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Private forest landowners and carbon credits: An emerging East Texas partnership

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These young Tyler County pines can remove almost 10 tons of CO2 per acre per year and continue to accumulate carbon until they reach maturity.  (Photo courtesy of Keelin Parker, Parker Forestry Consulting.)These young Tyler County pines can remove almost 10 tons of CO2 per acre per year and continue to accumulate carbon until they reach maturity. (Photo courtesy of Keelin Parker, Parker Forestry Consulting.)By Col. S. Edward Boxx, USAF (ret)

President, Tyler County Forest Landowners Association

Time Magazine recently announced Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, as “Person of the Year.” Interestingly, one of his business practices is becoming more prevalent in Tyler County. Private forest landowners (small and large holdings) can sell “carbon credits” through virtual markets. These chits function as permits for a business to release a specific amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) or other greenhouse gases. One carbon credit equals the emission of one ton of CO2.

Surprisingly, Mr. Musk’s company Tesla does not profit from selling its popular electric cars but from selling carbon credits to other car manufacturers. Last year, Tesla earned over $1.6 billion from carbon credits alone. So how do local forest landowners make and sell carbon credits? Per the Texas A&M Forest Service, “Forests accumulate carbon when trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, becoming a carbon sink. The carbon from CO2 is then stored for a long time as woody biomass, leaf litter, deadwood and soil organic carbon.” Thus, an East Texas timber landowner can offset carbon producers by maintaining a healthy and sustainable forest. Furthermore, owners can create an additional income by deferring their timber harvest for a specific amount of time (one year, for example) and selling their carbon credits. Harvest Deferral Credits (HDCs) are simply units that express the carbon content of the landowner’s trees instead of, for example, their bulk (like green tons). It is much like weighing timber on the way to the mill, but instead of wood tonnage, they represent the environmental benefit of a delayed cutting. These forest HDCs are then converted to business carbon credits.

Companies specializing in carbon credits conduct a remote, google earth-like assessment using satellite imagery. Based on a sophisticated algorithm, they will determine the HDCs on a property (for example, a 50-acre tract in southern Tyler County may show 100 HDCs). If landowners choose to defer a timber harvest, they can enroll and bid their HDCs on an open exchange. Say, for example, bids started at $5 - $8 per HDC, the landowner can choose to enter some, all, or none of their acreage. (The bidding process helps determine the private landowner’s motivation and price point for deferring a harvest. For example, a landowner may delay harvesting at $8.00 per HDC but not at $5.00). So in the illustration above, the fictional southern Tyler County 50-acre landowner would earn at least $500.00 (100 HDCs X $5.00) or potentially $800.00 (100 HDCs x $8.00) if they agree to not harvest for one year. Some common questions are, “Does a non-merchantable thinning (as outlined in a management plan) or a natural disaster (hurricane) count against a landowner?” It, of course, all depends on the contract and the company, but as a rule of thumb, property owners are not penalized.

Another frequent question, “Can I get HDCs on the 200 acres of seedlings I just planted? Unfortunately, “usually, no,” because it is – as you probably already surmised - not harvestable (they are seedlings). While selling carbon credits may not be for every landowner, they offer potential advantages. First, they allow the Jeffersonian-inspired tree farmer the option to participate or not participate. Private forest owners can sometimes feel powerless to the ebbs and flows of macroeconomic forces out of their control, such as lumber prices, mill capacity, and logger availability.

Here the landowner stewards can make their own decisions on their forest fiefdoms, empowering the independent property owner. Secondly, besides the additional cash influx - a good thing when a landowner needs to convince the IRS their acreage is indeed a “business” and not a “hobby,” – the income shows it is a working farm. Even though a Form 1099 must be filed with the IRS, the annual earned income, while not life-changing, can help offset taxes and other fixed expenses. Carbon credits allow for a more diversified timber business portfolio combined with other aspects of forest stewardship such as hunting, pond management, beekeeping, eco-tourism, or timber harvesting. Thirdly, going on the record (tax return and in practice) as a “net-zero” entity (meaning you are absorbing carbon instead of producing it) makes the role of the Tyler County private landowner even more significant. Besides owning most of the timber in Texas, individual landowners can develop an Elon Musk-like approach to their enterprises.

