Forest Economy In The Nek

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loggingISLAND POND- Today at a public forum held at the Island Pond Welcome Center the topic of discussion was forest economy. The forum was led by Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Sam Lincoln and Director of Forests Steve Sinclair. The forum gave information on legislation and future plans regarding forest economy. While many may think a lot of things drive economy here in the northeast kingdom, forest economy may be the leader of all industries. This could be due to the fact that the kingdom is heavily forested. 


 “The Kingdom has always been a heavily forest based economy, we want to interact with as many people that are making a living in the woods as possible” says Lincoln. Forest economy includes aspects such as logging, land ownership, sawmills, firewood processing, heating, and any type of forest operation. “The Northeast Kingdom has a lot of softwood resource, a lot of spruce and fur a lot of that material becomes construction lumber.” says State Wood Utilization leader Paul Frederick. 


Ethan Allen and Sugar Maple furniture outlets that are based in the Kingdom solely rely on the forest economy, and without these activies, these companies might not exist. “The Northeast Kingdom doesn’t have a lot of industry, but it does have logging, certainly the wood industry is a big part of economy up this way”, says Frederick. 


If it weren’t for logging, many people would have to make a different living. If logging becomes obsolete here in the NEK it could lead to more tourism. For now the economy is relying on the logging and forestry industries. 


As for legislation that could be affecting the forest economy which drives us so far, there are some things that have been done and things that have yet to come.  So far the legislation that has been enacted makes forestry equipment tax exempt in the state of Vermont. Legislation that could be coming up in 2018 is S.101 which outlines rights for forest operations and also high risk worker compensation. Forester Dan Kilborn thinks that compensation for workers is very important. “That’s really what the take home is that we’re all in this together for them to able to compensate and run their business and do it well its gonna benefit all of us. The Scott administration has also submitted a report to the Act 47 commission that includes changes to the Act 250. Those topics include hours of forest operation and land development. 


The Acceptable Management Practice or AMP of Vermont is also making changes but hasn’t discussed those yet. The Watershed Program of Vermont has already experimented with building bridges for easier access to the wood that loggers cut and makes them available with a small rental fee. The AMP will be holding a meeting at Lyndon State College on January 16th to discuss more about the changes they will make.