Good forest management pays off for all
By James L. Cummins
Special to The Messenger
Marc Brinkmeyer is the owner and CEO of Idaho Forest Group (IFG), one of the nation’s largest lumber producers.
I have known Marc for six years, through our shared conservation work. He and I are Regular Members of the Boone and Crockett Club, North America’s oldest conservation organization, formed in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt. Marc is also a board member of the National Wild Turkey Federation. When he is not donating his time and resources working on conservation projects or improving the communities where he works, he is hunting and fishing.
This past week, IFG announced plans for a new sawmill in Lumberton, Mississippi, a town with a history of producing lumber. They are bringing new technology and will employ 135 employees to fully utilize the forests in the surrounding area.
Forest management and conservation can reverse the poor forest conditions we are witnessing in many parts of Mississippi and help wildlife thrive. Managing forests, which includes harvesting, makes them resilient and able to withstand fire, pests, and diseases. Many wildlife managers consider active forest management the best solution to meet the habitat requirements of the largest variety of species. Forest management reduces canopy closure and creates young forest habitat, which provides food, nesting, and hiding places for wildlife. It protects stream health and fish, drinking water, and coastal marsh habitats.
Without the value that companies like IFG can provide to landowners, logging contractors, and truck drivers, we are likely to see less forest management, which will exacerbate the problems of wildfire, lead to further degradation of forest health, endanger more species, and result in poor air and water quality. We are also likely to see increased land conversion to non-forested uses and the loss of the basic capacity to ensure we have healthy, resilient forests important for a wide variety of ecological benefits, not to mention the economic benefits to rural America, especially in an economically depressed state like Mississippi.
What started as a side trip to South Mississippi as part of a turkey hunting trip Marc made a few years ago is now resulting in a great project–one that will create good-paying jobs for many Mississippians, provide a significant economic impact to the state, and will benefit the conservation and management of our forests. And to top it off, it is owned by a remarkable individual who has a concern for conservation and the communities where he works. I don’t have all the answers, but the more people like Marc Brinkmeyer we have in Mississippi, the better.
Wildlife Mississippi supports IFG’s effort to build a mill in Lumberton and looks forward to partnering with them to further conserve our region’s forests. I also would like to thank the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, the City of Lumberton, the Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership, the Mississippi Development Authority, and the Pearl River Community College for their confidence in Marc and IFG. All of our combined efforts will go a long way to continuing to make Mississippi a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
James L. Cummins is executive director of Wildlife Mississippi, a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.