December 30, 2008 – Endowment Commitment to Working Landscapes Basis of First RFP for 2009
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced its latest “Request for Pre-Proposals (RFP).”“For almost a year we’ve been working with land conservation interests in government and not-for-profit sectors to define the possibilities and potential of a single national database to view lands covered by conservation easements,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“This is the third step in what we hope will be an exciting new way to access and view all pieces of the nation’s conservation landscape,” he continued.This RFP seeks to determine means and costs for “Developing, Implementing and Sustaining a National Conservation Easement Database.”(to view click here).The RFP opens immediately and will close on February 1, 2009.
Publicly-owned lands within a given watershed, county or state are often depicted on maps as “green” areas, signifying their conservation status.Conservation easements, which also serve to protect certain public aspects of private lands, are held by literally hundreds of different organizations from federal agencies to local land trusts and are rarely available to anyone beyond the organization holding the easement.To aid in better directing economic development and to better target conservation investments – especially as relates to retention of working landscapes -- it is vitally important that these disparate sets of information be accessible at useful scales and in a holistic manner.In February 2008 the Endowment convened a workshop in Washington, DC to scope the need and interest in the topic (“Forest Conservation Easements:Who’s Keeping Track?” (to view click here) That step was followed by a more in-depth study that led to a recently-released report entitled, “Considerations for Creating a National Conservation Easement Database.” (to view click here) December 18, 2008 – Video of Check-off Conference Available in Two Formats
On October 21st, 2008, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) hosted a workshop in Seattle, Washington, to formally roll-out its work and recommendations on commodity check-offs and their potential to benefit forests, forest-reliant communities and the greater forest industry across North America.The session was attended by more than 30 CEOs and senior leaders representing greater than 50% of North American softwood building products production.The center-piece of the session consisted of a panel of check-off experts representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and four agricultural commodity programs – beef, potatoes, blueberries and mangos.
“The next phase of the initiative will be led by an independent Blue Ribbon Commission that will consider all of the details of a possible wood products check-off that could be considered for implementation perhaps in 2010,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“In the meantime, we wanted to more broadly share some of the rich background information from the Seattle meeting.”The Endowment has created a video (not quite ready for Hollywood) of the meeting introduction, expert panel presentations and discussions that followed.It is available on the Publications page of the Endowment website (to view click here).For organizations that wish to use the information in a conference setting, a limited number of DVDs are available from the Endowment.To obtain a copy please contact Carlton Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-233-7646. December 17, 2008 – Endowment Board Sets Financial Targets
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ Board of Directors completed its review of current and expected economic conditions and budgets for 2009.At its fall meeting, held November 3-4 in Minneapolis, the Board charted a new course for programmatic funding for the next three years.“Just as we were implementing our course for programmatic action to address our mission, we – as the rest of the world -- were swamped by the greatest economic upheaval and uncertainty since the Great Depression,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“Yet, our staff and Board recognize that we must do all that we can to address our mission of sustainable forestry and forest-reliant communities even in the face of uncertainty.”In May of 2008, the Endowment Board had anticipated a 2009 programmatic budget of $7.5 million on the way to $10 million in 2010.A greater than 25% percent decline in the Endowment corpus (down >36% from peak and -26.5% from May 1, 2007 base) will not support those earlier plans.The Board and staff spent many hours considering a range of options that address both mission and fiduciary responsibilities in arriving at a plan that calls for approximately $5 million in annual programmatic investment for each of the next three years.On December 16th, the Board completed its budget planning with a review and adoption of an Operating Budget to deal with administration and support.Even in the eye of increasing costs for audit, health insurance and financial support services, the 2009 budget will be flat – the same as 2008 – at $762,500.This budget includes a freeze on staff salaries. December 16, 2008 – Keeping Working Forests in Forests:Common Ground
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) co-hosted a workshop in Chicago, December 10-11, 2008, “Keeping Working Forests in Forests:Looking for Common Ground to Achieve Common Objectives.”The primary purpose of the session was to consider needs and means to keep landscape-scale working forests in forested condition.Forty-plus participants reviewed changes in forestland ownership over the past two decades, increasing pressures driving conversion to non-forest uses and possible ways to ensure greater retention of these forests for all purposes -- economic, societal and environmental.As a result of the meeting the participants – representing state and federal natural resources agencies, land conservation and environmental organizations and forestland owners – agreed to develop a loose coalition to further common interests. December 15, 2008 – Endowment Releases Second Report on Conservation Easements
