December 19, 2012-- Voigtman Elected to Endowment's Board of Directors
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) announced today that Jon Voigtman of Summit, New Jersey, and a Managing Director-RBC Capital Markets in New York, has been elected to its Board of Directors. “As we move to more active management of our portfolio of investments, it is vitally important that we have people with Jon’s skills and experience,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. “To gain someone with passion for of our mission at the same time is the best of both worlds,” he continued.
“I’m humbled to be asked to join an organization that has made such a tremendous impact in advancing the cause of America’s working forests and those who depend upon them in just six short years,” Voigtman said. “This role will allow me to expand my understanding of sustainable rural economies – a subject that is very important to me personally.”
Voigtman joined RBC Capital Markets in 2007 where he is Head of Portfolio Management and is a member of RBC’s Investment Portfolio Committee. Prior to joining RBC, he was Head of Principal Finance and Structured Finance at HSBC Securities. He was co-head of Mortgage Finance at Goldman Sachs, and was also a Senior Vice President at Lehman Brothers. Prior to Wall Street, Jon was with Ocwen Financial Corporation. He started his finance career at Freddie Mac and began his professional career at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) where he worked as a Systems Engineer and Project Manager. He has held several Board positions including: the American Securitization Forum (the investment banking trade group), TrueCredit (now a TransUnion company), and Ocwen Financial Services. He is currently on Central Michigan University’s Development Board.
December 6, 2012-- Payment for Watershed Services: A Watershed Protection Database
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) promotes the conservation and improved management of forested watersheds as a cost-effective strategy to safeguard public drinking water supplies. The USDA Forest Service estimates that 180 million Americans receive their drinking water from a forested watershed. Protecting these drinking water sources is essential for America’s continued health and prosperity.
Given the enormous scope of this challenge, the Endowment is focusing on projects and strategies that engage water-users in sustainable approaches to conserve their forested watersheds. This includes watershed protection fees, developing water as a forest ecosystem service market, and other approaches to monetize water. To that end, Sofi Delgado Perusquia, an intern at the Endowment, has compiled a database of watershed protection programs from across the country.
The goal of the Watershed Protection Database is to identify all such programs in one location for study and analysis by anyone interested in this topic, and to give us a better understanding of how watershed protection programs could proceed in the future. The most recent version of the Watershed Protection Database is also included in a factsheet that was developed in partnership with Earth Economics. The factsheet provides more detail on the experiences of three utilities that have added watershed protection fees to their water rates: Central Arkansas Water (AR), The City of Bellingham (WA), and The City of Raleigh (NC).
The database is a living document and we are always on the lookout for new data and updates to existing records. To add or correct information on the database, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 26, 2012 -- Endowment Releases 2011 Financial Results
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today released results from independent audits of the organization's 2011 financial records as well as copies of the 2011 IRS Form 990 (tax return).
In reference to the findings, Peggy Clark, chair of the Endowment's Audit Committee said, "I am especially pleased to report that not only did Dixon Hughes Goodman find that the Endowment's financial statement's have earned an 'unqualified' opinion but that the related A-133 review triggered by our management of significant federal grants and contracts, were similarly of high quality."
Since the Endowment's inception it's board and staff have set transparency and financial integrity as a top priority. As evidence of that commitment the organization publishes the results of its audit and 990 on its website at the same time as they are approved by the Board of Directors and submitted to appropriate authorities.
October 24, 2012 -- Gilges Elected to Endowment's Board of Directors
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) announced today that Kent Gilges of Canandaigua, New York, Managing Director at Conservation Forestry, LLC, has been elected to its Board of Directors. “We couldn’t be more pleased that someone with Kent’s breadth of experience and commitment to stewardship of forest resources would join us in our important work,” said Mack Hogans, Endowment Chairman.
“I’ve watched the Endowment as it has grown in just six short years to be among the leaders in working forest conservation in North America,” said Gilges. “I’m humbled and excited to play an active role.”
Before joining Conservation Forestry, Gilges was the Managing Director of Finance and Acquisitions at The Nature Conservancy. In that role, he was primarily responsible for identifying, structuring and financing transactions on behalf of the largest conservation organization in the world. He managed the acquisition of over 800,000 acres of land. He was also the lead for The Nature Conservancy in the establishment of an integrated protection plan for the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, in which he had overall responsibility for a project which created five million acres of new parks and secured the conservation of over 20 million acres in a mosaic of protected areas and sustainably managed forests. Gilges was on the board of the Forest Stewardship Council from 2003 to 2007. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kent managed the European bureau for McGraw-Hill’s trade magazine, Chemical Engineering, and wrote for a number of magazines and newspapers. Kent has degrees from Cornell and Oxford Universities.
