Posted By Gayla Fleming,
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
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OFA Board Meeting/Logging Standards Council Meeting
The OFA Board met last week for its fall quarterly meeting and discussed OFA business along with other items. Among the items discussed was the creation of a new website service allowing members to sell used equipment and advertise other services; the creation of sponsorship packages as an option for member participation in OFA activities, and an OFA response to HB 515 legislation and CAUV woodland rates and the Ohio Forest Tax Law. Part of the discussion focused on using modifications to the Ohio Forest Tax Law as a possible alternative to timber theft legislation as proposed in HB 515. As we have been doing, OFA will continue to actively address the proposed legislation. During the Logging Standards Council Meeting, there was discussion about strengthening education in the Master Logging Company Program to address timber purchasing and contracting issues encompassed by timber theft concerns. The LSC agreed that additional training which could be delivered to Master Loggers through regular Logger Chapter meetings would be beneficial and a proactive step with leadership on the timber theft issue. A small committee will begin developing an education module to address the educational needs for the legal and appropriate purchase and removal of timber.
Ohio Legislative News:
Ohio House Leadership Elected - Last week, the Ohio House voted on new leadership for the Republican Caucus and Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) will be the new Speaker of the House, replacing term-limited Bill Batchelder (R-Medina). There was a run-off election between Mr. Rosenberger and Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) and Rep. Rosenberger came out on top. Others elected to leadership positions include Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) as speaker pro-tem; Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Maumee) as majority leader; Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) as assistant majority leader; Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) as majority whip; and Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) as the assistant majority whip. Some personal notes on Speaker Rosenberger: He is 33-years old and one of the youngest members to lead the House in recent history; also, his mother is Korean and he becomes the first Asian-American Speaker of the House; he joined the House in 2011 and is eligible for two more terms before term-limits set in; he is an Air Force veteran and served as a special assistant to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.
Ohio Senate Leadership Elected - With less fanfare, the Ohio Senate re-elected the same leadership as the previous session. Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina) will again be the President of the Senate; Sen. Chris Widener (R- Springfield) will be the president pro-tem; Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) will be the majority floor leader; and Sen. Larry Obhof (R-Medina) will be the majority whip.
Mid-Biennium Review Bill (HB 490) Further Amended in Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) has been in full swing following elections dealing with HB 490which is a mid-biennium budget review bill and is dealing with a host of environmental issues. Last week, it was amended again to deal with more issues including farm equipment, septic systems, puppy mills, wild deer sanctuaries, and telecom deregulation. It has also been the primary vehicle for dealing with the state’s toxic algae issue. In this bill, oversight for livestock manure, currently done by ODNR, would be transferred to the Department of Agriculture as part of the plan to deal with algae concerns. This section would expand the state’s authority to enforce pollution regulations and impose tougher penalties on violators. Another section of this bill would make oil and gas changes, one of which would prevent state parks and nature preserves from being drawn into drilling "unitization”. Finally, bill amendment includes a provision that expands the definition of "significant adverse impact” on water withdrawals from the Lake Erie watershed as more than 1% of the long-term mean annual runoff from the Ohio Lake Erie Watershed. The environmental community is pushing back on this provision. This committee would any future hearing on HB 515, timber theft legislation, pending outcome of HB 490.
Municipal Tax Law Reform Gets Hearing in the Senate - A bill (HB 5) that has been in the works for a long time to revise Ohio’s laws concerning municipal tax systems was heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week as a number of business groups including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Small Business - Ohio stepped up again to testify in favor of its passage. In general, business groups are in favor of passage while local municipal groups are opposed to its passage as they fear it will cause another cut to local tax coffers. Proponents argue that Ohio may have the most complex local taxing system in the country with over 600 municipalities operating according to different rules and forms and often creating bookkeeping nightmares for businesses that operate in multiple towns and cities.
Northern Long Eared Bat (NLEB) News:
State Natural Resource Agency Groups Comment - Following an October meeting in Minneapolis by a number of state natural resource agencies which included Ohio DNR, there was a strong letter sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by a coalition of state agency organizations with concerns about the potential listing of NLEB as an endangered species. The letter is very comprehensive and long, but very well done and appropriate. In short, the letter argues several key points: that White-Nose Syndrome is the primary threat the NLEB, that the USF&WS techniques used to monitor NLEB are not sufficient; the bat can be protected with options offering minimal disruptions to management; and that "takes” during normal forest management operations are few and should not pose additional threat to the species.
