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Fighting for forests

Family forest landowner, Salem and Dianne Saloom recently returned from a two-day visit to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to urge Rep. Jo Bonner to put America’s forests to work.

Every 1,000 acres of U.S. private forests supports an average of eight jobs — more than 3.6 million made-in-America jobs.

The Salooms joined more than 30 forest owners and staff from the American Forest Foundation, who held dozens of meetings with senators, representatives and members of the administration. The meetings covered a number of issues that are important to ensure that America’s forests continue to provide multiple benefits such as sustainable wood products, biomass, clean water, and carbon pollution reductions.

The American Forest Foundation is the parent organization of America’s oldest and largest forest certification program for private landowners, the American Tree Farm System. For 69 years, ATFS has helped private landowners manage their woods for clean water and air, wildlife habitat, and conservation of natural resources.

Among the issues discussed was the U.S. Green Building Council’s policy that discriminates against family-owned forests and forest products. “Right now, USGBC only recognizes FSC-certified wood – and 60 percent of that wood is from overseas. This hurts family forest owners and the U.S. economy. What’s more, by encouraging the use of concrete and steel instead of wood, USGBC is ignoring locally grown, sustainable wood that is more energy efficient and a renewable resource,” said Salem Saloom..

While the Salooms were on Capitol Hill, Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled their draft climate and energy legislation. A key provision in the bill includes the Carbon Conservation Program, which will help family forest owners participate in carbon storage programs. “America’s forests are an immediate remedy to reducing carbon pollution and we need to ensure that the Carbon Conservation Program gets the funds needed to improve forest management,” said Saloom.

The group also discussed the importance of helping families keep their forest land intact through changes to estate tax policy for working forests. And because forest owners care about the next generation of conservation leaders, the group asked lawmakers to support environmental education. “America’s youth need to learn about and appreciate how nature works,” said Dr. Saloom.

For more information about the American Forest Foundation, call 202.463.5188 or visit www.forestfoundation.org.

The American Forest Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization that strives to ensure the sustainability of America’s family forests for present and future generations.