Currently, Texas manufacturers are in search of Texas-produced carbon credits – so not only are the landowners maintaining healthy and sustainable forests, but they are also supporting Lone Star businesses and entrepreneurs. 

The carbon credit marketplace continues to evolve rapidly and may involve more agribusinesses. Mr. Rob Hughes, Texas Forestry Association (TFA) representative, recently informed Tyler County landowners, “Other carbon initiatives include carbon sequestration in the soil under rangeland (grassland) and efforts to restore the open pine canopy with bluestem understory.” So, if you want to know more about carbon credits, please “save the date” and join us Saturday, 19 March at the Tyler County Forest Landowners’ Association’s Spring 2022 General Meeting. You can check our website for updated venues and times (https://tcforest.org/events.htm). We hope to feature a professional carbon credit speaker with other forestry experts. The event includes lunch and a chance to network with other timber professionals and Tyler County landowners. 

Disclaimer: the carbon credit information provided above is for illustration and educational purposes only and is not intended as professional, forestry, or legal advice.   

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It’s appropriate, but probably not welcome

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FromEditorsDesk TonySitting in a car for hours listening to Christmas tunes can leave a person nostalgic for Andy Williams, Perry Como and Guy Lombardo …

“Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Christmas Carol Cavalcade, this year specifically geared with loving, regional acceptable truisms for the area.

This year’s offerings are presented by the “We’re Not Gettin’ Paid, So Back Off” singers, culled from your hometowns and forced, er, assembled here for your listening pleasure.

No, this concert is free, but a love donation will be taken in the form of not rioting.

OK. Here’s our first offering: 

Oh, the weather outside is spiteful

But the AC is so delightful

Keep the electricity on, you know

So don’t let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

The drivers can’t stay on the road

Even in a little rain

Then they slide off to the side

And in the ditch they remain …

Thank you, fan, tomatoes are a fine source of iron. Next up is a favorite of the tenors, and I hope it’s one of yours.

I really can’t go (baby it’s hot outside)

It’s humid, you know (baby it’s hot outside)

It’s 80 degrees (waddaya want from me)

Turn on the AC (geez, the bills) …

We appreciate all the support, and lettuce is a good source for fiber in a diet. The horn section likes this one.

O Holy Christ, this bike won’t go together

There’s all these parts, and instructions are in Chinese.

I’ve had too much beer, and my vision is kinda blurry

The dollhouse broke, and the tree just fell over …

All we need is bacon and we’ve got sandwiches for the road! Our next piece is a personal favorite of the bus driver.

Last Christmas … NOOOO OOOOOOOOOO!

OK! Looks like someone is playing Whamaggeddon, so we’ll just move on. This one goes out to all the folks at PETA.

We fish ewe a mare egrets moose

panda hippo gnu deer.

For those of you left, please remember to buy our CD, which will be out on 8-track sometime in the next decade.”

Just a little levity for a holiday that is all about the love and gift of giving. All of us at easttexasnews.com wish you marey marey egrets moose and a hippo new deer.

Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The best Christmas gift is time

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Columnist Tom PurcellOur time is the best gift we can give to our friends and family this Christmas. 

Nobody knows how much time we have on Earth — nobody knows when our time will end. We all have friends and loved ones who were claimed way too early.

Hopefully, you are blessed, as my family has been, to have loved ones who have lived long and fruitful lives.

Such family members have an abundance of wisdom to share — wisdom cultivated over time. I particularly enjoy the pearls of humorous wisdom my 88-year-old father has shared:

“Getting old ain’t for cowards!”

“At my age, never buy green bananas.”

“When life serves you a lemon, make lemonade — but crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon first.”

My mother has long been a source of positive energy, hope and inspiration. She is forever forging ahead, forever looking for a silver lining.

So many times as a child — and later as an adult — she corrected me when I got lost in the moodiness of my self-perceived failures and pushed me to keep on going.

Life is hard for everyone at times. It is not easy to maintain my mother’s stubbornly positive mindset, but she powers on, demanding the rest of us to do likewise.

Hopefully, your extended family is also as equally blessed as mine is by young family members who offer their own kind of innocent wisdom.

Children are filled with a natural sense of wonder, joy and hope. They especially love visiting Grandma and Grandpa — my Mom and Dad.

