RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - There’s concern over Pineville’s Forest Research Station after the U.S. Forest Service decided to move one of the research units to Alabama.
“We are a little selfish that we like to see it close to home," said Buck Vandersteen, Executive Director with the Louisiana Forestry Association. "We were surprised, really surprised and disappointed."
Vandersteen heads the Louisiana Forestry Association, a nonprofit that aids those involved in the forestry industry in the area. Even though there are several research units left in Pineville, he is concerned about losing the wood utilization unit could be a telltale sign of things to come.
“The number of scientists get less and less and less that eventually you get to the point where there is no one left standing," said Vandersteen.
So to prevent that from happening, the forestry association reached out to those with the power of the purse: Washington D.C.
Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, along with Rep. Ralph Abraham, are pushing to get the research station funded through the Interior-Environment Appropriations Minibus Bill.
"The Pineville Forestry Research Station is a critical resource for Louisiana’s forestry association,” said Sen. Cassidy. “Keeping the research station open is a priority and I’m glad we are able to get it into the Department Of Interior funding bill."
The provision would ensure $500,000 for the station for upkeep and adding staff. So far, it has passed in the Senate and will now head to the House.
"They are scientists, they do excellent work,” said Vandersteen. “And they are so critical in helping this industry, which is a multi-billion dollar industry here in Louisiana."
For the forestry association, it's about keeping them close to home.
"It has given many people in Louisiana a direct opportunity to get to the forest service research specialists in this area," said Vandersteen.
Vandersteen believed the bill could keep the wood utilization unit here in Pineville, a group years ago that was pivotal in the southern plywood industry, but that is unknown as of now.
KALB also reached out to folks with the U.S. Forest Service and haven't heard back as of yet. We will, of course, keep you up to date on what happens with the bill in Washington D.C.