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Ohio Policy and Legislative News
Environmentalists Against Transferring Chemical Disclosure Responsibilities to ODNR - The current House-passed version of the State Biennium Budget Bill (HB 64) gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources authority for accepting chemical disclosure reports from oil and gas activities. That authority currently is with the State Emergency Response Commission. Environmentalists are opposed to the transfer based on their belief that the ODNR database for such information is inferior and that all other industries report chemical disclosure to the State ERC.
Non-resident Hunting Fees Expected to Increase - The Budget bill also has provisions for raising non-resident hunting license and deer tag fees. According to the bill, the fees would increase to $250 from $149 which would raise an additional $3 million for the Division of Wildlife. In general, wildlife groups and conservation clubs around Ohio are very supportive of the move.
PUCO Wants Fines for Pipeline Safety Violations Increased - The Public Utility Commission of Ohio asked the Senate Finance Workforce Committee to double the state fines for pipeline safety standards as originally proposed in the budget bill, but taken out by the House. The proposal was in line with federal guidelines that had recently been increased. PUCO argues that the increased fine revenues are desperately needed to address the increased oil and gas inspections needed to deal with eastern Ohio fracking issues.
Ohio Unemployment Rises in April; Lay-offs In Office of Unemployment Operations - Ohio’s unemployment rate which had been steadily declining rose slightly during April, jumping from 5.1% to 5.2%. Ohio non-farm employment actually jumped up 6,400 positions to a total of 5,395,000. Still the number of unemployed increased by 3,000 to 297,000. Even though there was that increased unemployment, the trend had been steadily down for some time and as a result, the state elected to lay-off 42 positions in the Office of Unemployment Operations. The lay-offs were reportedly caused by the loss of federal funding to administer unemployment compensation programs. The amount of federal funding for unemployment compensation was $55 million in 2009 but has dropped to $4 million this year.
OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp – Encourage Sign Ups Now!
School is almost out, and we will soon be holding another OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp. There are still plenty of space available for students to attend. The camp is open to high school students. Generally any student who has completed middle school or has completed high school but not yet entered college is eligible to attend. Funds for camp scholarships are still available so potential enrollees can contact OFA for information. Pass the word to family, friends, work colleagues, or anyone you know with high school student that they can attend the camp. It is truly a great experience. Attendees can sign-up on-line at the OFA website.
OFA Comments on Wayne National Forest Buckeye Habitat Improvement Project
OFA elected to provide comments to the Wayne National Forest on the proposed Buckeye Habitat Improvement Project on the Ironton District. Here is a copy of the scoping document on the project along with a couple maps. Also here are the brief comments OFA provided. In brief, the project could involve a significant amount of forest management practices on the forest, including timber harvests. The Wayne has often been criticized for not doing enough active forest management in the past. This appears to be an opportunity see some much needed management take place. As expected, however, there appears to be considerable push-back from the environmental community so it will be interesting to see what transpires with the proposal.
News on Federal Truck Weights
Many concerned with possible changes to federal truck weight laws have long waited for the release of the US Dept. of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study. The study was commissioned by Congress to review all available research and information as it relates to possible reconfiguration of commercial truck GVW configurations to 97,000# for 6-axle rigs. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), which OFA has worked with for some time, learned that preliminary findings show that 97,000#, 6-axle trucks have the same braking capabilities as 5-axle trucks at 80,000#. These findings were presented by the Motor Carrier Safety Administration to an independent highway safety organization. This information makes it even more compelling to get the study released as it may impact the inclusion of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) within the Highway Funding Bill, which is expected to get a 2-month extension through July for possible reauthorization this fall. To this end, Cong. Reid Ribble (R-WI) sent a letter on May 12 to the US Dept. of Transportation urging that the study be released to Congress so that the information can be used on the pending SETA and Highway Funding bills. CTP also issued a news release commending Cong. Ribble for his action on the information.