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities today released a report entitled, “Considerations for Creating a National Conservation Easement Database.”(view report)The report is a follow-up to a meeting the Endowment hosted in early 2008 (see related story dated January 8, 2008) and a report, “Forest Conservation Easements:Who’s Keeping Track?”(view report) that served to scope interest and the potential for a national database of conservation easements to enhance conservation and economic planning and investment.“We are very pleased to release information on this phase of work which we hope will ultimately lead to a truly comprehensive means to maintain and view conservation easements,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“This is an iterative process, so we encourage comments or feedback on the report and its recommendations.Those should be directed to the Endowment at my attention, email@example.com “ he continued.Cooperators in the project included the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, Land Trust Alliance, Ducks Unlimited and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.The next phase of the project will be a Request for Proposals to determine the methods, costs and options for developing a national conservation easement database. December 8, 2008 – Endowment and Ford Support Community Forestry Trust
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities announced that it had joined the Ford Foundation in supporting the creation of a National Community Forestry Trust.“Our recent study of community-based forestry across America pointed to a need to assist communities in acquiring and managing certain vitally important forested lands in and around them,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.While the idea of “community owned” forests isn’t a new one it is just beginning to emerge in some parts of the country.The current work, to be led by The Conservation Fund (www.conservationfund.org) is designed to augment work emerging locally and regionally with a national level of support to further advance the cause of community owned forests that benefit a wide range of societal, environmental and economic objectives. December 4, 2008 – Survey Responses Stimulate Changes
The Endowment continues to utilize an electronic grant-making system which is in line with the lean staff model employed. “It is important that our grant-making system is easy to use and, if problems arise, that our staff is available to help,” said Endowment Vice President Diane Snyder. Survey responses were solicited from organizations that responded to the most recent Request for Proposal (RFP) announcements. This work was done to measure the effectiveness of the electronic process used for RFP's and to identify improvements needed.Through the survey, the Endowment learned that overall, our system and staff are performing well.However, there is still room for improvement.Survey results and staff experiences formed the basis for a number of changes in the process reflected on the website and in the on-line application...Read More November 25, 2008 – BERC Selected for Second Aspect of Bioenergy Work
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities today announced an agreement with the Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC) of Montpelier, Vermont (www.biomasscenter.org) to conduct work on community-scale uses of woody biomass for energy.“The results of this work will serve as a companion to that already underway at the University of Tennessee (UT)” (see related story, October 1, 2008), said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“The UT phase centers on industrial uses of woody biomass for energy across North America while the work BERC will lead focuses on ‘best of class’ uses at the non-residential/non-industrial or community-scale.”BERC will begin its work on December 1, 2008.It will include development of case studies across North America and Europe. November 17, 2008 -- Endowment Announces Selection of Forest Investment Zones The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced the selection of three areas as “Forest Investment Zones” under a multi-million dollar initiative designed to advance healthy working forests and vibrant forest-reliant communities across America.
The organizations and areas identified as Forest Investment Zones are:Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Kentucky focusing on Appalachian communities and forests in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio; The Northern Forest Center in Concord, New Hampshire, representing a 30-million acre swath of forests and communities across northern New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine; and Sustainable Northwest of Portland, Oregon that will work on “dry-side primarily publicly-owned forests” stretching from northeastern Oregon to northern California.
“As a new entrant in the sustainable forestry arena we’ve solicited expert input and given a great deal of thought about how we can best achieve our vision of seeing that ‘America’s forests are sustainably managed to meet broad societal objectives…while ensuring healthy and vibrant forest-reliant communities,” said the Endowment’s Board Chairman Dick Molpus.“We landed on the concept of “forest investment zones” – real places where we can work together with local and regional organizations as well as citizens in innovating and learning that could serve as living laboratories to benefit all forest types and communities across the nation,” he continued.
From a cache of nearly 60 pre-proposals stretching literally from Alaska to Florida and from California to Maine, the Endowment identified three projects that capture a significant slice of the array of forest types, ownerships and challenges facing rural America.Read Full Story
page 1 of 4 November 11, 2008 – Blandin Foundation Leaders Share Experiences
Jim Hoolihan, President of the Minnesota-based Blandin Foundation and Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin’s Director, Public Policy & Engagement, met with the Endowment’s Board of Directors at its recent meeting in Minneapolis.“We took advantage of our Minnesota visit to hear and learn from one of the most successful foundations in America…and we learned a great deal,” said Carlton Owen, President of the Endowment.Blandin, with more than four-decades of experience, focuses its resources on three programmatic areas of activity – grants, community leadership development and public policy. November 10, 2008 – Endowment Elects Board Members and Officers
