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Notes from the OFA Office
In this weekly newsletter, we try to keep the membership informed about a variety of current events, education information, and state and national legislative issues that affect our members. What often isn’t know or seen is the everyday things that the OFA staff is working on. Below are some of the things we are currently working on, and in some cases, have been working on for quite a while.
- CAUV and OFTL – Getting forest land taxes lowered so that landowners aren’t pressured to sell or convert forest land to other uses is a major theme right now. We have been involved in several meetings with interested parties including; State Legislators, ODNR Division of Forestry, and the Ohio Department of Tax Equalization. This problem has not been easy to solve, but we are continually working on it. Some of our industry members and landowners have also provided valuable information to the office during this process.
- Market Opportunities – With the closing of the WestRock papermill in Coshocton, many folks in the wood industry are having major issues with marketing their by-products such as chips, sawdust, pallet grindings, slabwood, etc. OFA continues to work with entities interested in starting up new wood consumption businesses in Ohio. We also continually investigate any opportunities that we come across that has potential to use even small amounts that can help relieve a little pressure from some of our members. The magic potion to cure the gap left by the WestRock closure has not materialized yet, but we aren’t giving up hope yet that a combination of things might come to fruition to help the situation.
- Training Programs – The staff is continually getting requests from around the state for chainsaw safety training. We are looking to enhance our C-SAW trainer corps to help with this "good” problem. The Master Logger Program in general is doing well, with the recent proposal that a new Loggers Chapter may be developed in SW Ohio. Lumber grading short courses have been set up for this spring at Yoder Lumber in Millersburg and this coming fall at the OSU South Centers in Piketon.
- OFA Industry Credential – In conjunction with the Ohio Department of Education and the state FFA programs, we have developed an OFA Industry Credential that graduating high school students can earn if they have completed a series of requirements focused on forestry education, training, and development. The credential is currently being reviewed by the Ohio Department of Education, and we are hoping for formal approval soon.
- Wood Industry Database – For some time now, OFA has been working in conjunction with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) to develop a web based Ohio wood industry database. This process is continuing and is getting closer to completion.
- Forestry Camp – The office staff is helping the Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp Committee get final preparations together for the upcoming June 12-17 session.
- Summer OFA Meeting – The OFA staff is making preparations for the annual July meeting, networking events, clay shoot and golf outing.
- Paul Bunyan Show – Believe it or not, the Paul Bunyan Show is right around the corner. Online exhibitor registration is building up. Advertising is being prepared. Meetings are being scheduled with involved parties and participants.
If you have any questions or thoughts to offer about any of the issues that the OFA office is working on, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
|Ohio Renewable Energy Mandates|
There is a lot of activity in the Ohio Legislature right now concerning Ohio’s Renewable Energy Mandates. Multiple bills have been introduced ranging from extending current freezes on the mandates, to eliminating them altogether. The renewable energy groups are voicing their disapproval of any options other than enforcing the mandates. OFA will keep our membership posted as things develop with these bills.
|Timber Innovation Act of 2016|
The Treated Wood Council reports that on May 2nd, US Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced S 2892, known as the Timber Innovation Act of 2016. This bill would establish and fund a research and development program, within the US Department of Agriculture, for advancing tall wood building construction in the US.
|National Green Building Standard recognizes RPP|
In a recent press release, the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) announced that its Responsible Procurement Program (RPP) - an "initiative between leading environmental groups and industry manufacturers committed to producing and promoting wood floors that come only from environmentally and socially responsible sources - has been accepted into the 2015 edition of the National Association of Home Builders ICC 700 Green Building Standard (NGBS), the only residential green building rating system approved by ANSI as an American National Standard.” Go to the following link to read the entire press release. http://www.nwfa.org/news-details.aspx?article=4324&articlegroup
Important Info for Reforestation Contractors who use H-2B workers
The Forest Resource Association (FRA) has asked us to pass on this information concerning H-2B worker provisions:
CONTACT CONGRESS TO RENEW CRUCIAL H-2B PROVISIONS - Congressional Appropriations processes are now reaching a critical stage! It is important to send a message NOW to your House and Senate members that the H-2B Guestworker Appropriations terms passed in December, for the current year, be renewed for the Fiscal Year that begins this October 1. Otherwise, we may lose the returning-worker exemption from the 66,000-worker annual cap and the right to use private surveys to determine H-2B worker regional wage levels. These provisions are critical for reforestation contractors who use H-2B workers. Please take a few minutes to review a brief message, revise it (if you wish), and press "Print/Send” for FRA’s module to send your message automatically to your House member and both Senators. ALSO: please forward this message to colleagues, employees, and business partners likely to respond. It’s easy! Click on this link to get started: http://bipac.net/issue_alert.asp?g=FRA_ACTION&issue=renew_guestworkers&parent=FRA_ACTION
Action Requested on USDOT 34-Hour, Hours-of-Service (HOS) "Restart” program
On May 10, the Forest Resource Association (FRA) along with 94 other associations and businesses dependent on safe, efficient, and reliable trucking in sent an open letter to Senate Appropriations leaders supporting the retention of the 34-hour Hours-Of-Service "Restart” program for truck drivers, as a term in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (S 2844), or T-HUD, now under negotiation in the Senate. The letter can be viewed at this link.
