TESTIMONY SUBMITTED TO THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE

by

DR. PERRY J. BROWN
PRESIDENT, NAPFSC
AND
DEAN, SCHOOL OF FORESTRY
UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA

on behalf of the

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FORESTRY
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES (NAPFSC)

re: Research, Extension and Education Programs in 2001 Farm Bill

APRIL 2001

The National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) is comprised of the 67 universities that conduct the Nation's research, teaching, and extension programs in forestry and related areas of environmental and natural resource management. NAPFSC schools work in close partnership with the USDA research programs through extramural contracts and cooperative agreements.

We would like to recognize the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, Mr. Lugar, and Mr. Harkin, the Ranking Democratic Member, as well as members of the committee, for the strong support and leadership they have taken on research, education and extension issues. We would also like to express our appreciation to the many fine agency officials within the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and the USDA Forest Service with whom our individual institutions work on collaborative research projects.

The 1998 Farm Bill and various subsequent reports and conference proceedings have identified the need for greater attention on the emerging issues confronting non-federal forest landowners. NAPFSC is pleased be one of the cofounders of the National Coalition for Sustaining America's Nonfederal Forests. The Coalition and its subsequent report came out of a Forestry Summit held in 1999 that brought together key forestry leaders and landowners from across the nation. The outcome of the Summit confirmed the need for increases in forestry research funding focused on non-federal lands and for an increase in collaborative efforts between university-based research and the federal agencies. There is great capacity in our nation's research universities to provide more research and educational outreach.

The National Coalition for Sustaining America's Nonfederal Forests has documented a plan of action to conserve and sustain our nation's nonfederal forest lands. The plan stresses the importance of cooperation among the public universities, state forestry agencies, federal agencies, and the many forest land stakeholders. Key elements of this plan are research capacity and concerted action on stakeholder priorities. The report documents the need for a substantial investment to provide the science foundation for the sustainability of these forests, to transfer this knowledge into on-the-ground management and conservation practices, and to build local professional capacity in every forested region of the nation. The National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) endorses this long-term plan and recommends the incorporation of a forestry title, with a subtitle dealing with Research, Education and Extension, for the Farm Bill.

Subtitle: Forest Resources Research, Education, and Extension/Outreach

Focus: A National Initiative for Stewardship and Sustainability of America's Nonfederal Forests

Statement of Need and Background:
The sustainability and stewardship of America's nonfederal forests are economically, environmentally, and socially vital to the Nation. These lands and their 10 million owners furnish 65% of the Nation's wood supply and form the core of a forest industry that accounts for 8% of the Nation's manufacturing economy. In addition, these lands provide the principal habitat for 75 percent of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources, the foundation for a $100 billion outdoor recreation industry, the major source of the Nation's water supply, and the source for carbon sequestration. The sustainability of the 487 million acres of nonfederal forestland is critical to providing these uses and values to enhance the quality of life of citizens.

Today these lands are threatened by urbanization, fragmentation, forest health problems, and increased harvesting pressures. Exacerbating the issue is a growing number of private forest landowners inexperienced in forest stewardship practices, and thus, ill equipped to make informed decisions about their forests. Moreover, America's society is increasingly disconnected from ecosystems and the natural environment that provides its goods and services.

Research, education and extension/outreach are prerequisites to nonfederal forest sustainability. A principal provider of nonfederal forestry research, education, and extension/outreach is the nation's state colleges and universities, particularly those with land grant status (1862, 1890, and 1994). These institutions possess the expertise and infrastructure to conduct research and educational programs to transfer new information to these forest landowners.

These critical research, education, and extension/outreach needs are consistent with the findings of the National Coalition for Sustaining America's Nonfederal Forests Report entitled: A National Investment in sustainable Forestry: Addressing the Stewardship of Nonfederal Forestlands through Research, Education, and Extension/Outreach, and the Report of the National Research Council of the Academy of Sciences entitled: A Forested Landscapes in Perspective: Prospects and Opportunities for Sustainable Management of America's Nonfederal Forests.

Administrative Recommendation:

NAPFSC supports inclusion of a new forestry subtitle to improve coordination of existing authorizations in an effort to integrate and implement a national program on research, education and extension/outreach in conjunction with private and federal agencies. This effort needs to focus on efforts to more effectively address the sustainability of nonfederal forests.

  • Fund the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Act, and the Renewable Resources Extension Act at their authorized levels of $105 and $15 million respectively.
  • Increase the Natural Resources and Environment section of the National Research Initiative by $30 million to incorporate Agenda 2020 priority issues of soil productivity, plant responses (physiology), and remote sensing.
  • Increase the Plants section of the National Research Initiative by $10M to address forest biotechnology.
  • Increase Forestry Higher Education funding by $10 million to educate and provide a professional workforce to address these needs.

Implementation of these Recommendations will Ensure:

  • A foundation of research-based knowledge that allows informed decision-making on the management and conservation alternatives necessary to achieve the objectives of America's nonfederal forestland owners and society at large.
  • A cadre of forest resource professionals with the skills necessary to address the needs of all segments of our society, especially those that manage and provide stewardship on nonfederal forest lands.
  • An established and effective extension and outreach infrastructure that provides timely delivery of knowledge based products to those who make management and policy decisions concerning nonfederal forestlands.

Outcomes:

The recommended increases in public funding for research, education, and extension/outreach will strengthen this nation's commitment and capacity to sustain our nonfederal forests into the 21st century and for many generations to come. The specific outcomes that will make this possible include:

  • Increased scientific understanding, dissemination of knowledge and information, and improved management methods that make it possible to sustainability use nonfederal forests to meet landowner objectives and public expectations.
  • A broadly educated professional cadre, recruited from diverse cultural backgrounds, having the skills and knowledge needed for sustainable management of nonfederal forests.
  • An American public that understands the benefits they receive from nonfederal forestland and thereby actively support sustainable forest management.

NAPFSC and our individual member schools look forward to working closely with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and with the Bush Administration in creating an increased focus on nonfederal forestlands as discussions and implementation of the 2001 Farm Bill move forward

 

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