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Timber Talk 2/1/16

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Notes from Ohio Woodland Stewards Planning Meeting
OFA participates with the Ohio Woodland Stewards Planning Committee, which met last week. Several items were mentioned at the meeting.

  • Division of Forestry to Update Timber Products Output Report - DOF reports that the last Ohio Timber Products Output Report was compiled in 2006. Another is long overdue and to that end, DOF is working with the US Forest Service to complete an updated study. Action has already begun to get the report completed this year.
  • New OSU Extension Director – Dr. Roger Rennekamp - In early January, OSU announcedthat Dr. Roger Rennekamp was appointed as the Associate Dean and Director of OSU Extension. Dr. Rennekamp came from Oregon State University where he had led extension and 4H programs. He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State.
  • DOF to Update Forest Tax Law Rules - DOF staff are working on an update of rules governing the Ohio Forest Tax Law. It appears that law changes it has been working on are taking longer than anticipated and no legislative proposal is currently developed.
  • Statewide BMP Survey Progressing Slowly - An updated Silvicultural BMP Survey has been planned for more than a year and was intended to be developed through a cooperative arrangement between DOF and OFA. It has been difficult arranging the survey and progress has been slow. DOF is currently working on arrangements with OSU staff to initiate the survey.
Forest Product Groups Take Legal Action Against Clean Power Plan Biomass Determinations
The Clean Power Plan recently released by the Obama Administration to limit carbon emissions from the nation’s utilities, contains uncertain determinations concerning the carbon neutrality of biomass and how it may be used by states to meet plan goals. A number of states, including Ohio, have filed suit requesting a stay of the regulations but the D.C. Circuit court recently denied the stay. (The states have since filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the order.) At this point, states are supposed to begin preparing state action plans. How biomass may be used in those state plans remains a question for many in the forest products industry. A coalition forest products trade associations and groups filed for a stay of the regulations and the D.C. Circuit Court recently ordered the cases be held in abeyance. It appears this action will take some time to play out. In the meantime, the forest products industry will continue pushing for the full inclusion of biomass as a carbon neutral energy source.

Biomass Amendment to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act
Late last week, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) proposedthis amendment to the Energy Bill in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which would give full recognition of forest biomass as a carbon neutral energy source in the energy bill as well as in all federal policy. The amendment is short but comprehensive and would give the appropriately recognize forest fiber grown in managed forest conditions as carbon-neutral. This is needed legislation and should be supported by the industry and broad forestry interests. Along this line, you can read an article in the High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal by the National Alliance of Forest Owners urging the U.S. EPA to clarify its policy toward biomass according to the Clean Power Plan in guidance to the states as they prepare state action plans. The above amendment, if passed into law, would require EPA to give the appropriate consideration to forest biomass.

Bill Proposed to Make Ohio Sales Tax "Holiday” Permanent
Last year, Ohio had its first sales tax "holiday” during the first weekend in August to coincide with the peak back-to-school purchasing period. Items purchased on-line or in stores that were below a variable cost threshold required no sales tax for a 3-day period. Although the Department of Taxation has not released sales figures from that period, the report to the legislature is that the holiday produced a "win-win” situation for parents, students, and businesses. A University of Cincinnati study predicted a 4.8% retail sales boost, while the Legislative Services Commission estimated lost tax revenues to the state of $14 million and to local governments about $3.2 million. Anecdotes to the legislature were very positive for all involved and because of that, SB 264, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) was recently introduced in the legislature to make the tax holiday permanent.

Coming Events

  • Timber Tax Seminar at ECOFA Meeting. The East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA) is holding a Timber Tax Presentation at 7 pm on February 3, 2016 at the Dover Library, 525 N. Walnut St., Dover, Ohio. Intended for forest landowners who have to deal with timber tax issues, the presentation will be given by Lynn Abrams-Spilker who owns South East Ohio Financial Services. Lynn is an experienced accountant, business owner, and small business developer, and instructor fromCambridge,Ohio.
  • 2016 OFA Annual Meeting, March 9-10, 2016, Dublin Embassy Suites;"Ohio Hardwoods – Changes and Challenges”Register on-line now!
  • Tree Survival School. This is an item for those interested in how to care for trees in general, and has more of an urban forestry focus and it is intended for arborists and other tree care professionals. On March 22,23, and 24, 2016, there is a Tree Survival School at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio. (see flyer). The workshop is hosted by OSU, Division of Forestry and the Holden Arboretum. The workshop costs $135. Note that the class qualifies for 15 Arborist CEUs.

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