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February 28, 2000
Mr. Michael Shore
Senior Policy Analyst
NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
1601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1601

Dear Mr. Shore:

I am writing regarding the Governor's Million Acre Initiative.  I represent the seven hundred foresters who manage the majority of the forestland owned in the State of North Carolina and would like to respond to your call for comments during your listening period.

The Society of American Foresters supports efforts to deal constructively with the loss of forests and other land through urban sprawl.  The Society supports the conservation of forests and open spaces.  However, conservation should be clearly defined as the wise use of the resource and not as preservation from uses.  Lands acquired through the program should be managed, not just locked up.  Certainly areas of ecological importance, archeologically significant sites and significant historic sites should have provisions for limited management.

Private property rights should be respected in the acquisition phase of the initiative.  Acquisition through voluntary sale of fee ownership and sale of development rights through easement are reasonable methods.  Incentives, which allow for continued operation of forest and farmlands in current use, should be encouraged. One of the reasons that lands are being sold is the lower potential return from forestry and farming than from the development alternative.

Regulations imposed on private forest landowners in some circumstances discourage cooperative efforts to provide increased forest resource benefits.  Government policies should emphasize the availability of voluntary, non-regulatory approaches to stimulate the conservation of public values on private forestlands. Such approaches may include, but are not limited to, education and information dissemination, technical assistance, tax incentives, subsidies, project cost sharing, and conservation easements.

The Society of American Foresters believes that improved forest management in urban areas and in communities is vital to the natural, social and economic well being of the nation.  The Society of American Foresters supports activities and funding levels that promote the establishment and use of community trees and forests to sustain communities and the ecosystems of which they are a part. The Society supports incorporating concepts of urban forestry into urban land use planning systems and related commitments that make urban and community forestry a component of managing the nation's forest ecosystem.

The Society believes that the sustainable management and use of urban forest resources requires not only an appropriate policy, modest regulatory framework, and a forward-looking research and investment program, but also institutional strengthening to make government and private sector investments and partnerships in urban and community forestry more effective and efficient.

The ultimate success of such programs will also depend upon the efforts of individual citizens who, on a voluntary basis, participate with local governments to ensure program objectives are met at the least cost.  Because of their expertise in managing forest lands, both rural and urban, members of our organization should be encouraged to participate as members in advisory boards and management teams.

Sincerely,

Eugene S. Robbins, Legislative Chair

North Carolina Division,

The Society of American Foresters

cc: Barry New, NCSAF Division Chair

ABOUT THE SOCIETY

The Society of American Foresters, with about 700 North Carolina and 18,000 national members, is the national organization that represents all segments of the forestry profession in the United States. It includes public and private practitioners, researchers, administrators, educators, and forestry students. Gifford Pinchot and six other pioneer foresters established the Society in 1900.

The mission of the Society of American Foresters is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

The Society is the accreditation authority for professional forestry education in the United States. The Society publishes the Journal of Forestry; the quarterlies, Forest Science, Southern Journal of Applied Forestry, Northern Journal of Applied Forestry, and Western Journal of Applied Forestry; The Forestry Source and the annual Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters national convention.