Pennsylvania Forestry Association President, Mark Ott, testifies on Importance of Pennsylvania's Forests - Lumber Heritage Region

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Pennsylvania Forestry Association President, Mark Ott, testifies on Importance of Pennsylvania’s Forests

Written by Jswatsworth

Pennsylvania Forestry Association President, Mark Ott, along with the PFPA and HDC testify on the Importance of Pennsylvania’s Forests

Last Wednesday, April 7th, I had the privilege of representing the Pennsylvania Forestry Association at an informational meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The purpose of the meeting was for myself and other Forest Products Industry professionals to promote, educate and highlight the economic and environmental importance of the forest industry. The speakers also included PFPA Immediate Past Chairman Norm Steffy of Cummings Lumber Company, PFPA Board Member Wes Miller of A.M. Logging and Jon Geyer, Assistant Director of the Hardwoods Development Council.

In my testimony I highlighted how Pennsylvania forests are owned by a majority of private owners who care for an estimated 12 million acres. I spoke about how there are many increasing challenges to being a forest landowner including invasive insects, disease and plants, development pressures, labor shortages, deer impact and climate change. I reminded them that by cataloguing the benefits forests provide, by adopting regulations and practices that conserve forests, by allowing sustainable harvesting, by supporting the industry and by educating residents about the value of forests, government plays a key role in ensuring the conservation and responsible use of Pennsylvania’s forest lands. I additionally provided positives, negatives and challenges to our forest in an effort to help educate and encourage the Committee to continue funding and budgeting for forestry related programs. You can read my complete testimony here.

The Hardwoods Research and Promotion line item was one of the focuses of all participant’s testimony. This funding enables the HDC and the three regional Hardwood Utilization Groups (HUGs) to do the work each year to keep PA’s forests and the industry in good health. The Governor’s budget proposal for 2021-22 currently isn’t funding this program which is why it was so important for the legislators and the committee to hear from the industry.

Enhancing carbon capture, wildlife habitat, environmental benefits of young forests, the ACRE Law, and worker compensation rates were other areas that were emphasized by our industry. You can watch the video recording of the hearing here. The Pennsylvania Forestry Association was honored to have the opportunity to share with the members of the Committee about the importance of our forestry mission in education and stewardship. Thanks to our members’ involvement and support. The board continues to represent you to the utmost of our ability.

Mark Ott

PFA President