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Timber Talk 10/14/13

Posted By John Dorka, Monday, October 21, 2013

OFA Members Walt & Donna Lange & Wayne Lashbrook Recognized at Forest of Honor Ceremony
Long-time OFA members who have served on the OFA Board and been OFA Board Presidents were recently recognized at a Forest of Honor Ceremony at Zaleski State Forest in Vinton County. The Division of Forestry (DOF) has created a Forest of Honor at the site of the old forest headquarters in Zaleski. For years DOF has recognized individuals and groups who have made significant life-time contributions to forestry and the forest industry in Ohio.  The recipients are the team of Walt and Donna Lange and Wayne Lashbrook. Those who have been around OFA for a while know these people and all that they have done to contribute to the promotion of forestry and the forest products industry. These people have contributed especially in the areas of conservation education and there is little doubt that they are most deserving of this honor.  Wayne Lashbrook was OFA President in 2002 and Walt Lange served as President in 2009. On behalf of our entire association, we congratulate them for this recognition and honor.

State Policy and Legislative News

SB 58 Reviewing State Green Energy Legislation
As the Ohio Senate is reviews SB 58 dealing with the green energy standards established in 2008, groups are weighing in on the impact to their industry. It appears that business groups are divided on the proposals. The Ohio Manufacturers Association has taken the position that the current energy legislation should be maintained. In testimony before the Senate Public Utilities committee last week, a number of business owners spoke against the current standards and that the Ohio requirement for 25% renewable and alternative energy sources by 2025 are raising costs for business owners in Ohio. Particularly troubling to some business owners is the current bill requires energy efficiency (EE) efforts but many businesses are not allowed to capture the efficiencies of newly installed equipment that do not meet the laws standards. Others argued that the law requires a reduction in overall consumption by 2025 of 22%, yet the utilities have lower rates for higher consumption, which is counterproductive. Many also worry that the policy discourages business investment. Meanwhile, OMA is arguing that the law should not be changed as it believes that energy costs are coming down based on its studies of the current energy environment. OMA also believes the proposed change contains too many "unjustified benefits” for utilities and not enough protections for manufacturers who would end up with higher electric rates. Also in favor of the proposed changes in SB 58 and going against OMA are the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio and the Ohio Energy Group. You can read an article from the Columbus Dispatch on where the OMA stands on the issue.

Administration Seeks to Increase State Medicaid Funding Through the Controlling Board
As has been discussed and reported much in the news, the Kasich Administration intends to seek approval for increased Medicaid Funding through the Ohio Controlling Board at the next meeting on October 21. Governor Kasich has pushed for increasing Medicaid funding for those Ohioans who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The administration indicated that it would go this route as the legislature has not yet moved on changes to Medicaid, even though several bills have been introduced. The request to the Controlling Board is to increase Medicaid funding by $500 million in FY 2014 and $2 billion in FY 2015. The Controlling Board has a Republican majority of the 7-member group and it is not yet clear how the vote may go in next week’s session. One hundred percent of the increased funding is supposed to come from the federal government for the first 3 years of the expansion. After that, the state will have to pick up a portion of the additional costs.

Ohio Seeks Limits on Phosphorus in Streams
To address the on-going toxic algae problem throughout Ohio, an OEPA proposal currently under review by the US EPA would establish limits for phosphorus and nitrogen in streams. If enacted, Ohio would be one of only 3 states to establish limits (Florida and Wisconsin also.) The regulations would affect farms and sewage treatment facilities. Ohio’s proposed standards would vary by watershed and the formula for each would consider the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water as well as the amount of algae and aquatic wildlife. The Association of Ohio Wastewater Management Agencies supports the approach but the Ohio Farm Bureau has not yet taken a position and wants more information. You can read a Columbus Dispatch article here.

