June 16, 2015 -- Thought Piece Explores Options To Incent Reforestation
In a recent meeting between leaders of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) and the USDA Forest Service, Region 8 (USFS) -- the southern U.S.—no one was surprised when the conversation turned to the twin issues of “keeping forests as forests” and reforestation – putting land back into active forest management after a timber harvest. In a nation where the bulk of forests are privately owned (56%) and where the lion’s share of the private slice (62%) is owned by families, the threats of conversion to non-forest uses or to forgo reforestation after harvest, are growing.
Federal and state forestry agencies and the forest products companies that depend upon those lands for almost all of their raw materials have for decades debated approaches designed to encourage reforestation.
“We are fortunate many states have special incentives to encourage reforestation that can be paired with those offered at the federal level – both favorable taxation of financial gains from a long-term investment and direct cost-share programs to help address the high initial costs and long timeframes before seeing a return,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. “Sadly, too few owners except those who own substantial acreages take advantage of the tools available. And even more, the pools of cost-share funds are limited; thus, many who apply are not able to obtain support.”
To shed additional light on use of currently available tools and the potential of low-interest loans as a new approach, Owen called on Clemson University forest economist Dr. Tom Straka for his thoughts. “Any scientist will go over the literature first, as reinventing the wheel is unnecessary,” says Straka. “I spent the better part of a weekend digging into what has been done and then thinking about the ideas that the Endowment and Forest Service folks put forward.”
Straka’s discussion paper, as he calls it, is entitled “Loans for Reforestation: Family Forest Owners and Timber Supply.” Ken Arney, Deputy Regional Foresters for State & Private Forest Programs in Atlanta, says, “Tom does a great job of summarizing some very complex variables and vehicles that have been used in the past as well as exploring the idea of loans that came from our brainstorming session.”
June 4, 2015 -- New Fund to Help Finance Modern Wood Heating Projects in New Hampshire
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), USDA Forest Service (USFS) and New Hampshire-based Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC (INRS) today announced the establishment of the New Hampshire T-RECs Enterprise Fund (T-REC Fund) to provide capital financing for community-scale wood heating projects.
The New Hampshire T-REC Fund is the first program funded under the Local Energy for American Fund (LEAF) joint-venture between the Endowment and USFS. LEAF identified New Hampshire as one of two states (with Oregon) to pilot creative finance programs for advanced heating systems that use sustainable wood biomass as fuel. The fund will be capitalized with an initial $750,000 investment and will build on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) wood biomass heating incentives.
April 23, 2015 -- Document Points to Potential of Forests and Forest Products to Mitigate Climate Change
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and more than a dozen forest sector companies and organizations in releasing “A Forest Carbon Future.” The report addresses the potential of U.S. forests, forest products manufacturers, and the range of forest products from paper to lumber to energy to contribute to solutions to global climate change.
“For more than a year a number of leaders from across the greater forest products sector have been considering ways that forests and forest products can play a role in climate change mitigation,” said Endowment President & CEO Carlton Owen. “We were pleased to be both a financial contributor as well as an active participant in the forum that developed the report.”
The Forest Policy Forum, led by Endowment Board Member Colin Moseley who is Chairman of Seattle-based Green Diamond Resources, developed the report. The work was designed to ensure that the conversation and evolving policy around carbon recognizes that forests and forests products are part of the solution as we move toward a lower carbon world. The report emphasizes five principles: 1. Forests are part of the solution; 2. Support for healthy, resilient, and growing forests supports that solution; 3. Recognition of the positive carbon contribution of managed forests and forest products helps realize that solution; 4. Understanding public policy and market mechanisms and their effects on forests is key to the carbon solution; and, 5. Support innovation in the forest products sector that supports long-term benefits for addressing the carbon challenge.
April 21, 2015 -- Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) announced today the release of a new interactive website that allows visitors to see where Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill restoration projects are taking place. The largest environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico began April 20, 2010 – five years ago—taking 11 lives when it occurred.
“The restoration work following the 2010 oil spill will result in unprecedented investment in the Gulf’s environment and economy,” noted Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “The Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker (DWH Project Tracker) will help maximize the effectiveness of project planning, implementation, and evaluation. The Tracker will make it easy to see who is doing what, and where.”
The Endowment’s interest in the Gulf and the tracking tool is rooted in the importance of forests and forestry to the Gulf’s restoration and resiliency and in the opportunity to focus a proven team on the project.
March 13, 2015 -- 2015 Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program Challenge RFP
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) today announced that it is accepting proposals for the 2015 Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program Challenge. The 2015 Challenge Request for Proposals and the downloadable PDF proposal form are now available on the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Community’s (the Endowment) webpage. This information is also available by contacting Peter@usendowment.org. The deadline for submissions is 8 p.m. EDT, Friday, May 29, 2015. Up to $8 million is available for the 2015 REPI Challenge.
February 20, 2015 -- The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Releases 2014 Annual Report
“Our 8th Annual Report (for calendar year 2014) reflects the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ (the Endowment) focus on “Investing for Impact” in a wide-array of initiatives all with the ultimate purpose of supporting the North American forest industry,” said President & CEO Carlton Owen.
“We are willing to use many different financial instruments to bring about systemic, transformative, and sustainable change to improve the health of America’s forests and the millions of people that depend upon them,” continued Owen. “We use traditional approaches such as grants, but more frequently we are moving to Program-related (low-interest loans) and Mission-related Investments (traditional loans) and even equity investments. Regardless of our investment strategy, in each case we seek a measurable impact that addresses our twin purposes of ‘keeping forests as forests’ and ‘growing family-wage jobs’ in forest-rich communities.”
