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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today emphasized the critical role of private working forests to tourism, job creation, and the clean energy economy at a listening session with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Concord.  The session was part of the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative – a nationwide listening tour on conservation, recreation, and reconnecting people to the outdoors.  Shaheen invited Vilsack to hold a listening session in New Hampshire, which resulted in today’s event in Concord. 

“New Hampshire’s working forests are one of our greatest assets, contributing to our state’s unrivalled natural beauty and creating jobs in our communities,” said Shaheen.  “I am committed to making New Hampshire a leader in clean energy production, and our working forests must continue to be a central component of that effort.”

“A prosperous America relies on healthy forests and the benefits they provide: clean air and water, renewable energy sources, wildlife habitat, places to recreate outdoors, and jobs for people throughout the country,” said Vilsack. “Working forests matter and are integral to the history, culture, and prosperity of New Hampshire.  We want to hear and learn about the successful work happening in the region to conserve, restore, and keep working forests economically viable.  It is efforts such as these that will further build a 21st century conservation agenda.”

Besides providing habitat for New Hampshire’s diverse plant and animal life, private working forests are an important economic engine for New Hampshire, supporting thousands of jobs and drawing countless tourists to the state every year.  Private forests are also playing a key role in the transition to a clean energy economy as a source of renewable fuels such as wood pellets and ethanol made from forest byproducts.  In addition, Shaheen has introduced legislation to provide incentives for small forest landowners to adopt forest management practices that would increase the land’s capacity to store more carbon and help mitigate the impact of carbon pollution.

“We appreciate Senator Shaheen’s efforts to make sure that one of these listening sessions would take place in New Hampshire,” said Jane Difley, president and forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.  “In New Hampshire, we take it for granted that state and federal agencies will partner with nonprofit groups to pursue conservation opportunities.  It’s easy to forget that collaborative efforts like these may not be the standard in other parts of the country.  We think that the New Hampshire’s approach to land conservation could serve as a model for other regions.”

President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative this past April to develop a conservation agenda for the 21st century and to help reconnect Americans with our great outdoors.  As part of this effort, the principal leaders of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative are travelling across the country to listen and learn from people directly involved in finding grassroots solutions to conserving our lands and waters and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors.  The sessions will engage the full range of interested groups, including tribal leaders, farmers and ranchers, sportsmen, community park groups, foresters, youth groups, businesspeople, educators, state and local governments, and recreation and conservation groups.