October 12, 2012 - Jefferson County, Georgia Assets Index Report Released
As a part of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ work in Jefferson County, Georgia under the Endowment's newest Initiative Asset Creation, Intern Katie Premo has completed an extensive data study of the County that will serve as a tool for the asset creation process. The Jefferson County Assets Index is a compilation of economic and social data from a variety of sources aimed to help determine the importance of certain community aspects. Serving as a tool for conversation stimulation, this report will help community members identify social and economic trends within Jefferson County by comparing year-to-year data within Jefferson as well as with surrounding county, state, and national data. The full report can be viewed here. Further inquiries should be directed to Katie Premo
October 3, 2012-- Endowment Invests in Highly-Stressed Timber Harvesting Sector in South Georgia
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities (the Endowment) today announced a $25,000 grant to help timber harvesters impacted by the recent economic downturn in South Georgia. With this investment, the Endowment seeks to support critical infrastructure for the forest products industry, support loggers certified by the Georgia Master Timber Harvester Program, and strengthen small businesses in forest-reliant communities.
“Among the Endowment’s earliest efforts were considerations of how to help the nation’s critically-important logging industry,” said Carlton Owen, president of the Endowment. “This effort, while a small step, is a local start on what must become a systemic approach to reinventing this cadre of nearly 10,000 small businesses that are foundational to healthy working forests and a robust forest products industry,”
The Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) will receive the funding, using it to launch the “Sustainable Logger Initiative,” a pilot program designed to provide flexible financing and technical assistance to loggers and related forest-products business in South Georgia. Grant funds will support program implantation and technical assistance. NCIF will offer loans to loggers purchasing or upgrading equipment or with working capital needs for their business.
NCIF is working with Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a Maine-based community development financial institution with a depth of forest industry experience to capitalize the revolving loan fund. CEI made a $1 million investment in NCIF to capitalize the loan fund and NCIF will leverage another $1 million through the program. By leveraging the Endowment’s grant funds with $2 million in additional loans and private capital, NCIF plans to amplify the Endowment’s investment in the region.
“We’re grateful to the Endowment for its commitment to the forest products industry and all the people who rely on it for jobs and community development,” remarked Marten Jenkins, President of the Natural Capital Investment Fund. Keith Bisson, SVP for Program Management and Development at CEI echoed that sentiment, adding “We are honored to be part of this initiative and to support timber harvesters, one of the most critical links in the forest products value chain.”
September 28, 2012 -- Program to Heat Schools with Locally-Available Wood Wastes Finding Acceptance in Hospitals, Prisons, and more
Schools and other public and private buildings located in forest-rich portions of the country are increasingly finding that an old source of fuel is just the right thing for today and tomorrow. “This installment of “Issues in the Forest” --- A Look Back at Fuels for Schools and Beyond -- provides an update on a program that got its start in a Vermont school struggling to pay its annual heating bill,” says U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) president Carlton Owen. “Cheap natural gas has been the go-to fuel in recent times for many parts of the nation, however, if you are in areas where fuel oil or propane is the standard, modern wood-to-energy systems are showing that they offer many benefits.”
Dave Atkins, USDA Forest Service (USFS) Woody Biomass Utilization Program Manager, has been among the unabashed advocates for conversions as they yield not only annual savings but provide a host of other benefits as well. Among those benefits is job creation in rural communities, keeping precious energy dollars within a local community, and providing markets for low-value wood that helps enhance forest health. “There’s no end to where this can go,” says Atkins.
The “Issues in the Forest” series is intended to inform public dialogue on sustainable forestry and markets as one part of a broader collaborative venture of the USFS and the Endowment.
September 13, 2012 - Webinar to Review New 2013 REPI Challenge
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment), in partnership with the Department of Defense, will host an informational webinar regarding the 2013 Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) challenge on Tuesday September 18, 2012, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDST. The purpose of the webinar is to provide additional background information on the 2013 REPI Challenge and to answer general questions about the program, goals, desired outcomes, and the pre-proposal application process. For instructions to join the webinar, please visit the 2013 REPI page and direct any questions regarding connecting with the webinar to Girair Simon at (703) 351-7286 or email@example.com
For more details about the 2013 REPI Challenge and the Endowment's role, see the related story below.
