Working at the state and federal levels, the Center advocates for public policies and regional investment that will support economic opportunities based on sustainable use of the forest.
"The Center is a strong advocate for the Northern Forest. The Center brings a regional perspective to Washington, DC, with tangible, local projects to help decision-makers shape programs that will more effectively serve forested places."
We do this by improving public policies that support new industries that use the forest sustainably, such as modern wood heating, and by securing public investments in maintaining forestland and building forest-based businesses.
We encourage our region’s governors, senators and representatives to work together for the region. For visibility and funding, our four governors, eight U.S. senators, and 7 U.S. Representatives can provide a strong collective voice.
We also work with federal agency staff, helping them to understand the needs and opportunities of the Northern Forest, and securing important assistance through programs such as the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency.
As a nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 status from the IRS, the Center does not support or oppose candidates for public office nor engage in partisan activities.
Federal and State Wood Energy Policy
State and federal energy policy is focused predominantly on transportation fuels and electricity, not on heating. Yet it is in thermal energy use that the Northern Forest has the most to gain (or lose). The Northeast consumes 84% of the entire U.S. supply of home heating oil—5.5 billion gallons annually. Buying this oil sends $10 billion out of the region each year.
Substituting sustainably produced heat from wood for even a portion of this oil use can benefit the Northern Forest region by reducing its reliance on imported oil, strengthening the economic basis for sustainable forestry in the region, and creating new economic opportunities for Northern Forest communities.
To complement its own wood heat programming, the Center works with partners across the region and beyond to identify and advocate for ways that federal and state energy policy can support the region in realizing this potential. These policies include state pellet boiler rebate programs and federal tax credits, for example. Examples of these types of policies can be found here.
Rural Development Policy
Rural areas like the Northern Forest provide vital goods, services, and experiences to the nation, but rural investment by national foundations has declined and rural development dollars at the federal level are frequently on the chopping block. The Center works with partners around the country to develop and highlight innovative regional approaches to rural development and advocate for investment in rural regions.
Our work and the integrative approaches to rural, forest-based economic development that we pursue has informed investment strategies at USDA Rural Development, the Northern Border Regional Commission, and at the state level.
The Farm Bill
Every five years, the US Congress revises the Farm Bill, which directs the vast majority of federal agriculture, forestry, conservation, and food policy in the United States. The bill directly affects the type of federal rural development, forestry and conservation programs available in the Northern Forest. Thanks in part to the Center's efforts, the last Farm Bill—passed in 2014—contained new support for regional approaches to rural development as well as reauthorization for key regional programs such as the Northern Border Regional Commission.
The Center works with partners across the region and nationally to ensure that Northern Forest interests are well represented in this key piece of public policy. The 2018 Farm Bill is currently under development, and we're working through partnerships like the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition and the Rural Development Innovation Group to make Northern Forest voices heard.