March 19, 2019 press release from the National Association of State Foresters
The president’s budget request for FY20 “would eliminate or cut all but one Forest Service State and Private Forestry program and reduce investments in state and family forests to just 2.5 percent of the overall Forest Service budget,” said Lisa Allen, NASF president and Missouri state forester.
Per the president’s budget request for FY20, funding for the Forest Stewardship program, the Forest Health Management Program on Cooperative Lands, and the State and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs would be cut by a combined $29.65 million from FY19 enacted levels. Funding for the Landscape Scale Restoration, Forest Legacy, and Urban and Community Forestry programs would be eliminated.
A recent analysis of Kentucky’s forest and wood industries indicated an estimated direct economic contribution of $8.5 billion and direct employment of over 26,000 Kentuckians in 2018. The total economic contribution was estimated at $13.5 billion with more than 60,000 jobs.
Kentucky remains one of the leading producers of hardwood forest products in the south and exports wood products across the nation and the world. The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources has been documenting the Kentucky forest sector’s economic contribution since 2012.
The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension along with many partners have developed the 2019 Kentucky Woodland Owners Short Course (WOSC) to help woodland owners get the most out of their woodland ownership experience. (KWOA is a WOSC sponsor.)
The 2019 WOSC consists of three full-day regional programs in East, Central and West Kentucky. These regional educational programs were developed by local
planning committees. Each regional program includes two different programming tracks featuring both indoor and outdoor presentations including a visit to a nearby woodland owner. Each track features forestry, wildlife and natural resource professionals from across Kentucky covering a wide variety of topics – there is sure to be something for everyone! Individuals as well as couples are encouraged to attend the regional event closest to their woodland property.
Dr. Lanny Copeland is a Family Physician who practiced in rural settings in Indiana and Georgia for 20 years. He was instrumental in beginning a family medicine residency program focusing on rural healthcare, especially the underserved area of southwest Georgia. For many years he was recognized as one of the top 50 Most Influential Physician Executives in the US by Modern Healthcare, ranking #8 on this list in 2012.
Copeland’s humanitarian work has taken him to Yemen, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Haiti, and most recently to Cuba, where the foci has been on medical education and health care delivery.
After retiring from the corporate world, he and his wife Mica actively manage their 280 acres of timberland in Warren County, Kentucky.
COL (retired) Jimmie Sizemore is a very passionate, energetic and busy woodland owner. Recently retired from the United States Army Reserve and the Clay County Board of Education, he and his wife Leslie are enjoying a very active retirement. Their property in Clay County lies on the Sarvis Fork of Buzzard Creek deep in the heart of Eastern Kentucky. Here they manage an orchard of mainly heirloom apples, keep honey bees, grow sorghum cane, black walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, paw paws and persimmons. They also enjoy tapping maple trees and spending time enjoying the natural wonders of their woodlands.
COL Sizemore is an active member of many organizations including: the Arbor Day Foundation, American Chestnut Foundation, the American Tree Farm System, Disabled American Veterans, North American Pawpaw Growers Association, the Great Smokey Mountains Association, Kentucky Maple Syrup Association, Kentucky State Bee Keepers Association, Kentucky Queen Bee Breeders Association, the Midwest Apple Improvement Association and the National Wild Turkey Federation. When they aren’t busy working their farm or managing their woodlands they enjoy volunteering at their church or traveling and spending time with their five daughters and grandchildren.
Jimmie and Leslie will be hosting the August 24 Woodland Owners Short Course at their tree farm.
Warren Beeler, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, informed members that poultry is the number two industry after forestry in Kentucky. Consequently, GOAP is prioritizing loans to farmers ages 19-26 who want to get into the poultry business.
Beeler said he is also looking to invest beyond the traditional crops and utilizes the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation that supports higher risk loans. Its mission is to strengthen Kentucky agriculture by providing access to low-interest loan programs through joint partnerships with local lending institutions. KAFC assists beginning farmers, farm families, and agribusinesses obtain the necessary capital to establish, maintain or expand their agricultural operation.
As agriculture becomes more technologically sophisticated the program seeks to support investments in equipment such as robotic dairy milkers and computer tags for dairy cows. The programs also supports water quality monitoring on the Ohio, Kentucky and Wabash Rivers for nutrients, a mentoring program for queen beekeepers and sheep and goat operations that could be compatible with woodlands.
Beeler stressed that the GOAP Board is interested in capital projects, not in paying people not to farm. Its assistance is seed money with the expectation that the enterprise will use those funds to become self-maintaining. He mentioned
Members were not shy in responding. Suggestions included incubator tree farms (Beeler thought demonstration farms would qualify), easements that would remove development rights to keep properties in woodlands, and cooperation with related agriculture industries. Beeler opined that KWOA needs a state-level executive position.
For Michael Branscum, the best part about being a forestry student is marking timber and the Fire Cats. For Dan Eaton it is the small class size and the friendships among students and with professors. Sarah Hays’ experience with a forest inventory in Robinson Forest made a believer out of her that switched from an engineering major to forestry. The three students attended sessions and spoke at the KWOA 2019 annual meeting as part of their education the University of Kentucky’s Forestry Extension.
All three students have a good idea of what they want to do post-grad. Branscum hopes to work in urban forestry or in timber purchase and sales. Eaton wants to pursue an MBA and then work to increase the economic value of forests and incentives to keep property in forests. Hays is working with the Extension team to develop the newly formed Forest Health Center.
“We have to teach the next generation how to work.” Kentucky Senator Robby Mills advised attendees at KWOA’s 2019 annual meeting with the additional comment that government should be about resolving problems and filling gaps.
Senator Mills, who is Vice Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, launched into the meeting’s theme of Clean Water and Forest Management by noting the lack of investment in water and waste water infrastructure. He said Martin County loses 64% of its treated water between the water treatment plant and homes because of leaks.
Mills recognized the role of trees as natural barriers to sediment and water run-off as well as water purifiers. He highlighted the Audubon Wetlands in Henderson County.
Jim Bryan, Kentucky Division of Forestry, provided some background on Pennyrile State Forest. The state owns and manages ten forests. The state bought these forests between 1932 and 1939, resettling the people who lived there. Pennyrile Park opened in 1937.
In 1930, as part of the Land Use and Resettlement Program, the Division of Forestry acquired leases on land in Christian, Hopkins and Caldwell counties, which became the Pennyrile State Forest. It now includes 14,648 acres of forest. These leases were sustained until 1954, when the property was deeded (with certain reservations) by the U.S. government to the Commonwealth.
An invasion by pine beetles prompted clear-cutting of conifers in the 1970’s and conversion to hardwoods. However, Virginia pines soon re-established in the forest. A program of helicopter spraying and “hack and squirt” successfully removed the pines. Money from timber harvests goes to KDF.