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Timber Talk 5/112/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Woodworking Network Notes OFA Opposition to the Hardwood Check Off
With OFA taking a position against the Hardwood Check Off in the last couple weeks, several outlets have been reporting on the action.  Recently, Woodworking Network reported on the action, and then in another statement, indicated that 4 trade associations from Missouri, Virginia, and Michigan, in addition to Ohio have taken positions against the proposal.  The Woodworking Network had reported in March that the Blue Ribbon Committee had submitted recommendations on changes to the original proposal, and since then, there are reports that USDA is revising the proposal due to be released in the near future.
BWC Offering Free Webinars on New Prospective Billing Process
Many employers are aware that the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation has changed to a prospective billing process, which in essence is charging up front for workers comp coverage.  In doing so, procedures for premium payments have changed.  Companies can learn the specifics of the changes through free webinars offered by BWC.  Information on the webinar schedule is available on the BWC website.  Webinars will be offered multiple times during May, June and August, with registration already full for the May and early June offerings.  Attendees need to register for the classes ahead of time.

Ohio Legislative and Policy News.

  • ODA to Start Gypsy Moth Treatments in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that it will begin aerial sprays to control Gypsy Moth in Ohio, treating a total of 3,779 acres in 14 different areas. Over 2,000 acres will be treated in 5 locations in southern Ohio in Athens, Hocking, Pickaway, and Ross Counties. In southwest Ohio, 105 acres will be treated in Clermont County. For a full view of all treatment blocks, you can go to the Gypsy Moth Treatments for 2015 site on the ODA website. ODA will use low-flying aircraft to apply Foray (Btk) which is a bacteria that interferes with the feeding cycle of the gypsy moth caterpillars and Gypchek (NPV), a virus that attacks only gypsy moth caterpillars.
  • OEPA Proposes Privatizing Wetland Determinations. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) Director Craig Butler told the Senate Finance General Government Subcommittee that the agency has a plan to create a "certified water quality professional program” which would privatize state assessments of wetlands. Indicating that it would be the first of its kind in the country. Currently, assessments are often initiated by private consultants working for developers who may be affecting a wetland. These assessments are then reviewed by agency staff with site visits. Under the proposal, if an assessment is completed by a "state certified water quality professional” then the assessment would be accepted as is, reducing the amount of time to review applications, in many cases by half the time according to the Director.
  • Energy News:
    • Efficiency Cost Savings - At a recent Energy Mandates Study Committee meeting, it was reported the energy efficiency savings compare favorably to the cost of new energy supply. A report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab indicates that energy efficiency programs cost residential ratepayers an average of 3.3 cents per KWH saved, while commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers paid an average of 5.5 cents per KWH. It should be noted that the study included 20 states, but Ohio was not one of them.
    • PUCO Signs Off on AEP Auction - Recently, AEP held a wholesale auction to determine electric generation service rates through May 2018. This auction, along with some in the near future will determine rates beginning in June 2015. The winning bid during an 18-round auction resulted in an average clearing price of $53.79 per megawatt hour for delivery during the period from June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016. A two-year bid product with 7 suppliers bidding produced an average price of $53.51 per MWH for 2015-2017. Five suppliers bid on a 3-year product with a clearing price of $55.58 for a period running through May, 31, 2018.
  • Ohio Tax Coffers Surge with Tax Filing Season - Ohio’s income tax intake surged last month by more than 23% and the state could end the year with a general revenue balance of more than $1 billion, according to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management. And Personal Income Tax (PIT) collections were $1.222 billion and nearly $228 million above expectations. The Sales Tax intake was up 3.7%, grossing almost $911 million. Recently, the House had thwarted the governor’s plan to shift away from income taxes toward consumption taxes, but the figures are showing a move in that direction already as sales taxes are on track this year to exceed income taxes by more than $1 billion. In recent Senate Ways and Means Committee hearings on the budget bill, a number of business groups lead by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce supported the House version of the tax proposals over the governor’s version, which would have raised sales taxes, as well as commercial activity, oil and gas severance and tobacco taxes to offset a cut in the personal income taxes. The House version expects more tax revenues along with revisions in Medicaid spending to go along with a smaller PIT reduction and a permanent income tax cut for small businesses.

Northern Long Eared Bat (NLEB) Threatened Listing Effective May 4, 2015
The listing of the Northern Long Eared Bat as "Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act took effect last week on May 4. The listing came with a "4(d) rule exemption” for forest management activities. At first glance, that may appear to be something good, but there are a huge number of questions to be answered on how the exemption and the specific limitations will play out. The specific guidelines on the rule are yet to become final, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) is now taking public comments before those become final. It appears that although forest management activities will be allowed, there will be specific restrictions relating to management around winter hibernaculum as well as around roost and "pup” trees. Forest management has not been the problem with NLEB as white nose syndrome is the cause of death with the bat. Many have argued that management can in fact help the species. It will no doubt take a long time before we fully understand the impact of the listing and how much forest management activities will be impact in the process.