September 7, 2012 - U.S. Endowment and the Department of Defense Release Pre-Proposal Form The pre-proposal form for the Department of Defense 2013 Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) Challenge is now available on the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Community’s (the Endowment) web page. Interested parties may download the fillable pdf here or via email by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is 8 p.m. EDST, October 15, 2012.
“The purpose of this program is to encourage projects that conserve land at scale and test promising ways to finance land protection that will help the REPI program meet its ambitious goals while stretching limited federal funding,” notes Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President at the Endowment.
The 2012 REPI Challenge resulted in the Georgia Land Trust receiving $4.5 million in REPI funds to purchase 5,508 acres in Georgia’s Ft. Stewart’s Priority Area 1, where potential changes in current land use would have the most significant negative effect on training operations. This single transaction protected 24% of Stewart’s Priority 1 Area and when combined with earlier projects resulted in a grand total of 74% of the most critical areas being protected from incompatible uses. This tract is located between two rapidly-growing communities, and the potential for development represented a significant threat to Ft. Stewart’s military operations. The REPI award was matched by $5.5 million in cash contributions and bargain sale value from the property owner.
September 5, 2012-- Partner shares Hand-Crafted Bounty from Forest with Endowment
When the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) moved into its newly renovated offices just over a year ago, it did so with help from a number of friends. One of the Endowment’s partner organizations, City Bench of Higganum, Connecticut presented another gift to help make the complex even more user friendly. Just in time for fall, City Bench owners, Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, provided a hand-crafted bench to serve as a useful addition to the Endowment’s entry way. "The Endowment’s bench is made from a reclaimed black locust that came down in New Haven, Connecticut. Locust is one of the few regional woods that lasts really well outdoors and we are currently developing a small line of simple outdoor furniture around black locust and white oak, which we reclaim from the city,” said Zeb Esselstyn. Downed trees or those planned for removal provide City Bench’s raw material from which they create one-of-a-kind usable works of art.
“We turned a former restaurant abandoned for two decades into very cost-effective and enjoyable space,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. “Our objective was to obtain functional space that showcased our commitment to working forests and community development but also that exhibited our strong belief in careful stewardship of the organization’s finances. We couldn’t have accomplished all of that without the generosity of a broad range of friends who donated materials, services, and even cash.”
“America is truly a special place where many people find great joy in helping others,” Owen continued. In early 2011 the Endowment, through the branded ShadeFund initiative with The Conservation Fund, provided a needed loan to aid the City Bench team in growing their business. City Bench is giving back by sharing the beauty of forests with the Endowment.
August 17, 2012--Endowment Releases Canada/U.S. Forest Health Summit Report
“From the water we drink to the homes that provide shelter to the habitats for a plethora of wild creatures, the forests of North America are among the continent’s most important natural resources whether viewed in terms of economic or environmental benefits,” said Carlton Owen, President of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment). “Because of those values and many more and due to the unprecedented challenges that our forests are now experiencing, we were pleased to serve as convener of the first-ever Canada/U.S. Forest Health Summit and to now make the report from that summit available.”
The event, held at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC, on June 29th, was co-hosted by the USDA Forest Service and the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada. The overall goal of the summit was to explore and develop a cooperative vision and plan for science and research actions to address forest health challenges. While the two countries and their respective agencies have a long history of working together, until now collaborations have typically occurred among individual researchers working on specific topics.
In announcing the Summit on June 29, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The borders that separate the United States and Canada don’t segregate threats to our natural resources. The countries share common environmental concerns. It is critical that we continue to collaborate and address current and future land management challenges as partners.”
“This summit is an important first step toward the creation of a Canada-U.S. forest science agenda,” said the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. “By identifying issues on which we can work together, we aim to maximize the value of the critical work that scientists and researchers are doing on both sides of the border to ensure the health of our forests and forest sector.”
July 26, 2012-- Webinar to Review RFP on Land Retention
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) will host a webinar on August 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm EDST to provide additional information about the different components of the Endowment’s recently released Request for Proposals (RFP), “Applying Sustainable Forestry Practices to Enhance Land Retention among African American Families.” Those interested in participating may register for the webinar here.
July 17, 2012 -- Applying Sustainable Forestry Practices to Enhance Land Retention Among African American Families
“The loss of African American-owned farm and forestland is a continuing drain of assets of Black families and their communities,” says U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) President Carlton Owen. “We believe improved practices of sustainable forest management will increase income and assets and thereby encourage land retention.”
