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Timber Talk 3/13/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Friday, March 13, 2015

Ohio Department of Taxation Proposes new CAUV Property Tax Rates
Last week, the Ohio Department of Taxation (DoT) held another Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) meeting to discuss revised CAUV rates for agricultural land and woodlands under the CAUV program. Rapidly escalating CAUV rates have been a hot topic among the agricultural community for a couple years and the AAC meeting last fall reflected a lot of concern about the value formulae and revenue/cost input figures used to calculate annual rates. Due to major concerns raised by many member of the AAC, DoT agreed to take a closer look at the numbers and come back with revisions. Those were presented at the meeting. You can see those figures here. Of particular interest to OFA is the value of woodlands and the land clearing rates used in the value determinations. DoT proposed raising land clearing rates from $500/acre to $1,000/acre. Land clearing rates used in the formula have remained the same since CAUV was first authorized in 1973, and the proposed change is the first. OFA had provided land clearing cost data to DoT at the end of 2014 to support the need for changes. OFA determined that land clearing rates generally run from $2,500/acre to $4,500. DoT’s proposed land clearing costs are still significantly below current rates. DoT reported that the cost changes will reduce the average statewide woodland tax from $1,171/acre to $751/acre, a 37% reduction. It appears that there still may be opportunity to revise the numbers even more and OFA will be working with other interested parties and DoT to try to come up with a "fair” tax representation.

Other Ohio Legislative and Policy News

Governor Continues Stump for Oil and Gas Severance Tax Increase
Governor Kasich continues to try to convince Legislative Republicans to agree to his version of increased oil and gas severance taxes from "fracked” wells. He is basing his argument on the recent increase in production of oil and gas wells, with oil production doubling in 2014 while gas production increased by 350%. Contrarily, the oil and gas industry is arguing that energy prices have dropped considerably over the last year and over 1,000 Ohio jobs have been lost as operators retired 22 drilling rigs from the state. They say that a significant increase will cause even more production to move from Ohio. Local government representatives are very supportive of the increased tax rate as proposals will share a 20% portion of the estimated $325 million in annual revenues with local governments. In general, however, they are asking for a greater share of the total, up to 50% according to some.

Jobs Grow in Ohio in 2014
According to the 2014 annual report from JobsOhio as reported in the Columbus Dispatch, efforts from the agency resulted in 21,377 new jobs last year, 20% more than 2013. These came from 286 projects sanctioned by JobsOhio and the total payroll from these jobs was nearly $1 billion. The companies that created the jobs pledged $6.1 billion in capital investment toward locating and upgrading facilities in Ohio. Since 2012, nearly 360,000 jobs have been created in Ohio. It will take another 61,000 jobs to return the state to pre-recession employment in 2007-2009.

ODNR Proposing Increased Non-residential Hunting Fees in Budget Bill
The ODNR Division of Wildlife is proposing increased hunting fees in the Budget Bill proposal. Non-residential hunting licenses would increase from $124 to $149 and non-resident deer permits would increase from $23 to $99.

SB 57, Local Roads, is Introduced
A bill giving local county authorities complete control to regulate county and township roads was introduced by Sponsor Sen. John Eklund (R-Munson Township in Geauga County) in front of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. OFA is working with a coalition of trade association interests to address the bill. Initial reactions are that the bill, if passed, could create a significant and potentially unworkable patchwork of local road regulations.

PUCO Sees Net Gain in Ohio Electricity Generation Despite Coal Plant Retirements
Over the last several years, Ohio has seen the shut-down of 7 coal-fired power plants with a combined generation capacity of 3,467 MW, mostly because of more stringent federal environmental regulations. However, by 2019, 7 new natural gas plants are expected to come on-line generating a combined 4,304 MW of electricity. At this point, coal produces 68% of Ohio’s electric generation with 17% from natural gas. Nuclear energy comprises 12%, renewables generate 2% and petroleum makes up the remaining 1%. Electricity demand has increased slowly over the last decade and is expected to be relatively flat through 2033, due in large part to ever increasing energy efficiency with new equipment and technology.

HB 61, Toxic Algae Passes House; HB 101, Algae Prevention, Introduced to Create
Early Warning System

HB 61 the long discussed bill to help address toxic algae issues in Ohio passed unanimously in the House. Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), one of the original architects of SB 61 to address toxic algae problems in Ohio, introduced additional legislation to create an early warning system within ODNR and OEPA to alert the public to pending algae blooms and other water quality problems. The bill would also establish requirements for training for water treatment workers and emergency plans by certain public water systems to help deal with problems. Legislators acknowledge that recent legislation will not immediately eliminate algae problems and it will take some time for new laws to take effect. At this point, SB1 which deals with toxic algae now must be reconciled with HB 61 before final legislation is approved in the legislature. There are a few issues between both bills that will require some compromise between the chambers.

Ohio Chamber of Commerce Opposes Kasich Tax Plan
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce announced this week that it is generally opposing the Kasich tax plan, particularly the idea of raising the sales tax and the commercial activity tax to offset lowering the personal income tax. The Chamber believes that the proposal is wrong and will stall economic activity.

OMA and OFBF Ask Senate Ways and Means Committee to Retain Business Tax Exemptions
The Ohio Manufacturers Association and the Ohio Farm Bureau asked the Senate Ways and Means Committee to retain existing sales tax exemptions for manufacturing equipment and materials. Both organizations identified how important these exemptions are to business activity and that surrounding states currently have similar exemptions.

