It's National Agriculture Week!
Celebrate with a fun fact for the Day…
Did you know?
Did you ever think of forestry as being considered agriculture? Well, it certainly is! Moreover, it contributes an enormous amount to Tennessee’s economy each year! Tennessee forests cover half the state’s land area. That’s about 14 million acres, and currently ranks as one of the three top hardwood lumber producing states in the USA. The forestry industry generates $15 billion each year for the state’s tourism industry by providing recreational opportunities from the Smokies to the Mississippi (think about the 56 state parks located across the state, encompassing over a thousand miles of trails and 36 campgrounds).
Tennessee timber generates almost 300 million in revenue on private lands and contributes significantly to the 2.5 billion annual hunting and fishing industry each year through the provision of clean water and wildlife habitats.
How about these fascinating forest facts? There are over 530,000 private woodland owners in Tennessee. Approximately 89 percent of Tennessee trees are hardwoods, with over 120 tree species located across the state. Sawlog and veneer logs comprise just under 50 percent of total volume cut each year, with pulpwood contributing almost 40 percent.
Not only is forestry important from these vantage points, but many conservation education programs are conducted each year across the state to create awareness about various forestry topics, including the BurnSafeTN.org website and ProtectTNForests.org website, where citizens learn how to safely burn debris at home and obtain a burn permit.
Forest health protection programs are also administered across the state on an annual basis. Have you heard of the emerald ash borer? Hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA)? And how about the infamous Southern pine beetle or the gypsy moth? All these insects are assessed and managed across Tennessee through the Forest Service and partnering agencies. Currently, over 6,000 hemlocks have been treated for HWA (over 484 acres) which has been designated hemlock conservation areas.
Urban forestry is gaining demand in Tennessee resulting in an increased awareness of Arbor Day activities and programs, of which the Tree campus Program is maintained at six campuses across the state. In addition, over 40 cities and towns are recognized as Tree City USA locations and approximately 20 Tree Line USAs were recertified last year, of which Tennessee ranks number one in the nation!
Last, but certainly not least…remember those devastating forest fires Gatlinburg suffered last fall? 1,247 wildfires burned 17,772 acres, which was more than double from 2015. The Forest Service was one of the first on the scene, assisting in extinguishing the blazes, as was the Tennessee Department of Forestry, located within the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Moreover, in order to further increase protection across the state, the Forest Service provided 101 cost share grants to volunteer fire departments.
As you can see, forestry contributes in numerous ways across the state. From State Parks to Arbor Day Celebrations; from administering burn permits to fighting wildfires; from conducting Forestry Camps for youth to educating landowners…forestry is a viable and worthwhile industry to the state of Tennessee.