The Endowment today announced a pilot program to support Black landowners in the Southeast. The program is designed to aid landowners in retaining and better utilizing their forests. The Endowment has allocated $1 million to the 30-month pilot project with the expectation that at least an additional $1 million will be generated through partnerships and matching funds. Two multi-county regions will be chosen for the pilots through an open Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The RFP includes two-steps beginning with submission of a pre-proposal survey by August 31, 2012. The RFP can be found here and pre-proposal survey can be found here. Interested participants should send their pre-proposal survey via email to email@example.com.
“Land is a critical asset for many rural families” says Endowment Chairman Mack Hogans. “The forests owned and managed by African Americans can be better used to increase wealth for families and communities.”
Nonprofit agencies selected to lead the regional pilots will receive grants from the Endowment to advance forestry practices by building and coordinating comprehensive “systems of support” for Black landowners. Flexible networks of nonprofits, academic institutions, for-profit service companies, and government agencies working under contractual or through collaborative relationships with the lead agency will target services such as implementing forest management plans, dealing with heirs’ property, assistance with loan and grant applications, and financial management and business education.
The pilots will work closely with and complement current U.S. Department of Agriculture outreach programs for limited resource and minority land owners, including programs of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service, and Rural Development.
July 12, 2012-- Reviews by Environmental Defense Fund Shed Light on Wood-to-Energy Issue
During the Great Recession one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. wood-to-energy market has involved wood pellet facilities with products targeted for the European Union (E.U.). Two new reports issued today by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation are designed to shed light on the complex nature of this segment of the renewable energy market.
“The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) funded these reviews through our on-going collaboration with the USDA Forest Service to plumb the potential of woody biomass markets to help retain forests as forests and grow family-supporting jobs in rural forested communities,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen.
The reports examine economic, environmental and policy implications of the expanding wood pellet market. European Power from U.S. Forests documents how E.U. policy is shaping the transatlantic trade in wood biomass. Pathways to Sustainability evaluates the programs and practices available to pellet producers to meet European buyers' sustainability expectations and requirements.
"The E.U. has a strong renewable energy policy, but countries don't have enough forest or agricultural land to meet the increasing demand for wood biomass," said Will McDow, EDF forestry conservation manager. "The U.S. has the biomass resources and sustainable forest management programs. The two must be linked. Landowners and biomass producers on both sides of the Atlantic can encourage market development and meet environmental objectives."
A webinar will be held July 17, 2012 at 12 pm EDST to discuss the report. Will McDow (EDF), Brian Kittler (Pinchot Institute) and Jamie Joudrey (University of Toronto), will lead the discussion.
June 29, 2012-- Endowment Helps Launch First-Ever Canada/ U.S. Forest Summit
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) served as convener for the first-ever Canada/U.S. Forest Health Summit. The event, held at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC, on June 29th, was co-hosted by the USDA Forest Service and the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada.
“The borders that separate the United States and Canada don’t segregate threats to our natural resources,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The countries share common environmental concerns. It is critical that we continue to collaborate and address current and future land management challenges as partners.”
The overall goal of the summit was to explore and develop a cooperative vision and plan for actions to address forest health challenges. While the two countries and their respective agencies have a long history of working together, until now collaborations have typically occurred among individual researchers working on specific topics.
“This summit is an important first step toward the creation of a Canada-U.S. forest science agenda,” said the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. “By identifying issues on which we can work together, we aim to maximize the value of the critical work that scientists and researchers are doing on both sides of the border to ensure the health of our forests and forest sector.”
In his opening challenge to the two-dozen agency and forest sector leaders participating in the summit, Endowment President Carlton Owen noted, “It is only at your respective levels of leadership when considering all of the information, all of the challenges, and all of the opportunities, that we can come to the conclusion that we can’t afford to wait any longer to look for ways to build on a strong foundation for even grander achievements. Clearly, the need is there.”
June 8, 2012--Furman University Sustainability Fellow Joins Endowment
Patrick Starr, a senior at Furman University, Greenville, SC, has been named the 2012-2013 David E. Shi Sustainability Fellow. This fellowship will play out as a year-long collaborative venture between Furman University and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment). The fellowship is sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas under its Partners program.
Starr, from Atlanta, GA, is double majoring in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Political Science. Patrick has found a niche in these two disciplines, focusing largely on environmental policy and law, as well as the impact that local, state, and national government agencies have on the environment. “The Southeastern forests are my stomping ground,” Patrick said smiling, “I’m really excited to be working with an organization devoted to promoting forest health, maintenance, and protection.” He continued, “My first project deals with watershed health and the positive impact that healthy, maintained forestland around a water source has on water availability and quality.”
