George Pozzuto and Mike Kelley with Julie Renaud Evans of the Northern Forest Center in the Milan Community Forest. (Photo by Cheryl Senter).

George Pozzuto and Mike Kelley with Julie Renaud Evans of the Northern Forest Center in the Milan Community Forest. (Photo by Cheryl Senter).

Boosting the forest economy

Community forests providing income, lumber, open space and more for towns in the North Country.

Mike Kelley of Milan is a forester, logger and trucker. The forest provides a living for him and his 40 employees. George Pozzuto spent a career with the U.S. Forest Service.

Pozzuto led efforts to create Milan’s new community forest. Kelley’s company harvested timber from other town-owned land to help pay for it. The logs were sold locally, the money circulating through the North Country economy.

The creation of locally controlled community forests — which provide income, lumber and open space for recreation — is one way that the Northern Forest Center boosts the forest-based economy.

Through its many programs, the center has helped create or sustain an estimated 4,000 jobs, bring in an estimated $176 million for projects in a four-state region and conserve 254,434 acres for community benefit.

The Foundation has supported the center since 1999 through the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and more than 30 other charitable funds established by generous donors.

Pozzuto hopes Milan can grow its community forest to 5,000 acres, which could yield $50,000 in timber income annually — and provide ongoing work in the woods. Students will have an outdoor classroom, and a working forest remains part of the community. “The forest,” Pozzuto said, “is our future.”

This story originally appeared in our 2015 Annual Report.