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Rural Economic Development Working Group

The Rural Economic Development Working Group, a diverse group of legislators bringing different perspectives, different backgrounds, spanning a variety of legislative committee,  is arranging educational opportunities over the summer and fall to learn more about the forest economy. The group has planned site visits across the state to hear directly from folks on the ground about their experiences, perspective, and ideas for how to advance the future viability of the forest economy.



ZOOM SESSION: July 7, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m with FPR Commissioner Snyder and Eric Sorenson (Fish & wildlife) on the Current State of the Forest Economy and Vermont Conservation Design. 

IN-PERSON SITE VISIT: July 21st, Central Vermont

  • Ryegate Powerplant, Stored Solar LLC (Tyler Mousley, Larry Anderson) 



ZOOM SESSION: August 4th, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Michael O’Grady on the History of Legislative Efforts to Help the Forest Products Industry 


IN-PERSON SITE VISIT: August 18th, Brattleboro Area

  • Allard Lumber Co. in Brattleboro (Cliff Allard, CEO) 
  • Long View Forest, Hartland (Contracting, Forestry & Woodland Services: Jack Bell, General Manager)  
  • Third visit to be confirmed



ZOOM SESSION: September 1st, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Learning from Networks in Vermont

  • Recording of the meeting here
  • Christine McGowan, Director, Forest Products Program, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund 
  • Ellen Kahler, Executive Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund 


IN-PERSON SITE VISIT #1: September --- (TBD) Newport Area

  • Columbia Forest Products, Newport
  • Built By Newport, Newport
  • North Country Career Center, Sam Nijenson (Instructor)
  • LaBranche Lumber, Coventry
  • Jared Nunery, Orleans County Forester


IN-PERSON SITE VISIT #2: September ___ (TBD), St. Johnsbury Area

  • Kingdom Trails
  • Kirby Mulch Company
  • Weyerhaeuser (owns the 86,000 acres of private land resultant from the Champion land deal)
  • Ethan Allen, Orleans and Beecher Falls
  • Matt Langlais, Essex/Orleans County Forester



ZOOM SESSION: October 8th, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Future of Wood Products Engineering and Lessons Learned from Other States

  • Joe Short, Northern Forest Center on lessons learned from other states 
  • Donna Cassese, who recently retired after four decades at pulp and paper giant Sappi and now consults for the company and sits on the executive committee of the Maine Forest Economy Growth Initiative speaking on the future of wood products engineering
  • Ricky McLain, Executive Director of the Structural Engineers Association of Vermont on Mass Timber construction.
  • Link to Video Recording 

    Access Passcode: dT7vkDf+


IN-PERSON SITE VISIT #1: October ___ (TBD), Rutland Area

  • Colton’s Firewood, Pittsfield
  • Gagnon Lumber, Pittsford Gagnon is both a sawmill and a chip producer for school wood heat systems
  • Vermont Wood Pellet, North Clarendon
  • Ames True Temper, Wallingford


IN-PERSON SITE VISIT #2: October ___ (TBD), Franklin Area

  • Charlie Hancock to help find a small logging contractor at Cold Hollow to Canada site
  • Laughing Stock Farm Sawmill, Fletcher
  • Parent Timber Harvesting (Gabe Parent)
  • Nancy Patch, Franklin/Grand Isle County Forester 9 and engaged with Cold Hollow to Canada)



Link to our Forest Economy Resources List

Contact info if you'd like more info: Rep. Katherine Sims,