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Forestry Industry heads to Albany for its lobby day

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Credit AB Tetra Pak / flickr
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Forestland owners and industry representatives will be in the halls of the capitol today, pushing for changes to taxation and regulation in New York.

Eric Carlson is the president of theEmpire State Foresters Association. He says one issue up for discussion this year is the 40-year-old property tax incentive program for forests, known as the 480-a Forest Tax Law.

“The vast majority of private forests do not participate for a host of reasons," says Carlson. "One is it’s a long-term commitment. It is a commitment with working with the government. Some owners prefer to have the freedom to manage their forests in the way they want to manage them.”

According to industry estimates, three-quarters of the state’s forestland is privately owned, and timber sales account for $250 million of revenue a year. Carlson says the industry has consolidated in the past few years – property taxes, less paper production and fewer new houses being built has led to fewer companies owning forests in New York. He says that’s putting pressure on the family-owned foresters in New York.

“We are much flatter today in terms of the number of manufacturing units we have today compared to as little as six years ago," says Carlson.

He also wants to see the state support biomass fuels and do more to combat invasive species.

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