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GORHAM, N.H. — John Caveney, a longtime vice president with Cersosimo Lumber Co., which operates sawmills in New Hampshire, Vermont , and New York was honored today for his long service to the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) and the forestry community with the NHTOA’s Kendall Norcott Award.
The award, named for the NHTOA’s first executive director and forester Kendall Norcott, is the NHTOA’s most prestigious award and recognizes outstanding achievement in forestry and timberland management.
Jasen Stock, executive director of the NHTOA, says John’s experience in the forest products industry and tireless commitment to the NTHOA has helped guide the NHTOA for many years. John has been a director of the association, serving as President and a member of dozens of committees. “The Kendall Norcott Award honors exceptional service to our organization and our members,” comments Jasen, “and John is the perfect person to honor this way. His help and support have been a mainstay of not just the NHTOA but also of the overall New Hampshire forest-products industry. It’s safe to say that John has been a positive force within our association and the industry and without his input and work the NHTOA and industry would not be as strong as they are today.”
John has known the woods his entire life. He grew up in Northfield, N.H., and after his education he went to work for Don Clifford at Tri-State Timberlands. In 1976 he joined Cersosimo Lumber Co., which at the time operated just two mills at one location, cutting about 7.5 million board feet a year. At Cersosimo, John found a lasting home, and he has been with the company ever since. Today, Cersosimo operates mills at four locations in northern New England and New York and cuts approximately 50 million board feet a year.
He says he likes and appreciates the long arc in time of sustainable timber harvesting, which is unique among agricultural products. “Cersosimo has been buying land for 70 years. When I came on in ’76, some properties had been cut over, but we’re harvesting from them again now. This has to be long-term,” he observes. “Wood is not a fruit crop. That’s why you have to have a passion for it.”
Ultimately, though, “It’s the people that keep me there. They are very, very hard-working and dedicated and passionate — and that includes the landowners, the loggers, the foresters, everyone in the business. One thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to love it if you’re going to stick with it.”
A critical hearing on Senate Bill 129, which supports New Hampshire's six independent biomass energy plants by shoring up the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law, will be held on Tuesday, April 11, in Concord at the capitol.
The hearing, to be held by the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, is part of the committee's deliberations on SB 129 before recommending passage or defeat of the bill.
The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) strongly encourages members to attend the hearing, which will be held in Room 304 of the Legislative Office Building (located just behind the gold-domed capitol), beginning at 1:30 p.m. For comprehensive information about testifying, signing in, and sending or phoning in comments to members of the committee, click here.
Posted below is the letter Jasen Stock, NHTOA's executive director, is sending to Rep. Richard Barry, who chairs the Science, Technology and Energy Committee.
Dear Chairman Barry and members of the Committee:
The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) thanks you for the opportunity to speak in support of Senate Bill 129. Founded in 1911, the NHTOA represents forest landowners and the forest products industry in New Hampshire. This sector of New Hampshire’s economy represents the third-largest sector of manufacturing in the state. The total forest products industry in New Hampshire, which includes the biomass power plants we will discuss today, employs more than 7,700 people directly, and contributes nearly $1.4 billion dollars to the state’s economy.
The NHTOA supports the biomass provisions in this bill, as they will assist in the continued operations of the state’s six independent biomass power plants. Losing these biomass power plants, and the low-grade timber (trees unsuitable for lumber) markets they provide, will negatively impact hundreds of jobs and disrupt New Hampshire’s entire forest products industry. These power plants are vital to our membership’s ability to practice sustainable forest management and retain land as forests. The relationship of these power plants with the rest of the forest products industry (e.g. sawmills) means their survival is critical to the economic health of the state’s forest products industry. We can see the vital need for SB 129 in last week’s announcement of the temporary closure of one of the six biomass plants, Alexandria, due to very low energy and renewable energy certificate market prices.
