On April 2, the Forest Landowners Association (FLA), along with more than 50 representatives from the forestry community, hosted an event with Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA10) at A.H. Stephens State Park in Crawfordville.
Serving his first term in Congress, Hice is the only member of the Georgia delegation appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee. The event consisted of a field tour followed by a meet and greet with lunch. Throughout the event, conversation focused on two key issues: the need for strong markets to sustain healthy forests and overreaching environmental regulations.
The first stop of the field tour was at FLA Member Lee Rhodes’ property, which has been owned and managed by his family for more than 75 years. Rhodes, a Georgia Forestry Association (GFA) Board Member, discussed the management of the property and the importance of markets.
During the tour, Congressman Hice remarked, “These trees look pretty old, when do you plan to harvest them?” Lee quickly responded, “We’re ready to harvest now, but the market has been so low that we have to wait for better prices.”
The second stop was on land managed by Forest Investment Associates (FIA). Leading the discussion was FIA CEO Michael Kelly. The focal point of the stop was at a stream crossing where Congressman Hice was shown how the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on Waters of the United States and other administrative policies create unnecessary burden for well-managed forestland owners.
As the group overlooked a small stream with a wide forested buffer, an oversized culvert and well-maintained roads, it was easy to see the commitment forest landowners have made to protecting water quality and the environment on their lands. “Across the country, we follow Best Management Practices to protect water quality on our forests,” Kelly said.
The tour ended at A.H. Stephens State Park where Congressman Hice was able to spend face-to-face time with his forestry constituents and engage in conversation about how polices considered in Washington impact private forest ownership, markets and the economy.
The Congressman pledged to work with his colleagues to do “everything I can to promote Georgia’s 10th district forest owners and the timber industry from over-regulation imposed by the Obama Administration.”
Partners and stakeholders who participated in the event included: American Forest Management, ArborGen, Bounds Farms, Brown & Brown Consulting Forestry, Senator Johnny Isakson’s staff, Congressman Rick Allen’s staff, Crop Production Services, Forest Investment Associates, Forest Resource Consultants, FRAM Renewable Fuels, LLC, Georgia DNR, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Forestry Association, Hodges Land & Timber, Indian Creek Tree Farm, LLC, James M. Simons & Company, Inc., The Langdale Company, McCarlton Partners Ltd., Plum Creek Timber Company, Rayonier, Rhodes Timber, Senator David Perdue’s Staff, Southern Forest Management, LLC, Southern Land Exchange, Taliaferro County Commissioners, Timberland Investment Resource, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry.