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Timber Talk 8/10/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, August 11, 2015

USDA Announces Webinar on Proposed Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research and Information Order (Hardwood Check-Off), Wednesday, August 11, 2pm
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be holding a webinar on the proposed "Hardwood Check-Off” particularly for those wishing to comment on the order. USDA currently has an open comment period through September 7, 2015. Those wishing to learn more about the order can participate in a webinar scheduled for 2 PM on August 11, 2015. But to participate you must register ahead of time and to do so, click on the link and provide your contact information. You will be given directions and information to participate.

Administration Releases Clean Power Plan Rules; Biomass Questions Remain
The Obama Administration released its long awaited final rules on its Clean Power Plan. The plan is supposed to be designed to reduce atmospheric carbon by 32% by 2030 from 2005 levels. There remains concern in the forest products industry that woody biomass still is not fully recognized by the administration as carbon neutral. We reported recently that both House and Senate letters with strong bi-partisan support were sent to administration leaders urging their full consideration of the carbon neutrality of biomass. Concerning the Clean Power Plan,here is a brief summary from AF&PA and the American Wood Council. According to the forest products industry view, the plan will increase energy costs and threaten electricity reliability and still creates uncertainty about the carbon benefits of woody biomass.

Statement on Carbon Neutrality of Forest Biomass
John Greene from Forest2Market wrote an excellent statement on The Carbon Neutrality of Forest Biomass posted on the Forest2Market website in which he questions the shortsightedness of the White House and administration rejecting the science behind the carbon neutrality of forest biomass. In a policy statement from the White House about HR 2822, the appropriations bill for the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, the administration stated: "Classification of Forest Biomass Fuels as Carbon Neutral. The Administration objects to the bill's representation of forest biomass as categorically "carbon neutral." This language conflicts with existing EPA policies on biogenic CO2 and interferes with the position of States that do not apply the same policies to forest biomass as other renewable fuels like solar or wind. This language stands in contradiction to a wide-ranging consensus on policies and best available science from EPA's own independent Science Advisory Board, numerous technical studies, many States, that do not apply the same policies to forest biomass as other renewable fuels like solar or wind. This language stands in contradiction to a wide-ranging consensus on policies and best available science from EPA's own independent Science Advisory Board, numerous technical studies, many States, and various other stakeholders.” This statement comes just as nearly a third of the House delegation, with a strong bi-partisan statement, told the administration that they believe biomass is carbon neutral and there is strong science behind that.

Many Ohio Large Electricity Customers Opting Out of Energy Efficiency Programs
A significant number of large, commercial electricity customers are exiting energy efficiency programs and the riders their utilities charge for them as legislators consider the possibility of expanding the "industrial opt-out.” When the legislature placed a hold on the clean energy law passed in 2008, a streamlined industrial opt-out was included in the changes to the law and more companies have taken the option. So far, 113 of FirstEnergy’s industrial customers have taken the opt-out from energy efficiency programs. The net effect for companies is a cost-savings. Right now the opt-out applies only to very large commercial users. The legislature will consider providing the opt-out to all "mercantile customers” which would include any commercial ratepayer that uses more than 700,000 KWh a year.

Ohio Tree Farm Committee Meets
Last week, the Ohio Tree Farm Committee (OTFC) had its quarterly meeting on the Don Rawn Tree Farm in Ross County. The day brought unusually cool and rainy weather for early August but the meeting was fruitful and lively. The committee talked about recent work on its Strategic Plan and had a lengthy discussion about actions taking place on lawsuits in response to CAUV property tax rates. The Committee agreed to try a new activity at the Paul Bunyan Show hosting a fundraising "flapjacks” and maple syrup breakfast in the new education hall at the show. The committee will meet in November and decide at that time if it wishes to continue Ohio’s "certified” tree farm program or simply continue as a recognition program.

