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Weekly News 12.10.12

Posted By John Dorka, Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News 12.11.12

In this issue:

  • Ohio Legislative Activity
    • The Kasich administration is looking at ways to increase oversight of oil and gas industry "landmen” some of whom have been accused of using unsavory tactics to get landowners to sign mineral leases. The state currently has regulatory oversight of "landmen”, but the Department of Commerce is considering expanding jurisdiction to require them to register and have landowners sign disclosure forms before selling mineral rights. At this point, it appears that the administration may include oversight language in next year’s biennium budget bill. The Oil and Gas Association believes that the new requirements are unnecessary and an overreach and thus lobbying against the new requirements.
    • Ohio currently has two House seats that remain undetermined from the last election (District 7 in Cuyahoga County and District 98 in Tuscarawas County and portions of Holmes County). Apparently the vote is extremely close and final determination will come down to counting provisional ballots. The controversy between Secretary of State Husted and several Democratic legislators is what should be counted as an acceptable provisional ballot. The determinations are largely due to paperwork and clerical errors on the ballots. The reason this is so important is that if Republicans win both seats, they will have a supermajority in the House which will give them significant power in legislative actions.
    • State agency directors turned in their budget requests to the Office of Budget and Management highlighting needs and issues for the next biennium. ODNR highlighted oil and gas drilling and two pending lawsuits (Lake Erie waterfront owners challenging ODNR leases and landowner litigation over flooding from Grand Lake St. Mary’s) as challenges for the administration. Budgets are again expected to be tight for all organizations especially those like the Division of Forestry that receive the majority of their funding from the State General Revenue Fund.
  • US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in the Forest Road Case - This past week, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Decker v. National Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) and the Georgia-Pacific West v. NEDC, the cases involving forest road determinations under the Clean Water Act. At the end of the week before the hearing, the US EPA released final "Revisions to Stormwater Regulations to Clarify that an NPDES Permit is not required for Stormwater Discharges from Logging Roads.” Judge Kennedy was displeased that the US EPA had not announced to the Court in advance that it was going to issue the rule just before oral arguments. During the arguments petitioners stressed several points about a positive Court decision: it will take care of arguments that environmental groups make to challenge the new rule, give guidance to the court deciding the challenge, and bring greater certainty to both EPA and those regulated by the law; it would end unnecessary and unwarranted litigation; and it would correct the Ninth Circuit’s Court erroneous ruling, which did not follow the long-standing rules of the EPA. Apparently, NEDC argued that it intends to continue litigation for years to come and plans to challenge EPA’s new rule. For your benefit, the new EPA rule and the transcript from the oral arguments are here. Warning: there are a lot of pages, but the print is big.
  • BWC News - CareWorks USA has provided a "Back to Work Blog” that contains some vocational rehab success stories for employers that show how they can save money and assist injured workers with getting back to work more quickly.
  • OFA Unsuccessful Getting Tree Farm Grant for OSU Thompson Library Renovation Project Promotion - OFA learned last week that it will not receive grant funding from the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) to promote the wood used in the OSU Thompson Library Renovation (the site of the OWIN tour during the 2012 OFA Annual Meeting). OFA had sought a $10,000 grant from ATFS, which would have been matched by multiple partners, to promote the remarkable wood project in the OSU Thompson Library renovation. OFA and partners believed that the project offered an outstanding opportunity to promote the use of wood from certified state forest lands as an environmentally beneficial building product. According to library staff, more than 1.3 million people visit the library each year. Through use of computer apps and modern technology along with traditional displays, project partners hoped to convey the value of the wood, from forest to final product, to thousands of university students and others who use the library for many purposes. Grant partners will assess whether to revise the application and try again next year with ATFS, or seek funding through other sources.
  • Walnut Twig Beetle Found in Butler County- The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that the Division of Forestry discovered and confirmed the finding of the Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB) in southwestern Ohio. The WTB is known to carry the fungus that causes Thousand Cankers Disease which can threaten the health of walnut trees. In spite of finding the beetle, there have been no trees determined to be infested with the fungus. ODNR and ODA will continue looking for the presence of infested trees within that area. ODA had previously implemented an "external” quarantine of walnut products that may come from or through know infested regions (in the east, areas of Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). It is unclear what the presence of the Walnut Twig Beetle may mean on future actions.
  • DOF Invitation to Bid on Timber Marking Services- Attached is an invitation to bid from the Division of Forestry for timber marking services on Blue Rock State Forest. The bid involves marking 447 MBF of hardwoods on 109 acres of state forest land. The attachment contains all the information to bid for prospective forestry consultants.
  • Webinar – Biomass Thermal Finance in a Post-Farm Bill World- The Biomass Thermal Energy Council is hosting a Webinar on December 14 at 1:00 PM ET, to discuss strategies and options for biomass project finance independent of federal grant and loan programs. The webinar cost $89 to participate. Click on the link for more information and directions for registration.
  • USFS/NC State Coop Extension – Public Furniture Project -Here is information on a joint project between the US Forest Service and the North Carolina State Cooperative Extension Service to study how local government and school districts buy furniture and what influences their decision. The outcome would offer the forest and wood products industry information on how to grow market share versus plastic and metal furniture. As part of the project, NC Cooperative Extension is offering outreach to the industry and ways to keep in touch with the progress of the project. The website offers information on how to link to the project.
  • Forest Resource Association (FRA) and American Loggers Council (ALC) Meet to Discuss Industry Issues- In early December leadership from FRA and ALC met at Husqvarna headquarters in Charlotte, NC to discuss many issues that are affecting the forest products industry, such as a looming logging capacity shortage, as well as legislative priorities for both organizations. Both organizations committed to work together to address the issues and concerns and develop a strategic alliance. Here is a news release on the meeting.

Ohio Forestry Association is managed by Offinger Management Company, a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), "Charter-Accredited" Association Management Company member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a member of the Association Management Company Institute (AMC Institute). www.Offinger.com

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