These power plants provide a key market for low-grade timber. According to the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) data, almost two-thirds of the standing timber in New Hampshire is considered low-grade. Without markets for low-grade timber, landowners and land managers are unable to economically improve forest health and vigor, and in many instances entire woodlots go unmanaged; weeding and thinning of diseased and malformed timber does not occur, weakening these woodlots environmentally and economically. Worse, timber lots are sometimes “high-graded,” where the logger “cuts the best and leaves the rest,” resulting in genetically inferior timber stands with poor growing stock.
In addition to standard silvicultural work, biomass markets are also an important tool for watershed management. Several of the state’s largest municipal watersheds use biomass harvesting to manage their timberlands to ensure clean water. Wildlife and recreation managers also regularly use biomass markets for habitat and recreation work. Installing food pots[A1] for game and non-game species, creating habitat diversity, and installing hiking or motorized vehicle recreational trails are all accomplished through biomass harvesting. Without biomass markets, this work would be much more difficult and costly.
Lastly, in addition to healthier and more vigorous woodlots, clean water, improved wildlife habitat, and recreational trails, the forest management work that biomass markets encourage improves the quality and economic value of timberlands. This makes timberland ownership more economically viable, ultimately benefiting the entire timber supply chain (landowners, foresters, loggers, and sawmills) and the communities these individuals and business are located.
To help quantify this economic impact, earlier this year the NHTOA retained Plymouth State University’s College of Business Administration (PSU) to conduct a study to estimate the economic contribution the six independent biomass electric power plants make to the New Hampshire economy. Using a customized economic impact model and actual data gathered from the six power plants, PSU calculated their economic contribution for the 2016 calendar year.
This study shows:
· The grand total of the direct effect (the six independent biomass electric power plants), indirect effect (supply industries), and induced effect (service sector) economic activities is approximately 932 jobs ($50.9 million in payroll). And the total economic output to the state’s economy is $254.5 million each year.
· The six biomass plants contribute $7.3 million in tax revenues to state and local governments from all sources (direct, indirect and induced effect).
Because all facets of the timber industry are connected to low-grade timber markets, these economic figures are not surprising.
· Landowners: With two-thirds of the state’s forests considered “low-grade,” biomass power plants provide landowners a market for those low-grade trees. This adds value to timberland, which translates into higher productivity and ultimately higher property taxes for local communities.
· Loggers: To cash-flow a timber sale, loggers need markets for all the species and grades of timber on the woodlot. Because biomass power plants can accept any species and grade of timber, it is an important market for many timber sales.
· Foresters: To sustainably manage a forest and improve forest health and forest productivity, inferior diseased and malformed trees must be removed. Because these trees rarely produce sawlogs, biomass power plants are the obvious market for them. This market is also important for management work dealing with the increasing prevalence of new invasive tree pests (e.g. Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, and Red Pine Scale).
· Sawmills: Open burning of slabs is not presently permitted by state law. Instead, sawmills chip their slabs and send the chips to a paper mill or biomass power plant. With the contraction of New England’s pulp and paper industry, biomass power plants are becoming increasingly important for managing this material.
This economic impact is statewide. According to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration’s (NH DRA) timber tax data, during the 2014/2015 tax year 1,349,018 tons of biomass was harvested in 209 towns in New Hampshire. On a county-by-county basis, the data shows biomass is an important low-grade timber market for several southern counties.
Belknap 148,046 tons
Carroll 102,415 tons
Cheshire 78,303 tons
Coos 151,346 tons
Grafton 199,985 tons
Hillsborough 163,472 tons
Merrimack 261,910 tons
Rockingham 96,311 tons
Strafford 55,646 tons
Sullivan 91,886 tons
Although these county biomass harvesting numbers will vary year to year, we believe these data show the broad land management and positive economic impact that biomass markets have on the entire state. Combining the positive economic impact with the forest management benefits means the total benefits New Hampshire gleans from the biomass industry are significant. For these reasons, the NHTOA requests you vote Ought To Pass on Senate Bill 129.
Again, thank you for allowing me to testify on this important piece of legislation.
