Bell Lumber & Pole's Jim Parma Advocates for Enhanced Forest Management in Washington, D.C.

Jim Parma, the Eastern Fiber Manager at Bell Lumber & Pole, recently addressed the Federal Lands Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., advocating for reforms in the Forest Service’s timber sale program. Representing both Bell and the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, of which he is the president, Parma highlighted the significant impact that streamlined forest management could have on both the environment and the industry.

During his testimony on April 17, Parma emphasized the essential role of timber sales in environmental conservation and the utility sector. He noted that high-quality timber from the national forest system is vital for delivering electricity and internet across the country.

“Our industry is a tool to accomplish forest management goals.”

“We see needed products that can take years to get through the process. And then run into further delays as the foresters run into legal challenges and administrative objectives,” Parma said. “The discussion we’re having today would make it easier to implement these much-needed projects.”

Parma then testified that the national forest system currently calls for far higher levels of forest management than what we’re currently seeing – and that the lack of forest management can actually contribute to certain species becoming extinct. Streamlined forest management, then, would be a win-win for both the habitats the government seeks to protect and companies like Bell that would like to improve their timber yield.

The Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas is a prime example of how timber sales can be used to improve environments and habitats, Parma said. Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, once driven to near extinction by overharvest, now thrive because of timber management. Bell purchases timber that is designed to restore the kind of habitat that the woodpecker needs to survive.

“We urge you to consider further legislation that would help streamline the management of the national forest outside of the already designated protected forest,” Parma said. “Our industry is a tool to accomplish forest management goals.”

The questions following Parma's testimony focused on the economic challenges of the timber industry, including the high costs of fiber. In response, Parma referenced the underutilized Good Neighbor and Stewardship Authority as potential solutions for improving timber yield and management efficiency. He advocated for expanding these programs to include more tribes and counties, which could help address personnel shortages and enhance forest management efforts.

Mr. Tom Tiffany, Chairman of the subcommittee, asked Parma about the stagnation in timber yield despite increased investments in forest management. Parma confirmed this issue, pointing to missed opportunities in meeting young forest objectives, especially in the Lake States. Parma also emphasized the urgency of enhancing forest resilience against fires, noting that more than 300 fires in Wisconsin this year should be a stark reminder of the need for proactive forest management.

Jim Parma's calls for legislative changes reflect Bell’s commitment to conserving critical wildlife habitats through sustainable forest management, while at the same time maintaining a steady timber supply chain – a win-win for everyone.

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