At its Board of Directors meeting in Minneapolis, MN, November 3-4, 2008, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) re-elected four members to new three-year terms.Those with terms expiring and who were re-elected were Peggy Clark, Mil Duncan, Bruce Miles and Jim Rinehart.Additionally, two officers -- Mil Duncan, Vice Chair and Duane McDougall, Treasurer -- were re-elected to additional one-year terms of service.“With this meeting the Endowment celebrated its second anniversary,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“During our formative period we’ve been blessed to not only have the services of an outstanding and deeply-experienced board of directors who share their time and talents selflessly but also to have navigated this early period with stable leadership." November 6, 2008 – Cluster Study Team Seeks Input
Dovetail Partners, a collaborator with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, this week issued a call for assistance in identifying information from across the nation regarding business clustering within the forest products sector.The intent is to assess the existence of “clusters” that lead to increased value, efficiency or productivity for all participants.For the purposes of the study a forest business cluster is defined as “groups of forest-based firms or organizations located within a defined geographic region that have developed cooperative links with each other.”If you would like to participate in the survey please contact Dovetail at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-333-0403 and they will provide you with a confidential online survey link.Collaborators in this work, in addition to Dovetail, are Mississippi State University and the University of Missouri. For more information on the project see the related story dated June 6, 2008. October 23, 2008 -- Endowment Rolls-out Check-off Study as Phase Two of Project Concludes
The U.S. Endowment hosted a meeting in Seattle on September 21st where a broad cross section of forest industry leaders from Canada and the U.S. gathered to drill down on learnings from the Endowment’s study on the potential for commodity check-offs (see related story dated August 22, 2008) to aid in keeping forests in forests and to promote family-supporting jobs in forest-reliant communities.The session was highlighted by a panel of check-off experts from the beef, blueberry, mango and potato industries as well as the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
Against the most uncertain and turbulent times in more than a half-century, the gathering ended with strong support for an industry Blue Ribbon Commission to over the next 18-24 months study and craft the details of a commodity check-off that could be considered by the wood products industry as a means to “grow the market pie” of environmentally-preferable, sustainably produced wood products to aid not only in achieving Endowment objectives of sustainable forestry and vibrant forest reliant communities but also in taking a leadership role in addressing global climate change.“We’ve played a catalytic role in doing the important research and getting it before a cross-section of industry leaders,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.“At this point we anticipate that industry will assume full control of the process going forward to craft a check-off for consideration as a tool to address important outcomes.”In wrapping up the Seattle workshop, Owen noted that the Endowment had done that which others couldn’t or wouldn’t to tee-up the work – a role uniquely suited to a not-for-profit.
October 1, 2008 -- University of Tennessee Selected to Lead Energy Work for Industrial Sector
The University of Tennessee (UT) has been selected to take the lead on RFP 2008-005 “The State of Wood-based Bio-Energy/Technologies and Industries in North America.”“We are especially pleased to have the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs collaborating with the USDA Forest Service and the Sun Grant Initiative to undertake this important work,” said Carlton Owen, Endowment President.Among major project features will be several elements including a “state of the science”; case studies of “best of class” technologies; an assessment of opportunities and barriers to sustainable growth of the sector; and a continually updated database of industrial facilities across Canada and the U.S. that use wood and wood byproducts to create energy or biofuels.Partners joining the Endowment in support of this project are the American Forest & Paper Association, Canadian Forest Service, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the USDA Forest Service.Discussions are underway for a companion work that will address the non-industrial/non-residential community scale uses of woody energy use. September 8, 2008 -- Quick Turn-Around Sought on Survey -- “Keeping Forests in Forests”
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the National Alliance of Forest Owners today released a survey to solicit input on barriers as well as possible incentives to “keeping large forested parcels in working forests.” “While we designed this survey as a quick means to solicit ideas and opinions from a targeted list of individuals and organizations in preparation for a planned convening, in keeping with our desire to be open and transparent in all that we do, we wanted to extend the invitation to anyone who wishes to share their views,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. The window for the survey is very short. It will close on Friday evening, September 12th. If you wish to view the survey or provide input, please use the following link:"Keeping Working Forests in Forests" Survey August 22, 2008 -- Endowment Releases Results of Study on "Check-offs" for Forest Products
The Endowment today released the results of a study -- Commodity "Check-offs" The Potential for North American Softwood Lumber: Overview -- reviewing the potential to use agricultural check-offs to grow markets for forest products across North America. "We're especially encouraged by information generated by this particular work," said Carlton Owen, Endowment President. "Check-offs have enormous potential to grow markets for environmentally preferable wood products while furthering Endowment objectives to keep forests in forests and retain family-supporting jobs in North America." The months-long study reviewed the legal and legislative options and issues surrounding check-offs; the benefits of existing programs and detailed information about how to establish such a mechanism. A separate phase of the work assessed willingness of current producers to favorably consider a check-off on their products.
