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Weekly News 4.16.13

Posted By John Dorka, Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News 4.15.13

In this issue:

Ohio Legislative News
OFA and ODNR Hold Timber Theft Workshop for Ross County Officials
OFA Supports FIA Funding Letter Initiative
Truck Weight Reform News
Paper and Electronic Communication – "Two Sides” to the Story
Forestry Labeling War Turns Ugly as Greenpeace Bungles Logging Industry Attack
Upcoming Events

Ohio Legislative News

SB 94 – Forest Products
Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) has introduced legislation designating the first week in October as Ohio Forest Products Awareness Week. The legislation has already picked up bi-partisan sponsorship and is expected to pass through very quickly. The bill was introduced in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is expected to get hearing sometime in May.

Ohio Budget Action
Work continued this past week on the House substitute budget proposal and areas that received focus dealt with tax reimbursements to local governments, education funding, and health care. Local government interests are asking the legislature to restore funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) that were reduced in the past biennium budget, when they were cut by 50% from previous levels. The substitute version restores some of that funding, but not all. Education discussion focused on funding equity for charter schools, as well as increasing accountability standards for charters. On health care, there was testimony provided last week from Hocking County Judge Fred Moses who pleaded with the legislature for more funding to deal with an "opiate” epidemic in southern Ohio. The judge estimated that 40-45% of the population of Hocking County is on some sort of opiate, from pain medication obtained legally to heroin imported from Mexico. He gave an account where a person entered his court with a needle still in his arm. He was proposing funding for a new treatment program to help him deal with the vast number of addicts going through his court, using the drug Vivitrol. He pleaded with legislators to provide funding or else the county "will lose a whole generation if we don’t deal with this.” Many advocates pushed hard last week to urge the legislature to increase Medicaid funding as proposed in the Kasich budget plan and this continues to be a hot-button topic in budget negotiations.

In other budget news, the House substitute budget bill proposed taking revenues from state park drilling and splitting them between the Clean Ohio Fund and maintenance for state parks. When the Clean Ohio Fund was created, it was intended to be funded with state bonds. The House is proposing to fund a portion with drilling revenues and some environmental groups are opposed to that idea.

Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act - S.1000
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is co-sponsoring S.1000 with Senator Sheehan (D-NH) which is a bill to promote energy efficiency for the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors while also encouraging job creation. The bill was introduced last week in the Senate. Of particular note is that there is already discussion on an amendment to the bill that would require the federal government to use to use American National Standards (ANS) green building rating systems, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) analyses, and recognize all credible sustainable forestry programs. This would effectively prohibit use of LEED in government building standards. ANS currently does not recognize LEED because the LEED standards are not consensus-based. You can read a brief synopsis of the bill here.

OFA and ODNR Hold Timber Theft Workshop for Ross County Officials
Last week, OFA cooperated with the ODNR, Division of Forestry (DOF) to host a field workshop for the Ross County Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s Office to discuss issues with timber theft. Following a case in the county over a disputed boundary, in which the landowner shot at a logger (fortunately no injury), the Sheriff contacted the DOF to learn more about timber theft and trespass issues. The Sheriff recognized that the issue is complex and they currently lack enough understanding. To that end, a field workshop was held at Scioto Trail State Forest last week with the County Prosecutor and his staff and a Deputy Sheriff to discuss the issue. Most of the discussion dealt with boundary concerns and all that goes into determining ownership. The session involved viewing a timber harvest and marked boundary along with discussion on log valuation. The session turned out to be very productive and informative. OFA wishes to thank Jason Good, Superior Hardwoods of Ohio and Dana Exline, Exline Surveying in Jackson, Ohio who participated in the session following OFA’s request. Both provided extremely useful information on buying and selling timber and the difficulties of accurate boundary line establishment.

