State lawmakers form Forestry Caucus

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 443 views 

Members of the Arkansas Legislature have formed a Forestry Caucus and selected leaders to represent the group. State Senator Ben Gilmore, R-Crossett, and Rep. Howard Beaty, R–Crossett, will serve as co-chairs. State Senator Charles Beckham, R-McNeil, and Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R–Hermitage, will serve as vice chairs.

“I am encouraged by the many legislators who have decided to join the Forestry Caucus. Forestry plays a significant role in Arkansas’ economy, especially in our rural communities. It is critical we advance policies that will help our state’s most important industries – forestry. This past session we were able to advocate for the creation of the Center for Forest Business at the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources,” said Gilmore.

“It is past time we have a Forestry Caucus that will look toward passing more legislation to help economic development efforts and expand the growth of our forestry sector in our state. Arkansas’ forests cover 18.9 million acres, or 56 percent of the state, and has more than 1.2 billion tons of standing timber,” Beatty added.

An additional 17 State Senators and 65 House members joined the caucus.

“The creation of a forestry caucus within the Arkansas General Assembly has the potential to be one of the most important and effective tools I’ve seen in my more than 30 years in the timber and forest products sector,” said Max Braswell, executive vice president of the Arkansas Forestry Association. “Our ability to work together in Arkansas is known nationwide. The support and partnership of our legislative leaders will only enhance the multitude of opportunities we have to make working forests a ‘part of the solution’ – whether it’s as a natural climate solution, economic driver for rural communities or in keeping our natural state natural. These are exciting times and AFA fully supports the creation of a forestry caucus.”

“Our state’s forestry industry ranks third in the nation and annually contributes nearly $5 billion to the Arkansas economy, making it an incredibly important part of our agriculture portfolio. We look forward to working with policymakers to expand an industry so crucial to our state,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Rich Hillman.

“Timber harvesters are part of a sector dedicated to growing sustainable forests that support communities, jobs, and the thousands of products we use every day. Active forest management keeps acres in trees – providing a range of environmental, conservation, and climate values for generations to come. Good things can happen when we shop up, take on leadership roles, and work collaboratively to sustain and promote one of the state’s most economically important agricultural industries,” said Larry Boccarossa, Executive Director for the Arkansas Timber Producers Association.