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Timber Talk 4.21.13

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Ohio Forestry Association

Weekly News From the OFA Executive Director

April 21, 2013 Issue

Ohio Legislative News

  • A group of 28 Ohio legislators has written a letter to Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody opposing the proposed deer hunting rules for the 2013-2014 deer gun season. The group believes that the rules are too stringent. In the letter, the bi-partisan group of legislators challenged the scientific basis for the decisions. Among some of the proposed changes were the elimination of urban deer hunting zones, the late December gun hunting weekend, and the special muzzleloader hunts in southeast Ohio. Of significance, the group of legislators includes both the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate and members of the bipartisan Sportsmen’s Caucus. More members may also join in the opposition. The rules must first be ratified by the Ohio Wildlife Council which they have not yet done.
  • The House continues to work on revisions to the State Budget Bill (HB 59). Here is a synopsis of GOP amendments to the bill if you are interested in looking at it. It covers a wide range of issues. A few that might be of interest to you:
    • HC 1850- Creates the Commercial Activity Tax Review Commission
    • HC 1596-1 – Authorizes County Commissioners to create a Lake Facilities Authority to provide for watershed remediation
    • HC 1868 – Creates the Workforce Training Pilot Program for the Economically Disadvantaged and provides $8 million per year for that purpose
    • HC 1995 – Earmarks $500,000 in FY 14 for a pilot program at Central Ohio Technical College for heavy machinery training
    • The Democrats offered a list of amendments to the budget bill, only one of which was approved. The provision would create a Legislative Study Committee on Clean Ohio Funding. Clean Ohio Funding is a bond program that pays for conservation, agricultural easements, and trails and brownfield revitalization.
    • The Administration is pushing its tax package proposal to the Senate as the budget is moved to that chamber after making it through the House. The House had substantially changed the proposal, eliminating the sales tax overhaul and reducing the personal income tax reduction from a proposed 20% drop to a permanent 7%. The small business income tax cut was removed; however, Senator Faber indicated the Senate may give the proposal another look.
  • Moving along party lines, the House voted against increasing the expanded eligibility for Medicaid. Chairman Amstutz indicated that although the measure was not approved in the House budget, he indicated a willingness to continue talking about the program beyond the budget discussions. To that end, the House included an amendment to the Budget Bill for the legislature asking the Kasich Administration to assist in exploring other Medicaid expansion options. The House budget plan increases spending $393 million over the Kasich budget proposal, but with $2.1 billion less in federal money.
  • The amended budget bill has moved over to the Senate and will be worked on there.
  • A recent Quinnipiac poll of Ohio voters showed that by a margin of 63% - 30%, they believe the economic benefits of drilling for oil outweigh environmental concerns.

Congressional Proposal: Legislation to Require USFS to Actively Manage its Forest Land for Timber Production

Cong. Doc Hastings (R-WA) has drafted legislation to increase timber production on National Forest lands. The Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act is intended to maintain healthy forests and increase the timber supply coming from federal lands, which currently supply only 2% of production. Cong. Hastings is the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. The legislation is being promoted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). You can read a brief news release on the Woodworking Network website. The bill has not yet been introduced.

Wood Biomass Energy Database Upgraded and Expanded

The Woodworking Network has a news release indicating that the Woody Biomass Energy Database, created in 2010 under a joint venture between the USDA Forest Service and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, was recently updated to include a broader array of institutions such as schools and government offices. The database is searchable and can be accessed by anyone wanting to get information on woody biomass users throughout the country. You can visit to view the database. Right now, a search of Ohio only shows one facility in the database, the Chillicothe VA Medical Center.

American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Asks for Support for Forest Health Programs

In what it is bidding as the Free the Trees Campaign, ATFS is asking those interested in protecting our forests to contact their Congressional representatives to support forest health program funding. You can easily send an email to your Congressman by visiting the website and filling out your personal information. An electronic letter will be automatically sent to Washington on your behalf. I will add that given the nature of security risks with Congressional communications today, electronic messages are much more efficient and timely than hand written letters. Today, it takes weeks for hand written letters to make it through security checks. Emails are sent and received immediately. Take a moment to weigh in.

News from the Appalachian Hardwood Center at WVU

You can read the latest newsletter from the Appalachian Hardwood Center at West Virginia University. If you visit the website, you can download the latest version of the West Virginia Forest Products Directory.

