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Timber Talk 9/215

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ohio Coop Development Center Ohio River Shipping Survey
The Ohio Cooperative Development Center (OCDC) and the International Trade Assistance Center (ITAC) are working to gather information on the feasibility of a cooperative shipping initiative that would provide greater access to inland waterway systems. The initiative is specifically focused on assessing opportunities for port development in the Ohio River region in southern Ohio/South Point. To that end, the groups have developed a survey to ask potential manufacturers and shippers what demand and interest in expanded development could be. They are asking OFA manufacturers and producers in southern Ohio to participate in the survey to better understand wood product manufacturing needs in that area. The survey is voluntary and results will not be published. You can participate by clicking on the link above.

Great Day for the 2015 Tree Farm Tour
Ohio’s 2015 Outstanding Tree Farmer, Alan Walter, hosted the annual Tree Farm Tour on his property on Saturday, September 19, 2015. It was an outstanding day and tour with more than 200 people in attendance to partake in a host of presentations and exhibits. A highlight of the tour was the opportunity to see how oil and gas development has intermingled with forest management. Alan’s Tree Farm has a recent horizontally-fractured well on his property and was in active production during the event. Adjacent to the property is a large fractionation plant (Scio M3 Midstream Utica East) that separates the various gas and oil products for shipment elsewhere.

OFA and FFA Cooperating on Forestry Curriculum Credential
OFA is working with the Ohio Department of Education/FFA to develop an "OFA Credential” for a high school forestry curriculum in FFA programs. Last week, an OFA committee reviewed a proposed curriculum for high school students that would involve an intensive classroom and worksite experience. Completing all the pre-determined criteria would make them eligible to earn an " OFA credentialed certificate” at the end of their high school education. The ultimate goal is to train students to make them "work-ready” when they graduate from high school. It is expected that the curriculum would be offered in selected programs throughout the state, most likely in the wood manufacturing areas of Ohio

Division of Forestry Forest Stewardship Committee Meets; Report on Ag Pollution Abatement Program Changes
The Division of Forestry hosted the Forest Stewardship Committee to discuss the latest Forest Legacy Proposed project as well as other forestry activities taking place. The current Forest Legacy Proposal will involve AEP ReCreation Land in Morgan County. It appears that AEP is weighing the future of the properties and is considering selling a portion to ODNR as a Forest Legacy Project. The current proposal involves approximately 2,500 acres in the far northeastern corner of Morgan County. DOF reported that it is currently working on the acquisition of the "Little Smokies” Forest Legacy acquisition in Shawnee Forest involving nearly 1,000 acres. There was also discussion on the current status of the change in the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program transferring from ODNR to the Department of Agriculture. As part of that transfer, the "silviculture” component will move to the Division of Forestry such that DOF will have full authority to review Ag Pollution Abatement issues with Soil and Water Conservation Districts as well as to issue Chief’s orders. DOF advised that the transfer will take place January 1, 2016 but that the division must develop formal rules for the program before anything can be fully implemented. Proposed rules will be shared with OFA as they are developed. Finally, DOF reported that it is still working on Ohio Forest Tax Law changes and continuing to meet with interested parties to develop consensus for proposed changes. Most recently it has met with the Department of Education to talk about potential impact of property tax changes on school districts. DOF is working with selected auditors to see how proposed changes will affect tax revenues. One analysis completed for Licking County indicated that there would be very small impact on tax district revenues.

OFA Supports Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015
OFA agreed to sign-on to a multi-industry letter supporting the passage of the "Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015” (S. 2006). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), and co-sponsored by a number of other Senators, is aimed at requiring federal regulators to use a rule-making process that uses the best science and imposes the least burden on industry. The letter is signed by 387 groups and associations across a range of industries. The following are highlights of the proposal (summary from AF&PA):

  • Increases public participation in shaping the most costly regulations before they are proposed;
  • Requires that agencies must choose the least costly option, unless they can demonstrate that public health, safety, or welfare requires a more costly requirement;
  • Gives interested parties the opportunity to hold agencies accountable for their compliance with the Information Quality Act;
  • Provides for on-the-record administrative hearings for the most costly regulations to insure that agency data is well tested and reviewed; and
  • Provides for a more rigorous test in legal challenges for those regulations that would have the most impact.