Federal Legislative News

OFA Co-Signs Letter for Industry Support of WoodWorks
WoodWorks is currently a Canadian program that promotes the use of wood in building construction. The letter of support requests the US Forest Service to commit $1 million of FFY 2015 funds for the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory to work with the WoodWorks program. This funding would match funding that the Canadian government has put into the program to promote wood use in construction.

Restoring Healthy Forests Act (HR 1526) Passes House
The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1526, Restoring Healthy Forests in late September. The lead sponsor of the bill is Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Washington), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would require a number of things:

  • Federal land managers must sell more than 6 billion board feet annually, which is twice the current annual timber sale harvest (the high mark was 12.7 billion BF in 1987);
  • Streamline environmental reviews;
  • Transfer authority for "O&C Lands” (Oregon and California Revested Grantlands) to state land trusts.

The bill passed largely along party lines, although 17 Democrats voted for it including key Oregonians Rep. Pete DeFazio and Rep. Kurt Schrader. Destructive wildfires and forest pests along with high rural unemployment in the Pacific Northwest have helped push the bill along. As expected, green groups have come out harsh against the bill and there are reports that if passed through the Senate , the President will veto it. It will be interesting to see what the Senate does with the bill or something similar to it. If it should pass the Senate, that would be a very strong statement about the current sad state of federal forest land management.

Will There be Action on Moving the Farm Bill?
You may recall that the Farm Bill never made it through Congress this year as the House and Senate passed hugely different versions of the bill, most noted of which the House did not pass any provisions for food stamps. The Farm Bill has to go to conference committee to iron out differences and that in itself has been elusive. During September the House passed a version of a Food Stamp proposal which helped set the stage for a potential conference committee to start working on differences. You may also recall that it was hoped a couple key forestry issues would be addressed in this Farm Bill, including elements of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (forest roads) and eliminating the bias against wood products in the federal bio-preferred program.

New House "Paper Caucus” Created
Under the leadership of Rep. Mike Michaud (R-Maine) and Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisconsin), a Congressional Paper Caucus has been created and all House members have been invited to participate. With the paper industry responsible for nearly 1.3 million U.S. jobs, many in rural areas of the country, it would benefit all Congressional members to be part of the caucus. OFA is contacting the Ohio delegation asking them to be part of the Caucus.

USFS 2013 Tax Tips for Forest Landowners
The US Forest Service recently issued its 2013 Tax Tips for Forestland Owners. You can easily access a copy of the document on-line at the USFS website. It is a short 2-page document dealing with timber sales, timber management expenses, reforestation costs, and casualty and theft losses. You can find out information on the correct tax forms to use. There are also other documents and information relating to a host of timber and forest landowner cost and revenue issues.

Upcoming Events#

Forest Heritage Festival, October 18-19, 2013; Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds. See the OFA website for more details.

Northwest Ohio Logger Chapters Charter Meeting, October 22, 2013, Findlay, Ohio. This is the organization meeting for the newly-forming Northwest Ohio Loggers Chapter. All loggers who may be interested in becoming a Master Logger and joining the chapter are welcome to attend. There will be drinks and food at 5:30 followed by a meeting at 6 pm to discuss details. The meeting will be held at the ODNR District Office in Findlay. See the OFA website for more information.

Best Management Practices Training, October 24, 2013, Scioto Trail State Forest. See the OFA website to register and get more information.

CSAW Level 1 Chainsaw Training, October 25, 2013, Scioto Trail State Forest. See the OFA website to register.

4-Day Lumber Grading Short Course/1-Day Walnut Grading Short Course, November 4-8, 2013, Taylor Lumber Co., McDermott, Ohio. There will be a 4-day lumber grading short course conducted by NHLA Instructor Barry Kibbey from Nov. 4-7, followed by a separate 1-day walnut grading short course on Nov. 8, 2013 at Taylor Lumber Co. in McDermott. You are welcome to take either or both courses. If attending both, separate registration is required. To register, go to the OFA website. For those coming from a distance, there is hotel information available.

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