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Timber Talk 9/4/13

Posted By John Dorka, Wednesday, September 4, 2013

OFA Lumberman’s Outing, September 11, 2013

It is just around the corner, but it is not too late to register for the Lumberman’s Outing on September 11. The day will involve golf at The Pines Golf Course in Orrville or clay shooting at The Lost Bird Sporting Clays in Fredericksburg. As it has been in the past, this event is a fund raiser for the Lumberman’s Benevolent Fund in the Charm Share ‘N Care Program. Proceeds will be used to benefit forest product industry families in need. You can register on-line here. Those wishing to sponsor golf holes or clay stations may also do so on-line. Come and enjoy a great day of networking and fellowship and know that your contributions will help our fellow industry members in need.

OFA Meeting with CCI/BWC News Release on Group Programs
OFA met with CareWorks Consultants, Inc. (CCI), the third-party administrator of the OFA Group Safety Program, to discuss the 2013 Annual Report. The good news is that the program grew last year in both the traditional group rating program as well as the newer retrospective rating program. The traditional group rating program grew by 5% while the retrospective rating program grew by 40%, with total company participation in both programs at 45, a 10% increase from 2012. The news release from CCI indicates that it works with 27,000 Ohio companies in its group-administered programs. For all the companies involved, CCI indicates that the Return on Investment for the program fees is 1100% or $11 in saved Worker’s Compensation premiums for each $1 of fee. Ohio’s retrospective program is showing a ROI of 1,815% while the traditional program has an ROI of 682%. A number of companies participating in the OFA program are finding the Group Retrospective Rating Program meeting their Workers Comp needs., which in turn may provide better premium savings than the traditional program. It is more complicated than the traditional program and One of the questions asked of CCI is "will the Cuyahoga County court ruling against group safety programs affect the future of group safety programs?” The answer is no, group safety programs have already been deemed constitutional and are appropriately authorized in state law. BWC is appealing the court ruling. Even if BWC loses the appeal and must reimburse companies for past premiums, group safety programs will continue.

Forest Stewardship Committee Meeting
OFA is represented on the Forest Stewardship Committee convened by the Division of Forestry. DOF called a meeting this past week to review DOF cooperative assistance programs and recommend Ohio’s application for the Forest Legacy Program. The Forest Legacy Program is a federally funded conservation easement program that targets high quality private working forests for protection from development and conversion to other uses. A 779-acre, 6 parcel working forest adjacent to and in Shawnee State Forest was recommended for fee-simple acquisition. The project will be submitted for national review and scored with other applications from across the country. There was a review of current activities with Thousand Canker Disease (TCD) and Asian Longhorned beetle in Ohio. As recently reported in Timber Talk, TCD was confirmed by DNA tests in Butler County. ODA is preparing internal quarantine rules for the state to deal with the threat. The Urban Forestry Program is working with the Division of Parks and Recreation to conduct Tree Risk Assessment Training for staff to deal with the developing problem of high risk trees in state parks. Currently, there are 17 Service Forestry projects in Ohio and the Division hopes to maintain that number of foresters. Funding for forestry cost-share programs has remained robust and last year the EQIP program funded more than 10,000 acres of practices at a cost of nearly $500,000. DOF has developed a newsletter called Keeping Your Woods as Woods to communicate with participants in the Ohio Forest Tax Law program. It has information valuable to any forest land owner.

4-Day Lumber Grading Short Course/1-Day Walnut Grading
Short Course at Taylor Lumber, November 4-8, 2013
This is the first announcement that there will be a second lumber grading short course this year. It will take place at Taylor Lumber, Inc. of McDermott in Scioto County. Taylor Lumber has graciously agreed to host the training. The training will include a 4-day lumber grading short course from starting Monday, November 4 through Thursday, November 7. It will be followed by a 1-day walnut grading short course on Friday, November 8. The class will be taught by NHLA Instructor Barry Kibbey, who has taught the June course held at Yoder Lumber for the past 4 years. Participants can sign up for either session or both. Flyers are now being mailed to OFA members. On-line registration is now available here. Call OFA for any questions about the course. (614-497-9580, ask for Gayla.)

