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Timber Talk 1/12/2015

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 OFA Annual Meeting, February 11-12, Embassy Suites Columbus-Dublin
We hope many of you make plans to attend the annual meeting at the Embassy Suites in Dublin, a familiar location of many for past annual meetings. The meeting will focus on The Changing Business Climate for Ohio Forestry and the Hardwood Industry.The meeting will start on Wednesday afternoon with a discussion by Division of Forestry Chief Bob Boyles on what is happening with legislative activity on woodland property tax issues, especially as they may relate to timber theft concerns. That session will be followed by an OWIN tour of Caretta Workspace in the Polaris area of Columbus and then we will have an OWIN reception back at the meeting headquarters. Thursday will feature session presentations on a number of forestry and industry issues. The luncheon will have the traditional awards festivities at which we will recognize deserving OFA awardees and Ohio’s Tree Farmer of the Year. Don’t forget the Ohio Tree Farm Committee is hosting a silent auction during the meeting and is looking for donations of items to auction. Proceeds of the auction will go to Ohio Tree Farm Committee education and outreach activities. You can register on-line for the meeting at the OFA website.

OFA Reviews Timber Theft/Forest Tax Law Policy Issues
As had been reported over the last half of 2014, HB 515 sponsored by Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) which attempted to create new state law addressing timber theft and other forest management activities, did not get through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after being introduced in May. It died with the closing of the session in December. Following a discussion at the OFA Board meeting in November, 2014, OFA convened a review meeting among several from the Board and other interested members to discuss future actions relating to timber theft. At this review meeting, which took place last week, the group also reviewed current issues relating to the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) law and escalating farm and forest land valuations. Discussion focused on the current relationship between the Ohio Forest Tax Law and CAUV and whether Ohio forest management goals could be enhanced through better property tax policy. The group felt that the Ohio Forest Tax Law (OFTL) in particular should be promoted to address elements of timber theft. OFTL rules require participating landowners to mark property boundaries and to use Master Logging Companies for timber harvests. DOF Chief Boyles, who attended the review meeting, advised that the Division of Forestry is in the process of updating OTFL and rules and could promote the updates to better meet timber theft concerns in the state. There will discussion about this issue at the OFA Annual Meeting during the DOF and OFA sessions on Wednesday afternoon, February 11 and should be a good discussion particularly for those owning forestland enrolled under CAUV or OFTL.

Related CAUV Property Tax Activities

  • Rapidly rising CAUV farm and forest property tax rates have fueled concern among many, from landowners paying tax bills to agriculture and forestry organizations concerned about the trend. OFA has been involved with the Ohio Tax Commissioner relaying concerns with the data used in the formula to determine forest land values under CAUV. To that end, OFA recently provided survey information on land clearing costs to the Tax Commissioner, based on data provided by OFA members involved in land clearing businesses. Currently, the Tax Commissioner uses land clearing costs of $500 per acre in CAUV woodland formula, the same amount determined when the formula was first developed in the 1970s. OFA data indicates current costs are more than 5X higher.
  • It appears that a bi-partisan concurrent legislative resolution sponsored by Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson, District 99) and Rep. Terry Boose (R-Norwalk, District 57) will soon be circulating in the legislature looking for additional sponsors. The resolution asks the Ohio Department of Taxation to seek viable solutions to the dramatic increases in CAUV property tax rates experienced over the last several years. OFA Board member Paul Mechling from Ashtabula County, who represents Tree Farmers on the Board, has been working on a task force with Rep. Patterson to bring attention to the issue. Paul has been instrumental in the legislative efforts and assisting with OFA involvement in the process. OFA will be a supporter of the resolution. It will be shared with the membership once it gets introduced in the legislature.
The Nature Conservancy – Ohio Weighs in on the Northern Long Eared Bat
OFA Past-President (1999) and current Ohio Forestry Advisory Council member Gary Kaster shared aletter with OFA written by The Nature Conservancy and sent to the US Fish & Wildlife Service concerning the potential listing of the Northern Long Eared Bat as endangered. It appears that TNC does not take a specific stand against the listing, either as endangered or threatened. However, it suggests to USF&WS that if it elects to list the species as threatened it urges the allowance for forest management to enhance and maintain bat habitat. OFA has supported a coalition of interests, including industry and government agencies, that has taken a stronger stand against endangered species listing.

Former Jackson Merillat Facility to House Taylor Lumber Worldwide LLC
Last week, it was reported in the news that the former Merillat cabinet facility in Jackson had been purchased by Sherwood 23 Holdings, LLC and will become Taylor Lumber Worldwide LLC from Scioto County. According to the report, the new business is expected to create 25-75 new jobs for the area.

Governor Kasich sworn in for Second Term
On January 12, 2015, at a mid-night ceremony, Governor John Kasich was sworn into office for his second term as Governor. At the ceremony, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor was also sworn in for her second term. Unlike the swearing-in ceremony for the first term which took place outside of Columbus, this one was held in Senate chambers in front of approximately 200 people. The official swearing-in will be followed by an inaugural address and ceremonial swearing-in at the Southern Theater later in the day.

American Forest Foundation (AFF) Announces New Standards for Certification for the American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
Last week, AFF announced that it had adopted new Standards of Sustainability 2015-2010. As AFF announced, the standards are reviewed every 5 years and was done with a rigorous process involving many stakeholders. The ATFS Certification Standards are recognized by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest certification system. As such, supply chains and companies that source ATFS grown-wood can be internationally recognized for sustainable management. For more information on the Sustainability Standards, you can go to the American Tree Farm System website.

Registration Open for BWC Ohio Safety Congress and Expo, March 31-April 2, 2015 at the Columbus Convention Center
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) has announced that people can begin registering for the 2015 Ohio Safety Congress and Expo. BWC bills this event, which started in 1927 as Ohio’s largest and longest-running worker health and safety event. BWC says there will be 180 educational sessions and 225 exhibitors along with free continuing education credit.
Ohio Loses Long-Time Tree Farmer
Last week, OFA learned that Dr. Carrington Marshall Lowe, known to many as "Marshall” passed away at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus on January 2, 2015. Dr. Lowe and his wife Betty were Tree Farmers near Chesterhill, Ohio for many years and owned one of Ohio’s larger Tree Farms at 1,240 acres, which was first certified in 1975. The Lowes were active in a number of Tree Farming activities over the years and participated in and were members of the Southeast Ohio Woodland Interest Group (SEOWIG). He will be missed. Here is a copy of the obituary.

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