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Weekly News 9/4/12

Posted By John Dorka, Friday, September 7, 2012
Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News 10.10.11

In this issue:

  • Ohio Attorney General DeWine Endorses Logging Road Amicus Brief - Ohio AG Mike DeWine joined 30 other state Attorneys General to endorse an amicus brief to urge the US Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court ruling which requires NPDES stormwater permits for logging roads. The bipartisan list of AGs (19 R, 10 D, 2 non-partisan) is a strong indication of the importance of this issue and even more, that the circuit court decision be overturned. OFA had contacted the AG’s office and urged AG DeWine to endorse the brief, which he subsequently did. In the meantime, the US EPA is working on revising stormwater regulations concerning logging roads and it is too early to see where these will go. It is particularly important that HR 2541, the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act of 2012, be passed to make sure that EPA does not push for regulations that deal with logging roads inappropriately according to the Clean Water Act. OFA continues to maintain support for the passage of HR 2541.
  • BWC Group Rating Program Annual Report for OFA - OFA met with CareWorks Consultants, Inc (CCI) last week to go over the 2012 annual report for the group rating safety program. Overall the program remains relatively stable with a total of 42 companies, an increase of one for the 2012/2013 program year. Total group premium savings amounted to $196,432 with a return on investment of 371%. Over the past 5 and 2/3 years, there have been a total of 236 claims amounting to losses of $1,574,346. OFA and CCI discussed marketing plans for the 2013/2014 program year.

  • Wayne NF to Allow "Fracking" - Last year, the Wayne National Forest put a hold on plans to lease for oil and gas exploration due to potential concerns with horizontal hydraulic fracturing. However, WNF has recently ruled that it will allow leasing for oil and gas exploration. The decision was applauded by US Rep. Bill Johnson from Marietta who sees employment opportunities for people in his district. As might be expected, environmental groups are not happy with the decision and are considering litigation to challenge leasing plans. It is reported that leasing on 3,300 acres could go into auction in the near future with as many as 13 wells drilled by 2016.

  • Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Weighs Timber Harvesting Restriction Due to Bat Decline - The Pennsylvania Forest Products Association is reporting that the PGC is looking at regulations that could profoundly affect timber harvesting in the state of Pennsylvania. Several species of bats in Pennsylvania are suffering significant decline from white nose syndrome (WNS). As a result, PGC is considering listing the bat species as endangered. Even though timber harvesting has nothing to do with WNS, the commission is considering regulations on timber harvesting, such as seasonal bans on timber harvesting (April-November); mandatory canopy retention requirements; certain species retention; and no-cut riparian buffers, all of which may be applied statewide. It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that these types of restrictions could change the face of forest production in the state, killing businesses and jobs throughout the state. This is one we’ll keep a close eye on.

  • Poplar Price Gain Due to Exports -Here is an article from Hardwood Publishing, through the Woodworking Network, about rising poplar prices. Those in the industry are familiar with this, but prices have risen steadily over the last 18 months, especially in 2012 with 4/4 FAS/IF prices at five year highs, 4/4 #1 and #2 Common prices at 2 year highs and some prices at the highest levels in nearly 2 decades. The article reports the positive market trends are due to very good export markets, improved moulding and millwork markets, more awareness on controlling costs, and consumer preferences to darker finishes which works well with poplar.
  • American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) Report on Life Cycle Assessment of Hardwood Lumber - AHEC has published a stage 1 report on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of rough sawn, kiln-dried hardwood lumber. It is being done as part of the AHEC assessment of the sustainability of US hardwood lumber. A critical component of the study is that it be done according to third party review and standards, and it is being done according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040 and 14044 standards. You can read more about the report on the AHEC website and you can also download the report (it’s 89 pages – read the summary on page 7 and 8). Key finding in the summary:
    1. The main source of environmental impact for US hardwood lumber is the kiln drying process;
    2. The forestry stage is low environmental impact due to low intensity of US hardwood forest management and reliance on natural regeneration;
    3. Lumber transportation can be the single most important factor leading to environmental impact;
    4. There is high variability of environmental impact between hardwood lumber of different species and thicknesses with the environmental profile communicated by species and lumber thickness;
    5. Environmental performance has the potential for significant improvement through changes in the lumber drying process.

  • US Forest Service Timber Tax Publication Released - Recently, the US Forest Service released its newest publication on timber tax, "Federal Income Tax on Timber: A Key to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions”. It is the third edition of this publication, revised by Linda Wang and reviewed by attorney William Siegel, well-known authority on timber tax and value issues. It is a 30 page publication and discusses tax issues involving woodland tax classification, timber sales, capital assets and cost recovery, expenses of woodland management and protection, cost-share payments, and timber losses. It gives comprehensive coverage to all the issues that most forest owners deal with on costs and revenues of growing and harvesting timber. You can find a copy of the document on-line at the USFS website.
  • Study Finds Increased Forest Biomass Following Long-Term Drought - This is one of those research findings that show we still have a lot to learn about the controversial global climate change issue and the projection models. UK and Ghana researchers have studied forests from drought stricken West Africa, an area that has gone through an extended 40-year drought. Contrary to expectations, they have learned that total carbon has increased, not decreased as expected, due to the advance of species more resistant to drought. You can read a little more in this article on the website. The researchers caution that the conditions in this area may not represent other areas, and the results should be used carefully. They acknowledge, however, that they will have to modify existing models.
  • Upcoming Events:
    1. Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 29, 2012, Deseret Tree Farm, Jackson County,Ohio (news release)
    2. Paul Bunyan Show, October 5-7, 2012, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.

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