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FRA Helping Forest Products Industry Get Active

Forest Resources Association Launches New Pro-Forestry Activism Web Site.

By
Date Posted: 9/1/2000


In the past year the Forest Resources Association (FRA) has done at least two good things to boost its public relations effort. FRA improved its name – it used to be the American Pulpwood Association (APA) – and it made a top-notch addition to its Web site that explains simply and directly how you can become a pro-forestry activist.

Some FRA members probably still prefer the old name. That is the nature of name changes. But "Forest Resources Association" has a pleasing, woodsy, people-friendly feel to it. The "American Pulpwood Association" served its purpose, but someone must have realized that name had a distinctly industrial flavor that doesn’t help in the public relations wars. The new name is a good one.

In the same vein, FRA has updated its Loggers Activist Manual. You can see it for yourself, on the public part of the Web site, www.forestresources.org/.

The Web site is designed in frames, so the links on the left side of the page always remain on top, no matter what part of the FRA site you visit. There is a members-only page, and you need a password to get there. But you do not need a password to access the activist material. Just look for the Be Active! hyperlink on the left side of the page.

It was a wise decision to make the Be Active! pages accessible without a password. The anti-forestry crowd already knows how to make big-government environmental activism work for them. Limiting access on the FRA would have only succeeded in keeping potential pro-forestry activists from information they need.

If you’re unsure about starting down the road to activism, check out the comments made by others. You may even know one of these pro-forestry activists. They are Rita Carlson, Matt Bennett, Mary Wirth, Rose Comstock and Jerry Klemm. You will find e-mail addresses for all of them but Jerry. Jerry’s friends would like to get him online, but even in retirement, Jerry seems too busy to bother with a computer. If you want to contact Jerry, you can find his phone number on the site.

The advantages of an Internet-based handbook are legion. The previously published "Loggers Activist Manual: An Idea Book On How To Influence Public Opinion In Your Local Community," was so big that it was kept in a three-ring binder. It was assembled in 1993, when FRA was still APA.

Doug Domenech, the forester and former APA staffer who assembled the original 1993 manual, said of the Internet version that "once again, FRA has performed a great service to loggers everywhere. The online version is outstanding."

The original version had some attractive features. It had pages of pro-logging line art that could be photocopied and used in advertising with younger children as pages to color. And there was a great videotape with logger activist interviews. In our visual world, videotape is always good. The package was a useful and informative pre-Internet product.

But the updated Be Active! information covers the key issues in a more time-efficient way, if only because it’s electronic. Neil Ward, the FRA’s director of communications, did the heavy lifting for the Internet version. FRA committee oversight was provided by the FRA National Pro-Active Communications and Education Task Group, staffed by Steve Jarvis, FRA’s Director of Forestry Programs. Neil made sure the e-version is as good for its time as the three-ring binder version was in its day.

When you visit the site, you will read that "in our ‘competitive’ democracy, every citizen falls into one of two categories: players and victims. Players are individuals who not only vote, but actively compete within the political and policy-making area. The rest are victims."

Hear hear! FRA hopes that you will read the material offered by the FRA and be a player, not a victim. It is a hope many of us share with FRA.

The FRA also is inviting other members of the forest products industry that have Web sites to link to the FRA Be Active! site.

You can choose to be a player in many ways. The Be Active! sections called: Are You a Pro-Forestry Activist?; Communicating with Public Officials; Communicating with the News Media; Speaking to the Public; Pro-Active Forestry Allies; and Pro-Active Forestry Educational Resources.

Somewhere, under one of those headings, you will find your activist niche. My own interest runs strongest in Communicating with the News Media. I am pleased to say that I found the section, Communicating with the News Media, as professional, as thorough, and as concise as possible. Especially since FRA meant to keep the guidelines short and manageable, instead of dull and interminable.

To you, FRA says: be a player. Be Active! You have no choice. As pro- forestry activist Matt Bennett says on the site, "I understand what the future would look like if, as Vice President Al Gore suggests, protecting the Earth were the ‘central organizing principle’ of our country, and it is not a future I want my children to have to survive."

In her testimonial, activist Mary Wirth tells us: "Life is interesting, and God does work in mysterious ways. He’s blessed me with a wonderful husband…Marriage is a life-altering proposition under any circumstances, but for me it determined my professional destiny as well. For to love a forester; to live in a beautiful, forested, rural timber town; and to be a person of principle, left me few options other than to jump in with both feet and protect what I loved when all were attacked…If all in the forestry community spoke out, we would be heard loud and clear. I believe that what I do makes a difference, and I believe you can make a difference, too."

So check it out at www.forestresources.org/. Ask not what the forests can do for you, but what you can do for the forests.

(Editor’s Note: Rich Jefferson may be contacted via e-mail at greenoak@visuallink.com.)


 






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