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  • Writer's pictureMaryland Forests

MFA's Position: Maryland's 2020 Forest Action Plan

Sustainable forestry management is the key to healthy forests, a clean Chesapeake Bay and the success of our rural economies — a hands off approach is not an option.

The Maryland Forests Association, Inc is Maryland's voice for forest, wildlife, and natural resource management. We represent private landowners, forestry professionals, forest-related industry organizations and other individuals across the state who cherish Maryland's forest land.

The Department of Natural Resources is state's key agency in managing forestland and they're seeking input on the 2020 Forest Action Plan. This five year strategy will help determine how DNR and the Maryland Forest Service prioritize services and where they devote effort in managing forest land.

The MFA board met to discuss and review the plan and would like to see the following additions to the 2020 plan. We need your help in communicating these messages to DNR. You can submit your comments online or attend a local listening session.

MFA's Position Statements

Less than 25% of private landowners have forest management plans, the Forest Action Plan should include a measurable goal to increase the number of plans by at least 10% in the next five years.

  • Forest Management Plans ensure best management practices are being utilized on forestland

  • FMPs give the state tools to track, monitor and evaluate the health of privately owned forests

  • FMPs should be considered as part of the state’s WIP goals

  • Landowners with FMPs qualify for tax incentives, helping Maryland maintain forestland

The Forest Action Plan should focus as much on forest utilization as it does on preservation.

  • The plan should direct agencies to engage in discussions with industry organizations such as the Maryland Forests Association to identify and develop new market opportunities and report those opportunities back to forest industry and related groups.

  • The plan should be very clear in its definition of “Working Forests” and speak directly to the need of forest management, specifically cutting trees to improve forest health and habitat.

  • Enable the Forest Service to serve as a leader in promoting and advising forest-related entrepreneurship.

  • Direct DNR marketing and communications staff to expand public awareness of the importance of the forest industry in the stewardship of forestland and how they work to keep forests productive and healthy.

No Markets, No Management. The plan should address that without vibrant markets for forest products, forest management and stewardship will decline. A hands-off approach is not an option.

  • How can forests be sustainably managed without pulpwood markets? The plan must address the need to identify and develop new markets such as shavings mills, sawmills, biomass facilities, biochar, firewood, pellets, and other innovative uses for forest products.

  • Strengthen the position that forest management does not happen without the forest industry and that markets are an essential part of the equation. The plan should also acknowledge that without viable markets, state forest land will not be sustainably managed.

  • Distinguish between forest industry and development — the two are not the same and the forest industry is not a threat to Maryland’s forests but rather an integral part of their long term success, health and viability.

Address the future of the Master Logger Program as well as other important forest education programs that are in jeopardy due to lost funding sources.

  • With the closure of Verso, a major funding partner for the Master Logger Program, how will the Forest Service continue to offer the Master Logger Program?

  • And how will state lands continue to be managed without this certification program?

Promote a thermal tier for woody biomass in Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), increasing opportunities for biomass facilities.

  • Retain existing industry. How did the conversion of the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) happen when the 2015 plan identified an underutilized biomass supply and supported innovative projects for the use of such natural resources?

  • Forest growth outpaces removal. Include these facts and figures in the plan to support that loss of forests is not due to the forest industry.

Strengthen communication and outreach efforts.

  • The Department of Natural Resources should encourage staff to participate in local communities and engage in discussions with industry organizations, policy makers and other leaders in an effort to better educate the public on the importance of sustainable forest management and to inform leaders about the industry’s key challenges, new opportunities and resource needs.

  • In addition, we ask that DNR consider developing more forest related curricula targeted at the general public, forest landowners and industry professionals.

  • Create an ombudsman position that works across multiple agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and Department of Environment to streamline issues and communication.

Be accountable for the plan. Establish reporting mechanisms to evaluate the outcome of the plan’s goals and objectives.

  • MFA would like to see accessible reporting on a variety of statistics including acres of private forest land, number of forest management plans and the usage and penetration of awareness for state/federal cost share programs, tax incentives, etc among forest land owners.


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