Check-offs have been widely used to grow markets and enhance consumer awareness of agricultural products. Most Americans know check-offs by the public face of some efforts such as "Got Milk?" and "Beef, It's What's for Dinner." -- funded by check-offs on milk and cattle respectively. While the Endowment has no direct role in the implementation of such a program that industry would have to "approve and self-fund," the Endowment will share the results of the study with industry leaders in a convening in Seattle later this fall. To learn more about why the Endowment undertook this project, view the latest Blog, "The Work of Foundations: Doing What Others Can't or Won't." For a copy of the full report with selected appendices view, "Commodity "Check-off" The Potential for North American Softwood Lumber." August 15, 2008 -- Williams Joins Endowment as 2008-2009 Intern
Art Williams joined the Endowment team as the Fall 2008/Spring 2009 Intern. Williams is a May 2008 graduate of Furman University with a degree in History and Concentration Study in Earth and Environmental Sciences. A native of Monroe, Georgia, he plans to return home in the fall of 2009 and pursue a Masters of Forest Resources at the University of Georgia. "We're especially pleased to have Arthur come aboard," says Endowment President Carlton Owen. "His love and appreciation for forests as well as his intention to pursue the field as his profession, makes him a great fit." August 4, 2008 -- Work on Woody Biomass and Biofuels Takes Two Tracks
The Endowment is pursuing work on woody biomass and potential biofuels along two tracks. To learn more about the thinking behind these efforts, read the latest Blog -- "Wood, Trees and Forests in the 21st Century Bio-Economy." July 24, 2008 -- Endowment Launches Phase I of Conservation Easement Project
The Endowment has engaged Danyelle O'Hara, an independent consultant from Norman, OK, to lead Phase I of a project to determine interest in and parameters necessary to develop a single nation-wide system to track conservation easement information. "As a nation we have a pretty good handle on where our public lands are. But, we don't have the same ability to plan based on knowledge about lands subject to conservation easements," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. Public lands, whether National Forests or state parks, typically appear as green blobs on maps. It is the inability to see the entire "conservation estate" -- public lands plus lands subject to conservation easements -- that thwarts sound planning and hampers allocation of limited conservation dollars that drives interest in this project. The Endowment is working with a wide range of partners including three federal agencies -- Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service -- and leading conservation not-for-profits Ducks Unlimited, Land Trust Alliance and The Nature Conservancy, in this project. Products from the work will include an assessment of approaches necessary to move forward as well as a plan to address long-term sustainability of such a system. July 22, 2008 -- Forest Investment Zones Concept Moves into Action
The Endowment today announced its latest Request for Proposal (RFP). This solicitation seeks partners to assist with Forest Investment Zones. The RFP seeks partners to implement one of the organization's signature programmatic initiatives -- Forest Investment Zones: Co-Creating Innovation and Learning at the Regional Level. Initially, three projects (regions) will be selected to assist with innovation and learning over a four year period. Each partner group will receive up-to $2.15 million over the life of the investment to support their work.
Forest Investment Zones strikes at the heart of the Endowment's focus to promote sustainable forestry that, when implemented, improves conditions for healthy working forests and forest-reliant communities. The initiative is built on previous "state of the issue" work. "We believe that Forest Investment Zones stands to create inspiration, innovation and positive change that will spill-over to forested areas across the nation," said Diane Snyder, Endowment Vice President-Community Development. To view the RFP click on the link in the paragraph above. July 16, 2008 -- Endowment "Updates" Website for More Consistent Brand
If you are a "returning visitor" to the Endowment's website, you'll notice some changes. The "feel" has been updated to enhance user experience. The look is new to make it more consistent with the Endowment brand. July 14, 2008 -- Endowment to Release Forest Investment Zone RFP
Work of the Endowment over the past nine months will soon culminate in the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) entitled "Forest Investment Zones: Co-Creating Innovation and Learning at the Regional Level." This initiative will serve as a signature programmatic focus of the Endowment's investments. The initiative has been built from the results of a national survey, national workshop and multiple conversations by Endowment Board and staff members with experts from across the nation. Forest Investment Zones is envisioned as a six-year initiative that will initially be rolled out in three areas, followed by two more after about 24 months. Diane Snyder, Vice-President, Community Development for the Endowment, shared her excitement about the initiative saying, "The concept of Forest Investment Zones highlights the Endowment's commitment to work in concert with the environmental needs of the forest while addressing the economic needs of the communities in and around the forest." The initiative will use existing regional organizations to implement the work with a broad array of their community partners. The Endowment hopes to make Forest Investment Zones "learning laboratories" that will serve to share learnings widely. "We anticipate that the RFP will be posted before the end of this month and plan to have selected the first three areas by the end of the year," reported Endowment President, Carlton Owen. July 9, 2008 -- Endowment Launches Staff Blog to Enhance Transparency and Openness
The Endowment today launched a blog in an effort to further our commitment to openness, transparency and communication. "We know that there are many who are interested in the work of the Endowment," said President Carlton Owen. "With such a lean staff model and such a great need across the sustainable forestry sector, this is one more attempt to remove any blinders from our thinking and actions." The periodic blog which may be found at Staff Blog on this website will be used not only to drill deeper into the Endowment's actions and activities but also to engage in more two-way conversations with those interested in this important work. To connect directly to the blog, use this link usendowmentblog. June 6, 2008 -- Mississippi State to Lead Exploration of Forest Sector Business Clustering
