Dear Network Friends,

As I write this, I have a hard time believing May is over, except that the past couple of weeks have felt more like winter, spring, summer and fall converging at once. That may be a sign of what a COVID-19 summer will be like: a blur, and not very normal.

Vermont’s forest and wood products industry has taken multiple hits this spring, and though the state is slowly and cautiously re-opening, it will be some time before we fully understand the lasting impact of the pandemic, as well as an April paper mill explosion in Maine and the significant regional market disruption it caused, will have on our ability to recover.

By now you may know that we decided to cancel the 2020 Vermont Forest Industry Summit that we had rescheduled for September at Burke Mountain Resort. Large gatherings just don’t seem like a safe bet this year, and we recognize that most businesses in Vermont are consumed with just making it through the next several months. We’re looking forward to a 2021 Summit, once the coast is clear, and meanwhile we’ll be continuing to investigate new markets for forest and wood products, and new opportunities to learn and network.

I was inspired by an online webinar I attended last week, The Role of Forest Bioeconomy in the Green Economy Transition , hosted by the Embassy of Finland, that featured talks by forest economy experts from Finland, and also from Maine, Michigan and Arkansas all discussing ways in which working forests will be a major contributor to solving some of our most pressing global problems. While not the same as an in-person event, it was worth the time, and does make me wonder if we should try for some sort of virtual summit this fall in place of the in-person event that wasn't meant to be. I'd like to know what you think, so please fill out the short survey below so we can see if there's enough interest in putting something together.

Speaking of technology, a real bright spot on the horizon is the story we just published about a start-up in the Northeast Kingdom that is taking forest mapping to new heights. We have another in the works about how a county forester is finding new ways to engage Vermonters in the forest – without being in the forest. That's what I call making lemonade out of lemons, just in time for summer!

Send me a note if you have news to share.

Stay safe out there,