US EPA Proposes Changes to Certified Pesticide Applicators License
The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing changes to administrative rules for Pesticide Applicators Certification. These rules are governed by federal law (FIFRA) which is administered at that level by US EPA. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing the state application of the rules. Attached is a power point that explains the program and highlights the proposed changes to the 3 types of applicators certifications: Private Applicator, Commercial Applicator, and Noncertified Applicators. The power point briefly discusses the basis of the program and provides reasons for the changes to the rules. Proposed changes start on slide 8. A more comprehensive matrix of the changes can be seen here. ODA advises that these changes are significantly different than current rules, both for initial certification and recertification. The rules were officially published on August 24, 2015 and must go through a public comment period before they can be officially promulgated. If you wish to review and comment on the rules you can do so on the Regulations.gov website. Click here for the specific page on the proposed rule changes.

Ohio House to Review Tax Correction Bill
When the House reconvenes soon to take up legislation in the fall, it intends to complete a tax correction bill in short order. The bill, HB 326, sponsored by Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) is intended to clarify the law relating to the biennial budget which expanded the small business tax deduction and changed personal income tax rates. If the biennial budget language is not clarified, it could lead to some small businesses paying more in taxes instead of getting reductions, by as much as a total of $52 million. The intent is to pass the law so that the changes can be included in the 2015 tax filings. The Senate is working on companion legislation (SB 208) that would accomplish the same thing. According to Rep. Amstutz, "The language in H.B. 326 will realign business and non-business income to allow both to be combined in the taxpayer's adjusted gross income and ensure that taxpayers receive the full value of the personal and dependent exemptions. It makes clear that progressive income tax rates will apply to the 25 percent of business income that's not deductible for tax year 2015, and it allows for tax credits to be taken against an individual's aggregate tax liability for both business and non-business income."

Ohio Unemployment Lowest Since 2001
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.7% in August compared to 5% in July, making the August rate the lowest in 14 years. Ohio has 265,000 unemployed workers according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, with total employment of 5,411,100 workers. A year ago in August, the rate was 5.4%.

Timber as a Fire Resistant Building Product in Tall Buildings?
The push for tall timber buildings has been growing and almost a day doesn’t go by where you don’t hear more about plans for taller buildings. But since wood is such a fire prone product, many ask questions about the tall timber buildings vulnerability to fire. Here is an articlefrom the International Timber website that talks about wood’s resistance to fire, particularly compared to steel and concrete. The article points out that considerable research shows that timber, particularly "mass” timber, has more fire resistance than steel and has some better properties than concrete. It’s a short article worth a couple minutes to read.

ECOFA October Newsletter
Information from the East Central Ohio Forestry Association on its most recent general meeting in September as well as other coming events. The ECOFA will be recognized on October 8th by the ODNR, Division of Forestry as an inductee into the Forest of Honor. Also being recognized are former OSU Extension professor, Dr. Randy Heiligmann, and David Gamstetter. The ceremony will take place at 10 am at the Forest of Honor in the town of Zaleski. Here is the newsletter.

Michigan Issues Consumer Advisory Against Black Walnut Scammers
Apparently, in Michigan there are some trying to buy black walnut trees from landowners using the threat of Thousand Cankers Disease as a reason to harvest the trees. Some of the buyers are telling landowners that TCD has been found in Michigan, which is not the case. Here is a news release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on the practice. Michigan has issued a quarantine against products being moved into the state from locations where TCD has been confirmed, but to date, TCD has not been detected in Michigan.

Master Logger Re-Certification at the Paul Bunyan Show, October 2, 2015, Guernsey County Fairgrounds
Master Loggers interested in getting their full complement of 8 recertification hours can do so on Friday, October 2, 2015 at the Paul Bunyan Show. Classes in chainsaw safety, BMP updates, Boundary line management, equipment tie-down safety, logging near power lines, and silviculture for loggers will be provided in the sessions. Go to the OFA website to pre-register for the classes.

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