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Timber Talk 1/2/2017

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Thursday, January 5, 2017
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Important Notice: OFA's local 614 area code phone and fax numbers are changing! The new phone number will be 1-888-38-TREES (888-388-7337). The new fax number will be 740-452-2552. Please update your records accordingly and change any speed dials you might have set up for us. The 614 numbers will be disconnected effective May 1!

OFA 2016 Year in Review
As we close out 2016, and my first 11 months as OFA Executive Director, I thought I would use this week’s TimberTalk as a place to review the past year and update our membership on what we have done and where we are headed. In this writing, I will focus on the things we were, are, or will be involved in. In the coming weeks, I will be putting together a more detailed report for the membership that will include more business detail such as; the financial standing of the Ohio Forestry Association, Inc. and the Ohio Forestry Association Foundation; membership numbers; numbers of people trained; numbers of Master Logging Companies; attendance numbers for events such as the Paul Bunyan Show and the Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp; etc.

OFA Staff - 2016 was a year of change for OFA from a staffing standpoint. Executive Director, John Dorka, was looking to retire, or at least slow down a little, and I was looking for a new career opportunity after WestRock closed the paper mill in Coshocton, Ohio where I had been employed for 38 years. At about the same time that I was brought on as the new executive Director, Katie Wheeler stepped away from managing our Master Logging Company program to take a full time job elsewhere. John Dorka agreed then to stay on with OFA on a part time basis to manage the Master Logging Company program, and stay involved in some other projects that were near to his heart. It has been a big benefit to myself and the Association to still have John’s knowledge and expertise on board. Gayla Fleming is still our key person with our association management company, and John and I would both tell you that things run smoothly because of her and the rest of the Offinger Management Company staff. We are not anticipating any staff changes for 2017.

Legislative Issues - The biggest issue that we have been involved with this year is that of high woodland property tax rates. We have been tackling this issue on a couple fronts. One is by working to get the Ohio Department of Tax Equalization to update the numbers in their Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) formulas which would significantly lower woodland tax rates. We are working directly with the Department of Tax Equalization, as well as working with potential legislation to force this issue. The other front we are working on concerns the Ohio Forest Tax Law (OFTL). We are partnering with the Ohio Division of Forestry to try to get rule changes and legislative changes to OFTL that will benefit current landowners in the program, and encourage others to join it. We feel that we are making headway on both fronts, but it continues to be a slow process.

Two other areas of concern that we will be spending more energy on in 2017 is; trucking issues on the township and county levels, as we see more weight limits and other restrictions being put on roadways, and; municipal timber harvesting restrictions. Look for more info on these topics as we move forward into 2017.

At this time, no one has a clear vision on what will change, as it relates to our industry, with the major political changes in Washington, DC. Someone who has a better handle on this than most though, is Deb Hawkinson of the Forest Resource Association (FRA), based in Washington, DC, and she will be the keynote speaker at the OFA Annual Meeting March 1-2, 2017. She will be giving us the scoop on what we could expect to see coming from the top down in the coming years. Make sure that you are there to hear her professional insights.

Master Logging Company Program – This program remains strong, with new companies coming on board seemingly every month. One of the strongest areas of the program is our Chainsaw Safety Awareness that Works (CSAW)training.We have been receiving requests for, and providing training for, a wide diversity of groups outside of the traditional logging companies. Included this year were ; fire departments, National Park Service employees, county engineer departments,highway crews, and many others. We even submitted a proposal to train Navy Seabees in Virginia Beach. This proposal is currently on hold by the Navy, but we are hopeful for the possibility of moving our training beyond the state’s boundaries. This increase in training requests has required that we look at increasing our approved trainer list. We are in the process now of doing this. We are also continuing to look at ways to streamline the data management of this program, as well as build on our other logger training opportunities.

Tree Farm Program - OFA continues to be a sponsor of the Ohio Tree Fam Program, along with the Ohio Division of Forestry. We provide accounting services for their organization, assist with their meeting scheduling, sit on their Tree Farm Committee, and contribute articles for the Ohio Woodland Journal. We enjoy having the Tree Farm Program as a large part of our annual OFA winter meeting and running the education activities at the Paul Bunyan Show. These are just a few of the areas that our two groups work together in a relationship that I feel is a win-win for everyone.

Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp – The camp committee made up of Jeremy Scherf, Marne Titchenell, Ryan Waid, and Emilee Hardesty, continue to do great things with our signature camp. Numbers of campers were up this year over last, which we always like. The students were treated to the opportunity to visit an active logging job this year and talk with the loggers. A record amount of college scholarship money was also awarded this year. The committee is beginning preparations for the 2017 camp season. Thank you to everyone in our association and the industry that help keep this camp being the great educational outreach program that it has become.

