July 2013    
Letter from the Editor

When people learn I work for a water quality organization, often their immediate follow-up is, "Wait. Why would a water quality organization promote logging?" This happened to me just a few weeks ago at a conference in Connecticut. I only had a minute or two to respond to this complicated question. I needed an elevator speech. Fortunately, I was ready, and I wanted to share my answer with you. Hopefully it's helpful the next time you're faced with someone upset that you use trees.


In the U.S., families just like yours and mine own the largest share of forestland. And just like our families, these family forest owners face real costs, such as property taxes. If their forestland can't cover those costs, landowners may be forced to sell chunks of their property. Those chunks usually turn into vacation homes, strip malls, and parking lots.


We lose almost 6,000 acres of open space in the U.S. to development every day - in a year, an area larger than the state of Delaware. Research has shown that financial pressure is the number one reason for that conversion.


This loss of open space hurts water quality. Developed land is the most important indicator of watershed health, and negative impacts can occur when as little as 2.4% of the land becomes developed.


That's why the economic viability of forestry is so important to water quality. When we help keep the ownership of land profitable, we lower the pressure on landowners to sell out to developers. That helps keep land as land, forest as forest, and healthy water as healthy water.  

   Joshua VanBrakle

Wood Products Utilization and Marketing Specialist

Watershed Agricultural Council Forestry Program

(607) 865-7790 ext. 112


An elevator speech is ok at a conference, but it lacks a visual punch. Thankfully, from across the pond comes this short segment on the importance of forestry and wood products by the Danish Wood Initiative: Wood - Nature's Stroke of Genius. Enjoy!



See the Loss of Open Space Firsthand

The U.S. Forest Service has a great website on the problem of forestland conversion. On their "Loss of Open Space" map, you can see photographic examples from across the country of the startling impact of development on forestland over the past forty years.

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Catskill WoodNet and the Pure Catskills branding campaign are economic initiatives of the Watershed Agricultural Council. The Watershed Agricultural Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to support the economic viability of agriculture and forestry through the protection of water quality and the promotion of land conservation in the New York City Watershed region. The WAC is supported by the U.S. Forest Service, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, U.S.D.A and other sources. The Watershed Agricultural Council is an equal opportunity employer and provider.