FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2012
SC State Forester Picked for National Forestry Award
(Columbia, SC) The American Forest Foundation has recognized South Carolina State Forester Henry E. (Gene) Kodama for his meritorious support of the American Tree Farm System.
The Sustained Excellence Award is presented annually to a state forester who has best championed the cause for supporting tree farms as critical to economic development. Kodama, agency head of the Forestry Commission, was nominated on his record of reaching out to and encouraging private landowners who’ve dedicated their land to growing the forest resource. He’s also recognized for encouraging Commission staff to participate in the Tree Farm Program, perform inspections, and attend Tree Farm training and workshops as part of their official duties.
"This is a well deserved honor for State Forester Gene Kodama. Gene has a passion for forestry. Under Gene's leadership, the SC Forestry Commission strongly supports the SC Tree Farm Committee making it one of the best programs in the nation,” says Cam Crawford, president of the South Carolina Forestry Association. “Gene personally advocates for tree farmers at the SC General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and with the public."
Organizers say a hands-on approach to landowner outreach was key to the SC State Forester’s winning the Sustained Excellence Award:
- Kodama communicates regularly with the SC Tree Farm Committee and SC Tree Farm leaders.
- Kodama supported the SC Tree Farm Committee’s Legislative Advocacy Days in 2011 and 2012. His guidance and leadership led to stellar success during recent legislative sessions which included passage of the Right to Practice Forestry Act, Prescribed Fire Act, Timber Theft Act, and Property and Firefighter Protection Act.
- To clarify the meaning and intention of the Right to Practice Forestry Act, Kodama petitioned the SC Attorney General for an opinion statement. This was needed to help landowners, Tree Farmers, and local governments fully understand the Act.
- He participates in the SC Tree Farm Committee’s annual Field Tour & Awards Ceremony when possible and supports agency participation in the event.
Kodama says it’s essential to support private forest landowners. The timber they grow enables the forestry industry to have a $17 billion impact on the state’s economy and be the biggest manufacturing sector in terms of job numbers (90,000) and wages paid ($4.1 billion).
“Tree Farmers and other private forest landowners are critical to the number-one manufacturing segment’s success and growth. In fact, 88 percent of South Carolina’s 13.1 million forested acres are privately owned and 92 percent of the wood consumed by industry comes from that privately-owned land,” Kodama emphasized.
Job numbers and per capita income (forestry salaries exceed average state wage by about 30 percent) can be increased by encouraging landowners to grow more wood. Tree Farm and other support systems do just that by helping landowners improve their lands’ productivity and profitability.
For Kodama, the goals are industry success, job production, and forest resource sustainability.
“Landowners want to retain and take care of their properties in a sustainable manner and need good timber markets to have the money to do so. Forest product mills need private landowners’ timber to be successful and to provide good jobs. The entire forestry cycle of landowners, vendors, suppliers, employees, and manufacturing will all be more successful with a sustainable and expanding wood supply. Tree Farmers and other private landowners are key ingredients to SC forestry’s economic and environmental success.”
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For more information, call Scott Hawkins, (803) 896-8820
Photo caption: Bettina Ring (right), Senior VP with American Forest Foundation, presents SC State Forester Henry E. Kodama with the 2012 Sustained Excellence Award
SC Forest-related businesses have a $17 billion annual impact on our economy.
For every $1.00 invested by the state in its Forestry Commission, forest industry produces about $1,200.00 of economic impact.