A Possible Control for White-Nosed Syndrome? - There is some promising new research regarding the use of naturally occurring bacteria to combat the White-Nose Syndrome, a disease that affects hibernating bats throughout North America and is the reason Northern Long Eared Bat is being considered for endangered species designation. In an experiment, researchers introduced Rhodococcus rhodochrous, a bacteria previously used in food preservation, in cave environments where bats hibernate and found a marked increase in the survival rate of bats. Field trials are expected to be done in Kentucky this winter. It is not expected that the bacteria will be a cure for the syndrome, but it is hoped that the bacteria can significantly slow down the spread of the disease.
CAUV Woodland Tax Rates – Farm Bureau Agrees Cost Adjustments Needed
The issue of CAUV Woodland Tax Rates generated a lot of discussion at the recent OFA Board Meeting, with the Board agreeing effort should be put into getting adjustments made in the costs associated with the woodland valuation formula. Following that discussion, OFA received notice that the Ohio Farm Bureau identified several areas with CAUV rates that should be looked at. (see letter to Tax Commissioner). Included with these are two concerns relating to capitalization rate determinations, another point of discussion in the OFA Board Meeting. OFA is already compiling land clearing rates per a request from the Tax Commissioner’s office to assist the Commissioner with adjusting the woodland values. We will continue assisting this effort with the intent of making needed and appropriate adjustments in CAUV woodland tax rates.
|American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Congressional Fly-In, April 28-29,2015|
ATFS is planning a Congressional "Fly-In” for April 28-29, 2015 in Washington, D.C. This is a chance for Tree Farmers and family forest advocates to talk with Congressional representatives about woodland issues and concerns on such things as tax policies, woodland incentives program, and forest health. ATFS staff will guide and organize the effort and provide participants with all the tools and information to help make meetings and discussion fruitful. You can get more information on the AFTS website. Registration for the event will take place after the first of the year.
|A New Invasive Species? – Spotted Lanternfly|
It was reported last week that a new invasive species was found in Pennsylvania, the Spotted Lanternfly. The Spotted Lanternfly is a leafhopper from Asia. It is a generalist and attacks many species of trees and woody plants including grapes, apples, pines and more than 70 other species. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has issued a quarantine for the affected county in Pennsylvania and among many regulated products is logs, stumps, and other tree parts, as well as firewood, brush, bark, debris, and yard waste. Interestingly, the pest lays eggs on smooth barked trees, especially ailanthus. It will be interesting to see if this invasive insect becomes a predator of another invasive plant. Information on the Spotted Lanternfly remains sketchy for the time being, but here is a document that provides what we know so far.
GSA Finds Wood-Fired Biomass Boilers Cost Effective and Reliable Alternative Energy Source
A recent report by the General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued a report indicating that wood-fired biomass boilers an economical and environmentally-sound alternative to fossil-fuel fired boilers. The report noted the benefits of using locally-sourced wood from an ample supply in the nation’s forests. The report, which was completed to assess alternative energy opportunities for federal government facilities, concluded that biomass boilers makes sense for many facilities, particularly those in northern climates not readily served by natural gas sources.
|Transportation Productivity Getting More Attention|
With the overall goal of trying to revise commercial hauling GVW, the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), which OFA is a part of, continues efforts to promotes changes in the law allowing for heavier truck hauling configurations. At the moment, proponents are waiting for the US DOT to complete its Congressionally-sanctioned technical study assessing the costs and benefits of raising GVW. The target completion date had been mid-November, 2014 but that has not been met. A new highway bill will be written in the spring of 2015 and it is critical that the study be completed by the time the bill is being drafted. Those close to the study believe that there will be good information to support changes in the law allowing for higher GVW with different axle configurations. Those interested can take a look at a two-page CTP Fact Sheet on other studies and information supporting a change in GVW.
|ECOFA December Newsletter|
Here is a copy of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association December Newsletter with information on the most recent general meeting at which Dr. Scott Pendleton, DVM spoke about woodland shrubs, with special discussion on spicebush.
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