Ohio SAF Annual Meeting/Forester Directory with the Ohio Society of American Foresters (OSAF)
The Ohio SAF held its annual meeting this past week at Ohio State University and the event was very well attended. A number of items from the meeting:

  • A number of timely issues were discussed including the CAUV and Woodland Tax issues, Northern Long Eared Bat, the status of various invasive species, and other items.
  • Jeremy Scherf, OFA member and co-coordinator of the OFA Forestry Camp, provided an overview of the camp and the great success it is having.
  • It was noted the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources is currently working with the National SAF on a review of the forestry program for re-accreditation. A formal visit and review of the program is expected in April, 2015 with final announcement of status coming later in the year.
  • It should also be noted that Randy Clum, consulting forester and long-time OFA member received the prestigious SAF Presidential Field Forester Award at the awards luncheon. He is one of 9 recipients in the US to receive the award this year.
  • The OSAF has announced that it is now in the "sign-up” period for the Forester Directory on the society website. Consulting and Industry Foresters wishing to be listed on the site can do so by contacting Dave Apsley, OSU Natural Resource Extension Specialist via email ( There is an initial application fee of $50 and an annual maintenance fee of $25 to participate on the site. OFA often gets a number of requests for forestry services and callers are generally referred to this site.

Master Logging Company Reciprocity Discussions with PA SFI
OFA reached out to the Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Program to discuss opportunities for mutual training. PA SFI has a very active and robust training schedule and the SFI program administers a program similar to the Ohio Master Logging Company Program, with similar training requirements. OFA discussed a reciprocity agreement with PA SFI similar to the reciprocity arrangements that OFA has with West Virginia and Kentucky. The benefit of an agreement is that it insures that training provided in each state will meet the standards for certification in those states.

Work on Ohio Forest Products Manufacturing Directory Continues
We have mentioned in the past that OFA is cooperating with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) on its "Forest to Furniture” project to build a comprehensive directory of forest products manufacturers in Ohio. Craig Rosenlund with APEG is the Developer of the Forest Products Supply Chain Directory and is overseeing directory development. Last week, OFA met with APEG staff at the Ohio University Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs. Staff at Ohio University are working on the construction of the web-based directory. The directory is being built as an economic development opportunity for forest products manufacturing in Ohio.

OFA Joins Coalition to Co-Sign Northern Long Eared Bat Comment Letter
OFA has agreed to co-sign a comment letter on the Northern Long Eared Bat sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as formal comment on the proposed endangered species listing. There is considerable concern among the forest products industry on what listing could mean to the industry and forest management practices in general if the species is listed as endangered. An endangered listing could mean a profound and lasting negative impact on forestry, one which would actually cause more harm to the NLEB as forest management plays such an important role in creating and maintaining habitat.

Carbon Neutrality of Woody Biomass Under Stronger Attack
Not long ago, the US EPA was indicating that woody biomass may in fact earn standing as a carbon neutral energy source in relation to carbon emissions accounting. A final decision has not yet been made. But before it is, numerous environmental groups particularly at the national level are working hard to reverse that view and to paint woody biomass as major carbon emitting energy source. It appears that the environmental community at large dislikes the idea that woody biomass can come from sustainable sources. The American Forest and Paper Association has acknowledged that environmental efforts have picked up and that their strategy to fight carbon neutrality is taking place at the state level, hoping to get individual states to dismiss a carbon neutral position.

Support for OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp
he 2015 OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp is not far away, with camp taking place this year June 7-12 at FFA Camp Muskingum. It is a truly outstanding learning experience for high school students to get top-notch forestry and natural resources education in an outdoor setting. It seems that one thing all of us in forestry agree on is the value of youth education in forestry and natural resource. The farther removed we are as a culture from our "roots” the more important it becomes to teach kids about trees and how forests are managed for wood and other products. Every year, a significant number of the approximately 100 students at camp, receive scholarship assistance with funds covering all or part of the cost of camp, which is $375 for the week-long camp. A great deal by many standards, but not an insignificant cost. It seems that the OFA camp may be the most well-supported OFA activity each year based on financial sponsorships. A host of groups including logger chapters, regional forestry associations, soil and water conservation districts, hunting and wildlife clubs, garden clubs and others readily donate funds for one or more scholarships to send kids to camp. To that end, recently the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ohio Division of Forestry stepped forward and made commitments to send a number of kids to camp. OFA thanks them for their support and promises to make sure their investment is well rewarded. Anyone interested in helping to send kids to camp can do so with any amount of financial support. Contact Gayla at OFA ( or 614-497-9580) if you are interested with assisting.

Southeast Ohio Woodland Interest Group (SEOWIG) Brochure
The SEOWIG, which involves woodland owners in a 7 county area of southeast Ohio, is interested in building membership and has developed a brochure to that end. Anyone with woodland in the Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton, and Washington County region who would like to participate in an organization that shares similar woodland interests can sign up for the group and become involved. The group has a periodic newsletter that can be received electronically or by snail mail.

New Statehouse gavels made from Newark Earthworks Tree
Just as an item of interest, the Newark Advocate is reporting that gavels now in use at the Ohio Statehouse were recently made from salvaged wood of downed Red oak tree from the Newark Earthworks, an ancient Indian site managed by the Ohio Historical Society. The gavels were made a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

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