U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark, will launch a Seed to Sawmill tour on Aug. 30 in an effort to promote forest health and tout the economic benefits of forestry to the state of Arkansas.
Westerman, the only professional forester in Congress, will lead the tour through counties in the Fourth Congressional District. In addition to an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Arkansas, Westerman holds a master’s degree in forestry from Yale University.
“Trees are America’s number one renewable resource. Healthy forests provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and beautiful vistas,” Westerman said. “But healthy forests don’t just happen. A wide range of professionals from research scientists and foresters to technicians, loggers, machinery operators and the remaining 28,000 Arkansans employed in forestry and its related mills and processing facilities all play a key part in healthy forests in the Natural State.”
“The timber industry generates over $3 billion a year for our state’s economy and supports jobs for thousands of Arkansans. Its impact on our economy cannot be overstated,” Boozman said. “That’s why it is important that Congressman Westerman and I take this opportunity to visit our timber farms, mills, and factories to speak directly with those whose livelihoods are tied to the decisions we make in Washington. We need to hear from them about what Congress should be doing to help this important industry continue to thrive in Arkansas.”
According to the Arkansas Forestry Association, 28,057 Arkansans are directly employed in the forestry and forest products industry with an average annual income of more than $49,000. The Arkansas Forest Resources Center reports an additional 41,755 indirect and induced jobs resulting from the forestry industry. The total economic impact of forestry to the state of Arkansas is $3.2 billion, the AFA reports, while the AFSC notes an additional $3.4 billion in indirect and induced economic impact.
During the forestry tour, Boozman and Westerman will explore forestry from the birth of a tree through its lifecycle, including its use in forest products such as paper and building materials. The tour will also feature proper forest management and the positive environmental impacts achieved through conservation efforts.
The tour will make the following stops from Aug. 30 through Sept. 1:
Weyerhaeuser Nursery in Magnolia
Weyerhaeuser facility in Emerson
Watson Lumber in Mt. Holly
Maxwell Flooring in Monticello
Del-Tin in El Dorado
the U.S. Forest Service Experimental Forest in Crossett
Fiber Resources and Evergreen Packaging, both in Pine Bluff