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Working Lands Key to Affordable Energy and Climate Bill, Coalition Tells Lawmakers
Date:4/15/2010

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The coalition for working lands comprises more than 70 large and small U.S. landowners, mill owners, conservation groups and market leaders from across the United States.

Coalition members are urging the climate and energy bill’s authors to fund the protection of America’s working forests, farms and ranch lands through permanent conservation easements and incentives for sustainable land management.

Privately owned U.S. forests and other working lands increasingly are threatened by economic forces that drive their owners to sell the land for conversion to other uses. Most woodlands owned by families will be sold and developed over the next 50 years, according to recent USDA projections. In that scenario, America’s iconic, forested landscapes will look more like suburbs, their heritage and economic contributions lost.

"This originally was a lumber-based community," recalls Gary Hendrix, spokesman for a seventh-generation forest and mill-owning family in Shasta County, Calif. "Originally there were 56 sawmills here – now there are three. We've had to lay people off. Rural communities like ours are really hurting."

"We're trying to stay in these communities but it's really tough out there. Quite frankly we're losing money,” agreed Wade Mosby, senior vice president of The Collins Companies, one of the largest land and mill owners in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “If we were just intent on dollars and cents we would have shut some of these facilities down. But we're trying to keep the core employment going to maintain some of these rural communities.”

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