That makes perfect sense to me. Kids and old folks have a natural connection. It’s those of us in the middle of time — from our teens up through middle age — who are caught up in the seriousness of a worldly world.

It’s easy to fall into the trap so many of us are stuck in. We seek success, praise, financial security, nicer houses and more and more stuff.

What we don’t see is that while the youngest and the oldest members of our families spend their time on wonder, hope and laughter we are wasting too much of our precious time on acquiring worldly things.

Nobody ever said on his deathbed, as the old humorous saying goes, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office!”

According to Lifehack, here are some other common deathbed regrets:

- “I wish I had kept on going.”  Refer to my mother’s guidance, above, on how to avoid having this regret.

- “I wish I told others how much I love them.” Add to this, “I wish I’d spent more time with those I love.”

- “I wish I had laughed it off.” This third regret is particularly helpful now, as so many of us are so angry constantly about politics and other matters that, in the end, are not deserving of the high importance we have granted them.

The Christmas season is upon us and time is the very best gift we can give.

Rather than material goods or money, why not write up a series of IOUTs (I owe you time) to give to others:

- I’ll make you your favorite dinner.

- I’ll help you clean your gutters twice a year, then join you for tea.

- I’ll go walking with you once every week.

Our time is priceless. This Christmas let’s share it like the fleeting treasure that it is.

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A Blue Christmas for many

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MeditationsAndMusingsThe term “holiday blues,” or the idea that this time of year can be depressing for many, has become a socially acceptable construct within a culture that, typically, is not that honest about mental health issues.

Aside from the sturm-und-drang many people face of making appearances at holiday celebrations and covering all the bases with regard to gift-giving, many are lonely this time of year. In a time full of gatherings with large and wonderful families seemingly everywhere, for many, it can be an outside-looking-in sort of proposition.

Of the many holidays celebrated this season around the world, Christmas is the most traditionally family-oriented of those, and so many folks have empty chairs in their homes. I am one of those.

This year I have much to celebrate and a multitude of blessings for which to be thankful, but unfortunately, some of the burdens that have haunted me have reduced my cheer and drive to do much of anything. Like that old song goes, it’s as if my get up and go got up and went.

Grief is ever-present and something no human is immune to. There’s no one way to “deal” with it, despite whatever pop-psychology hogwash on television or in big-selling self-help tomes tell us. We’re all wired differently.

Near the beginning of this festive month, I found myself feeling in a funk and could not deduce why. The night those blues began to set in, I figured it out. 

There are dates on the calendar that haunt us all. Some call them “heaven dates,” those anniversaries of those who’ve passed on. That day was the sixth anniversary of my grandfather’s passing.

Two-thousand and fifteen was a humdinger of a year, personally, in terms of losses. I lost several friends; a mentor figure and at the year’s end my grandfather. 

By and large, looking back, I’d been numbed to loss by that point, but still, I know a lot of what I used to be disappeared in the wake of his passing. 

The great Guy Clark, who was a musical favorite of my grandfather, and who passed away, himself, the next year after, wrote a tribute to his father titled “The Randall Knife.” The lyrics deal with the passing of time and finding just the right tears to mourn his father, years after his passing.

I’m still feeling those blues, and not really looking that forward to Christmas, but I was finally able to get some solace in remembering my lost loved one. 

You see, the day after he passed, I witnessed a most beautiful sunset, probably the most striking display of such I’ve ever witnessed, westbound on 287. I’d like to think my grandfather had something to do with that. Anyhow, in the years since, I’ve needed to write about that sunset, and did not realize how much I needed to do so.

It was a healing exercise, and I would like to share the resulting words with you, gentle readers.

Your Sunset

Early December,

when those pines’ve shed their clothes;

the brilliant show 

of red-into-orange, tempered with yellow,

doesn’t just whisper through the bare branches –

it screams.

It was like a belly laugh

you committed to one of your own corny jokes,

of which I thought there’d still be an ample supply.

We always think that,

turning away the inevitability of an ending.

The punchline never seems within the realm of reason,

but to everything there is a season.

Merry Christmas and happy rest of the holiday season to everyone. Whether you are spending these days of celebration with a large and wonderful family or by your lonesome, there is always some reason to be cheerful.

Remember those who are not with you any longer, but also, remember to celebrate those who are still here and able to talk, laugh and enjoy this time with you.

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