Mississippi State University will administratively coordinate the Endowment's newest project, the "state-of-the-issue" report on business clustering within the forest products sector (RFP 2008-003) nationally. They are joined by the University of Missouri and Dovetail Partners as subcontractors. The work commenced last week with a gathering in Minnesota and is targeted for completion no later than November 30st. Diane Snyder, Endowment Vice President-Community Development said, "The team will review business clusters currently active in the United States and will focus on examination of clustering approaches in the forest products sector and closely related natural resource-based sectors, nationally as well as internationally." The research will explore the partnerships, policies, and support mechanisms that make clustering successful and will be supplemented with analysis of socioeconomic indicators associated with these clusters. Economic clustering approaches in the forest sector (RFP 2008-003) of the United States include diverse timber and non-timber forest products as well as forest-based services such as consumptive and non-consumptive recreation opportunities. The thoughtful design of economic clusters can support the retention and expansion of jobs as well as the protection and enhancement of the natural resource base. Increasing our understanding about clustering will help the Endowment build out the information base in developing the basis for Forest Investment Zones as well as provide the broader sector with important information. June 4, 2008 -- RFP Announced to Review State of Biomass Energy and Establish Tracking System
The U.S. Endowment today released its fifth request for pre-proposal (RFP). "This effort to assess 'The State of Wood-based Bio-energy/Bio-fuels Technologies and Industries in North America' expands our reach both programmatically and geographically," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "Not only are we intent on understanding the state of the science as relates to commercial applications in conversion of wood to energy, but we are also hoping to establish a state-of-the-art system to track such use across North America," he continued. For the first time in any of its announced initiatives, the Endowment will be joined in this project by other funding partners. Among those already committed are the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, American Forest & Paper Association and Forest Products Association of Canada. Products from the work will include a "state of the field" in terms of commercial applications of technologies on one hand and a real-time system to track the use of woody biomass as an energy raw material on the other. The RFP will be open for 3o days. June 3, 2008 -- Key Outcomes of the Endowment's May 2008 Board Meeting
The U.S. Endowment's Board of Directors convened in Denver for its first in-person meeting of 2008. Among key agenda items were updates from principals leading work on two Endowment-sponsored projects -- the state of community-based forestry in America and the potential for agricultural check-offs to grow softwood lumber markets. Additionally, the Board heard reports on pending work in assessing the state of North American woody biomass use and since-released work on conservation easements. Among key actions the board accepted the 2007 audit (see related story); reviewed the draft 2007 IRS Form 990; adopted an external complaints policy (see related story); adopted a revised programmatic spending policy (see related story); approved an initiative to assess biotechnology as a potential tool to address looming forest health challenges (more details as available); and approved a small Phase II component of the check-off project.
June 3, 2008 -- Endowment Releases 2007 Audit Report
The U.S. Endowment's Audit Committee Chair Peggy Clark provided the Endowment Board of Directors a detailed review of the organization's first external audit. The work done by Dixon Hughes PLLC covered fiscal year 2007 and resulted in an unqualified or "clean" audit. A full copy of the report may be found under the Governance and Stewardship section of this website.
June 3, 2008 -- Board Adopts External Complaints Policy
In keeping with its commitments to openness and transparency in all its affairs, the U.S. Endowment's Board of Directors has adopted a policy to formalize an approach to addressing any external complaints that may arise. "The Board's decision to adopt this policy continues our commitments to set the highest standards in ethical conduct and accessibility," stated Endowment President Carlton Owen. A copy of the policy is posted in the Governance and Stewardship section of this website.
June 3, 2008 -- Board Adopts Updated Programmatic Spending Policy
At its most recent Board of Directors meeting in Denver, the U.S. Endowment adopted an update to its programmatic spending policy. "This refinement to our policy allows programmatic predictability in meeting our missional commitments in our early years while remaining consistent with obligations set-forth under the Softwood Lumber Agreement that serves as the Endowment's 'organic act' on the one hand while also addressing fiduciary responsibilities, the realities of market fluctuations and the need to consider intergenerational equity, on the other," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. In short, subject to certain planned adjustments in the face of precipitous market declines, the Endowment will plan programmatic investments of up-to $5 million in 2008 (equal to approximately 5% of 2007 corpus); $7.5 million in 2009 and $10 million in 2010. Thereafter, the Endowment will use 5% of a rolling twelve quarter average of corpus as the base annual spending rate.
June 3, 2008 -- Author Addresses Rural Economic Development
Michael Shuman, author of "The Small-Mart Revolution," spent an hour with the U.S. Endowment's Board and staff in Denver in late May. Not the "big box bashing" that some expected, Mr. Shuman high-lighted findings from his recently published book including targeted discussion on why local ownership matters. He suggested that the Endowment work in communities that lost their infrastructure/industry 15 to 20 years ago or work in areas that are on the edge of losing it. He urged that the Endowment consider that the answer in stimulating a rural revival is to be found in young people and that those wishing to help communities must identify the public policy obstacles that stand in the way of economic development.