In welcoming Patrick to his new role, Endowment President Carlton Owen said, “We couldn’t begin to do all we need to do in advancing the health of America’s forests and the rural residents who draw sustenance from them without the help of these dedicated young professionals. We are especially grateful to Furman University and Piedmont Natural Gas for making Patrick available to us in this outstanding learning by doing partnership."
May 18, 2012--Retaining North Carolina's Working Forests
In North Carolina, forestry is a major economic driver, employing an estimated 80,000 people and adding nearly $5 billion to the State’s gross domestic product. The 33 counties in the eastern part of the state are among the most productive timberlands in the world, but forestry is only part of the story. Working forests here protect vital watersheds, harbor threatened and endangered species, and provide “operating space” for nearby military bases such as the Marine’s Camp Lejeune. This convergence of benefits creates a powerful constituency to help keep these working forests working. A new report from the Open Space Institute, funded in part by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) as a product of the Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation , highlights the challenges—and opportunities—for conserving forests in this part of the state.
The report, Retaining Working Forests: Eastern North Carolina, includes impressive and detailed maps that illustrate the area’s major private lands, protected lands, watersheds, and other features. This makes it easy to visualize how these holdings might be woven together to create a network of lands that meet the needs of constituencies that value them. As is the case in many areas, these forestlands face threats, including fragmentation and development. The USDA Forest Service Southern Forest Futures report speculates that up to 344,000 acres of forest could be lost in this region by 2060, with some counties losing as much as a quarter of their forests. High taxes are another concern.
Katie Premo and Sofi Delgado Perusquia, two recent graduates of Furman University, Greenville, SC, are the new interns at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment). Both will work with the Endowment for a year.
Premo earned a degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Studies. During her time at Furman, Katie approached her Environmental Sciences major from the perspective of sustainability and social sciences while still studying the scientific aspect of earth sciences, focusing heavily on food systems in Greenville, SC. “I’m passionate about the environment and how people interact with their surroundings, so joining the Endowment will give me a unique opportunity to explore all of my earth sciences interests,” Premo said. “I’m excited to join the Endowment as an intern, and I’m looking forward to digging deeper in to some of the projects that are currently being explored. I’m particularly interested in how population and land cover change impact nearby forested communities,” she continued. Premo looks forward to working on pertinent projects and is hopeful that she can provide useful data to positively impact forested communities within the scope of the Endowment.
Sofi Delgado Perusquia was born in Mexico City, Mexico and moved to the States at the age of nine. She holds Bachelors of Art degrees in both Economics and Asian Studies from Furman University. During her time at Furman, Sofi was involved in many activities but spent most of her time working for the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability. “As the Communications and Outreach Fellow, I edited the biannual newsletter, The Long View,” Delgado Perusquia notes. “Most recently, I co-founded the Sustainability and Environmental and Education for Kids (SEEK) program that designs and teaches sustainability-related lesson plans at elementary schools around the Greenville area. I’m very excited to begin working at the Endowment and am ready to begin contributing to the many ongoing projects.” Delgado Perusquia is very interested in economic and community development, and she is eager to learn about forest-reliant communities and forest management in general. More specifically, she hopes to devote much of her time to the newly-added Asset Creation initiative while still helping with the Endowment’s six other Initiatives.
“Interns bring great energy, technological savvy, expertise, and new perspectives to the Endowment,” said Senior Vice President Peter Stangel. “They are an essential part of our organization, and Katie and Sofi will continue a strong tradition in place since the Endowment’s creation. We are delighted to have them with us."
May 17, 2012--Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation – Contractor Job Opening
If helping conserve Southern working forests for the economic, cultural, and environmental benefits they provide is your passion, then the U.S. Endowment has a contract opportunity for you. The Endowment seeks a highly-motivated contractor to help implement the Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation’s newly-minted strategy. The Partnership (www.pfsfc.org), a coalition of about 35 agencies and organizations and now in its fourth year, seeks collaborative approaches to conserving large blocks of working forestland across 13 Southern states. The strategy identifies nearly a dozen areas where conditions may be very positive for perpetuating working forests; the individual chosen for this position would facilitate conservation activities in those areas. Please see the job announcement (here) and Partnership Strategy Document (here) for more information.
