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Timber Talk 2/22/16

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Meeting With Coshocton County Engineer
Last week, new Executive Director Brad Perkins and John Dorka met with the Coshocton County Engineer Fred Wachtel and Mike Campbell, Construction Supervisor. There had been reports of OFA loggers having some issues dealing with "Driveway Permits” on local roads within the county and OFA reached out to the staff to discuss the concerns. The meeting was productive and concluded with mutual understanding of the concerns of loggers as well as the needs of County Engineer with local road concerns. It should be noted that Coshocton County has developed regulations as part of what it refers to as a Smart Growth Transportation Policy. These encompass Driveway Permits which affect access to any county and township roads and ultimately impacts logging operations. Loggers are expected to get a Minimum Volume (MV) access permit which is designed for agricultural access including logging. The cost of the permit is minimal ($25) but is expected to be applied for using a form supplied by the County. Loggers should be aware of this requirement and if any need assistance with the requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact OFA.
    Thanks and Good Luck Katie!
    As had been announced recently to OFA membership, Katie Wheeler, OFA Master Logger Program Coordinator for more than 8 years, completed her work with OFA this past week and has moved on to "greener pastures.” She is taking a full-time job with Dreams on Horseback, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping special needs kids learn about horses and develop horse skills. Katie did an outstanding job for OFA and the Logging Standards Council, overseeing the many responsibilities with the Master Logger Program and working to ensure that all participants remained certified. In response to her departure, OFA has asked John Dorka to continue working with OFA overseeing the Master Logger Program, as well as assisting Brad Perkins with various OFA issues. OFA is now working on a program transition and is reviewing opportunities to become more efficient with paperwork and other data management needs. Any loggers or others needing assistance, please contact either John Dorka directly or the OFA office.

    Division of Forestry (DOF) Modifying Ohio Forest Tax Law (OFTL) Rules; Meets with OFA
    Last week, OFA staff met with DOF to discuss some proposed changes to rules governing the Ohio Forest Tax Law and in particular those dealing with the Master Logging Company requirements. For those not familiar, the Ohio Forest Tax Law currently requires that an Ohio Forest Tax Law participant (those that enrolled under the current rules) are required to have a Master Logging Company complete a harvest if one occurs. DOF has had difficulties at times administering the rule in areas of the state where there are few Master Logging companies and in dealing with some other landowner bidding difficulties. OFA agreed with suggested changes to make the rules more equitable and appropriate. DOF is also working on other changes to drop 8-hour education requirements for participants as well as eliminate requirements for re-enrollments under deed-change circumstances without commensurate changes in ownership. DOF is still interested in pursuing law changes that would help OFTL complement CAUV and create a more incentives for forest landowners to participate in OFTL. Changes to the law are currently under review.

    Global Oriented Strand Board (OSB) Market Expected to Grow Through 2022
    A summaryof a market analysis report completed by Research and Markets indicates that the global OSB market will expand through 2022 for construction and packaging. Construction applications for walls, roof panels, subfloors, underlayment, and floor joists; leisure furniture in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: and packaging will lead the way for the increased demand. Construction accounted for the majority of market share in 2014 with 55%.

    Ohio Policy and Legislative News

    • HB 378, Traffic Arrests Would Give Township Officers Highway Arrest Authority - Currently, Township Police Officers do not have legal authority to make highway arrests for violations on roads within township jurisdiction. HB 378 is intended to change that. The bill is currently in front of the House Local Government Committee. Local government officials are lobbying for the authority arguing that the authority is necessary to make roadways safer and gives local officers the authority to assist other enforcement actions. Some legislators are concerned that the bill by design will provide another source of revenue for township jurisdictions and result in targeted speedway traps in some areas.
    • Joint Legislative Task Force on Transportation Reviews Motor Fuel Tax/License Plate Fee Increases - The Joint Legislative Task Force on Transportation (JLTFT) was created more than a year ago to review ways to meet infrastructure needs. The JLTFT had already recommended maintaining highway speeds at 70 mph and keeping front license plates. Now the group is working on another report considering among other things, raising motor fuel taxes as a source of additional revenue. Currently 42% of state and federal tax revenues go toward highway maintenance, 38% goes to local governments and 10% is discretionary money that goes to local partners. The final 10% goes to other entities like the Department of Public Safety and Ohio Public Works. There are also discussions about raising the license plate fee above the current $20 cap, which hasn’t been raised since the 1980s.
    • Ohio Sales Tax Holiday Increases State Tax Revenues - According to an article from the Cleveland.com, the one-time 2015 sales tax holiday saved Ohio consumers $3.3 million but resulted in an additional $4.7 million in Ohio tax revenue. Certain purchases designed specifically to help families with pre-school purchases, were exempted from taxes. Apparently, those savings helped encourage other purchases during that period which resulted in higher net taxes. Right now, the legislature is weighing a proposal to make the one-time tax exemption permanent. The information on tax savings and production were derived from a report by the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
    • Ohio EPA Fires Two, Demotes One Over Sebring Water Issue - Due to problems relating to poor management of water quality records dealing with the Sebring water crisis in northeast Ohio, EPA Director Craig Butler dismissed two employees and demoted another employee over failures to provide laboratory test data needed for appropriate reviews of the water issue in Sebring. EPA also reviewed and recommended changes to operating procedures that prevented appropriate and necessary information transfer. Not so long ago, Sebring received national attention for water quality problems when it was found that there were high levels of lead in community drinking water.
    • Unemployment Insurance Overhaul Legislation Slows Down - HB 394, Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Maumee) which attempts to change how the Unemployment Insurance Program works, has slowed down in the House due to a number of concerns with the bill. As a result of the concerns a working group has been formed to address them. The bill ultimately is meant to address Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Program debt and current deficit. However, the proposal, which would change contributions by employers and shorten potential unemployment compensation periods by unemployed workers, has raised concerns by labor and poverty groups.
    ECOFA March 2016 Newsletter
    Here is the March Newsletter for the East Central Ohio Forestry Association with information on the latest meeting, activities and other local forestry-related happenings.

    Upcoming Events:

    • 2016 OFA Annual Meeting, March 9-10, 2016, Dublin Embassy Suites, "Ohio Hardwoods – Changes and Challenges.”Register on-line at the OFA website.
    • Maple Syrup Festival, March 26, 2016, Williams County Fairgrounds - Here is a flyer for the festival which highlights maple syrup production and includes a pancake and sausage breakfast. Events include a number of presentations on woodland management.
    • Project Learning Tree (PLT) Facilitator Workshop, April 20-21, 2016, Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center - PLT-Ohio is hooking up with Project WET to co-host a facilitator workshop on April 20-21, 2016 at the Shawnee State Park Lodge and Conference Center (see flyer here). PLT is a great environmental education program for youth and OFA supports its activities. Those wishing to become a PLT facilitator can attend this conference to do so. There is a $104 registration fee that covers all meals, lodging (one night) and program costs. Those wishing to participate are asked to register on-line by April 13, 2016.
    • Forest and Wood Products Export Conference, April 27, 2016, OSU South Centers, Piketon, Ohio - Here is a flyer from OSU South Centers concerning the seminar there on April 27 on Forest and Wood Products Exports. The conference features Mike Snow, from the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and Dana Spessert from NHLA. There is a $25 registration fee and the flyer has registration information.

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