Dear Network Friends,

Welcome to March, a month that offers us the last grips of winter and some early signs of Spring.

One of those telltale signs can be seen and smelled throughout Vermont: steam rising from the woods and the distinct smell of maple sap boiling down into an exquisite treat for the tastebuds. So, of course, we could not resist featuring one of Vermont’s many standout maple producers who depend on our healthy and productive forests: Runamok Maple, a growing business that has gained national attention for its Sparkle Syrup and other innovations in the food branding space. Check out the story here.

Last newsletter, I mentioned a bill moving through the Vermont Legislature that would create a Vermont Forest Future Road Map Project. The bill would direct the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to work with the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and industry leaders and stakeholders to develop an industry ‘road map’ with specific recommendations and priorities developed by the industry for how to advance Vermont’s forest economy well into the future. This effort is based on a similar process created by the legislature and used successfully to advance Vermont’s agriculture and food system. The bill passed out of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee and now awaits consideration by the House Appropriations Committee. You can read the latest version of the bill here.

If you couldn’t attend the Vermont Forest Products Association virtual annual meeting over the weekend, you missed a great celebration of some of our forest economy’s most valuable players. Columbia Forest Products Vermont Veneer Operations in Newport won Outstanding Wood Manufacturer; John Adler of Northeast Woodland Training won Outstanding Contribution to Safety; Kathleen Wanner, Vermont Woodlands Association, won Outstanding Commitment to Forest Industry Education; Bill Sayre of A. Johnson was awarded Outstanding Service to the Forest Industry and Bruce Shields was unanimously voted in as Director Emeritus. Congratulations to all!

And in late January, the Vermont Wood Works Council held its annual meeting with a changing of the guard: Charles Shackleton (Shackleton-Thomas) has stepped up to become board president, replacing Lucas Jenson (Treehouse Hardwoods and Mill Shop); and the board honored longtime executive director Kathleen Wanner, who is retiring this year. Morning Ag Clips, a New York-based communications firm, will assume Kathleen’s role moving forward.

We’re almost ready to launch registration for the Vermont Forest Industry Summit 2022! The event will take place June 9-10 at Burke Mountain Resort. Keep an eye out for an email when registration opens.

Migration season is beginning, so keep your eyes out for more action in the woods and in the skies. And be sure to get some sugar on snow before it’s all gone.

Stay safe out there,