Event to Premiere “America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell” Episode III featuring the Sustainable Forestry & African American Land Retention Program Draws Hundreds to Recognize Award-Winning Program

Photo Credit: James Edward Mills

Event to Premiere “America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell” Episode III featuring the Sustainable Forestry & African American Land Retention Program Draws Hundreds to Recognize Award-Winning Program

Notable attendees included representatives from U.S. Congress, USDA Forest Service and the National Resources Conservation Service

U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SC

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE (December 12, 2019)

Greenville, S.C. – The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) hosted 350 attendees to view the premiere of “America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell” Episode III, which featured the nationally recognized and award-winning Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) program. The event was held last night at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. It was attended by Congressman James E. Clyburn, 6th District, State of South Carolina; Vicki Christiansen; Chief, USDA Forest Service (USFS); Jim Hubbard, Under Secretary for Natural Resources & Environment, US Department of Agriculture (USDA); and, Kevin Norton, Associate Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); among other dignitaries.

The SFLR program was launched in 2012 as an effort to aid African American landowners in turning their forested properties into economic assets. The program capitalizes on innovative partnerships between local, state, and federal organizations to assist landowners in this process. SFLR provides a variety of support services to these landowners, including access to legal assistance and opportunities to adopt sustainable forestry practices.
 “America’s Forests,” hosted by Chuck Leavell, Tree Farmer and Keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, is a series aired on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and educational television stations across the country. It captures the breadth of our nation’s woodlands – both public and private. The program, produced by Choose Outdoors, features different stories that demonstrate how forests are integral to the well-being and economic health of communities across the country. Episode III features some of the faces, voices, and stories of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention (SFLR) program, with a focus on South Carolina forest owners.
“This SFLR episode, in particular, helped me to have a deeper understanding of the important work being done by the SFLR sites in the southeast,” said Leavell. “It is my belief through our series for public television that we will help millions of Americans understand the critical need to support all those who are working to ensure the future of sustainable forestry.”
Endowment President & CEO Carlton N. Owen welcomed attendees and recognized individuals and organizations that have had a significant impact on the success of the program. Special recognition was given to the USFS and the NRCS.  Chief Christiansen and Associate Chief Norton each accepted awards from the Endowment for their organizations’ roles. Owen also recognized Tom Martin, President and CEO, and Mavis Gragg, Director – SFLR Program, of the American Forest Foundation (AFF). This past summer, AFF became a key partner in the SFLR network and began a long-planned transition as national coordinator for the work. AFF will work to help reach additional landowners and support policy efforts to curb African American land loss.
“SFLR is a true success story, and it gives me such pleasure to recognize it tonight in the company of so many folks who have contributed to its success,” said Owen. “This program is the result of the collaborative efforts of many partners and has achieved and surpassed our original vision. It has improved forest management and forest retention by connecting African American landowners to established networks of forestry support including federal and state government programs, businesses, and nonprofit conservation, legal, and community development organizations.”
The SFLR program has been recognized with several awards, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships in 2018 and the USDA’s highest honor, the Abraham Lincoln Award for protecting natural resources in 2016.


For more information contact:
Carlton N. Owen, President & CEO, 864-233-7646, carlton@runslikeclock.work
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.

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