by Collin Miller
Together with family farms, the wood-based businesses of the Catskills enable the region’s woods and agricultural lands to thrive. Forest-based industry – from larger plants to small studios – account for over 1,500 jobs in the Catskill Mountain Region. The rural character that makes our communities attractive places to spend a weekend or settle down is protected through the traditions and integrity of the men and women who work with locally harvested wood. Catskill WoodNet is a group that will support these ideals and work together to strengthen the ties between healthy forests and sustainable businesses in the region.
Catskill WoodNet held its first gathering in November 2005 at The Andes Hotel to meet, swap information, talk about wood, and discuss future goals for the group. The reception was attended by over 40 people – from small sawmill operators to studio furniture makers to rustic artists – that see the budding organization as a way to improve local wood utilization and share marketing opportunities. The Catskill WoodNet was founded to promote Catskill-made wood products and strengthen the communication between wood-based businesses the Catskill Mountain Region of New York.
Through the support of the USDA Forest Service and the Watershed Agricultural Council’s (WAC) Forestry Program in Walton, Catskill WoodNet will build a website that dozens of wood businesses will use to sell and source raw materials, share resources, and promote their businesses. An online message board is planned to give users the ability to post buy/sell/trade ads, list upcoming events, or share information. Plans are underway for the site to launch in Summer ’06. After the web-site has been completed, the Catskill WoodNet will have a foundation to continue the growth of the organization and develop additional projects.
Encouraging people to purchase Catskill-made wood products and raising awareness of the impact that purchases have on the region’s forests is also one of the goals of the new website. Through supporting Catskill WooodNet member businesses, people will bolster the economic viability of local forest-based businesses and sustain Catskill communities while producing fresh, clean water for New York City residents. Whether the product is hardwood lumber or quarter-sawn oak furniture, connecting people and local wood businesses together with Catskill WoodNet will have a positive impact. Charter WoodNet member, Paul LaPierre of Mountain Sun Workshop in Hunter states, “The time is right, and a definite need exists for a group like this in the Catskills.”
Catskill WoodNet membership is open to wood products businesses in Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. If you’d like to get involved and learn more about the group and the developments of the web-site, you are invited to attend the next gathering on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 from 6-8pm in the Longhouse Lodge at Belleayre Mountain in Highmount, NY. The meeting will introduce the group to the mission statement, discuss ideas for a logo, and answer any questions regarding the website. As always, these events are also a great opportunity to network with other members of the local wood-using community. If you have any questions about the group and our upcoming meeting, please call Collin Miller at WAC at (607) 865-7790 x112 or e-mail [email protected].
Forestry Program Specialist
Watershed Agricultural Council
33195 State Route 10
Walton, NY 13856