of Conservation Easement Donations, Climate and Forestry, and Forestland Ownership Taxation Matters. We were able to have one-on-one conversations with staffers for both Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and US Representative Tom Reed about the importance of the Forest Recovery Act (meant to provide deduction opportunities should a natural disaster affect privately-owned forestland); the intent was to have them sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. Both offices indicated their interest in doing so, and we will be following up with them and reporting back to you how that goes.
We also heard from and met with Aurelia Skipwith, the current Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ms. Skipwith was re-nominated by President Trump to continue on as the leader of this Department, and she brings with her a healthy and solid understanding of the issues as they intersect with private forest landowners across the nation. She stated that one of her/the Administration’s goals is to “make working with private landowners a priority in the years ahead.” This is a very refreshing and promising direction, and hopefully will bode very well for our clients.
Other meetings involved sessions with Dr. Brian Brashaw, Program Manager for the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Marketing Unit. Dr. Brashaw discussed the continued importance of developing forest products markets domestically and internationally and brought us up to date on the increase in the use of Cross-Laminated Timbers (CLT) as building materials for “tall” buildings (3 stories or greater). CLT is a relatively new wood product that is now being embraced by builders and architects as an alternative to concrete and steel construction materials. It’s “green”, and it has some amazing engineering properties as it performs extremely well in earthquake and hurricane zones and is surprisingly fire resistant. Though largely southern pine/western pine – focused currently, FORECON’s discussion with Dr. Brashaw indicated that CLT will be entering the hardwood marketplace at some point, which is great news for our clients.
Other newer forest product markets and processes to pay attention to are Cellulose Nano-Materials, which are wood product particles that are blended with traditional concrete slurries, making the concrete cure faster and more fully, and Torrefaction, a process exposing biomass materials to heat, which converts the biomass into material having the energy properties of coal. It is more environmentally friendly and easier to process than coal.
FORECON has been involved with the Forest Landowners Association for quite some time and is proud to participate at this level on behalf of our clients. We currently serve on the Budget & Finance Committee, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee, and participate in several conference calls every month as well as on-site meetings and conferences several times a year. Keeping up on what affects our clientele is important to us, and it is just as important to let our/your representatives know what is important to you.
Note: The Forest Landowners Association is “the only national representative of the economic interests of family forest landowners and their unique natural resource assets.” The Association “understands that forestland is essential to a family’s economic prosperity, heritage, and legacy, and is committed to preserving America’s tradition of private forest ownership, promoting the importance of forest resources, and securing a legacy that can be passed to the next generation.” FLA members “range from large forest businesses whose land has been in their families for generations to those who have become forest landowners because they view forests as a long-term investment. Regardless of property size, FLA’s members manage their land with a sustainable approach, ensuring the prosperity of their forests for future generations. The Association is comprised of members whose land has remained in their family for generations, and others that are recent investors, REITs, and business owners.” For more information about membership and FLA’s Mission and Vision, please visit www.forestlandowners.com.
As always, if you have timber you may be interested in selling, and want a long-standing professional forestry firm representing your best interests in the process, please don’t hesitate to call any of our FORECON offices. Our foresters would be very happy to speak with you about the markets, and more importantly, your goals and objectives for your land.