When Nacogdoches County landowner Doyle Lucas was approached by his neighbor, Nolan Alders one phrase stood out in the conversation. Alders would say, " It is almost free money." The profit comes before trees are cut. It left Lucas thinking, that's too good to be true. " It really did at first, I did. I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised," said Lucas.
But now Lucas is convinced. He's expecting his first check for what his trees do naturally. You learned it in seventh grade. Trees absorb the greenhouse emissions of carbon and return clean oxygen to the air. Alders said, " This is the first time that we can pay landowners to do the job they've been doing for centuries."
It's called the carbon credit program. The Iowa Farm Bureau is introducing a pilot program in Texas. Industries, utilities, cities and organizations are buying the carbon credits on the 'Chicago Climate Exchange'. They pay farmers to offset carbon dioxide emissions with the goal of encouraging conservation practices.
Carbon exchange payments are new to east Texas property owners, but well known in the industry. In fact, included on the list of founders are International Paper and Temple Inland. The newest to sign on is Kodak Eastman. Alders points out, " Everybody wants to be green you know, nowadays."
There are some qualifications. Pine seedlings must be planted in open pasture in 1990 or later. Contracts extend through 2010. Payments can be prorated back to 2003. Alders says that's good news for some property owners. " So the first checks could be really outstanding. It could be over $100 an acre and could be as little as, if you planted this year, 7 or $8."
Lucas doesn't plan on getting rich quick, but rather applying the extra funds to an evil necessity. Lucas said, " The extra revenue will offset the taxes that are ongoing more every year."
This new green revolution may actually show that money can grow on trees.
To Learn More
Nolan Alders was approached by Iowa Farm Bureau to introduce the program to East Texans. He can be contacted at 936-564-1096.