In the early years of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt consolidated 65 million acres of federal forest reserves into the National Forest System and created the United States Forest Service.
Today, the National Forest System comprises more than 190 million acres of forests and grasslands, a priceless remnant of the great wilderness that once stretched across our country.
America's forests have always offered us unique and irreplaceable benefits.
They are a treasured inheritance.
To recognize the importance of our forests, U.S. Congress has designated the week beginning on the third Sunday in October of each year as National Forest Products Week.
Joining the celebration, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker praised the forest products industry in Wisconsin.
Governor Walker credited the conscientious public, private landowners, and businesses for creating jobs and fueling the nation's No. 1 wood products industry.
"It is no surprise to me why Wisconsin's wood products industry is the nation's leader," Walker said. "Wisconsin's wood products industry is growing our state's economy with talented workers, scientists and smart property owners - all dedicated to the health of one of our greatest natural resources - our forests. This is a diverse sector that includes everything from the sawmill operators to the logger to the pulp and paper business. This industry would not be the powerhouse it is without those who are committed to the sustainable care of our forests."
The forest products industry in Michigan is equally important, employing more than 40,000 people with wages equalling $1.5 billion annually.
More than half of Michigan is forestland.
The state's 19.3 million acres of forest make it the richest in timberland among the 21 northern states.
How important is the forest products industry?
We all use forest products every day.
There are the typical forest products, including lumber, utility poles, pulp and paper, firewood, plywood, furniture, oriented strandboard, log homes, particleboard, paneling, shingles, flooring, cabinets, fencing, Christmas trees and bridges.
Most of us already know about that.
However, forest products are also used in other, more unusual items, such as toothpaste, soaps, medicine, printing inks, textiles, essential oils, yarn, jelly, cosmetics, glue, tires, varnish, photographic films, soil conditioners, animal bedding, wax, syrup, vitamins, boxes, plywood adhesives, shampoos, cleaning compounds, sausage casings, cat litter, turpentine, charcoal, pallets, oxygen, carpet, roofs, insecticide, bowling pins, recreation, cereal, resins, hockey sticks, dinnerware, and snowshoes - to name a few.
The importance of the forests and the forest products industries cannot be argued.
To ensure that this vital resource never runs dry, local forest products industries have joined the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program.
This means local industries integrate practices that promote sustainable forestry into their day-to-day operations.
These initiatives include:
- Promptly reforesting harvested areas.
- Protecting water quality in streams and lakes.
- Minimizing the visual impacts of harvesting.
- Managing lands of ecological, geological or historic significance in a manner that accounts for their special qualities.
- Contributing to biodiversity by enhancing landscape diversity and providing an array of habitats.
- Broadening the practice of sustainable forestry by further involving non-industrial landowners, loggers, foresters and employees.
- Reporting publicly progress in fulfilling the commitment to sustainable forestry.
Indeed, if you look at a forest and only see trees, you're missing the real picture.