Last year’s Appropriations bill contained measures to hold the Department of Transportation accountable for the impacts of restrictions that the new Hours-Of-Service rules placed on the use of the Restart, by preventing DOT from enforcing the restrictions until a study validated statistically significant improvements in public safety and driver health. Contrary to legislative intent, DOT has stated that, should the study fail to hit those benchmarks, it will suspend the entire Restart, not just the restrictions. To send a letter to your House and Senate members urging them to support legislative action to ensure that only the restrictions remain suspended until their effectiveness is validated, and that the Restart itself remain available, click here to get more background information, and to review and send a message to your federal legislators.
Housing Report for March 2016
The housing report is a free service of Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Forest Service. These reports are intended to help gauge future business activity. These files contain in-depth data and comments on the U.S. housing market. The report comes in two parts. Part 1: Main, Part 2: Economic conditions. Visit the following link to see the current and past housing reports: http://woodproducts.sbio.vt.edu/housing-report/.
|Lumber Grading Short Course in September|
The Ohio Forestry Association in conjunction with the OSU South Centers, will be hosting a 5 day Lumber Grading Short Course the week of September 19-23, 2016, in Piketon, Ohio. For more details and to sign up, visit the following link. http://www.ohioforest.org/event/2016LumberWalnutGradingShortCourse
|Woodland and Wildlife Family Festival|
The Northwest Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts is sponsoring a family oriented, free woodland workshop on Saturday, May 21, 2016, at 4-H Camp Palmer in Fayette, Ohio. This festival includes a wide variety of demonstrations, vendors, and educational activities, including: Bees-Live Hive, Portable Sawmill, Wood Magic, Black Swamp Raptors Rehab Center, Chainsaw Safety, Chestnut Education Plot, Wildlife Pelts, Snakes, Mushrooms, NRCS-Rain barrels, Pheasants Forever, Turkey Federation, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Wood Carver. For more details, see the Woodland Workshop flier.
OFA Summer Meeting July, 20-21, 2016
Hold these dates for the annual OFA Summer Meeting. This meeting is always a fun way to network with other industry members as we participate in some Golf and Clay Shooting. Location details are being worked on at this time and will be sent out to all membership as soon as they are finalized.
Brad’s Safety Comments So let’s try being more specific next time. Instead of telling the skidder operator to "be safe” today, tell him to watch out for high stumps and always ground his blade before getting out of the skidder. Instead of telling your spouse or children to "drive safely”, tell them to watch out for a particular road hazard today (deer crossing roads, icy spots on road, snow later today, etc.), or to fasten their seat belt before leaving. Giving them a particular subject to focus on just might help them "be safe” that day.
How many times have we all told somebody to "be safe” when someone is going to work, or to "drive safely” when they are leaving to go somewhere? It’s not very specific is it? It doesn’t really give them something in particular to concentrate on to improve their safety situation. It’s almost like asking someone "how are you?” as a greeting. It’s very generic and you don’t really expect them to respond with a detailed list of how this is good, or this is bad.
Other Upcoming Events:
- OFA Exec Committee and Board Meetings – May 18, 2016 at OFA Office in Columbus
- LSC Meeting – May 25, 2016 at OFA Office in Columbus
- ECOFA Meeting – 7:00 PM, June 1, 2016, Dover Public Library, 525 N Walnut St., Dover, OH – Bob Hart will speak on "being treated right by oil & gas companies”
- Second Friday Series – Woodland Roads and Trails – June 10, 2016 – visit http://u.osu.edu/seohiowoods for registration information.
- Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp – June 12 – 17, 2016
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