May 28, 2008 --RFP Call Seeks Help in Scoping Conservation Easement Project
The U.S. Endowment today released its fourth Request for Pre-proposal (RFP). "This particular project is an exciting first-step to scope the potential to pull disparate sources of land conservation data into a single system that could empower conservation planning and rural economic development in ways never before possible," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. The work emerges from conversations that the Endowment has been having with the nation's leading conservation easement holders across federal agencies and the not-for-profit community. For more background on the topic see the report, "Forest Conservation Easements: Who's Keeping Track?" To learn more about the RFP view Initiatives and Grants, RFP's, RFP 2008-004. This RFP closes on June 29, 2008.
May 15, 2008 -- Endowment Endorses Rural Compact
The Board of Directors of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities has voted unanimously to endorse the "Rural Compact" -- a set of principles for building stronger rural communities and a stronger nation. Endowment President Carlton Owen said, "Perhaps the preamble to the compact says it best -- When rural communities succeed, the nation does better, and cities and suburbs have more resources on which to build. Conversely, when rural communities falter, it drains the nation's prosperity and limits what we can accomplish together." Among the Compact's core commitments are four foundational pillars: 1) quality in education; 2) stewardship of natural resources; 3) health of our people; and 4) investment in our communities. The Compact flowed from a National Rural Assembly held in the Washington, DC area in 2007. To view the entire Compact, go to www.ruralcompact.org May 7, 2008 -- Report on Conservation Easements/Conservation Data Released
The U.S. Endowment today released a report entitled, Forest Conservation Easements: Who's Keeping Track. The document not only summarizes findings from a convening of conservation interests -- both federal agencies and not-for-profits -- working to collect and manage conservation data across the U.S., but it also serves as an overview of some of the nation's primary programs and initiatives designed to collect and share conservation activity of varied kinds. "We are especially pleased to be able to provide this information for anyone wishing to understand the state-of-the-field in collection and management of key conservation data," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. He continued, "While the work will inform and guide a collaborative effort to focus on conservation easements of all types -- forest and non-forest -- this report is also part of our commitment to share information so that others can build on it without having to tread the same ground.” The report can be accessed through the link above or in the Endowment Publications section of the website. May 1, 2008 -- Endowment “Webinar” Serves Foundation Peer
At the request of the Blandin Foundation and its “Vital Forests/Vital Communities” initiative, U.S. Endowment President Carlton Owen today conducted an hour-long “webinar.” The webinar was entitled, “The Softwood Lumber Dispute: What It’s About, Why and What It’s Got to do with The U.S. Endowment.” The overall purpose of the educational seminar was to better ground Blandin’s Vital Forests/Vital Communities participants who will in mid-May be conducting an on-site visit to forest and mill operations in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Through the Vital Forests initiative Blandin is working “in partnership with others to develop and implement strategies that promote the connection between a healthy forest-based economy, a healthy forest ecosystem and healthy communities.”
April 17, 2008 – Endowment Releases First-Ever Annual Report
“One of our core values is openness and transparency in all that we do,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen. “That’s why we work hard to update our website, share our thinking and progress and provide fairly explicit plain language quarterly stewardship reports.” The Endowment’s 2007 Annual Report – its first such report – showcases the year-long effort to “put down a strong root systems” to support the organization’s future growth. A limited number of printed copies (2000) have been produced to share with thought leaders and potential partners. The Endowment today posted both color and black & white (to facilitate ease/cost of printing) versions on the website to ensure broad access to all who are interested. April 16, 2008 – Request for Participation in Community-based Forestry Survey
The Consortium for Community Forestry is researching community-based forestry (CBF) in the U.S. as part of a project for the Endowment. This research aims to identify and understand the rich variety of CBF initiatives, including community-owned forests. To this end, the Consortium is requesting that a lead organization with every CBF initiative complete the survey, found here. In addition to the survey, a few new CBF case studies will be developed. This body of work will be used to identify opportunities for the Endowment and other CBF funders to advance community-based forestry. A public database of CBF initiatives will be available on the Trust for Public Land website and a final CBF report will be made available on this website. (Participating organizations that complete the survey prior to May 15, 2008, will be included in a drawing for a $1000 cash grant.) April 15, 2008 -- Senior Advisors Gathered to Discuss Endowment Work
The Endowment was honored to have four former federal service Chiefs join an experienced group of forestry and community issues leaders in Washington, DC on April 10th to review the organization's current actions and plans. The all-star band included three former Forest Service Chiefs -- Max Peterson, Dale Robertson and Jack Ward Thomas -- along with Pearlie Reed, 11th Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retired Weyerhaeuser Company EVP Charles Bingham and Dr. J. Charles Lee, Past-President of Mississippi State University and former Deputy Chancellor for the Texas A&M University system, rounded-out the list of retirees who shared their thoughts with the Endowment. Current leaders Neil Sampson of the Sampson Group, Dr. Cornelia Flora of Iowa State University and Roger Sedjo of Resources for the Future also participated. The day-long session with Endowment staff members afforded the chance for some of the nation's most experienced former and current natural resources leaders to provide unfiltered feedback on Endowment initiatives. "We are so pleased that these people whom we hold in such high regard would share their depth of experience with us as we continue developing our work," said Endowment President Owen. While the group provided a number of insights, cautions and suggestions, echoing words from others of the group, Dale Robertson noted, "You are on the right track." April 1, 2008 -- Timber Harvesting/Transportation Report Available
