The Power of Kentucky Forestry

The following Agriculture article printed in the October 29, 2015 edition of the Oldham Era.

Support Kentucky Forests

Kentucky forests

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is currently offering a forestry webinar series, designed primarily for woodland owners, but is open to anyone interested in woodland, timber, and wildlife topics.

The goal of this series is to provide beneficial information that woodland owners can incorporate on their properties. Each session begins at 7:00 p.m. EST and lasts approximately one hour. The technology allows participants at each site to ask questions of the experts. The Trimble County Extension office will be broadcasting three of the five webinars. Individuals can also participate from any computer with high-speed internet. Visit UK Ag Forestry Extension for further information.

“The Forestry Fall Webinar series is an excellent opportunity for people to receive a significant amount of information in a relatively short time, without having to drive great distances to attend,” said Billy Thomas, UK extension forester and one of the series coordinators.

The following webinars will be broadcasted in Trimble County:

  • October 29—Landowners and Federally Protected Species: What You Need to Know
  • November 12—Are Your Woodlands Healthy?
  • November 19—Timber Harvesting and Sales

This forestry series helps kick off National Forest Products Week, October 18-24, 2015. A USDA blog post titled “Support Healthy Markets this National Forest Products Week” celebrates America’s forests and forestry industry.

“Our forests are renewable and vital resources when sustainably managed,” writes Scott Bissette, Assistant Commissioner of the North Carolina Forest Service and chair of the National Association of State Foresters Forest Markets Committee.

Bissette cites the American Forest & Paper Association (AFPA) when discussing the industry’s colossal impact on our economy. According to the AFPA’s website, about 900,000 people are employed in forestry, contributing over $210 billion in forestry products each year. Around one-fifth of the world’s paper is produced here.

Such a high level of productivity demands sustainable management. Bisette says, “I’m proud to say that my home state of North Carolina has made sustainability and native species restoration high priorities for its 18.6 million acres of forest land. This commitment contributes to the stability and long-term potential of our forest products industry, which already contributes more than $6 billion to the state’s gross product and provides more than $28 billion in economic benefit.”

Following the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008—which requires states to evaluate current forest resources, prioritize areas in need, and strategize meeting forestry needs—the Kentucky Division of Forestry drew Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan.

Forest Health Management

The first of the five issues named in Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan concerns restoring and managing forest health. The forestry division made nine goals:

  1. Reduce the spread of invasive plants, insects, and diseases through improved monitoring, management, and education.
  2. Decrease the impacts on forests due to improper trail use, management, and design.
  3. Utilize trees to decrease air pollution in urban areas.
  4. Conduct research to improve forest health management techniques and further assess the health of Kentucky’s forests.
  5. Promote reforestation opportunities on post-mining land.
  6. Enhance comprehensive wildfire prevention programs in Kentucky to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires in Kentucky.
  7. Provide leadership, support, and coordination for educating the public about wildfires in Kentucky.
  8. Enhance and improve wildfire law enforcement programs.
  9. Maintain and enhance the statewide system of forest fire protection and suppression as required by KRS 149.520.

Kentucky Water Quality

Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan next addresses water quality and quantity. Due to “62% of the rivers and streams and 42% of the lakes, ponds, and reservoirs of Kentucky showing some sort of water quality impairment,” Kentucky needs to focus on improving water quality. Both forests and individual urban trees have their part to play in restoring Kentucky’s waters. Goals in this area are:

  1. Ensure timber harvest operations employ measures to maximize water quality protection.
  2. Improve Kentucky water quality through the protection, enhancement, and restoration of forested riparian areas.
  3. Reduce rate of variation in stream flow and volume with forestry practices.
  4. Improve Kentucky water quality through the protection, enhancement, and creation of forested wetlands.
  5. Increase the public awareness of the relationship between forestland use and water quality and quantity.

Kentucky Forest Loss

Thirdly, Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan identifies the issue of forest fragmentation and loss. Only 28% of Kentucky’s forest resources are wide tracts of land covered in trees. Major sources of forestry loss include deforestation to make way for urban, agricultural, and mining purposes. The Kentucky Division of Forestry set the following goals:

  1. Reduce or minimize the impact of forest loss from urban development.
  2. Enhance and protect existing forested areas in the urban landscape.
  3. Increase acres of traditional forests in urban areas.
  4. Increase forest cover on mined land.
  5. Reduce or minimize the impact of forest loss and fragmentation due to agricultural conversion.
  6. Increase acres of protected forestlands.
  7. Protect or minimize the impact of fragmentation on large forest blocks.

Kentucky Forest Management

Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan then discusses forest management. Although Kentucky’s land is about half forest, most is neglected by private property owners. There is great need in publicizing the valuable natural resource Kentucky has in its forests. The goals below keep that in mind:

  1. Publicize the value of Kentucky’s forest resources and the benefits of proper management.
  2. Promote the efficient, sustainable, and environmentally sound economic utilization of Kentucky’s forest resources for forest products and environmental services.
  3. Enable private family forest owners to enhance their stewardship potential through technical and financial assistance.
  4. Establish and build local urban and community forestry programs.
  5. Monitor forest management levels in Kentucky to identify trends, needs, benefits, and threats.

Investing in Kentucky Forests

Finally, Kentucky’s Forest Action Plan isolates funding. “Investments in Kentucky forests are an investment in Kentucky’s future,” leading to a singular goal: “proper forest management that results in a healthy, productive forest ecosystem that is the source of long-term sustainable revenue and benefits all of Kentucky.” The Kentucky Division of Forestry plans to educate land owners on ways to make money off their forests, promote benefits and opportunities that communities enjoy from visually-pleasing forests, offer economic incentives for proper forest management on private land, and partnerships allowing further outreach across the Commonwealth.

To learn more about Kentucky’s Forest Resource Strategy, view the Kentucky Statewide Assessment of Forest Resources online.

Written by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant. Reviewed by Traci Missun, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent.

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