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Timber Talk 4/2/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, April 06, 2015

USF&WS Releases Decision on the Northern Long Eared Bat (NLEB)
After a considerable period of review, last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) released its decision to list the Northern Long Eared Bat as a "Threatened” species according to the Endangered Species Act. That would take effect May 4 of this year. Many in the forestry community expected that the USF&WS would rule this way and hoped that it would provide some relief concerning forest management practices in the process. To that end, it appears that the Service listened and listed the bat with an "interim 4(d)” rule providing forest management exceptions in areas impacted by the real culprit affecting NLEB which is the White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease that is killing the bat throughout its range. The following briefly summarize the nature of the 4(d) rule exceptions:

  • There are no prohibitions on forest management outside the WNS buffer zone;
  • There are no prohibitions on forest management outside a 0.25 mile radius from a known, occupied hibernacula;
  • Certain timber harvests including clearcuts, seed tree cuts, shelterwoods, and coppice cuts should be "avoided” within 0.25 mile radius of a known, occupied roost tree during the June 1-July 31 "pup” season;
  • In addition, the occupied roost trees during the pup season should not be cut or destroyed.
  • The 4(d) rule protection does not apply to hardwood forest land converted to managed pine stands.

In all cases above, the "known” indicator is based on USF&WS having records of hibernacula or roost trees, not just landowner or local knowledge of such.

The interim rule is not final until a later date, probably before the end of the year. In the meantime, the USF&WS will continue to take comments on that rule. Here you can read more about the decision, including a couple news releases from the USF&WS, a map of the affected areas in the NLEB range, and two documents on Frequently Asked Question on the Threatened Status and the 4(d) Interim Rule. You can also find information on the USF&WS website. Although the 4(d) rule offers some relief for forest management, we need to proceed with caution as to how the final interim rule will look and even more, how it will be applied.

USF&WS to Hold Information Calls on Northern Long Eared Bat
In line with the release of the Threatened Species decision on NLEB, USF&WS will hold a couple Information Calls this week to discuss the decision. The call will take place on Wednesday, April 8 at 4 pm Eastern Time and Thursday, April 9 at 12 pm noon. Those wishing to participate may do so by calling toll-free: 877-918-2510, and entering the passcode 9285200#.

Hardwood Check Off in the News; OFA Working on Position
Last week, the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA) picked up on the article in the Ohio Farm and Dairy News about the status of the "Hardwood Check Off” and possible action by OFA on the proposal

· (see the third article down on the e-newsletter). As HPVA indicates, the proposal remains active, awaiting further response from the USDA. The OFA continues looking into the proposal with the potential development of a position.

Coalition Support for Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program
In past reports we had mentioned support for the FIA program. Attached is a copy of the coalition letter where nearly 50 trade associations and organizations, including OFA, support the necessary funding to continue the FIA program, one which has been hit by previous budget cuts.

Ohio Legislative and Policy News

OFA Part of Coalition to Address SB 57, Local Roads - Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon) has introduced SB 57, Local Roads, was recently introduced to give county jurisdictions full authority over county and local roads, way beyond current authority. There is considerable concern among numerous industry and trade associations about the potential impact of this legislation. To that end, OFA has become part of a growing coalition of industry groups to address the bill. This Coalition Letter was sent to Senator Eklund briefly discussing our concern with the legislation. Since sending that letter, a small group from the coalition met with Senator Eklund to discuss the concerns. He acknowledged that the bill will be controversial but indicated that there would still be proponent and opponent hearings on the bill during this session. After the letter had been sent, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce joined the coalition.

Transportation Budget Signed; Removes Alternative Fuel Requirements for State Vehicles - The Ohio Transportation Budget (HB 53) which was recently signed by the governor removes alternative fuel requirements for state vehicles that had been in place for 9 years. The requirements expanded each year and ODOT said that they were getting more difficult to attain. In 2015, ODOT was expected to use 100,000 gallons of E85 gas and 1.8 million gallons of biodiesel, but said increased cost and lack of availability made the requirements difficult to achieve. In spite of this change, the federal renewable fuel standard still requires that ethanol be added to all gasoline and the amount of ethanol used according to this standard far outweighs the amount used by the state. As a result, state organizations such as the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association did not have concern with the loss of the requirement. There had also been efforts to increase the highway speed limit for cars and trucks on selected rural state highways to 75 mph, but that idea was nixed during conference committee discussions to iron out differences between the chambers on the bill. The Transportation Budget, which involves $7.06 billion in spending over a 2-year period does not involve any general revenue funds, but uses motor vehicle taxes and a variety of fees to pay for road construction and maintenance.

SB 120, Oil and Gas Law, Would Increase Criminal Penalties for Improper Disposal of Brine - Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) introduced SB 120 last week, a bill which has provisions for increasing the penalties to companies for knowingly disposing of oil and gas waste illegally. The provisions would equal Clean Water Act requirements.

Agricultural Runoff Regulations Finalized - SB 1, Algae Control, was signed by the governor late last week after it had been passed unanimously by the House and Senate. The bill creates new regulations designed to control agricultural runoff which creates algae problems in Ohio waters. This bill focuses on problems in northwest Ohio which most directly affect Lake Erie. Some of the provisions include a ban on dumping dredged material into Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie and its tributaries, requiring that Healthy Lake Erie Fund money be used for agricultural practices that reduce nutrient runoff, and requiring waste water treatment facilities to monitor the amount of phosphorus released into the water by the end of 2016. The bill has received the blessing from both agricultural and environmental groups.

Attorney General DeWine Opposes US EPA Effort to Lower NAAQ Standards for Ozone
In general the forest products industry has opposed US EPA efforts to lower National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAMS) for Ozone in general because to do so is unnecessary and will hurt the economy. Attorney General Mike DeWine has weighed in with opposition on the same concern. You can read comments from the Attorney General here.You can also find a letter here from a coalition of 14 state attorneys general expressing the same concern about the NAAQS.

Future Logging Careers Act (HR 1215, S 694) Reintroduced
Recently, 2 Idaho Congressmen, Rep. Ral Labrador and Rep. Jim Risch reintroduced HR 1215 which is intended to assist the transfer of family logging businesses from one generation to the next by allowing minors as young as 16 to work on family-owned operations. The legislation mirrors existing statutes and rules available to farming families. Current law restricts employment in logging to persons at least 18 years old.

SOFA April Newsletter
Here is
the April Newsletter of the Southern Ohio Forestland Association with information on the recent March 12 general meeting; upcoming "A Day in the Woods Series” Programs which take place at Vinton Furnace State Forest on the 2nd Friday of each month, May through November; and other interesting pieces on forestry in general as well as coming events.

OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp; EB Miller Memorial Scholarship
Camp is approaching once again and will take place this year from June7-12, 2015 at FFA Camp Muskingum. Those wishing to participate can find registration and general information on the OFA website. Scholarships for students are a tremendous help for many kids to attend camp. Those wishing to make donations for scholarships can contact Gayla at the OFA office, 614-497-9580 or Students wishing to find out about available scholarships can also contact Gayla. The deadline for to apply for the EB MIller Scholarship is also approaching. This is a college scholarship for students pursuing a forest resource education. The application can be found here, please share if you know of students who might be eligible.

Chainsaw Training
OFA currently has a number of chainsaw training sessions set up. Check the OFA website for dates and availability. The sessions this week in NW Ohio have full registrations but there are others scheduled in the future. If you are interested in training but don’t see any time or dates that meet your schedule or particular needs, please call Katie at the OFA office, 614-497-9580to see about setting up additional training dates.

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