Moore: Forests are an important part of our ecosystem and economy

By Bill Moore

A result of my role with the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, I have the opportunity to meet with and learn about a wide range of businesses and industries. Last week I was speaking with Ed Larson, the executive director of the Vermont Forest Product Association. He is also also a member of my board of directors and the secretary/treasurer of the Central Vermont Chamber. I started to investigate the value the forest economy brings to the state. What an education I got.

Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald

Bill Moore, president of Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The importance of the forest product industry in Vermont cannot be overstated. It adds approximately $1.5 billion to our gross domestic product. According to the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, “Vermont’s forests cover 4,591,281 acres of land. That is equal to 78% of the state, a level which has remained steady since the 1980s.” The Department notes that, unlike other northeastern states with large corporate ownerships, “only 1% of Vermont’s forest is owned by businesses, including timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).”

A hardwood mix of beech, birch and maple represents 71 percent of the forests’ coverage. The sugar maple, our state tree, makes up about 20 percent of the woodland. It’s no wonder that we are the nation’s leading producer of maple syrup.

The department must assess the forest resources and develop deliberate strategies to manage our forests. The 2017 Forest Management Plan is published online for anyone to read.

Mr. Larson told me that there are more than 200 loggers and truckers engaged in the industry. All told, there are about 700 businesses directly tied to the industry. Included in those numbers are growers/landowners, forest managers, loggers, truckers, saw mills, paper producers, wood chippers and fire wood producers, not to mention secondary users including furniture manufacturers and others engaged in making wood products. “Money does grow on trees for us,” he said.

The industry is high risk and sometimes misunderstood. Contrary to the belief of some, responsible forest management is vital. Trees have to be harvested. It is a 100 percent renewable product. Also, harvesting, whether for energy use or products, is an important aspect of good forest management.

The industry does operate year-round, providing good high-paying jobs. Also, weather can have an impact on operations. The optimum time for the industry is when the land is dry or frozen. Mud season and other wet periods can be miserable, halting harvests and trucking. Industry experts like Mr. Larson recognize more challenges with changing weather patterns. On a very positive note, greenhouse gasses including carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, are absorbed by trees.

The forests are an important part of our ecosystem. Trees provide habitat and food for animals. A large tree can provide enough oxygen for four people for a day. Whether providing shelter and food for animals, recreational opportunities for families, good jobs, renewable energy sources — or a being a critical absorber of carbon monoxide — we owe a big “thank you” to those who dedicate themselves to the responsible, safe management of our forests.

Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Image courtesy of Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald
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5 thoughts on “Moore: Forests are an important part of our ecosystem and economy

  1. Problems with unscrupulous people should be dealt with, even a Yelp review would be beneficial, the forest industry should set something up for review so it doesn’t continue. Contractors have nothing to do with land use laws and trying to get all the land under act250 review to do anything.

  2. While the industry is a large monetary asset to Vermont’s economy, it is poorly regulated. A number of land owners have fallen victim to unscrupulous loggers, who take advantage of an industry that is lacking in supervision and accountability. A recent visit to a county forester, was an eye opener. I explained in great detail the problems I and numerous land owners were having with loggers, and he said he wasn’t surprised. He stated Vermont doesn’t have an enforcement division such as Maines, and when compared to Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, we as Vermonters are quite often taken advantage of. He was unable to help resolve my (and numerous others) problems, and suggested contacting legislators to work on changing this poorly regulated industry. He and others were very aware of the plight we were facing, but stated the lobbyist for the logging industry had strongly influenced legislators to dismiss new laws protecting innocent and injured land owners.

    • This may surprise you, there are registered foresters that are money hungry as well. I personally know of one that marked trees to cut for a neighbor on the neighbor’s land, but also set false lines on my land to cut my trees without my knowledge. Also went beyond his false line and marked about 2 acres for more cutting. This guy also done things on other lands with false lines marking and cutting. He’s well known in Montpelier being on the Forestry committee. If I could use the word “crook” I would. He’s well known by loggers for his devious activities and cost them money.

      When it comes to property owners and logging, they don’t know beans about the business so are taking advantage of. I know about the industry and worked with my brother is is a “honest” forester. I discovered the crap forester’s doing shortly after the cutting of the neighbor’s land.
      I know how to evaluate trees and mark using a 20 BAF (given the tree density), figuring out board feet and value of the various trees. Also mark boundaries and produce survey maps. They ain’t fooling no one, but have to keep an eye on them. They may also not give you (all) the mill slips that documents the logs at the mill, from which you should get paid.

      In Windham County, the County Forester was Bill Gunther, a nice honest great guy. He’s retired now. His work load was overwhelming and couldn’t visit people he wanted. A couple of years ago, he said Montpelier added 40 pages of regulations to the Current Use program. Crazy. Montpelier constantly bothers the land owner. I had CU 50 acres enrollment land in NH for 21 years, I never heard from the state. They believe in “Live Free or Die”.

      The land assessment in VT is about $2,000 per acre (isolated forest) . If in CU it’s about $138 per acre and the tax dept changes that value higher each year, to get more money. In NH there wasn’t a property lien for the CU land, in VT there’s a lien. Greedy gov, just can’t let things be. If no CU, people couldn’t afford keeping the land as natural as generations had.

      The bottom line is that the Town / State owns all property anyhow, you just try to survive and try to keep taxes low, being rent.

  3. Great article, let’s not make it more difficult, we don’t need act 250 involved, but thanks for the offer.

  4. Burning wood for power generation is extremely wasteful
    Such plants have an efficiency, energy out/energy in, of less than 25%
    The absorption of the combustion CO2 by new tree growth takes about 100 years in northern climates, such as Vermont and Maine.
    The absorption of the combustion CO2 is according to an S curve; slowly during the first 1/3 of the period, rapidly during the 2nd 1/3 of the period, and slowly during the 3rd 1/3 of the period.
    There is about 15 to 20% of CO2 unrelated to combustion, on an A to Z basis. That CO2 is absorbed like any other CO2, and/or added to the atmosphere.

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