Environmental considerations constantly changing environmental regulation is something all farmers have to contend with.

“But everything you experience in production agriculture, you see it first and you see it in spades in timber,” says Mark Lindgren, CEO of Fruit Growers. “Our forests still represent the American frontier, and people are very protective of the forests and watersheds and all the things forests contribute to.”

Forests provide wildlife habitat and recreation, provide erosion control and even help cool water in streams, which is vital for the fish, he notes.

To help manage the resource in a complex regulatory environment, Fruit Growers employs a staff of 25 forestry-trained employees who oversee timber sales, logging, and reforestation.

About 69 million board feet of timber, was sold in 2005. The co-op foresters manage the timberland on a sustained-yield basis, planting seven trees for every one they cut. As a result, actual wood fiber reserves have been increasing by about 3 to 5 percent each year.

And there may be even more benefits for members on the horizon. Carbon trading, in which landowners receive trade-able “carbon credits” that have a monetary value based on the amount of carbon their trees remove from the atmosphere, could provide another return.

“Studies have shown that older trees are far less beneficial in this regard than young trees,” Lindgren, notes. “So, by taking out older trees and replacing them with younger trees, air quality benefits, Lindgren says.”

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