Forestry Organizations Working Together
The September theme for the TPA is forestry associations working together. It’s a great topic and questions a person might ask are: are they working together efficiently and effectively and what is being accomplished by working together?
Out of necessity associations have become better at working together to accomplish common goals. This is testimony to the fact that all facets of the forest industry are dependent on each other for their existence. The ingredients are a healthy forest, a sustainable forest management plan, trained, knowledgeable loggers to implement the plan, an efficient transportation system, manufacturing facilities and customers. Loss of any ingredient results in complete system failure.
From this writer’s perspective organizations representing the forest industry exemplify how the founding fathers envisioned government to work. It was the intent of the founders that local government would have the lion’s share of responsibility with local issues and the federal government would support locals on an as needed basis and manage the overall security of the country. For forestry many issues do get resolved at the local level however, there are those issues like the Northern Long Eared Bat, EPA’s faulty interpretation of slash in the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the Safe Routes Act which are centered more around the actions of Congress and various agencies at the national level.
Even though it can be a like herding cats, having state and national organizations working together is still the best system available for getting issues resolved. When compared to the number of people employed by public agencies at the state and local level, which is in the millions, associations with a few hundred employees are very effective in representing their members. Adding up the number of employees working for the associations GLTPA works with or supports financially, there is a total of twenty-eight employees. Making an educated guess, these associations have a total combined operating budget of $5 million more or less. I am sure rent is not cheap near Capitol Hill where the action is and if forestry is to more engaged to get results, larger investments will have to made. The current low investment explains why keeping up with issues and being involved in every discussion can sometimes be difficult, yet every organization strives to provide superior representation to its members. Proof is provided by the fact the forest industry which plays a major role in the US economy is still functioning.
Think about it, belonging to an organization which represents the forest industry is one heck of bang for the buck. Can you imagine where industry would be if it had no representation? Think it is not important to work together?
There is also a reality that deserves mention. The reality is this, compared to other industries such as agriculture, the pot of money for forestry organizations is quite small and associations must prove their value if they are to get any part of it. While these associations work well together, they are also competitive, must provide services individually and receive credit for their value to gain financial support from members. It is a reality that cannot be overlooked. It is a necessary unwritten balancing act that every association must deal with. The key is deciding when to pull everyone together on an issue and when separation is needed as there are times when issues and their impact are seen from very different member perspectives.
Associations work well together and like everything there is always room for improvement. How and what improvements can be achieved is the question at hand. If the forest industry is to be recognized and represented as it should be, it seems that an increase in overall organization, communications and responsibilities may be in order. Could this be an opportunity for an industry wide association strategic plan? Like a good marriage there will never be total agreement on all issues (45 years with the same awesome wife qualifies me to make that statement) however there can and should be an organized plan to attack a number of issues being faced by the forest industry. Maybe the tools are already there and not being utilized. Whatever the case it might be a good week-long discussion for a facilitated meeting to flesh out. As the saying goes doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity. If change is needed, then a change must be made.
Forestry associations do work well together and are a bargain in terms of membership dues and value per dollar. The ROI (return on investment) is much more dependable than the stock market and members always have access to a live person to speak with when needed. At the risk of leaving someone out GLTPA thanks the following organizations and their members for being a part of this great industry and providing services to keep the industry moving forward.
American Loggers Council
Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota
Federal Forest Resource Coalition
Federal Sustainable Forestry Committee
Federal Timber Purchasers
Forest Resources Association
Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities
Lake States Federal Timber Purchasers
Lake States Lumber Association
Michigan Association of Timbermen
Michigan Farm Bureau
Michigan Forest Products Council
Minnesota Timber Producers
Minnesota Forest Industries
Trees for Tomorrow
U.P Sportsman Alliance
Wisconsin County Forest Association
Wisconsin Paper Council
There is a plethora of additional organizations doing amazing work in addition to the ones mentioned and thanks goes to each of them. Forestry is a team sport and GLTPA looks forward to working with every organization that shares the common goals of forest health and economic well-being for all who provide the products Americans depend on daily.
Until next month,