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ALC President – Matt Jensen

The American Loggers Council annual meeting in Pendleton, Oregon has come and gone with a new year for our Board of Directors set in motion.  As always, I learned a lot during the trip.

On Friday, John Deere hosted a technical session which was very informative.  Economist, Dr. Lynn Michaelis, laid out an interesting yet somewhat sobering report on housing starts in the U.S.  He reported that 2011 would remain somewhat flat, but that there would eventually be a rebound.  Following Dr. Michaelis, John Hickman gave an overview of the various technologies currently being researched for the conversion of woody biomass to liquid biofuels.  Dave Tenny of the National Alliance of Forest Owners and Tom Partin of the American Forest Resource Council were equally interesting with their presentations on how various policies are affecting both private and federal lands.

On Saturday, the Legislative and Forest Policy Committee report at the Board of Directors meeting was very informative.  The 2011 Forest Service Timber Program budget has a target of 2.4 billion board feet reduced from 2.5 billion board feet in 2010.  With many parts of the western U.S. prone to fire and disease from beetle kill, one would think they would not have reduced the harvest volumes.

I am not naïve to the fact that people have differing views of how our federal forests should be managed, but shouldn’t the health of the forest be the ultimate goal?  The duty of the Forest Service Chief should be to promote and provide policies that give all Americans a thriving, growing forest.  Unfortunately, to the environmental community, that requires harvesting timber.

Foresters and logging professionals in the U.S. are on the cutting edge of technology in the equipment and practices they use.  The renewable resources we have in our forest could help us to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the process.  If there were more certainty in the energy biomass policies, logging and forestry businesses would consider expanding.

Good paying, rural jobs that promote forest health and energy independence with reduced carbon dioxide emissions would be a good stroke of business for our elected officials.  It seems to me that an increased timber sale program could qualify as a worthwhile stimulus package that would not cost a million dollars per job and could provide benefits that even the environmental community could agree to.

Matt Jensen is the President of the American Loggers Council, which represents over 50,000 logging professionals in 30 states. Matt’s operation, Whitetail Logging, is headquartered in Crandon, Wisconsin..  For more information please contact the American Loggers Council office at 409-625-0206 or e-mail at americanlogger@aol.com.