The Endowment today released a report -- Timber Harvesting and Transportation: The State of the Industry -- that resulted from a January 30-31, 2008 workshop convened to explore the state of timber harvesting in the U.S. "We appreciate the great input, insights and candor that participants shared in helping us scope the state of this important sector that is so vital to forest health and viable wood products markets," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. The results will not only serve to inform the Endowment about possible areas of need and potential engagement but it will also provide valuable information for others concerned about this segment of the broader forestry community. The Forest Resources Association joined the Endowment in cosponsoring the workshop. To view or download the report go to the live link above or visit the Endowment Publication tab. March 20, 2008 – Endowment to Gain Help from Retired Forest Service Professionals
The National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR) and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today announced an informal partnership whereby NAFSR members will assist the Endowment with certain research, planning or programmatic initiatives on a project basis as either advisors or short-term unpaid staff. Carlton Owen, Endowment President said of the relationship, “We’re excited that we will be able to draw upon the NAFSR members for their outstanding credentials and rich experience to address issues of common concern.” NAFSR Chairman, George Leonard, former Forest Service Associate Chief noted, “Our members hail from a diversity of roles within the Service from former Chiefs to Ranger District Staff -- some were involved in Research; others in State and Private Forestry, and some in International Forestry. While we’ve officially retired, we still care deeply about the state of the nation’s forests and rural communities.” As the relationship develops, one or more NAFSR members may take on the role of “Distinguished Visiting Fellows” with the Endowment for a period of perhaps 1-6 months to assist with a broader array of issues and activities. Assignments, while mostly conducted remotely, could include one or more short-term on-site visits at the Endowment’s headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina. The NAFSR is an organization of Forest Service retirees who retain their interest in the sound management of our National Forests and other forest lands. NAFSR currently has over 400 members nationwide. March 17, 2008 -- Spring ’08 Intern a Familiar Face
Cameron Tommey a Furman University double-major in Earth & Environmental Sciences and Political Science becomes the fifth person to join the Endowment’s staff through our Internship Program. Tommey assisted the Endowment in a short-term assignment as a recorder in the Focal Initiatives Workshop in November 2007. He hails from Columbus, Georgia. March 3, 2008 -- Consortium to Study Community-based Forestry/Community-owned Forests
An incredible array of groups and individuals has come together under the leadership of Dynamic Coaching and Capacity Building (Silver Spring, Maryland) along with the Watershed Research and Training Center (Hayfork, California) to implement work outlined in Endowment RFP 2008-001. The work will highlight a broad spectrum of community-based forestry and community-owned forest models and experiences on public and private lands. The resulting work will include an inventory of projects, maps that highlight current community forestry activity and an on-going public database. According to the Endowment’s Vice President-Community Development Diane Snyder, “We’re excited that such a diverse group is coming together from across the nation to provide information in a manner that will not only inform our work, but that will also assist the field.” The project is slated to be complete by July 31, 2008. February 28, 2008 – Team Selected to Study Commodity “Check-offs”
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities has selected Phoenix Strategic Solutions, Inc. to lead a team which includes Kelly McCloskey & Associates, Ltd. and the Artemis Strategy Group to deliver services in response to Endowment RFP 2008-002. Expected outputs will yield a comprehensive feasibility report with implementation options examining the potential for coordinated “check-off” programs for softwood lumber in the United States and Canada. The intent is to consider the potential to provide a stable and uninterrupted funding stream to support and expand markets to benefit the broad range of forest communities and stakeholders reliant upon softwood forests and forest-based products across North America. “We’re especially pleased to have these three highly competent organizations in a partnership which combines their expertise to undertake this project,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. Work related to the project is to be completed by June 30, 2008. February 15, 2008 -- Owen to Co-Chair 4th Small Log Conference
Carlton Owen, President of the U.S. Endowment has been named Co-Chair of the 4th National Small Log Conference to be held March 2009 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This will be the fourth biennial conference held to look at the potential to develop local and global markets for small wood from both public and private lands as a way to enhance forest health and stimulate rural economies. Russ Vaagen, Vice President of Vaagen Bros. Lumber, Inc. of Colville, Washington, will serve as Co-Chair. The producer of the conference is TimberBuySell.com, a division of the Montana Community Development Corporation, and the title sponsor is HewSaw – the solution for small log processing. For information on the conference -- http://www.timberbuysell.com/slc/Information/Committee.htm February 8, 2008 -- Third RFP Seeks to Study "Ecosystem Approach" in Business Development
