This week we commemorate National Forest Products Week. We use this time to celebrate the successes of the past year and recognize how much nature provides to our nation through forest products. During Forest Products Week we recognize the value of forest products and commit to conservation practices that help responsibly manage U.S. forests.
To advance our mission and serve our purpose, we balance the short- and long-term needs of people and nature by providing access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological and social vitality. To do this, we need to use every tool and authority we have.
That’s why we need to support a strong forest products market. A strong market helps us remove excess vegetation that would otherwise fuel catastrophic wildfires. A strong market supports a sustainable building sector, when it uses wood, a renewable resource. It creates more jobs through a sustainable flow of forest products. This is especially important in rural communities, where other sources of income might be few.
I am proud to say that we are making progress. In fiscal year 2018, the Forest Service sold 3.2 billion board feet of timber—the most in 21 years.
But we need to do more. The materials we remove often have little value, so we are hard at work finding new uses for wood at our Forest Products Lab and elsewhere across the Forest Service. As we celebrate National Forest Products Week, I want to acknowledge the progress we achieved and recognize how far we have come.
The first major success to celebrate is the Timber Innovation Act in the Farm Bill. These new provisions will help us support the wood products market while contributing to a stronger mass timber sector.
The second major success is the inclusion of mass timber in the new version of the International Building Code. The new code allows for tallwood buildings up to 18 stories high. Three states have already pre-adopted these provisions, and some cities are close to pre-adoption as well.
I am also delighted to announce that our 2020 Wood Innovations Grants are now officially open. Through this grant program, we invest in projects that boost local economies while creating new uses for wood as building materials, as a renewable energy source and more.
These successes are possible because of your work. Every person across the agency contributes to sustaining our nation’s forests. Thank you all for the work you do every day.