Carbon Credit supporters said it wouldn’t happen and it is. The headline from indepthnh.org written by Paula Tracy is titled, “From A Working Forest to a 146,000 Acre Carbon Credit Farm? NH Seeks Plan from New Owner” The new owner, a subsidiary of Anew Carbon, is Blue Source Sustainable Forest Company which recently merged with the Forestland Group.
The article goes on to present several different perspectives. One perspective is that it is private land and landowners should be able to do as they please, and another perspective is that taxpayer funding was used to purchase the conservation easement 20 years ago. Timber management was included in the easement and should still be a major portion of the lands management. Taxpayers paid for the easement to keep forest land intact, so it should continue to be a benefit to this area of the state which is dependent on forest management for its wellbeing. According to the article this part of the state is the “backbone for the logging industry left in the state.” At the writing of the article there were only three logging sales in operation on the property, and they were coming to a close leaving the area’s two remaining lumber mills in limbo.
The article also stated that according to the operations manager of Milan Lumber, the change in forest management operations has already caused the layoff of 46 employees, which is almost half of the mill’s total employees. Another mill impacted is the Ethan Allen Mill located in a neighboring community. Ethan Allen’s spokesman stated they were going as far as Saratoga, New York to find enough product to feed their mill.
The land in question was once owned by International Paper Company, and purchased by The Trust for Public Lands which held it while a plan was devised incorporating it into a working forest with recreation. Under its original ownership, the property was managed sustainably and used to feed logs to multiple mills in the area. Although the article did not state so, the land was likely open to hunters and available for other recreation also. Sound familiar?
Ultimately the article exemplifies why the term “working forest” must be clearly defined prior to taxpayer funds being expended for any Conservation Easement. The two-decade old New Hampshire Conservation Easement, according to the article, came at a cost to taxpayers and private contributors in the amount of $45 million. If logging, trucking, and milling are stifled, as it appears they will be, the loss to local communities and New Hampshire will be devastating. Except for private funding, any federal or local government funding is taxpayer money. Does it make sense to use taxpayer money to fund these types of acquisitions to profit a few, while placing an entire industry, communities, and forest health in jeopardy, especially when carbon credits do nothing for the environment? In this situation, carbon credits really are nothing more than a transfer of wealth.
Another item mentioned in the article is the notion that companies are interested in a “net zero” carbon footprint. As of late, much of the energy legislation states that the goal is to achieve “zero carbon” emissions. Carbon neutral or carbon negative are understandable; however, a person cannot help but question what, exactly, does carbon free mean? Don’t humans emit carbon when breathing? The book “Stumbling Toward Sustainability” mentions “carbon free” multiple times. It also references using movies such as “Lord of the Rings” to influence children and convince them of human’s negative impact on the climate. As stated, a person cannot help but wonder if masking humans will be a way to eliminate exhaling human carbon into the atmosphere. A whole generation of our children were indoctrinated with government induced mask wearing during Covid. Was that indoctrination a precursor for the future. To this day, I have yet to read a report with undisputed evidence that mask-wearing did anything to prevent the spread. This all seems kind of like a science fiction story coming from the book referenced earlier, but it must be given some credibility as it was endorsed by former U.S. Congressman Russ Feingold. His statement of agreement appears on the back cover.
Getting back on topic, it appears as though Conservation Easements being used for the sale of carbon credits, like the Endangered Species Act, can be used in ways which have a very negative impact on the forest industry and our generational way of life. That stated, it is imperative for the forest industry be fully engaged in the purchase of any easement with taxpayer money when it is our industry and local governments who are impacted most with negative consequences. Loss of jobs, loss of income, and eventually loss of tax base for local government to function without being totally dependent on big brother and his restrictions to mitigate our freedom takes place.
It recently came to GLTPA’s attention that the forest industry was once again discriminated against and this time it is regarding transportation. For as long as I have had the honor of representing the meaningful work of forest management and especially those who perform the work, GLTPA, ALC and others have been engaged in gaining use of the interstates for transporting wood in accordance with state regulation. As part of the “FAST ACT,” milk, believe it or not, was added to the list of “non-divisible” products. Section 1409, Section 127(a) of title 23, United Staes Code was amended to allow milk haulers access to the interstate with state designated weights using multiple trip permits. Is milk anymore “non divisible” than raw forest products?
Like the proposed Youth Careers in Logging legislation, is it more dangerous for a 16- or 17-year-old family member to sit in the cab of mechanized logging equipment in a family-owned logging business than it is for a farm child to run large farming equipment? Hard to believe there can be this much disparity and discrimination between two similar industries, but a person simply cannot deny the evidence or ask if this is another way to stifle forest management. Regardless, your associations will continue working toward resolving these issues.
On a final positive note, congratulations to TimberPro on the completion of its 48,765 square foot manufacturing facility in Shawano Wisconsin. It is a beautiful facility, and it is expected that production of forestry machines shipped around the globe will increase substantially over the next 18-24 months. Komatsu dedicated the expansion to the Crawford family who started TimberPro and have been instrumental to the development of Wisconsin’s forest industry. Shawano is very fortunate to have such an expansion which is guarantees these well paying forestry related jobs will be in place well into the future.
Until next month,
“People are very open-minded about new things-as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.”