OFA Supports FIA Funding Letter Initiative
Last week, OFA joined 39 other national and state forestry associations and groups to support FY 2014 funding for the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program. FIA is a key program administered by the US Forest Service to conduct on-going inventories of the forest resources in every state. It is a time-honored program and critical for providing highly valuable information on the forest resources and product output in the states. The letter of support is here and was sent to the House Appropriations Subcommittee.

Truck Weight Reform News

HR 612, The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2013 (SETA) has been introduced. This is the most recent attempt to increase Gross Vehicle Weights for Commercial Trucks to 97,000# with the addition of a 6th axle. As with all past efforts, there will be an intense battle particularly with railroad interests to kill this legislation. Legislative sponsors are needed for the bill and the forestry community is being asked to help. You can do so simply by going to the AF&PA Grow the Vote website and simply putting your name and contact information in the blanks provided. An electronic letter to your Congressional Representative will be automatically sent.

The US DOT has awarded a contract to complete the Truck Weight Study as required by legislation passed in 2012 called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141, MAP 21).The study will assess the current research on the impact of heavier trucks with 6 axles on the nation’s highways. The contract was awarded to CDM Smith and Associates, a company that the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) believes is a good selection.

Last week, CTP conducted a conference call for Ohio interests to see if there was an opportunity to go after increased truck weights on Ohio’s state highways. The effort would have paralleled the National SETA initiative. Following discussion, the Ohio group elected not to go after a SETA-like bill in the Ohio legislature this late in the session. Instead there may be an effort to see if ODOT could prepare a report to see which Ohio highways and bridges would allow transportation for heavier trucks.

Last week, Politico, a weekly publication widely read in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill conducted an on-line poll on increased truck weights that appeared to be crafted by railroad interests against truck weight reform. The results of the non-scientific poll that ran through the weekend showed a heavy bias against raising truck weights, with 81% of nearly 10,000 voters indicating they don’t want heavier weights. However, the pollsters said they don’t put much weight in the results due to a sampling error of 95%. They said sentiments are much closer on Capitol Hill.

Paper and Electronic Communication – "Two Sides” to the Story
Paperless2013 Campaign has been gaining steam, with Google and Fujitsu recently signing on to the initiative. Two Sides, the campaign to promote paper as an environmentally friendly alternative to electronic communication, responded to those company actions. You can read a letter from Two Sides on the Forest2Market website providing some outstanding information defending paper and paper products as environmentally beneficial.

Forestry Labeling War Turns Ugly as Greenpeace Bungles Logging Industry Attack

There was a recent article on that talked about how the environmental group Greenpeace incorrectly attacked Resolute Forest Products for violating a Canadian sustainability agreement and logging in areas that were supposed to be off-limits. Greenpeace claimed that it had proof of the agreement violation and went public to discredit the company. However, the company fought back and proved that Greenpeace was completely wrong with their allegations. After a protracted battle in the media, Greenpeace finally admitted it was wrong and apologized for its major blunder. This is an excellent example of why companies should elect to fight back when it knows that it has not done anything wrong. The article is well worth reading.

Upcoming Events (see the OFA website for more information)

Forest and Wood Products Export Conference, April 25, 9am – 2pm, OSU South Centers Endeavor Center, Piketon, OH
$25 registration fee, includes lunch and materials. A special presentation will be given by Michael Snow, American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) on growing international market opportunities and demand for hardwood lumber, veneer, plywood, moulding, and other specialty products. Please see the flyer, registration information and news release here. Note the registration deadline of April 19.

OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 9, 2013, FFA Camp Muskingum
There is still room left for this year's camp. Please share with any high school age students you may know.

Lumber Grading Short Course, June 10-13, 2013
Yoder Lumber Company (Buckhorn Mill – Millersburg); Register on-line.

OWIN Summer Meeting, July 24-25, 2013; Chillicothe, OH
Watch your mail for details and registration material soon.

2013 Paul Bunyan Show, October 4-6, 2013, Guernsey County Fairgrounds

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).

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