May 15, 2012 -- Woody Biomass Joint Venture Enters Second Phase
“Two years ago the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and the USDA Forest Service announced a $4 million joint venture to advance promising community-scale wood-to-energy technologies and wood procurement systems. We had hoped the recession was sputtering to an end and that the then still-high price of petroleum would provide a floor that would make alternative energy investments possible,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen. “No one could predict that the recession would linger on and we would see the emergence of very cheap natural gas at the same time.”
The Endowment-led joint venture today announced the first work under the second wave of investments in a $2 million extension of the woody biomass joint venture program. “We’ve provided a grant to Dovetail Partners of Minneapolis, MN, to lead a study designed to provide additional information that will aid us in targeting the bulk of these additional funds at establishing new financial models to aid in appropriate conversion to wood-to-energy systems,” Owen continued. The Dovetail work seeks two primary outcomes: 1) to learn from the successful conversions of schools, hospitals, and other institutional users and to determine the role that non-grant funds (e.g. loans) could play in replicating those successes in the future; and 2) to look at the range of benefits that accrue from potential removal of small diameter and dead and dying trees in public lands settings and to determine ways to monetize some of those values so as to enhance economic viability of infrastructure investments.
In recognition of World Forestry Day, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) has joined with The Conservation Fund’s ShadeFund, the Forest Guild, Dovetail Partners, and the Pinchot Institute to create a multimedia project titled, “24 Ways Forestry Improves Our Lives.”
“Forests play a wide array of important roles in our lives. From providing shade and aesthetic beauty to cleaning our air and water to creating thousands of jobs in rural communities, forestry truly makes our way of life possible. This project takes a moment to look at ways—some obvious and some not-so-obvious—that forestry plays a role in everyday life,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen.
The Endowment’s work with Commodity Check-off programs is highlighted for its potential to boost lumber and other forest products markets in North America, as well as mentions of the Forest Investment Zones and Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiatives. To see the full list, check out a slideshow prepared by ShadeFund.
March 21, 2012 -- Third in Series of "Issues in the Forest" Looks at Biochar
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and its partners at the National Association of State Foresters, today released the third edition in the new "Issues in the Forest" series – “BIOCHAR: Turning Wood to Gold."
"The information age is yielding an overload for many professionals and others interested in staying abreast of the facts of issues important to forests, forestry, and the forest-products sector," said Endowment President Carlton Owen. "We've designed theIssues in the Forest series to help break through the clutter and allow a high-level overview of a single topic while trying to navigate the course of providing facts without advocating specific positions or outcomes."
The third issue in the series looks at biochar a byproduct of certain wood-to-energy processes and a potential value-added output that is touted as a soil amendment; carbon stabilizer; moisture retention agent, and much more.
March 8, 2012 -- Endowment’s 5th Anniversary Offers Opportunity for Input, Collaboration
“We are notorious ‘borrowers’ of great ideas,” says U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities President Carlton Owen. “One of the things that has made our young organization successful is our willingness to ask others for their input and to look to other sectors for great ideas that could be applied in new ways.” Perhaps there is no better example than the Endowment initiative that led to the first-ever national commodity check-off for forest products – an idea “borrowed” from the agriculture industry where USDA “research and promotion programs” have been used for decades to grow markets for products ranging from beef to blueberries.
With the Endowment’s 5th Anniversary – highlighted in the release of the fifth Annual Report -- the organization is once again very intentionally seeking input not only about the current range of programmatic investments but also opportunities that should be considered going forward. While the Endowment staff has been speaking at a number of gatherings around the country and using each venue to share the Endowment’s story, it is now your opportunity to add your voice.
In marking its fifth year of work to ensure that, “America’s forests are sustainably managed to meet broad societal objectives such as marketable products, c lean waters, wildlife habitats and other ecological services, while ensuring healthy and vibrant forest-reliant communities,” the Endowment has developed a brief instrument to gain input from any with interest to aid in determining the path forward. Please take just a few moments to share your views by using this link. All input received before April 15, 2012, will be used to aid the Endowment’s Board and staff in completing a broad program review.
March 7, 2012 -- Endowment Releases Report on Wood-to-Energy in the Northern Tier
Lack of a clear and consistent national energy policy, confusing and sometimes contradictory state policies, and a lack of parity in terms of government programs and incentives with other renewable energy sources are major barriers to expansion of woody biomass for thermal use, say experts convened by the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) and the State and Private Forestry office of the USDA Forest Service (USFS) at a meeting held recently in Manchester, NH.
