People, Policy, & Popcorn

The SAF Policy & Public Affairs Team is excited to share a full line up of policy-focused conversations at SAF2023. Whether you’re looking to better understand the nexus of science and policy for hot topics like urban forestry and workforce, or you want the latest updates on how new federal investments are making an impact, there’s something for everyone (plus delicious popcorn) at the People, Policy, and Popcorn stage. These sessions are designed for maximum audience engagement, so be ready to share your questions and ideas. 


Led by members of the SAF Committee on Forest Policy, these sessions welcome thought-leaders from across the sector to share unique perspectives on topics that the committee is currently tackling. 

Green Connects All: Exploring Urban and Community Forestry Impacts Across the Country 

Thursday, October 26 • 11 a.m.–12 p.m.
1 CFEs Category 1 • .25 ESA CEUs • 1 ISA Certified Arborist 

Speakers: Dr. Asia Dowtin, Michigan State University; Paul Johnson, Sustainable Forestry Initiative; Caitlyn Pollihan, International Society of Arboriculture
Moderator: Dr. Sharon Jean-Philippe, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

Urban and community forests are vital for community well-being, health, resiliency, and sustainability. Their associated benefits should be accessible and available to everyone. In this session, experts will share a national perspective on urban and community forestry impacts and why policymakers across the country are focusing their attention on this once-overlooked resource.


Growing the Restoration Economy: Can Policy Address Rural Workforce Shortages While Advancing Forestry Solutions? 

Thursday, October 26 • 3–4 p.m.
1 CFEs Category 1 • .25 ESA CEUs • 1 ISA Certified Arborist 

Speakers: Courtney Cagle, Foundation of California Community Colleges; Dr. Adrian Leighton, Salish Kootenai College; Dr. Les Werner, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
Moderators: Tim O’Hara, Forest Resources Association; Amanda Sullivan-Astor, CF, Associated Oregon Loggers 

A skilled workforce plays a vital role in meeting the demands of the forest sector while enhancing the well-being of rural communities. In this session, experts will highlight innovative approaches and the urgent attention policymakers are giving to workforce development in the sector, emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions to address this critical issue on a national scale. Join us to explore the significance of a vibrant workforce in achieving environmental, social, and economic goals.

American Hardwood Sustainability Clashes with European Import Regulations    

*Partner Discussion*

Thursday, October 26 • 4–5 p.m.
1 CFEs Category 1 
• .25 ESA CEUs • ISA Certified Arborist 

Moderator: Dallin Brooks, National Hardwood Lumber Association

European attempts to fight global deforestation and forest degradation have led to unintended challenges in the US. Small woodlot owners, which are common in the US, are being impacted by European Union geo-location requirements. Already struggling to get small forests certified, the hardwood industry is looking to address these concerns through a new sawmill certification. Learn about the Sustainable Hardwood Coalition for certification of hardwood lumber being exported to Europe.


With $14.1 billion in new funding starting to flow into the forestry sector, these sessions offer insight from USDA Forest Service leadership on where we’re moving the needle, what barriers still exist, and how the forestry community can leverage this unique opportunity. 

A Conversation with the Chief

Friday, October 27 • 3–4 pm
1 CFEs Category 1 • .25 ESA CEUs • 1 ISA Certified Arborist

USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore
Moderator: Terry Baker, SAF CEO

We are delighted to welcome USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore to the People, Policy, & Popcorn stage. In this session, Chief Moore will reflect on progress following Congress’s unprecedented investments in forestry and share his perspective on agency and administrative priorities moving forward. After the Chief’s remarks, we will open it up for audience Q&A to continue the dialogue.

Investing in Forestry: Updates on Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding 

Friday, October 27 • 4–5 p.m. 
1 CFEs Category 1 • .25 ESA • 1 ISA Certified Arborist 

Speaker: Sandra Burnett, USDA Forest Service
Danielle Watson, SAF

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) present historic opportunities for the Forest Service and its many partners to invest in America’s landscapes and communities thereby offering significant benefits to the American public. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides the Forest Service $5.5 billion and the authority to tackle pressing issues including wildfire challenges and forest restoration. The Inflation Reduction Act provides an additional $5.5 billion to further address wildfire, climate change, restoration, and urban and community forestry issues. In this session, the Forest Service BIL & IRA Coordinator for State, Private, & Tribal Forestry, Sandra Burnett, will outline how the Forest Service is implementing these historic investments and share information on how the forestry community can be involved and benefit from this work.


Living with Wildfire: Findings of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission 

Saturday, October 28 • 8–9:15 a.m. 
1 CFEs Category 1 • .3125 ESA • 1.25 ISA Certified Arborist 

Moderator: Sam Cook, North Carolina State University
Following direction in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission was formed by the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Commission was charged with developing federal policy recommendations and strategies for Congress on ways to better prevent, manage, suppress, and recover from wildfires. With its report recently delivered to Congress this September, Commission members will outline key findings and recommended actions from the report.

Let’s Talk Climate Resilience and Mature and Old-Growth Management 

Saturday, October 28 • 9:30–11 a.m. 
1 CFEs Category 1 • .375 ESA •  1.5 ISA Certified Arborist 

Moderator: Danielle Watson, SAF
Hear directly from USDA Forest Service staff leading major efforts across the agency and beyond to better understand forest resources and adapt current policies to promote ecological integrity and support social and economic sustainability now and in the future.

Speaker: Dr. Jamie Barbour, USDA Forest Service 
Part 1: Progress on Executive Order 14072 “Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies” 

Speaker: Dr. Chris Swanston, USDA Forest Service 
Part 2: Update on the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding climate-adapted approaches to conserving the nation’s forests and grasslands.