Virginia Tech June 2015 Housing Report
You can find the June 2015 Housing Report prepared by Urs Buehlmann from the Dept. of Sustainable Materials at Virginia Tech University and Al Schuler, retired U.S. Forest Service Economist in Princeton, WV. The report is a comprehensive summary of housing information and data including a Housing Scorecard, New Housing Starts, Housing Permits and Completions, New and Existing House Sales, Construction Spending, European Construction Markets, and Conclusions along with significant background information on Additional Comments and Data. Briefly, the report says

  • that single family starts and sales have declined, thought permits and remodeling remain positive;
  • the near-term housing outlook remains unchanged with several factors in play at this point including lack of creation of good jobs, a tepid economy, declining median household incomes, strict home mortgage lending standards, and overall global uncertainty;
  • the economy is growing slowly but is continuing to improve with 2015 growth expected to be about 2.5%;
  • the number of first-time buyers are below trend and that needs to increase for a better housing market;
  • political uncertainty will continue to hurt recovery efforts.
  • Productivity is becoming a problem in the US economy; over the last 7 years it has averaged 1.7% while it averaged 2.4% over the previous 17 years. Lack of private sector investment appears to be the cause of the reduction. That won’t increase until there is more confidence in the future;
  • The world economy is slowing, both China and Europe are experiencing problems;
  • Real GDP has averaged a weak 2.2% over the past 6 years due to productivity problems and poor government policies.

Lumber Grading 4/5/1 Flex-Day Short Course, Sept. 14-18, 2015, Piketon, OSU South Centers. There will be another opportunity for those interested in taking a Lumber Grading Short Course at the OSU South Centers Facility in Piketon September 14-18, 2015. The offering will include a 4-day lumber grading course with the option of taking a 1-day walnut grading class on the last day. The class will be taught by NHLA Lumber Inspector Barry Kibbey. You can get information on the class on the NHLA website and you can download a registration form here.Note that there is grant funding through the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) for companies within the Appalachian Region to get attendee class fees reimbursed. Companies wishing to get reimbursed can contact Kelly O’Bryant (obryant.6@osu.edu, (740) 289-2071 ext. 235 ) at OSU South Centers for information.

Other Upcoming Events:

  • Tree Diagnostic Workshop, Friday, August 14, 2015, OSU – Mansfield Campus. Get information on common and not-so-common tree problems from OSU Extension Specialists in this all-day session (9 am – 3 pm), sponsored by the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program. There is a $35 cost and pre-registration is required. You can register on line at the Woodland Stewards Website.
  • Lumberman’s Outing, September 9, 2015, The Pines Golf Course, Orrville, and Lost Bird Sporting Clays, Fredericksburg. A Special Call. The Lumberman’s Outing is now about a month away. This event is conducted to raise money for the Lumberman’s Benevolent Fund which helps our friends in the wood industry in times of special need. This year, proceeds from the event will be used to help the Rob McCarthy family. Rob McCarthy is Past President of the OFA Board and this year has been especially trying for his family. Rob suffered a broken back from a sledding accident a year ago. More recently, his wife Martha has been diagnosed with cancer. She has been undergoing aggressive treatments at both the Cleveland Clinic and the OSU James Medical Center. Please join in the fellowship of the event and help one of our friends in the process. Please consider attending the event or if you can’t, consider a sponsorship of a golf hole, clay station, or being an overall event sponsor. Click on the link above for information to participate in the outing.
  • Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 19, 2015, Sycamore Hill Tree Farm, Harrison County. Hereis a flyer on the Tree Farm Tour with information on presentations and activities for the day. There are numerous presentations on landowner management activities. Of special note is that there will be information on past and present oil and gas activities in that part of the state. The Sycamore Hill Tree Farm recently had a horizontal, Utica Shale well drilled on the property and visitors will get the chance to see first-hand what kind of "footprint” the well produces in a forested landscape. The agenda promises to offer a great day for all who attend.Alan Walter, Ohio Tree Farmer of the Year and owner of Sycamore Hill Tree Farm asks people planning to attend to kindly "RSVP” by sending an email to ohtf2015@gmail.com.
  • Southeast Ohio Tree Care Conference, Wednesday, September 30, 2015, Athens, Ohio. This is a tree care conference designed primarily for tree care in community settings. But there are a couple presentations that may be of interest to those interested in forest tree care as well. Dr. Joanne Rebbeck, researcher with the U.S. Forest Service in Delaware, Ohio will talk about biocontrol for Ailanthus and possible future opportunities to control this invasive pest. (See a Columbus Dispatch article about the work Dr. Rebbeck is doing to control Ailanthus with a fungus.) There is also a presentation on Saving Ohio’s Pollinators by Diane Kahal-Berman, an Engineer with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The one-day workshop has a $23 registration fee which includes lunch. The workshop will be at the ODNR headquarters in Athens.
  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 2-4, 2015, Guernsey County Fairgrounds

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