Kentucky Power Seeks Approval for Biomass Energy Agreement

Kentucky Power, an operating unit of AEP, issued a news release last week indicating it is seeking approval for a 20-year biomass agreement to produce power from sawdust, bark, wood chips, tip wood, and low-quality logs. The company has filed an application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission for the renewable fuels agreement. The agreement would be for the purchase of 58 MW of electricity from biomass at a yet-to-be-built facility in Perry County, KY, approximately 10 miles from Hazard.

New US Geological Survey Species Database Available

Billing it as the only system of its kind, the US Geological Survey (USGA) announced it has created the Biodiversity Information Serving our Nation (BISON) web-based federal database for finding species in the US and its territories. The system organizes more than 100 million records of mapped occurrences of species and allows display in different formats for users.

Notes from the Hardwood Leader

The following are notes gleaned from the May issue of the Hardwood Leader, produced by Hardwood Publishing:

  • Lumber exports for the first two months of 2013 were 11% higher than the same period in 2012, with Red oak up 26%, fueled by Chinese purchases. Exports are expected to continue strong. Feb. 2013 shipments of 114 million board feet is the highest Feb. shipments on record. China shipments hit a one-month record of 50 million BF.
  • First quarter hardwood markets were strong due to rising domestic and international demand, which tightened supplies and increased prices.
  • Housing demand has been positive over the last year, but builders were less optimistic in March as a result of rising construction costs and a tight credit market. Some feel it will take a long time before the housing market fully rebounds.
  • The Obama Administration is intent upon increasing home mortgages by lowering, eligibility standards for potential borrowers. There is concern that doing so will set the stage for another housing bubble.
  • Mill activity over the next several months should be brisk due to rising prices of key species. Cherry sales are expected to improve with an improving cabinet market.
  • Merrill Lynch reports that hourly wages in Mexico are 20% below those in China. Ten years ago, the wages were 188% higher. As a result of the changes, Mexico will absorb a larger share of US secondary wood products and will increase imports of US hardwoods for years to come.
  • The US inflation rate is on par to reach 1.5% this year following a 0.2% decline in March.
  • US residential furniture factory shipments in January 2013 were 10% higher than a year ago. In addition, American Express is reporting that Americans planning to do home improvement in 2013 expect to pay a little more than $1000 on new furniture, a 60% increase from last year.
  • Seasonally adjusted single family housing starts dipped in March 5% but unadjusted starts were up for the 4th consecutive month.
  • The Conference Board says 5.6% of consumers will purchase a home in the next 6 months. This is the second highest since 1964.
  • The National Association of Home Builders forecasts a bump of 23% single-family home construction in 2013.
  • The Chief Economist for Freddie Mac says the 30-Year fixed mortgage rates will remain below 4% for 2013.
  • In spite of record low labor participation rates in March, the job market has improved for working-aged people since hitting bottom in 2010. Employment for working age people (18-64) grew by 119,000/month through March 2013 while the population grew by 90,000/month.
  • The Leader is reporting that hardwood strip flooring prices have been in recovery for more than a year. North American flooring producers will remain busy for the next few months, but aggressive purchasing will ease with increased sawmill production

Upcoming Events

  • Forest and Wood Products Export Conference, April 25, 2013, OSU South Centers, Endeavor Center, Piketon, OH (see flyer here)
  • OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 9-14, 2013; FFA Camp Muskingum, Carroll County. We received an interesting comment from a past camper. Kristy Tucker attended camp during the summers from 1994-1998. She later became a Counselor in Training (1999-2001) and then a counselor/instructor (2002-2003) and program director (2004-2005). She attended Hocking College in forestry and received her degree, married and then went to Idaho with her husband to get their BS in Forestry. Today she is a practicing forester. Kristy and her husband Brad are sponsoring a camper this year, and said that if it had not been for camp, she would never have become a forester.
  • Lumber Grading Short Course, June 10-13, 2013, Yoder Lumber Company, Millersburg, OH (Buckhorn Mill); register on-line
  • OWIN Summer Meeting, July 24-25, 2013, Christopher Conference Center, Chillicothe, OH.
  • OFA Lumberman’s Outing Golf and Clay Shoot, September 11, 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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