“This meeting and the resulting report—Wood-to-Energy Across the Northern Tier and Beyond: Barriers and Solutions—allowed a number of people in the wood-to-energy sector to meet and make connections for the first time. More importantly, the rich discussion helped winnow a list of hundreds of needs into the critical few things that must be addressed to advance this sector in a way that supports viable small businesses, grows jobs, and does so in ways that are in sync with sustainable management of the nation’s forests,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. Since its inception, the Endowment has released reports of convenings and discussions as one way to advance its commitment to share learnings widely so as to aid others with interest in topics under review.
March 6, 2012-- REPI Georgia/Florida Pilot Program Application Available
The application form for the 2012 Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) Challenge: A New Model to Accelerate and Expand Base Buffering Outcomes – Georgia/Florida Pilot Program is now available on the U.S. Endowment’s web page. Interested applicants may download the fillable pdf here or via email by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for proposals is April 13, 2012.
“The purpose of this pilot program is to encourage projects that conserve land at a greater scale and test promising ways to finance land protection that will help the REPI program meet its ambitious goals with limited funding,” notes Peter Stangel, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Endowment. The U.S. Endowment is working closely with staff from the Open Space Institute to assist the REPI program with this exciting opportunity.
“In the Southern U.S., private, working forests are often a predominant feature of the landscape near military bases,” Stangel said. “This REPI pilot project offers willing landowners the opportunity to permanently protect their forests through conservation easements or similar arrangements. It’s a “win” for everyone: private forest land owners may receive much-needed income, working forests remain working, wildlife habitat is protected, and most importantly, the military is able to reduce encroachment around their bases, enabling them to continue their critical training missions.”
March 2, 2012 -- Endowment Endorses National Museum of Forest Service History
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities today provided a letter of endorsement to the National Museum of Forest Service History. “One of the toughest things about our work is having to say no to so many worthy projects,” said Endowment President Carlton Owen. “The needs are great but the resources are very limited. To advance our important mission we must remain ever vigilant and focused.”
The Endowment’s letter noted, “While our grant guidelines do not allow us to provide direct financial support for the Museum, we are no less supportive of its importance and value. The Endowment is committed to the health and vitality of all the nation’s working forests. As the steward of the largest single tenure of such lands, the USDA Forest Service and the National Forest System has been for more than a century the model of how states and indeed other nations should approach management of such a precious estate for the good of current and future generations. Without the vision for the National Forest System and the dedication and commitment of the men and woman who have stewarded those lands, America – and the entire world – would be a much poorer place.”
In 2009 the National Museum of Forest Service History board announced plans to build the National Conservation Legacy and Education Center in Missoula, Montana. The NMFSH, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1988, is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the entire national history of the USDA Forest Service. To learn more, clickhere.
February 28, 2012 -- Endowment Elects John Kulhavi to Board of Directors
Retired Brigadier General John G. Kulhavi (U.S. Army – Retired) of White Lake, Michigan, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
“We couldn’t be more pleased that someone with General Kulhavi’s experience has agreed to serve on the Endowment’s Board,” said Mack Hogans, Chairman of the Board. “John is a true American hero. His highly decorated service in Vietnam followed by a long and distinguished career in the Army Reserve and then a similarly successful career in the investment industry, has few peers.”
General Kulhavi has been with Merrill Lynch for over 35 years. For the past eight years (since the program’s inception), Barron's Magazine has named him one of America's Top Financial Advisors. John is a graduate of Central Michigan University (CMU) and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees at CMU, where he currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Development Board and a Member of the Curriculum Committee for the School of Business. John served as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War where he received 43 awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Purple Heart.
February 24, 2012--Endowment 5th Annual Report Highlights Early Successess
One cent. That’s all it may take to start a revolution, at least for financing to protect the forested watersheds that clean our drinking water. The healthier the forests in a community’s watershed, the lower the storage and water treatment costs are likely to be. So, investing a small amount now in watershed conservation could save big money later for water storage and treatment. The story of how the cities of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina worked with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and its partners to craft a national example of citizens investing in watershed protection is just one of the successes highlighted in the Endowment’s 2011 Annual Report, released today.
“We don’t take the safe path,” said Endowment Chairman Mack L. Hogans, of Seattle, Washington. “We’re positioned to do what others can’t or won’t. We take calculated risks because that’s the only way we can successfully address the enormous challenges that face America’s forests and forest-reliant communities.”
