PORTLAND, Ore. – A new idea to put people back to work in hard-hit timber towns gained ground today with a $50 million allocation in tax breaks from the federal government to Ecotrust, a Portland-based nonprofit committed to strengthening the economies, communities and environment from Alaska to California.
“This is great news for rural communities across the Pacific Northwest,” said Ecotrust President Spencer B. Beebe. “We are creating a future where living-wage jobs and forest health go hand in hand.”
The U.S. Department of Treasury allocated the funding, known as New Markets Tax Credits, to promote restoration of Pacific Northwest forests and stimulate investment in low-income communities.
Traditionally these credits have been applied to urban areas, making this award for rural community development especially significant.
“This is a model for resource dependent communities throughout the Pacific Northwest to put people back to work restoring forests for the long term,” said Grant Munro, president of Munro LLC, a Port Angeles-based timber-management firm.
Through an affiliate, Ecotrust will make investments in businesses in the forest products sector employing management practices that emphasize both job creation and long-term ecological restoration. Investments will allow degraded forestlands with value as fish and wildlife habitat to be purchased, restored and put in long-term harvest rotations. All investments must occur in areas designated as “economically distressed” by the US Census Bureau.
“This is the future of forest investment, where people can earn a decent return without sacrificing their environmental and social values,” said David New, former Vice President of Timberlands for Boise Cascade.
Ecotrust is a conservation organization committed to strengthening communities and the environment from Alaska to California — the Salmon Nation. Ecotrust promotes reliable prosperity in the region, creates and supports tangible examples of success, and grows constituencies for change by working with native peoples and in the fisheries, forestry, and farming sectors to build a regional economy that is based on ecological and social opportunities.