Jasen A. Stock
In a hearing packed with timberland owners, loggers, foresters, sawmill operators, and others connected with New Hampshire's forest-products industry, members of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee heard strong support for Senate Bill 129, the proposed legislation to shore up N.H.'s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law and thus help the state's six independent biomass (wood chips) energy plants, which together comprise a critical market for low-grade wood. The hearing's sign-in sheet showed 76 attendees supporting the bill and just three opposed.
During the hearing, committee members heard how the low-grade timber market these power plants provide benefit the state's timberland owners, loggers, foresters, sawmills and others. They also heard how these markets benefit forest health in New Hampshire and provide land managers an important tool for wildlife habitat creation.
"New Hampshire's forest are the healthiest in the nation because of the forestry work I can do with the low-grade timber markets these power plants provide," said Bob Berti, a licensed forester from Rumney (licensed forester #3).
Media coverage focused on issues of importance to the forest-products industry.
New Hampshire Public Radio's (NHPR) report, "Supporters Say Saving N.H. Biomass Would Boost State's Forestry Industry," can be read here.
But the NH Business Review was more critical.
During the hearing, the NHTOA shared the results of a Plymouth State University economic study on these biomass plants that the NHTOA commissioned last year. Jasen Stock, the NHTOA's executive director, referenced in his testimony the economic benefits New Hampshire and its communities get from the six biomass power plants. It is significant: the six plants provide 121 jobs directly and support 583 jobs indirectly and 228 "induced effect" service jobs. The grand total of the direct effect (the six independent biomass electric power plants), indirect effect (supply industries), and induced effect (service sector) economic activities is 932 jobs ($50.9 million in payroll), and the total economic output to the state's economy is $254.5 million each year.
"In this hearing there was a lot of talk about the cost of this bill by the opponents. What they fail to recognize is the economic benefits the state's RPS law provides through the biomass power plants," said Jasen in his testimony. "These plants support our forests, provide jobs, provide tax revenue to our towns and the state, and are connected to one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the state - forest products."
The NHTOA anticipates that members of the House committee will schedule work sessions on this bill over the next two weeks. Look for future updates and calls to action from the NHTOA.
Photo: Ray Berthiaume, forester with Wagner Forest Management, tells the House committee why SB 129 is vital to a healthy forest products industry in New Hampshire. (Photo by Steve Bjerklie.)
Representatives from the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) and the Timber Harvesting Council (THC) took issues of concern for New Hampshire’s forest products industry to Washington, D.C., last week as they met with congressional representatives and natural resource agency officials.
Issues discussed with the staffs of Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) included concerns about the expansion of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, recognition of biomass energy as carbon-neutral, the proposed Youth Careers in Logging legislation, and support for the Right to Haul Act.
The NHTOA/THC contingent also met with Allen Rowley, director of forests and range management for the U.S. Forest Service, to discuss issues connected with contracting with the Forest Service for logging and also the impacts of a declining Northeast market for wood pulp. In the office of Casey Hammond, interim supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the group talked about ways to redirect funding from additional federal land acquisition for the expansion of the Conte Refuge towards land conservation programs that will maintain working forest and traditional uses (e.g. hunting, snowmobiling, hiking, etc.).
“Bringing issues critical to New Hampshire’s forest products industry to the doorstep of our representatives in the nation’s capital emphasizes their importance to our leaders who can make a real difference in helping the industry,” said Steve Patten, NHTOA’s program director and member of the group that traveled to Washington. “We were able to make some real progress on some issues, and we heard a great deal of support for the industry. It was an informative, useful, and excellent trip.”
In the photo, from left: Mike Sharp, Ben Crowell, Shaun Lagueux, Jock Harvey (NELA - Vt.), Chris Goodnow, Errol Peters, Pat Sadler (NELA - N.Y.), Rocky Bunnel, Ron Rich (NELA - Mass.), Gabe Russo (NELA - Vt.). Not pictured: Steve Patten, NHTOA (he took the photo).