In her two years as president of the Florida Forestry Association and her ongoing interest in supporting Florida’s nearly $14 billion industry, Lynetta Usher Griner believes three simple words serve as its summary.
“Working forests work,” says Griner, who owns Usher Land & Timber Inc., in Levy County with her husband, Ken Griner. “That is [a slogan] we started working on before I became president, but I’d like to think we’ve communicated that idea a little more. Forests provide so many unrecognized benefits in our state, nation and world. A 2012 study at the University of Florida found that a single acre of forestland can produce intangible benefits that can be valued at as much as $5,000 an acre.”
Positive impacts from forests include fresh air, carbon storage, wildlife habitat and recreational areas, “so many services that we are not recognized for,” Griner says. “And at the same time, we provide valuable products that are used in every single household.”
The Griners have run their business since 1992, after taking over following the death of Lynetta’s brother, Tommy, in 1989. Her grandfather, E.T. Usher Sr., began a turpentine business in north Florida in the early 1900s, and her father, E.T. “Etter” Usher Jr., got into the logging business in the same area in the late 1940s. Usher Land & Timber, which also has a cattle operation, has been named the Logger of the Year by the Florida Forestry Association and the Southeastern Wood Producers Association. The company was named Southeast Logger of the Year in 2002, and in 2003, it was awarded National Logger of the Year.
Griner became the first female elected president of the Florida Forestry Association, a term she served from September 2012 through August 2014. In addition, she was named the Florida Agriculture Woman of the Year for 2013.
She is proud of the state’s forestry industry, both for its economic impact and its practices in environmental sustainability.
“People don’t realize that in Florida, 49 percent of our land area is covered in forestland, and 63 percent of those forests are privately owned,” she says. “I believe private forest owners just don’t get the recognition I think they’re entitled to. It’s almost like the industry is Florida’s best-kept agriculture secret. But I think our current commissioner of agriculture [Adam Putnam] has done a phenomenal job of raising the importance of forests to Florida.”