Sens. Ossoff, Cassidy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Forest Management

Georgia ranks as top forestry state in the nation

Georgia’s forestry industry generated $41.3 billion of economic impact in 2021 & supported over 55,000 direct jobs

Washington, D.C. — As Congress works on this year’s Farm Bill, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff today introduced a bipartisan bill to help strengthen and grow Georgia’s booming forestry industry.

Sen. Ossoff and Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the bipartisan Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023, which would modernize and improve the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program to ensure reliable data is available to inform forest management decision making.

The bipartisan bill would require the Forest Service to prepare an updated strategic plan to expand data collection and further integrate advanced remote sensing technology.

According to the forestry industry, the improvements would unlock new economic opportunities for foresters and better protect the environment.

“Georgia leads the nation in forestry. I’ve worked closely with Georgia foresters to write a bipartisan bill that will support the efficient management of Georgia’s forests,” Sen. Ossoff said. “I’m bringing Republicans and Democrats together to support this vital industry for our state and Georgia’s beautiful woodlands.”

“Louisiana thrives when we use our natural resources efficiently, including timber,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This bill uses new data to better manage our forests and support Louisiana foresters as they grow.”

Sens. Ossoff and Cassidy’s bipartisan bill is backed by the National Alliance of Forest Owners, American Forest Foundation, Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia Forestry Commission, and more.

“We applaud Senators Ossoff and Cassidy on the introduction of The Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023, which will support private working forests, the communities that depend on them, and the environmental benefits they provide,” said Dave Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO). “This bipartisan bill is a crucial step towards enhancing the U.S. Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program to provide more reliable and relevant forest and forest-carbon data that private working forest owners need. Investing in modernizing the FIA program will support the forest stewardship, market innovation, and rural job creation while also promoting the economic, environmental, and climate benefits private working forests provide. We look forward to working with Senators Ossoff and Cassidy, and the full Congress, to strengthen forest stewardship by passing the Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023.”

“The Georgia Forestry Association (GFA) applauds Senators Ossoff and Cassidy for introducing the Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023. Our forests are critical to the survival, comfort, and progress of our society — cleaning our air and water while providing wildlife habitat and renewable products we use every day,” said Andres Villegas, President & CEO, Georgia Forestry Association. “Action by Congress on this act is important to Georgia’s 24 million acres of forestland, as it will help to modernize data collection, which will include a more frequent and accurate accounting of our forest resources — including above ground and below ground carbon storage and sequestration. The act will also provide a ‘one-stop’ resource for businesses and the public to access and leverage data and analysis to gain a better understanding of the role private and public forests play in sustaining our environment and economy. Most importantly, it will serve as a vital connection for forestry to the greater economy that is looking for solutions to meet increasingly important sustainability goals. Georgia is the #1 Forestry State in the Nation, and GFA is deeply grateful for Senator Ossoff’s leadership on this bill.” 

“As a manager of timberlands throughout North America, F&W Forestry Services works with timberland owners to help them make management decisions that maximize the potential of private forests. Reliable data is at the center of these decisions and F&W is greatly encouraged by the introduction of the Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023 as it is needed to help meet the needs of advanced forestry practices that will continue to position our forests to be solutions to the challenges faced by current and future generations,” said Jody Strickland, Chief Business Officer of F&W Forestry Services in Albany, GA.

“As a multi-generational timberland owner based in Fargo, Georgia, Superior Pine Products is proud of the role our sustainably managed forests play in the environmental health and economic vitality of the communities where we operate,” said Scott Griffin, President & CEO of Superior Pine Products in Fargo, GA. “We are heartened by Senator’s Ossoff’s introduction of the Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023, as it will provide the data necessary for the value of our forests provide to be recognized beyond timber to include carbon, water and wildlife.” 

“As a Georgia forest landowner, Stuckey Timberland fully supports the Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023. The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program provides critical landscape-wide data that supports sustainable forest management,” said Ken Eason, Vice President, Stuckey Timberland in Eastman, GA. “Better data helps forest owners make better-informed decisions. This legislation will overhaul the current program, which is outdated and in need of modernization to meet the increasing demands of stakeholders. This bill provides the necessary updates to the FIA program, including expanded mandates for forest carbon data collection and analysis, which will provide a complete carbon picture of our forests, including above and below-ground carbon.”

“The Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023, which will provide crucial data to help forest owners sustainably manage forests, is smart policy and Congress should enact this bill without delay,” said Troy Harris, Managing Director of Timberland and Innovative Wood Products at Jamestown. “Because Jamestown occupies a unique position as both a working forest owner and a real estate developer, we fully understand that building with wood is a natural climate solution. Our first-of-its-kind mass timber project at Ponce City Market in Atlanta is both innovative and environmentally friendly, and we have the data to show our carbon benefit. Other companies do not have Jamestown’s unique point of view, and most face challenges when seeking to build with sustainable and low-carbon materials as the carbon data they need to spec, verify, and report their carbon impact is not readily available. By ensuring the carbon data for forests and wood products is standardized and accessible, Jamestown and others would be able to better plan and provide valuable carbon information to key stakeholders – from lenders and investors to developers and tenants.”

Click here to read the bipartisan Forest Data Modernization Act of 2023.


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