Ohio Farmer Editor Urges Eliminating Woodland Property Taxes
In the May, 2015 edition of the Ohio Farmer, retiring editor Tim White suggested eliminating property tax for Ohio woodlands as eleven other states currently have. He suggested that there are numerous benefits to maintaining trees and eliminating taxes and that wildlife, recreation, and the timber industry would benefit. The editor is a well-known and long-time writer on agricultural issues who retired at the end of April, 2015. Originally published in the May issue of Ohio Farmer. Reproduced with permission.

State Forester Video: Protecting Water Quality Through State Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs)
We recently reported that the National Association of State Foresters had compiled a report on the status of state forestry BMP programs and their effectiveness at protecting water quality.  To help in passing along the message, the NASF produced a short video highlighting program accomplishments.  The video, which is a narrated power point presentation, features the Paul Tauke, Iowa State Forester and the work of the NASF Forest Resources Management Committee.   
Virginia Tech February 2015 Housing Commentary
Each month, Urs Buehlmann from the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials, Virginia Tech and Al Schuler, retired USFS economist, produce a Housing Commentary that highlights last statistics and information on the housing market.  The February 2015 Housing Commentary is now available online.  There is a lot of good information, but for a quick overview of his comments, you can look at the end of the report for his short term and long term solutions.  In the short term, the authors indicate the economy will continue to improve with housing lagging  behind, and we need more first-time home buyers who are having difficulty finding jobs.  In the longer term, the US economy is changing which is impacting the housing choices, and the job market is undergoing long-term structural changes.

Coming Events.

  • Appalachian Ohio State of the Region Conference; Manufacturing Workforce: Building Capacity; May 12, 2015, Ohio University, Athens. there will be a conference hosted by Ohio University in Athens and sponsored by the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) on opportunities for building workforce capacity in manufacturing in Appalachian Ohio. The full-day conference will give attendees the chance to interact with local and state leaders, economic developers, and manufacturers in the region. You need to pre-register and to do so, visit www.ohio.edu/voinovichschool and click on "Register Now.” See the flyer for more information.
  •  Employment Law Seminar, May 15, 2015, Dublin Embassy Suites. See the flyer for the event. The session is the morning of May 15 and includes a continental breakfast. There is a $10 registration fee.
  • Seminar: The Federal Endangered Species Act: Implementation, Effectiveness and Implications for Natural Resources Management. May 29,2015, OSU, Columbus. A group of sponsors including OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, ODNR Division of Wildlife, and OSU Extension are hosting a full-day seminar on the Federal Endangered Species Act. It is designed for Natural Resource Managers who have to deal with Endangered Species issues. It will be held on May29, 2015 at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the OSU campus in Columbus. The Ohio Woodland Steward website has information on the seminar. Registration is $30 with a breakfast and lunch included. The registration deadline is May 22,2015.
  • Second Annual Tree Autopsy Workshop, June 6, 2015, Newbury, Ohio. This workshop is intended for arborists and those with a focus in urban forestry, but it may have interest for foresters and those working with traditional forest products. The Ohio Independent Arborist Association is hosting the workshop at the Independent Tree Service in Newbury, Ohio. The workshop is free but the organizers ask for RSVP on registration. Here is a flyer.
  • OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 7-12, 2015, FFA Camp Muskingum. Go to the OFA website for camp information.
  • Lumber Grading Short Courses:
  • June 8-11, 2015, Yoder Lumber Company, Millersburg, Ohio. OFA is once again hosting the Lumber Grading Short Course at the Yoder Lumber Company, Buckhorn Mill in Millersburg, Ohio. The course is taught by NHLA Inspector Barry Kibbey. The fee for the course is $325 for OFA members/$400 for non-members. You can find information about the course here.
  • June 29-July 3, 2015, Piketon, Ohio. A second lumber grading short course has been added this year. It will take place in Piketon at the OSU South Centers facility. The course is billed as a 4/5/1 Flex Day Short Course during which attendees can attend the usual 4-day short course, or attend a 5-day course which will include a 1-day walnut grading seminar. Those wishing can attend only the one-day course if they want. Instructor for this course will be Barry Kibbey, NHLA inspector. Note: for both courses, there is grant money available from the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) for attendees to pay fees for the course. Contact OFA or OSU for information on registration and course fees.
  • OWIN Summer Meeting, July 22-23, 2015, Marietta, Ohio. Check the OFA website for information and registration. Those wishing to sponsor at the meeting or during the events should contact Gayla at the OFA office, 614-497-9580, ext. 5.
  • Forest Heritage Festival, August 8, 2015, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.
  • Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 19, 2015, Sycamore Hills Tree Farm, Harrison County.
  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 2-4, 2015, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.

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