FPL Welcomes USDA Undersecretary, FS Chief

FPL researcher Zhiyong Cai shows Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen food packaging made with nanocellulose materials. (Background L to R: FS Deputy Chief Alex Friend, FPL Director Tony Ferguson, FPL program manager Brian Brashaw, USDA Undersecretary Jim Hubbard, FS Acting Deputy Chief Patti Hirami.)

This week the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) hosted a meeting bringing together leaders from USDA, the Forest Service (FS) and industry partners to discuss opportunities to exploit FPL’s expertise as a world leader in developing and enhancing forest products.

The two-day workshop featured Jim Hubbard, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, and FS Chief Vicki Christiansen. Several other members of FS leadership joined the gathering, including Deputy Chief for Research and Development Alex Friend and Acting Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry Patti Hirami along with FPL leadership, among others. Michael Goergen of the U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities was also in attendance.

Forest Products Laboratory and Northern Research Station Director Tony Ferguson hosted this gathering of officials and decision-makers, saying, “In my long career I have never been a part of a meeting like this one with such high-level involvement. It really (was) an honor to have everybody here for two days and to get their input and observations. I am really excited and energized by these discussions.”

Those discussions centered around exploring technologies developed or tested at FPL that show promise for boosting existing markets or creating new ones, while also promoting forest restoration activities.

Undersecretary Hubbard encouraged the group “to really consider what private-sector industry needs from us right now” and to continue to serve that industry with new product development “as the Lab has always done so successfully in the past.”

The Chief echoed these sentiments and encouraged the Lab to continue to focus on “new beginnings” and not to lose focus on the millions of acres of forest that need treatment and what role forest products play in that realm.

All agreed the Lab is in a unique position to continue to serve the American public and enhance our forests thanks to its cutting-edge research and singular mission in government.

Attendees also took a comprehensive tour of the Lab on the second day during which they heard first-hand from scientists about FPL’s groundbreaking work.

In closing it was agreed that this workshop was just the beginning of an ongoing discussion to spur subsequent actions aimed at enhancing industry and making a difference in all American’s lives.

FS Chief Vicki Christiansen (L) listens to FPL researcher Carl Houtman describe the process of making cellulose nanomaterials in the Lab’s Pilot Plant.

Blog post by Doug Clawson