Georgia County Government - January 2009 - (Page 27)

Feature Robert Farris: Champion for Georgia’s Forests By Stasia Kelly The Georgia Forestry Commission F ly over, drive through, or walk across Georgia and you’ll notice an abundant and notable constant – trees. Our state boasts about 24 million acres of forest land, which provides numerous benefits to Georgia citizens. From clean air and water to forest products, jobs, aesthetic beauty, and thousands of acres of recreational playground, our forests are an amazing resource worthy of awe and protection. “Two out of every three raindrops that fall in Georgia, fall on forest land,” said Robert Farris, Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission. “That’s a lot of forest, and GFC Professionals take our responsibility very seriously for helping protect that land for its many valuable purposes.” It’s a responsibility that Farris has held dearly since studying forestry and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia. He joined the GFC in 1985, and served in a number of capacities before being named Director by Governor Sonny Perdue in August 2008. A recent GFC accomplishment under Farris’ leadership was preparing the 2008 “Sustainable Forest Management in Georgia” report, which provides a detailed analysis of our state’s forestry resources, for the Georgia General Assembly. It shows that 55 Georgia counties are highly dependent on forest activity, and the forest industry has a whopping $28.5 billion impact on the state’s economy. The report states that tree inventory is at a historic high, and there are 163 wood product manufacturing facilities in our state. These facilities convert harvested forest materials to valuable products, while another 1,200 companies further convert these products into goods such as furniture, paper products, and cabinetry. The state’s plentiful forest resource is also poised to fuel Georgia’s emerging bioenergy industry. The Sustainable Forest Management report also highlights the many ecological services forests provide; such as water fi ltration and carbon sequestration benefits, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities. It summarizes the public safety and wildfire prevention services provided by GFC professionals. The report concludes that Georgia’s forests are being sustainably managed to meet the numerous needs of our state today. But in order to meet the ever increasing demands of future generations, many challenges must be met. It is the mission of the Georgia Forestry Commission to meet these challenges by providing leadership, service, and education in the protection and conservation of Georgia’s rich forestry resource. What are some of those challenges? They are issues facing every government official and citizen alike. Growth, urban sprawl, land use, taxes, conservation, public services. Georgia’s forests play key roles in each of these important areas that determine our citizens’ quality of life, today and tomorrow. “I’m proud that so many of our programs are focused on partnerships,” said Farris. “It’s through these grassroots relationships that we can meet the challenges at hand and bring about meaningful change. The ACCG Land Initiative is one of those relationships I expect to grow and prosper for the benefit of our forestry resource and for citizens across the state.” The Georgia Forestry Commission joined forces with ACCG in August by ROBERT FARRIS continued on page 28 “Prescribed fire is a critical forest management tool. And I believe more people understand that in the wake of the south Georgia fires. In fact, I want to extend kudos to the county commissioners and the ACCG for signing off on the Prescribed Fire Resolution that’s been accepted by 157 of 159 Georgia counties. That’s huge.” – Robert Farris JANUARY 2009 27

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - January 2009

Georgia County Government - January 2009
President’s Message
County Matters
Forward-Thinking Bulloch County Leaders Put Progress on the Front Burner
Robert Farris: Champion for Georgia’s Forests
ACCG, BCBS of Georgia Work Together to Improve County Employee Health
Georgia’s Grand Old Courthouses: McIntosh County
Extension News: Cooperative Extension Generates ROI
Research Corner: How Does Your County Rate?
County Parade
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - January 2009