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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462


For Release:

May 12, 2000

Contact:

Gail Mastrati, 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell, 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM, RURAL LANDS COALITION, INVITE SMALL FOREST OWNERS TO FREE WORKSHOP SATURDAY, MAY 20

Forest Based Business Opportunities Will Be Explored

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island Rural Lands Coalition will host a free workshop Saturday, May 20 to show forest landowners new ways to generate revenue from their forests. The Alternative Forest-Based Business Workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, at Shady Acres Farm on Shippee Schoolhouse Road in Foster. This workshop will be held outdoors, and attendees should dress accordingly.

Participants will gain information on marketing specialty forest products, particularly the market for floral greens. The workshop will include a tour of the Shady Acres Farm property to educate landowners about assessing their property and identifying potential specialty products in the forest.

To reserve a place at the workshop, call Greg Cassidy at 222-3434, ext. 4403, by May 18. Those unable to attend can call for a copy of the workshop materials.

The Alternative Forest-Based Business Workshop is part of a collaborative project between DEM and the Rural Lands Coalition to promote cottage-industry forest uses for small forest parcels. Although small-forest and wood-related businesses contribute over $120 million a year to the state's economy, management for traditional wood-based forest products is difficult in Rhode Island because of small parcel sizes. More than 80 percent of privately owned forestland is in parcels of less than 10 acres, too small to be eligible for tax benefits under the state's Farm, Forest and Open Space law, or for protection via title or conservation easement purchase under the Forest Legacy program. These parcels face the same development pressures as agriculture lands and are of vital significance to the economy, and to the protection of green space and wildlife habitats.

The project is assessing alternative forest uses that have the potential to generate enough income to pay property taxes and to foster economic activities that are consistent with rural character and lifestyle. It is being coordinated by DEM's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy, as part of a $30,000 grant from the US Forest Service. Areas of focus include:

•Edible products, such as honey, maple syrup, mushrooms, nuts, and berries; •Medicinal products, such as ginseng and witch hazel;

•Floral products, such as floral greens, ferns, mosses, and native plants;

•Specialty wood products, such as charcoal, and material for woodworking; and

•Fee-based active and passive recreation on private forestlands.

The RI Rural Lands Coalition works to ensure the future protection and preservation of Rhode Island's farms, forests, and open spaces by promoting issues such as wise land use, water supply protection, current use land taxation, and support of locally grown products. Coordinated by the Southern Rhode Island Conservation District, the Rural Lands Coalition consists of more than two dozen partners including non-profit organizations, universities, and local, state, and federal government agencies.


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