Bipartisan Panel Discusses Sustainable Forestry

Congressman Bill Owens participated in a bipartisan panel discussion addressing international and domestic issues and trends in the forest products industry. The event was hosted by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF).

“A successful forest products industry is vital to the North Country economy and depends on the long-term health of our forests as a resource,” said Owens. “Discussions at the event today made it clear that this industry continues to move forward as responsible stewards and economic partners.”

During the event, Owens spoke to the economic benefits and potential for job creation in forestry, the environmental benefits of forests and the use of biomass, and the importance of sustainable forestry in the national and international context. The overall emphasis of the event was on “Sustainable, Efficient and Responsible” forestry.

According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the forest products industry in New York State accounts for 28,097 total jobs providing more than $1.5 billion in annual payroll income and an estimated $169 million in state and local taxes. 16,672 of those jobs are in pulp and paper alone. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the state’s 21st Congressional District contains 54 logging facilities and mills.

Several of the major forestry facilities in the region include:

International Paper (IP) Mill in Ticonderoga, New York which employees 620 people and supports 600 to 700 independent logging jobs in New York and Vermont. IP announced in May that it would spend $100 million on additional capital improvements to their Ticonderoga mill.

The ReEnergy Black River facility at Fort Drum, which came online in 2013 and runs primarily on biomass. The facility has 60 megawatts of generation capacity, and in February 2014 reached an agreement to provide all of Fort Drum’s energy needs, the largest renewable energy contract taken on by the Army to date. The plant expects to buy $11 million worth of forest products from local producers annually. The plant has 33 full time workers and expects to generate 307 new direct and indirect jobs in the community.

Curran Renewable Energy, based in Massena, is capable of producing 100,000 tons of pellets each year. According to Biomass Magazine, Curran is also “the first biomass mill in the nation to receive Forest Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program [which]… guarantees that wood used in Curran Renewable Energy’s pellets comes from certified, responsibly managed forestlands and is tracked throughout the supply chain from the forest to the consumer.”

“With the unprecedented growth of biomass as a renewable fuel source and increasing interest in sustainable forestry management, this industry is laying the groundwork to create and sustain jobs and safeguard the economic and environmental health of our region over the long-term,” Owens added.

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