As we begin a new year, I would like to recognize all of you who have weathered the storm in 2012 and are still keeping faith and hope that 2013 brings needed changes to this profession that we call logging.
There are many unresolved issues in both the political and practitioner arenas that warrant our attention again this year. The priority issues that members of the American Loggers Council have identified include the following:
- Passing legislation that would permanently exempt silvicultural operations from the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process,
- Promote policies and appropriations that would strengthen the Federal Timber Sale program to increase the allowable sale quantity to 3 Billion Board foot, not including volumes of biomass and firewood removed from federal forest land in that target and recognizing sale volume that was awarded, not just offered, in those volumes,
- Supporting legislation that would re-establish timber production as an appropriate use of federal lands,
- Allowing state legal weight tolerances for unrefined agriculture and forest product on the Federal Interstate Highway System, making routes safer and increasing the efficiency of trucking operations,
- Allowing young men and women, ages 16 and 17, the opportunity to work in their family businesses, learning the trade and obtaining skills necessary to carry on these businesses that are generational in nature, and
- Working with other like-minded organizations to help bring new markets to the industry for the goods and services that our members and those we represent provide.
Our industry is still struggling to rebound from the recession, and until we see significant improvement in housing markets, or new markets developed such as energy markets for woody biomass, we will continue to see unemployment rates in timber dependent rural communities hover in the double digit percentile range. These six issues alone will not lead to economic prosperity for the timber harvesting community alone. It also needs to be recognized by industry leaders that the current model for wood procurement also needs to be fixed.
If we can have an impact on these issues over the course of the next twelve months, the result will be to help speed up the economic recovery that is so desperately needed by the industry and the communities that support them. The American Loggers Council intends to continue to support the work needed in all of the above listed areas, and with your continued support and the coordinated support of other organizations, there will be a brighter future for all involved. We plan on going the distance.
Travis Taylor serves as the President of the American Loggers Council with operations based out of Goldonna, Louisiana.
The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c)(6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.