September 28, 2009

Senator Gillibrand Fighting for New York’s Fair Share of Forest Research Dollars – Receives Commitment from Chairman to Address the Issue

Federal Research Dollars are Critical to Economic Vitality of the 18.5 Million Acres of New York’s Forested Land

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, continued her fight to ensure New York State receives its fair share of forest research dollars late last week. The Interior Appropriations Bill has $2.1 million for Northeastern States Research Cooperative (NSRC). This funding would be used to maintain critical forestry research programs in New York State, including the SUNY-ESF which received funding through this program in the past. The current committee report lists only New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, and does not include New York State. Late last week, Senator Gillibrand received a commitment from the Chairman Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to address this during conference and allow New York State to access these funds.

"The original intent of Congress was to have all four states jointly funded by the enacted authorization of this act," said Senator Gillibrand. "Unfortunately, New York has been left out of the Forest Service budget requests this year. The NSRC's research is critical to the economic vitality and quality-of-life in the 18.5 million acres of New York's forested land."

"I would like to thank my colleague for bringing this to my attention and I will certainly look into this matter during conference negotiations," said Senator Feinstein.

Federal dollars for NSRC would enable New York and SUNY-ESF to be a visible and powerful partner in NSRC with the ability to direct research agendas beneficial to New York State. They would focus on enhancing and rejuvenating forest-based regional economies.

Forest-based manufacturing provides thousands of jobs and about $10 billion of annual shipments from New York State alone. New York's Forest Products Industry, the fifth largest manufacturing sector, employs more than 60,000 people and is critical to the region. The potential of wood-based bio-refining technology and technology transfer to develop sustainable industrial chemicals industry in New York would provide an economic boon to the region.  Without costly retooling, the beleaguered Pulp and Paper Industry could, in a relatively short time, be prepared to produce profitable and environmentally safe plastics and chemicals from wood.  This NSRC initiative would provide crucial commercial diversity in the industry while at the same time help ensure low environmental impact and maintain the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the northern forests.