Budget Tax Cuts Take Effect September 1
Tax cuts authorized in the recently passed Ohio Budget Bill (HB 59) took effect on September 1. The cuts involved a 10% personal income tax cut that will take effect over the next 3 years, with 8.5% the first year. There will also be a 50% business income tax reduction on the first $250,000 of income for small businesses. Over the next 3 years, the cuts will amount to $2.7 billion. Employers are being encouraged to implement the personal income taxes right away, even though surveys are showing that many are not aware of the tax changes. You can find more information about the cuts on the Department of Taxation website. The income tax cut is retroactive to the first of the year, so the full benefit will be seen at tax filing time next year. Governor Kasich says that he would still like to eventually eliminate the personal income tax in Ohio.

Increasing Fatalities from Logging
Logging was the most dangerous occupation last year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, after the fatality rate jumped to 128 fatalities for every 100,000 workers. This is a 25% jump from 2011 and is double the rate in 2009. It was the first year since 2004 that the death rate for loggers led that of all other American workers. There were 64 logger fatalities last year.

Forest Roads Legal Update
On July 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the case filed by the Northwest Environmental Defense Center challenging the decision by EPA not to require NPDES permits for logging road water run-off. The stay is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year which sided with the EPA decision to not require NPDES permits. Legal counsel for the forest industry believes that NEDC is pitching a last ditch effort to get a favorable ruling, even though the Supreme Court ruling essentially settled the challenge.

USDA Attempts to Quantify Emissions from Farming and Forestry
Last week, the USDA released a major draft report with a goal of measuring the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the agriculture and forestry sectors. The 564-page report, released by the department's Climate Change Program Office, seeks to create a standard set of guidelines for quantifying the sectors' emissions. It also identifies management practices that are associated with the greatest greenhouse gas reductions. The USDA draft report draws on several approaches for measuring the agriculture sector's greenhouse gas emissions, including computer models, field measurements and estimations. According to USDA, agriculture as a whole contributed 6.1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, while forestry sequestered enough carbon to offset about 13 percent of the nation's emissions. Cropland and grazing land, and the conversion of forestland and wetlands to cropland, are significant sources of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions, USDA found. But cropland and grazing land can also act as sinks if they are managed properly. Setting aside land in conservation programs can also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. I’m not sure anyone wants to read a 564 page report, but if you want to look at it, you can download it here.

NJ Governor Christie Vetoes Contentious Forestry Bill
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a forestry bill based on a requirement to have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a third-party forest management certifier, sign-off on plans developed by the state’s foresters in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In an article on the Governor’s action, it is a bit unclear as to what the legislation actually requires. According to the article, the legislation would require that FSC approve all forest management plans. That could mean that the legislation requires DEP to get forest management certification through FSC. Regardless, the Governor did not agree with the role of FSC in what he believed was giving up state authority and responsibility with land management oversight. Instead of requiring FSC oversight, Governor Christie believes that DEP should retain management oversight but have the option of obtaining third-party certification. The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry manages 326,000 acres of department land.

Capstone Properties in Athens, OH To Hire a Forester
Capstone Properties, a real estate and property management company headquartered in Athens, Ohio has a timberland portfolio of 2,400 acres. It wants to hire a full-time forester to manage the property for forest products, recreation, and other woodland businesses. You can read the job posting for the position here. The job requires a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry or a related field and the pay package will include housing for the successful candidate.

Tree Farm System Webinar Series 2013: Free the Trees, Sept. 17, 2013, 1 PM EDT The Tree Farm Program is hosting a free webinar on Sept. 17 at 1 PM to talk about federal programs to fight Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Sudden Oak Death, and other pests. The webinar objective is to present information on federal policies to fight the problems and there will be discussion on how Tree Farmers and other forest landowners can make sure the policies are effective and efficient. To participate in the webinar you need to register on-line in advance.

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