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Timber Talk 7/21/14

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, July 21, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

OWIN Summer Meeting, July 23-24, 2015, Portsmouth, Ohio
Last minute registrations can still be taken. Call OFA, 888-388-7334.

Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Update
The U.S. EPA has proposed new WOTUS rules under the Clean Water Act jurisdiction that has caused concerns among many industries and in particular the agricultural industry. OFA has worked with a coalition of state and national groups to weigh in on our concerns with the rules, which attempts to make virtually any body of water as small as it may be, including that in constructed ditches and other water structures, under Clean Water Act authority and thus under regulation. There has been considerable push-back so far on the proposals that have resulted in Congressional actions to limit U.S EPA overreach. Florida Rep. Steve Southerland has introduced H.B. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act” would prohibit the administration from finalizing the proposed rule. Cong. Reid Ribble (R-WI) introduced the "Agricultural Conservation Flexibility Act” (H.R. 5071) would require the withdrawing of the interpretive rule that lists 56 agricultural practices defined by NRCS, which includes silvicultural practices. Because of the strong reaction from stakeholders, one of which is called "Ditch the Rule” by the American Farm Bureau, U.S. EPA has created a "Ditch the Myth” Campaign to counter that. Here is a response from the American Farm Bureau that attempts to deal with an EPA blog on the issue.

Ohio Ballot Board Approves Clean Energy Initiative Amendment
Last week, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the wording for a clean energy amendment to the Ohio Constitution that, if passed by voters, would establish the authority and requirement for the state to issue $13 billion in bonds over a 10-year period for green energy projects, which would include biomass among other sources of energy. If this ballot initiative is successful, Ohio would be obligated to issue $1.3 billion in bonds per year over a 10 year period, starting whenever the amendment would become effective. There are several definitions of biomass in state laws and rules and there are similarities among them. But the definition of biomass energy in state energy law rules is obviously one that would apply for the purposes of the amendment. According to the rule "biomass energy" means energy produced from organic material derived from plants or animals and available on a renewable basis, including but not limited to: agricultural crops,tree crops,crop by-products and residues; wood and paper manufacturing waste, including nontreated by-products of the wood manufacturing or pulping process, such as bark, wood chips, sawdust, and lignin in spent pulping liquors; forestry waste and residues; other vegetation waste, including landscape or right-of-way trimmings;algae; food waste; animal wastes and by-products (including fats, oils, greases and manure); biodegradable solid waste; and biologically derived methane gas. If you happen to be interested in reading the initiative petition from the previous effort (which is effectively the same as the most recent), you can do so on-line.

On-Line State Sales Taxes Debated by Business and Tax Groups
Debates over national efforts to expand state sales taxes to internet sales has been getting attention lately with the "Marketplace Fairness Act” (S.743). The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants is pushing for the passage of the bill, which would require on-line retailers to collect sales taxes from consumers according to their state of residence. Interestingly, already 45 states, including Ohio, require that consumers pay sales tax on internet purchases. However few pay the taxes as they are collected with annual income tax processes. The bill would change how the tax is collected. The National Taxpayers Union, a free-market think tank in Washington DC, indicates from their public surveys that a majority of Americans oppose federal legislation allowing states to require on-line retailers to collect sales taxes. Some voice concerns about states having authority to reach across state lines to enforce state tax laws, which has never been done before. Part of the bill to require tax collections also requires that states would have to agree to simplify tax codes to make collections easier. Interestingly, when the Ohio Biennial Budget was passed last year (HB 59), it indicated that any new tax revenue generated under a federal law that imposes new sales and use tax requirements on internet sales would go to the Income Tax Reduction Fund, which triggers automatic income tax cuts when it reaches a certain level.

Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) News Release on Asian
Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Affected Tree Material Removals

Last week, ODA reminded property owners and others in the ALB quarantine area of Clermont County that there are restrictions for tree material removals. The news release identifies which products are affected and specific treatment requirements.

U.S. Paper and Wood Products Manufacturers Show
Significant Progress Toward Sustainability Goals

The American Forest & Paper Association released its 2014 Sustainability Report indicating that the U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, and wood products industry has made significant strides toward sustainability goals. The highlights from the report are that:

  • Over 63 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. has been recovered for recycling for each of the past five years, making paper the most recycled material in the nation.
  • Members have nearly reached the Better Practices goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent.
  • Pulp and paper mills self-generate most of their energy needs, and most of that energy is renewable.
  • The forest products industry is the second largest producer of combined heat and power electricity in the manufacturing sector.
  • AF&PA-supported efforts to curb illegal logging have gained traction around the world.

BMP and CSAW Level 1 Training
Due to requests for additional Master Logger Certification Training, OFA scheduled a BMP class and Chainsaw Level 1 class at Scioto Trail Forest last week, with 5 attendees in the BMP class and 11 taking chainsaw certification. Traditionally, classes are offered in the spring and the fall. The next classes will be offered October 23 and 24 at Scioto Trail State Forest in Ross County.

NEOFA and ECOFA July Newsletters
Here are the July Newsletters from the Northeastern Ohio Forestry Association and the East Central Ohio Forestry Association. The NEOFA newsletter has information on the upcoming General Meeting on July 24 at the Beaver Creek State Park Wildlife Center, and after the general meeting there will be a tour of the center. There is also information on the May 31 work day at Schmucker’s woods; a report on the OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp during which a small group from NEOFA (which often provides considerable donations for camp scholarships) visited camp to observe first-hand the camp experience; dealing with insects, diseases, and other threats to your woodlands. The ECOFA Newsletter has information about the July General Meeting at the Norma Johnson Center in New Philadelphia with a presentation from Denise Ellsworth of the OSU Dept. of Entomology; wildlife webcams; a look at timber prices; and upcoming events.

Don’t Do This At Home
Thought you might want to see one of the graduates of the OFA CSAW Training in action. Not true! This is an amazing video of a tree feller who arguably has much more guts than sense. Thanks to Clarence Roller for sharing this video.

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