Originally published by the Albany Times Union
March 23, 2018
To the editor
I am writing to express my support for the Empire Forests for the Future Initiative being included in the state budget as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. One of the provisions in EFFI is to create a new cost-share program to assist private forest owners with management that will improve forest health and diversity or improve wildlife habitat. The availability of cost-share programs to private forest owners is very limited and high in demand.
Although I am an employee of Audubon New York, I'm writing from the perspective of a private forest owner. At Audubon's Rheinstrom Hill Sanctuary in Columbia County, we have been planning forest management to improve forest age class diversity and improve habitat for wood thrush and other bird Species of Greatest Conservation Need for close to five years. We were not able to find a logger to perform the harvest, because the low grade wood market is not strong enough in our area to make this job worth doing for them, and as a nonprofit organization, we could not afford to pay to have the work done.
A cost-share grant program like the one outlined in EFFI would have helped us get this work done.
Three-quarters of New York's forests are privately owned, but they provide tremendous public benefit in the form of watershed protection, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. I fully support EFFI and encourage lawmakers to include it in the state budget. It will help improve the health, diversity, and resiliency of NY's forests, to the benefit of birds, other wildlife, and people.
Forest program manager, Audubon New York