Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pilot program helps Ky. and Tenn. loggers gain certification as environmentally sensitive

A new program aims to help loggers in Kentucky and Tennessee gain a competitive edge through additional certification and training. The Certified Master Logger Program, a joint effort of the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Forest Industries Association and the Kentucky Division of Forestry, has certified 39 logging firms in western Kentucky and Tennessee thus far. Kentucky loggers have $1 billion in annual revenue.

The program is an expansion of the Kentucky's state-mandated Master Logger Program, but this version is voluntary and performance-based. Organizers developed the new program after being approached by NewPage Corp., a paper manufacturer for Time Warner publications. Time Warner wants to make sure its paper comes from timber logged in ways that protect the environment. By completing this program, loggers can gain that certification. NewPage, which has a paper plant near Wickliffe, at the western end of Kentucky, is funding the initial stage of the program and gives preferred status to loggers who complete it.

“That’s an automatic guarantee that this program’s having an impact to the loggers involved and direct economic impact for the rural communities they live and work in,” University of Kentucky Forestry Professor Jeff Stringer, who oversees the program, said in a news release. (Read more)

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