by Don Donnelly CTE
Bridging the Gap between Past and Present
Things are now settling down for most consultants since the August 1st Farmland Assessment deadline has passed. Hopefully, that means you are getting to enjoy the relatively pleasant weather that we’ve been experiencing this summer, and will find some time to participate in at least one of the forestry related functions occurring this fall. A few of the earlier activities on the calendar in September include the NJ Wild Outdoor Expo and the NJDSAF BBQ, with the Fall Forestry Expo occurring in October. I encourage you to consider representing our professional society by helping out with either of the expositions. More details on those later.
Over the past few years there has been a lot happening on the forestry legislative front in New Jersey. Topics that include changes to the Farmland Assessment regulations, professional licensing for forestry consultants, the Forest Stewardship Act, the Healthy Forests bill and Prescribed Burn bill, have all quieted down a bit as we wait on the NJDEP to release rules and administrative guidance on where each item stands. We continue to weigh in on these topics at every opportunity, making sure that we have a seat at the table and that the division’s concerns are considered. Beyond NJ, our own Vice Chair Steve Kallesser recently took the lead role in developing a comment letter on behalf of several SAF administrative units throughout the northeast regarding the USFWS’s potential listing of the Northern Long Eared bat (NLEB) as a federally endangered species. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more on this issue as we await the final determination, but it is safe to say that Steve pulled together a dynamic letter outlining how forestry should be viewed as an asset in managing for NLEB, rather than a regulated activity. This is just one example of how the division continues to work at advancing forestry at all levels.
The loss of several of NJ’s prominent forestry figures over the past year got me thinking about others who contributed to NJDSAF in the past. As I reviewed the many names of those who participated on prior executive committees, I couldn’t help but notice how many former state foresters also served as Chairman of the division. In recent years, there has been a clear reduction in the participation of state forestry employees within NJDSAF functions. I’m not sure what caused this divergence, but it is something that needs to change. I’m certain that the forest resource is best served by the combined knowledge and resources of our public and private foresters working together under the umbrella of our professional society to advance forestry. We see this in other SAF units across the country. I’m asking you to bring this topic up with the state forester (including urban forestry) that you interact with the most, and encourage them to be more active in our unit.