Today, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities released its third Request for Proposals (RFP). This RFP seeks to shed light on the status of business "clustering"within the forest products sector with a goal of identifying and encouraging further application of this model where appropriate. The notion of creating economic "clusters" is not a new idea in many sectors. In fact, before the age of cheap energy and global product transfer, clustering was common. Today, economic development circles promote "innovation clusters" or "sector clustering." This RFP seeks to review clustering internationally and then identify opportunities and challenges for increased clustering within the U.S. forest products sector. "We are interested in understanding the extent to which an 'ecosystem approach' to clustering may exist," said Diane Snyder, Vice President-Community Development. An ecosystem approach is seen as one that operates within a given area and within a given activity chain where the residuals or by-products from higher value products become the raw materials for a second set of products and so on until the final residual is used for fuel and/or energy production. For details view Requests for Proposals RFP 2008-003. January 15, 2008 -- Endowment Call Looks at Means to Grow Markets/Jobs in Forest-reliant Communities
The Endowment today released its latest request for pre-proposals (RFP) as it seeks to add depth and inform direction for its focal initiatives. "If one is concerned about retaining working forest landscapes it is impossible to escape the foundational reality of the need for viable markets for wood and fiber," says Endowment President Carlton Owen. "While our work must focus on the U.S., the reality is that there is one North American forest and many of the problems plaguing U.S. and Canadian landowners and producers are similar." This study will look at the potential to draw learnings from successful agricultural check-off programs as one means that might provide new ways to retain and grow markets for locally produced products that serve to keep jobs in rural forest-reliant communities. For details on this RFP view the Requests for Proposals -- RFP 2008-002. January 9, 2008 -- Endowment to Explore State of Logging Industry
The Endowment and the Forest Resources Association are convening a group of the nation's top logging sector professionals, academicians, equipment manufacturers and others January 30-31, 2008, in Atlanta. The goal is to tee-up discussions about the state of the log harvesting and transportation sectors in America. "While most forest lands in America are owned by individuals, perhaps only one or two in ten of those owners call on the services of a forester when they decide to harvest," said Endowment President Carlton Owen, "Yet, ten in ten use the services of a logger." A healthy timber harvesting sector, one equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, manned by well trained operators conducting their affairs in environmentally-sensitive ways plays a vital part in ensuring forest health and in efficiently delivering raw materials to production facilities. As a result of this session the Endowment hopes to better define a specific course of action for its engagement in ways that might address gaps or needs in this arena. January 9, 2008 -- Groups to Gather to Discuss Conservation Data Needs
With perhaps as much as 2.2 million acres of open spaces -- farms, forests and rangelands -- being converted to developed uses each year, it is critical that conservation interests (federal, state, local and not-for-profit) employ the latest and most powerful tools for planning and targeting limited financial resources. This need met head-on with reality when the Endowment tried to ascertain the state of working forest conservation easements across America. "What we found was that the information is contained in hundreds of discrete organizations and in a myriad of ways such that it is nearly impossible to assess current status or make reasonable assumptions or plans," said Carlton Owen, Endowment President. In early February the Endowment and some of the nation's leading conservation interests from the non-profit and governmental sectors will convene to assess the current state of information, current efforts underway to aggregate existing information as well as to attempt to identify remaining gaps and needs. "Depending on what we learn at that meeting, our hope is that we and a few others might partner to identify a systematic approach to address this need," said Endowment Vice President Diane Snyder. January 3, 2008 -- Endowment Posts 4th Quarter Stewardship Report
As part of its continuing commitment to openness and transparency in all of its affairs, the Endowment today posted the third in its series of "stewardship reports." "We hope that this document that covers financial decisions and unaudited results from our fourth quarter 2007 will answer just about any question that one would have about how the Endowment conducts its business," said Endowment Treasurer Duane McDougall. "That said," continued Mr. McDougall, "given that the Endowment's goal is to be as transparent as possible, if there are any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or Endowment President Carlton Owen." January 2, 2008 -- First Call for Pre-Proposals Announced
The U.S. Endowment announced its first "request for pre-proposals." This call seeks to establish "state of the issue" understanding about community-based forestry and community-owned forests across the U.S. (full details may be found at the Request for Proposals tab). The Endowment plans to operationally "test" the two-step (pre-proposals/full proposals) process as it refines its programmatic direction within its three recently-approved focal initiatives. "Our first step in refining our focal initiatives will be to gain firm benchmarks on some foundational sources of information to help us target our work to areas that yield the greatest benefit," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We wanted a fully automated system both to ensure a user friendly method to interact with potential partners and vendors and one that would also streamline work flowing into the Endowment offices so that we could maintain our lean staff model," said Owen.