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H.755

AN ACT RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRIES

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The forests of Vermont are integral to the economy, culture, beauty, and appeal of the state.

(2)  The annual contributions of forest-based manufacturing and

forest-related recreation and tourism contribute $1.5 billion to the Vermont economy annually.

(3)  Revenues from forest-related recreation and tourism activities totaled $485 million in 2005.

(4)  Forest-based manufacturing contributes approximately 10 percent of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales.

(5)  The forest-based manufacturing industry provides employment for 6,379 people and generates a payroll of over $207.4 million.

(6)  Forest-based recreation and tourism provide employment for over 6,300 people and generate payrolls of $93.0 million.

(7)  Each 1,000 acres of forest land in Vermont supports 1.4 forest-based manufacturing, forestry, and logging jobs and 1.4 forest-related tourism and recreation jobs.

(8)  Wood provides the energy for approximately six percent of electrical and heating use in Vermont.

(9)  The forests of Vermont help maintain the environment and health of Vermont by aiding the filtering of clean water and clean air and by providing wildlife habitat to a diversity of animals.

(10)  Despite the significant, unparalleled contributions of the forests, forest-based manufacturing, and forest-related recreation and tourism to the state’s economy, jobs, energy, and environment, the forestry and forest products industries receive considerably less support and financial assistance than those afforded other Vermont industries, such as agriculture.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. chapter 85 is added to read:

CHAPTER 85.  VALUE-ADDED FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS

Subchapter 1.  General Provisions

§ 2701.  POLICY

It is the policy of the state to encourage the sustainable management and use of its forests and woodlands; to preserve the natural beauty of the state’s forests and woodlands; to protect its wildlife; to preserve and protect the forest environment and health; and to promote, foster, and encourage the forestry and forest products industries of the state.  To achieve these goals, the general assembly declares it to be in the best interests of the state to promote opportunities and markets for value-added forest products.  Fostering and enhancing the value-added forestry markets will help the state retain and expand the state’s forest products manufacturing sector, will retain manufacturing jobs within the state, and will protect the health and viability of the forest environment.

Subchapter 2.  Forestry and Forest Products Viability Program

§ 2721.  VERMONT FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS VIABILITY  PROGRAM

(a)  The Vermont forestry and forest products viability program is a voluntary program established at the department of forests, parks and recreation to provide assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers to enhance the financial success and

long-term viability of the Vermont forest products industry.  In administering the program, the commissioner shall:

(1)  Collaborate with the Vermont housing and conservation board, the members of the Vermont wood products marketing council, the Vermont woodlands association, the Vermont loggers association, state agencies, federal agencies, private entities, and service groups to develop, coordinate, and provide technical and financial assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers.

(2)  Include teams of experts to assist timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in areas such as assessing business resources and potential; researching, developing, and adopting new technologies; improving product quality; developing value-added products; finding and reaching new markets; improving and refining existing markets; and lowering costs of production for Vermont’s forest products sector.

(3)  Encourage economic development through investing in improvements to essential infrastructure and the promotion of timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

(4)  Enter into agreements with private organizations or individuals or with any agency or instrumentality of the United States or of this state and employ technical experts to carry out the purposes of this section.

(5)  In consultation with the Vermont housing and conservation board, other state agencies, foresters, harvesters, and forest products manufacturers establish:

(A)  enrollment criteria for the forestry and forest products viability program created by this section;

(B)  criteria for awarding grants from the forestry and forest products viability program special fund created by subsection (b) of this section.  The grant criteria shall include at least the following requirements:

(i)  the grant recipients shall be enrolled in and committed to participating in the forestry and forest products viability program;

(ii)  the grant application is developed in consultation with timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(iii)  the use of the funds will improve the economic viability of a timber harvester, forester, or forest products manufacturer.

(C)  performance goals, evaluative measures, and other criteria to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the forestry and forest products viability program;

(b)(1)  The forestry and forest products viability program special fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purpose of implementing and effectuating the forestry and forest products viability program established by this section.  Any monies appropriated by the general assembly or received by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation for this program from any other source, public or private, shall be deposited in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purposes of:

(A)  providing funds for the forestry and forest products viability program as established in this section;

(B)  providing funds to enrolled timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(C)  providing funds to service providers for administrative expenses of the program; and

(D)  leveraging other competitive public and private funds, grants, and contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(2)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation may solicit federal funds, grants, and private contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(c)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall report in writing to the senate and house committees on agriculture and the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy on or before January 31 of each year on the activities and performance of the forestry and forest products viability program.  At a minimum, the report shall include:

(1)  an evaluation of the program utilizing the performance goals and evaluative measures established pursuant to subdivision (a)(5)(C) of this section;

(2)  a summary of the money received in the fund and expended from the fund;

(3)  an estimate of the financial impact of the Vermont forestry and forest products viability program on the forestry and forest products industries;

(4)  an assessment of the potential demand for the program over the succeeding three years; and

(5) a listing of individuals, trade associations and other persons or entities consulted in preparation of the report.

Sec. 3.  DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATION OF STATE FOREST LANDS

On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, in consultation with Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers, their respective trade associations; the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund; and others shall report to the house and senate committees on agriculture, and the house and senate committees on natural resources and the environment regarding the feasibility of certifying the management of and sourcing of materials from state forests under the forest stewardship council (FSC) chain of custody, the sustainable forestry initiative (SFI), and the American tree farm system (ATFS) standards.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the requirements for certification under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards;

(2)  An estimate of the economic value to the Vermont forestry and forest products industries of certification;

(3)  An estimate of the financial cost to the department of forests, parks and recreation to conduct certification of all state forest land;

(4)  An analysis of how certification standards could be of benefit in emerging carbon markets;

(5)  A recommendation as to whether the department of forests, parks and recreation should certify Vermont state forest land under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards; or

(6)  A recommendation as to whether the department should establish a program under which a certain percentage of timber sales from state forest lands will be reserved for sale to value-added forest products manufacturers in Vermont.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us