Why Vermont needs a Right to Practice Forestry

Below is my Testimony from January. At the bottom of it is the link to the specific bill.

I’m Kate Bowen from Meadowdale Farm in Putney. We’re a veteran owned, diversified, family farm offering meat, eggs, hay, sap, and forest products. Unfortunately, we’ve become somewhat of a “cautionary tale” for Vermont loggers when in 2015 our Development Review Board denied us a permit to split firewood at our farm due to the complaints of neighbors who moved to Vermont with unrealistic expectations of what working farms smell, sound, or look like.

Since 1999 we’ve responsibly and ethically provided our community with a locally harvested non-fossil fuel heating source. It’s just us with no employees. The wood we cut is from Putney wood lots and then used to heat Putney homes. This cuts down on the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport our logs. 

It’s an honor to see something that means so much to me and our way of life get recognition in your distinguished committee.

Like you I’m focused on preserving our Working Landscape. I’ve experienced first hand the general public’s misunderstanding, undervaluing, and vilification of the forest products industry. We aren't slashing and burning the Amazon, we’re treading as lightly as possible, ecologically harvesting local timber, providing sustainable local building materials, and a source of winter heat. It’s the type of industry where people complain about it, but can’t live without the products. With the average age of loggers in Vermont over 55 we are the next generation given the task of caring for our Green Mountain forests. The burden of reconnecting with the public lies on the forest products industry, but bills like this show that we are all on the same page.

These old Vermont ways and traditional skills (like operating a sawmill, or splitting firewood) once common place are becoming thinner and sparser with each generation, as youth leave in search of a better economy, often in other state’s urban areas. There's an essence of culture that can't return to once its been erased. Without protection from nuisance lawsuits very few will be able to continue running their business. I appreciate that within this bill there’s also room for accepting new modern forest product technology which is vital to be part of the global marketplace.

One amendment I’d like to suggest is page 4 line 14 by adding the specific word “firewood” to the forest product list. 

I’d also like to commend you for specifying that processing firewood on the log landing should be protected because:

-It’s more likely to keep the firewood locally purchased and therefore may help to stop the spread of invasive insects.

-It’s a boost to the hyper local economy.

-Any promotion of firewood is helping our communities achieve more energy independence.

Thank you to our legislators for your work and I’d like to request if possible to be able to testify in person in a future steps of this Bill.