The Endowment’s fifth annual report looks back on 2011 and also reviews the organization’s entire history, memorable experiences, and most importantly, lessons learned along the way. To view a copy of the report (Click HERE). Over coming days the Endowment will be adding a number of live links that help the reader dig deeper and learn more about its important work.
January 20, 2012--Endowment Opens Field for New Year-long Intern
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) formally announced today an opening for the year-long internship position in the Greenville, South Carolina office. Having just marked its fifth anniversary, this will continue a tradition of successful and engaged interns, offering recent graduates “in the weeds” experience with a nationally-recognized non-profit. Previous interns have gone on to graduate programs and careers in the fields of forestry, conservation, and scientific research.
Regarding the Endowment’s internship program, President Carlton Owen says, “One of our first actions as a new organization was to create a formal university internship program. We couldn’t be more pleased with the mutual benefits that have resulted, among them, extra hands to engage in our important work, fresh perspectives and energy, and the chance to help prepare the next generation of conservation and philanthropic leaders.” A short video highlighting the program (from an intern’s point of view) is available by here.
January 19, 2012 -- Endowment Assists Defense Department with Forest Conservation At military bases across the country, encroachment by non-compatible development (housing, for instance) threatens the military mission as it limits full use and capability of core lands for training purposes. The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the availability of a special $5 million fund for land conservation to benefit select military bases in Georgia and Florida to highlight innovative approaches that would help stretch the Department’s land conservation dollars. Through their “Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative” (REPI), DoD actively seeks to protect buffer areas around bases using conservation easements and fee-title acquisitions.
“We’ve been actively engaged with DoD for several years now through the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities’ (the Endowment) leadership in the Partnership for Southern Forestland Conservation,” said Endowment Senior Vice President Peter Stangel. “This exciting opportunity advances the Partnership’s on-the-ground goals, serves the military’s mission, and support’s the Endowment’s goal to retain healthy, working forests,” he noted.
As a service to the DoD the Endowment will administer the request for proposals (RFP) process. For more information, see the RFP here.
January 9, 2012-- Conservation Fund Benefits Low-Wealth Communities
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and our partners such as The Conservation Fund believe that forestland conservation can have positive economic impact for low-wealth rural people. Indeed, there is already exciting impact in our programs to use forests for the economic and cultural benefit of low-wealth and minority communities.
For example, the Endowment helped catalyze creation of the Conservation Fund’s National Community Forestry Service Center with a lead grant of $100,000. Now, more than a million dollars will move to disadvantaged communities in the Carolinas and Georgia for community forestry projects under a new Service Center program. The funds for the community forestry initiative include a $400,000 direct grant from the Forest Service and $400,000 that will come as in-kind contributions from state forestry agencies and various governmental and nonprofit partners.
In associated news, the Conservation Fund recently announced acquisition of a 3,300 acre forested tract near Fort Stewart in Coastal Georgia. The Conservation Fund’s National Community Forestry Service Center and its Resourceful Communities program are working to make the property available for the economic benefit of surrounding low-income communities. In this regard, plans are developing for a partnership with McIntosh SEED, an African American-led coastal community-based development organization, to purchase part of the tract for agro-forestry-related low-income workforce training and entrepreneurship development.
Further north in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Conservation Fund’s community forestry programs are supporting the Lac Vieux Desert band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians for a community forestry program focused on engagement of youth in forestry and tribal forestland acquisition.
January 6, 2012 -- Endowment Video Spotlights Healthy Watersheds Work
Water. It's everywhere, or almost so. Yet, in a nation with more than 308 million inhabitants, water -- especially safe drinking water -- could well become the defining natural resource issue of the 21st Century. Strengthening the link between clean water and healthy forests is vital to ensure that future generations will have the water they need.
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) today entered the YouTube-Era with the production and posting of its first video spotlighting the organization's work in its "Healthy Watershed through Healthy Forests" initiative. "As an entity that operates with a very lean staff model (only 5 full-time employees) we depend heavily on the work of one or more interns to help advance our mission," said Endowment Senior Vice President Peter Stangel.
"The work, by our 2011 Intern Michelle McGee, is indicative of the value we gain from the on-going Internship Program," Stangel said. Michelle also played an important role helping organize the Endowment’s April, 2011 Water Convening, that brought together 60 experts to help identify important next steps in the development of water markets as a strategy to help conserve and better manage forested watersheds.
McGee and Kevin Pearce, who has his pilot's license, filmed the video. She wrote and narrated the storyline.