Highlights from the Endowment’s 2014 successes featured in the Annual Report include:
Significant investments in commercialization of cellulosic nanofiber technology that could create markets for low-value wood thus providing important forest health benefits, such as reducing wildfires, while yielding 21st Century green products and high-wage jobs in rural America;
Creation of a new consortium focused on renewable energy from torrefied wood as another tool to advance forest health while also growing use of a domestically-produced renewable energy;
Revitalizing forest industry investments in research and development essential for expanding existing markets and creating new ones;
Continuing collaborations between the U.S. and Canada on forestry issues common to both;
Financial strategies to protect and improve management of forested watersheds which produce two-thirds of our Nation’s drinking water; and
Advances to help African American landowners retain and better manage their forests to improve their financial futures.
To access a copy of the 2014 Annual Report, click here.
February 12, 2015 -- State Action Plan RFP
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), in partnership with the Southern Group of State Foresters, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service, and the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, seeks proposals for projects that enhance collaboration between state forestry and wildlife agencies in updating and implementingState Forest Action Plans and State Wildlife Action Plans. Through this RFP we seek to fund projects that will enhance cooperation, coordination, and collaboration within and/or between states with regard to plan implementation and to improve and document effectiveness of on-the-ground conservation outcomes resulting from enhanced collaboration.
States eligible for this project include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Approximately $132,000 in combined federal and private funding is available for one or two projects. Matching funds are encouraged but not required.
For more information, and instructions on how to submit a proposal, click here.
February 12, 2015 -- Endowment Loan Aids Menominee Indian Tribe
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced that it has made a $250,000 Program-related Investment (loan) to Menominee Tribal Enterprises, the business operating unit of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. Funds will be used to replace the boiler at the tribe’s sawmill in Neopit, WI.
Norman Shawanokasic, President, CEO, and Chairman of the MTE Board of Directors states, “We are thankful that the Endowment Board of Directors agreed to provide some of their funds to allow us to make this investment in upgrading the boiler that will enhance our mill’s overall efficiency. The Endowment worked to bring the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and its affiliate Indian Land Capital Company (ILCC) to the table to ensure that we could move forward. We’ve had this project planned for many years because of the money that it will save on one hand and because of the enhancements it will make to the air quality for our people and all residents of the Menominee Community. We’re excited that it’s finally underway.”
“This project was a very good fit for the Indian Land Capital Company and its lending products focused on land and natural resources. The ILCC board of directors is happy that we could step in and help make the project happen sooner rather than later,” according to Cris Stainbrook, ILCC board chair.
“We are especially pleased to be able to work with Menominee Tribal Enterprises and the Menominee Tribe on this important project that will ensure that their sawmill that has been providing sustainably produced wood products and vitally important jobs for well over 100 years will continue,” said Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen.
For more information contact:
Carlton N. Owen, President & CEO, 864-233-7646, firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities – www.usendowment.org
The Menominee Tribal Enterprises operates one of the best managed working forests in the nation on the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s nearly 250,000 acre reservation about 45 miles northwest of Green Bay. The first sawmill operation was approved in 1871 and began operating in 1886. The current mill which began in 1908 is the longest continuously running tribal sawmill in the U.S. It produces about 15,000,000 board feet of lumber annually and employs 160 people at its operational peak.
The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is a national, community-based organization serving American Indian nations and people in the recovery and control of their rightful homelands. It works to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling reservation lands.
February 4, 2015 -- Water Quality and Economic Benefits of Forested Watersheds: Request for Proposals
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, in partnership with the Water Research Foundation (www.waterrf.org), today announced a request for proposalsto plan and convene a workshop to assess the state of the science for forested watershed protection as it relates to water quality and the impact on drinking water costs.
“Two-thirds of the drinking water in the U.S. originates in a forest,” said Peter Stangel, the Endowment’s Senior Vice President. “We know that healthy, well-managed forests produce cleaner water. There is increasing evidence that good management and protection of forested watersheds may reduce drinking water treatment costs. This workshop will bring together diverse experts to improve our understanding of the link between forest management practices and drinking water costs. This will help water utilities, communities and forest managers invest more confidently in source water protection activities.”
The $12 million award will fund conservation easements on working forests in four southern states. RCPP is a new program of the 2014 Farm Bill administered by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“We are thrilled to be selected for funding in the inaugural Regional Conservation Partnership Program,” said Endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen. “This new USDA program is a bold approach to support locally-driven solutions for natural resource challenges. We commend Secretary Vilsack and NRCS Chief Jason Weller for their leadership in facilitating such an innovative, public-private partnership.”
January 20, 2015 -- E-Learning Course Launched to Protect Forest Product Safety and Forest Health
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) is pleased to announce the availability of a new e-learning course -- Trade in forest commodities and the role of phytosanitary measures - North-American edition. http://www.fao.org/forestry/foresthealthguide/76169/en/
“In a world where global trade in products is a reality, it is vitally important that we take every reasonable precaution to ensure that such trade does not exacerbate human or environmental health issues. Development of this product was led by the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada as a follow-up to the Canada/U.S. Forest Health Summits and serves as a good step toward enhancing forest health protection efforts in North America,” said Endowment President & CEO Carlton Owen.