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ALC Executive Vice President
Daniel J. Dructor
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P.O. Box 966
Hemphill, TX 75948
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Loggers Working in the Trenches

by Eric Carleson, Executive Director, Associated California Loggers

I was talking to an ACL member recently and he referenced the title of this Column (“From the Trenches.”) He said to me, “You folks really ARE in the trenches, aren’t you?” He went on to discuss the various projects and negotiations that ACL has been reporting on to our members over the past few years.

 

For a good example of being “in the trenches,” look no further than the photos in this April newsletter, of various ACL Board Members who travelled to Washington DC last month and spent three days meeting with members of Congress, their staff, administrative officials and private sector “think tanks” in an effort to educate and advocate for the issues of our sector of the timber industry.

 

Every year ACL sends a delegation to Washington, and every year we come back knowing that we have put many solid arguments – backed by research and data – in front of the lawmakers and other officials with whom we meet. Our goals are many: to increase forest health by saving California forests from the threat of increased “mega-wildfires” and insect-killed dead and dying trees; to increase water yield for ALL Californians via timber management that avoids impacts on water quality and water supply; to promote a job-creating “win win” biomass alternative energy industry; to save our rural timber communities through increased timber harvest and thinning, and to re-create a timber industry that will attract a new generation of young men and women to commit to the tough but rewarding “great outdoors” work that is timber harvesting.

 

This year, during the very week we were in DC, the most significant pro-timber legislation in years passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Trump. Did the ACL delegation singlehandedly win this victory? The answer is no. Was the ACL delegation part of the “massive flood of grassroots lobbyists” who swarmed the US Capitol and laid a groundswell of support for the legislation that passed? The answer is a resounding YES.

 

Without our laying of the groundwork and flooding the Members of Congress with our information “up close and personal, face to face”, the pressure would have been less intense for negotiators to put protimber provisions in the Omnibus Bill. Among logging states lobbying in DC that week, ACL had one of the largest delegations and visited the most offices – offices of both California lawmakers and of lawmakers from other states (of both parties) who could help get this win accomplished.

 

Our delegation also learned a hard lesson in DC this year. The Omnibus Budget Bill that contains so many good provisions for the timber industry was also a “compromise bill” on a lot of topics that drew plenty of “no” votes and attacks in some of the press, for some of its spending provisions.

 

But that‟s the only major bill that passed, and ACL will join in the effort to see that the Omnibus Bill is properly enacted to bring both money and reforms to the Timber Management side of the US Forest Service in California. For all the good things that made it into the Omnibus Bill for forestry, a number of things didn’t make it.

 

ACL and other timber groups are pushing for those “left out provisions” to make it into the 2018 Farm Bill, which is being negotiated now. If it doesn‟t happen there (as 2018 becomes a combative Election Year), we will get back into battle mode and keep fighting for these reforms to get enacted in the future.

 

Though work on the federal forests is a vitally important part of ACL’s mission, we certainly remain active in state issues (we will report on those as the year goes on), and in providing our members with access to insurance, safety training and ProLogger certification.

 

Still, it is in our “volunteer logger lobbying” that ACL has made its presence most felt in recent years. We keep expanding the number of loggers who want to get personally involved in meetings at the state and federal level. Nowadays, you can usually see ACL members in so many different meetings at so many different levels, that the officials staging these meetings must be thinking: “Who ARE those guys?” That‟s a line from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” but ACL loggers find themselves being spoken of that way all the time – and in a good way.

 

Who are those guys? They are the guys (and gals) who never go away, who always keep fighting, and who will continue to fight “in the trenches” for our members in the years to come.

© AMERICAN LOGGERS COUNCIL, 2018