Future Logging Careers Act Introduced in Congress; Needs Co-Sponsors
The Future Logging Careers Act has been introduced in both the House (HR 1215) and the Senate (S 694). The bill would allow an exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act giving children of loggers down to age 16 the permission to operate equipment under the supervision of a parent, similar to an existing exemption for children of farmers. The bills are looking for co-sponsors and an easy way to encourage our Congressmen to get on the bill is to "write your legislator” using an easy on-line portal created by John Deere. All you have to do is fill in your personal information and a sample letter is already provided. You can send the letter as is or change it as you like. Either way, the portal finds your legislator based on the address and zip code and automatically sends the letter electronically.
Wood Supply Research Institute (WSRI) – New Leadership
Hereis the Summer 2015 Newsletter from WSRI, of which Ohio’s Logging Standards Council is a member. WSRI announced new leadership for the institute, as Crad Jaynes, President and CEO of the South Carolina Timber Producers Association was elected Chair for a 2-year term. In addition, Dave Hudnall Corporate Forest Resources Environmental Manager LP was elected Chair of the WSRI Technical Committee. It was also reported in the last weekly report, but you can again see recognition for Jeff Jenkins, Glatfelter Forester, for receiving a National Membership Award at the April Annual Meeting. Other information in the newsletter is on the latest research on Logging Cost Index Verification, Factors Affecting Fuel Consumption and Harvesting Cost, and an update on the WSRI Facebook Page.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative Breaks Tree Planting World Record
Last week, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) broke the Guinness World Record for most trees planted in one hour, with more than 200,000 trees planted in 28 different communities. More than 1,100 participants planted across 4 time zones and in the United States and Canada. Here is a news release from SFI on the activities.
Interesting Take:"Don’t Write Off Paper Just Yet”
Here is a brief article (you can also listen to the audio) on NPR that talks about the continued value of paper. At a time when the popular opinion is that paper use is in major decline, there are indicators of just the opposite. Certainly, some paper use, like newsprint, is in significant decline. But other uses are not. And paper has phenomenal applications, in fact more than 20,000 according to the article. A very interesting note, in my mind, sums up the value of paper: "It's resilient, it's resourceful, it's portable, it's foldable, it's strong if you want it to be strong. It can last 500 years if that's the goal, or if it's a hygienic tissue, maybe it's life span is 5 or 6 or 10 seconds, but it's still doing its job, isn't it?" I once heard that the most significant invention of the second millennium was the printing press. If that is the case, paper was and is pretty important.
International Trade Logistics Workshop, May 27,2015, OSU South Centers - OSU Extension is working with the International Trade Assistance Center to offer a workshop for those interesting in getting more involved with international trade. The workshop will offer an overview of how to get your products to global consumers. It will also offer information on the Ohio Appalachian Export Grant program which offers financial assistance to small businesses to promote their products in international markets. The 2-hour, free workshop will be held 9 – 11 am on Wednesday, May 27 at the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon. Attachedis a flyer on the workshop.
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. Attached 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.
Council on Forest Engineering Annual Meeting, July 19-22, 2015, Lexington, KY - The Council on Forest Engineering (COFE), a national member organization of businesses and people interested in forest engineering issues, is administered by the Appalachian Hardwood Center at West Virginia University in Morgantown. COFE is planning its annual meeting on July 19-22, 2015 in Lexington, KY and the meeting will be hosted by the University of Kentucky. The theme of this year’s meeting is Engineering Solutions for Nonindustrial Private Forest Operations. The meeting will be at the Downtown Hilton Hotel. There will be host of sessions on topics pertinent to forest operations in Ohio.
OWIN Summer Meeting, July 22-23, 2015, Marietta, Ohio - A great gathering is planned for the OWIN Summer Meeting in Marietta. Check the OFA websitefor information and registration. We welcome those members wishing to sponsor at the meeting or during the events. There are opportunities to be a sponsor of the Riverboat reception, or to support a golf hole or clay station. 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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