MFA is doing its part to "Make Logging Great Again!"
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Pictured above- Beth Hill, Stacey Williamson, Bobby Goodson, Lori Goodson, and Mike Williamson
Dorchester County, MD- On October 12th, The Maryland Forests Association hosted a "Logger's Appreciation Dinner" that drew in a crowd of nearly 200 supporters of the forest community from across the state to help celebrate those who move the wood for the heroes they are!
Sustainable forest management creates wildlife habitat, improves forest health, and provides the numerous products we all use daily. Executive Director of MFA Beth Hill says," Maryland is one of the most challenging places to be a logger. Practices are heavily regulated and permitted, with numerous agencies providing inconsistent oversight. Yet, despite constant scrutiny, logging is still misunderstood and confused with land-clearing and development. MFA is here to help turn public perception around."
The event featured an impressive lineup of speakers. Scott Dane from The American Loggers Council was first on the agenda. Mr. Dane shared a bipartisan resolution introduced in the US Senate to designate October 12 forevermore as "National Loggers Day." The date is no coincidence. The idea for the resolution was spurred from a meeting between ALC and MFA several months ago, where they joined forces and committed to partner to protect and promote the logging industry. As Mr. Dane says, "we are stronger together." Everyone in the crowd recognized Scott from his appearance at the 2020 Republican National Convention, where he donned the "Making Logging Great Again" hat. A representative from the Maryland Forests Association stated that "as people begin to recognize this day annually, I hope they remember that it was officially started and celebrated here in Maryland first!"
Also celebrated was the 2022 MD-DE Logger of the Year, Billy Singleton. Before receiving a plaque, chainsaw, and citation to commemorate the award, the crowd heard from Ron Haas of Delaware Wildlands. Mr. Hass nominated Mr. Singleton because of his keen understanding of forest management and the diligent care his crew provides to help the organization meet its management goals. Delaware Wildlands' approach to conservation is unique, blending tradition with innovation. They own and actively manage 21,600 acres of land to enhance biodiversity and support traditional land uses. They recognize that forestry is essential to the local culture and economy. Timber harvests help generate revenue for the organization and contribute to the local economy. The boots-on-the-ground work that Billy and his crew do is key to sustainable forest management. Although modest about his achievement, Mr. Singleton is undoubtedly working to a higher standard as a caretaker of a renewable resource.
Before dinner was served, Scott Smith, owner & operator of Legacy Logging and Siteworks from Anne Arundel County, spoke about the Joseph Russell Smith Sr. Memorial Fund. The fund was created to financially aid loggers with critical needs that have been injured or killed on the job. Scott spoke about the donations already received, how to make donations and the first recipient of the funds. Throughout the night, 50/50 cash raffle tickets were sold to benefit the fund. The winner, Mr. Sandy Wright, graciously donated his proceeds back to the fund, which is administered by the MFA. Numerous door prizes, raffles, and silent auction items were announced throughout the evening.
Bobby Goodson from the Discovery channels reality show "Swamp Loggers" rounded the night out. The crowd was all consumed and attentive as they could relate to stories about the challenges and hardships of being a logger. He encouraged them to have a voice and get involved when called upon by MFA and ALC stating that "if you aren't at the table, you are on the menu." Mr. Goodson also joined MFA at the pre-dinner meeting to discuss the future of the Master Logger Program and educational tours the following day.
The Maryland Forests Association is the only statewide nonprofit association that represents the entire supply chain. The organization has made significant strides in the past couple of years by bringing in new sponsors and funding under the leadership of Beth Hill. The "Faces of Forestry" public perception campaign is an educational project that has found huge success by highlighting people that are true forestland stewards. Ms. Hill says, "a platform was needed to showcase the sustainability of our forests. There are many groups out there that are telling half-truths about trees. In my opinion, half-truths are the same as lies. It's time we tell our own story."
MFA is grateful to everyone that attended our 1st Annual Logger Appreciation Dinner. We thank these organizations (in no particular order) for supporting this event:
Eastern Shore Forest Products
Maryland Tree Farm Committee
Dorchester County Forestry Board
MD-DE SFI Implementation Committee
Worcester County Forestry Board
TD Smith, LLC
Paul Jones Lumber
We also thank our board and our many volunteers for helping make this event a huge success!! As always, we thank our generous Sponsors and Members for their continued support! The work of MFA is also made possible by grant funding provided by the Rural Maryland Council and The Maryland Department of Commerce. We look forward to hosting the event next year in a different region of the state.
The following day MFA hosted field tours where loggers from across the state could come together to build camaraderie, discuss market opportunities and challenges, learn about forest management on the Eastern Shore, and help improve supply-chain coordination. Master Logger credits were available to the participants. We thank the land owners, program managers, and businesses for the opportunity to showcase their work.