Dear Network Friends,

August finds us all grappling with the uncertainties of our times, preparing children for schooling this fall – whatever that will look like – and bracing for spikes in coronavirus in our communities. For forest economy businesses, planning for tomorrow, let alone next week or next month, is a challenging task. Fortunately, many opportunities have emerged in recent weeks to apply for COVID-19 relief funds that can help stabilize your business cash flow as you navigate the next several months. In particular, be sure to consider the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation’s Forest Economy Stabilization Grant. Applications are open and are first come, first served, so if you are a forest or wood products business in Vermont and are in need of additional funds to help stabilize your business due to COVID-19 disruptions, please consider applying.

If that is not the right fit for you, the Agency of Agriculture’s Working Lands Initiative announced that it will soon unveil a new round of COVID Relief grant funds for farm and forest businesses. You can learn more about it here. Please note that businesses may only receive funding from one agency, so take a look at what is being offered and decide which opportunity is the best fit for your business.

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has also set aside funds for COVID Recovery business assistance programs, and the Vermont Forest Industry Network and our partners at the Northern Forest Center and the Vermont Wood Works Council submitted a proposal to offer targeted COVID-related business coaching and marketing assistance to forest economy businesses this fall. We’ll let you know if this gets approved!

Last month, we asked about topics you would be interested in pursuing in some sort of online ‘event’ this fall/winter, in lieu of our postponed summit. We received 66 responses - thank you! Those who responded said you’d prefer a series of webinars, and your top three topics were: Trends in Wood, the State of Wood Heat, and Forest Technology. I’ll be getting together with our Summit Planning Committee in the coming weeks to see about putting together a short webinar series so we can delve deeper into these topics together. Meanwhile, our Mass Timber Action Team is also discussing a webinar that explores recently constructed mass timber projects in New England – how they did it, why they did it, the benefits of using mass timber, and more – stay tuned!

Another topic getting a lot of attention these days is carbon, and this month we took a look at an exciting new forest carbon pilot project underway in the Northeast Kingdom that aggregates smaller parcels of private, working forest land and enters it into the voluntary carbon market to provide an additional source of income to landowners. We spoke to project lead and forester Charlie Hancock, of North Woods Resource Group, and others about this innovative, first-of-its-kind project! Check out the story here.

Summer is flying by, so make sure you are getting out into the forest not only for work, but also for fun. The leaves are starting to turn in my neck of the woods, and fall will be here before we know it.

Stay safe out there,