The Ohio Forestry Association Foundation (OFAF) - The OFAF continues to support the educational aspects of the Ohio Forestry Associations activities. Tree Farm and Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp are two of the things that fall under their umbrella. They also provide a scholarship for college to a deserving student. This year a $2000 scholarship was awarded to Mitchell Beaverson, a multiple year awardee. OFAF also awarded a $500 college scholarship to a Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp Student. These scholarships will continue to be a focal point in the future for OFAF.

Paul Bunyan Show - This past October’s Paul Bunyan Show was one to remember for the ages….because the weather was fantastic for a change! This lead to the highest attendance at the show in 10 years. The show was also a success for the exhibitors from all accounts, and that makes it a success for the Ohio Forestry Association. I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that help make this show successful. It could not be done without you!

Wood Markets in Ohio - We are currently engaged with entrepreneurs that are trying to get different wood fiber consuming projects up and running here in Ohio, to take advantage of the supply of in-woods and residual fiber that was made available after the closing of the paper mill in Coshocton one year ago. We will continue to assist them however we can to benefit OFA’s industry members, forest land owners, and the Ohio forest products industry in general.

TimberTalk Newsletter - This newsletter was started several years ago by my predecessor, John Dorka, as a way to keep the Board informed of weekly happenings with the association. It quickly evolved into a weekly newsletter to the membership to keep you up to date on not only what the OFA staff is working on, but on all things dealing with the forest products industry. I am trying to continue the high bar that John set on this. Please feel free to let me know if the information that I include is worthwhile, not what you want to see, or if you would like to contribute something.

Board of Directors - The Ohio Forestry Association, Inc., and the Ohio Forestry Association Foundation, are both blessed with strong, active Boards of Directors. We will be bringing a few new faces onto the OFA, Inc. Board at the Annual Meeting in March, as a few of them drop off the Board due to term limits. Please feel free to contact the Board members that you know to address any issues. I would like to thank the Board for the support that they have given me in my first year. For giving me enough rope to swing freely, but not so much that I hang myself.

In closing, I would like to say that there are numerous other activities that OFA is involved with, but I don’t have space to write a book. From chainsaw training at the Farm Science Review, to working on Industry Credentials with the Ohio Department of Education. From partnering with Yoder Lumber, NHLA, and the OSU South Centers to provide Lumber Grading Short Courses, to working on various committees throughout the state and industry. We enjoy the working relationship that we have with all our partners in the realm of the forest products industry, and conservation education. We appreciate the support from you, the membership of OFA, and we continually strive to bring value to your membership. We have an open door and open ear policy. Please do not hesitate to contact myself, John Dorka, or Gayla Fleming if you have any questions or concerns. 2016 was a good year. May 2017 be even better.

Forest Markets Weekly Newsletter
The National Association of State Foresters' Forest Markets Committee releases a Weekly Newsletter full of all things Forestry and Forest Products Industry related. Each week’s newsletter has articles about: Forest Markets, Housing, Working Forests, New Products and Technology, and Renewable Energy. This week’s edition includes an interesting tug-of-war article entitled "Is cutting down forests to build solar farms worth it?”. See the complete newsletter here.

Woodland Water Wildlife Winter 2017 Newsletter
This addition of the newsletter put out by Ohio State University Extension starts off with an article entitled: Building Ohio State: From Forest to the Renovation of the Thompson Library. This article describes the showcase event that will be part of the OFA Annual Winter Meeting Tours on March 1, 2017. This addition also has interesting articles on Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) outbreaks in Ohio, Maple Syrup production and education seminars, and how bird’s feathers help them stay warm in the winter.See the newsletter here.

Welcome New OFA Members!
The Ohio Forestry Association would like to welcome the following new association members that came on board in December of this year. New Members, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or anyone else at OFA to let us know if we are meeting your needs and expectations.

Mel Detweiler - J & M Lumber of W. Farmington, OH
Casey Bonincontro - Sidelines Tree Service of Oakdale, PA
David Kempf - Creekside Lumber of Windsor, OH

Michael Schmucki of Navarre, OH
Paul Costanzo of Highland Heights, OH

Amazing Firewood Stacking Art
Some of you may have seen this already, but OFA Executive Committee member, Randy Bates, emailed me a group of pictures with stacks of firewood turned into some pretty impressive art forms. Maybe we should start a member contest for next year?? Hmmm…… Anyway, check it out for some great viewing and creative ideas.

Needed: OFA Conservation Award Nominations
OFA’s Winter Annual Meeting, March 1-2, 2017, will be upon us before we know it. At that time, we like to recognize individuals who have been outstanding in their fields, activities, or efforts in five areas that OA considers important to the overall success of forestry and the forest industry in Ohio. These five areas and corresponding awards are as follows:

  • Outstanding Individual in Government Service - For outstanding effort in the field of forestry-related conservation work
  • Outstanding Individual in Industry - For outstanding work by an individual in the forest or wood products industry
  • Outstanding Individual in Private Service - For outstanding work in private service in the area of forestry
  • Outstanding Logging Activist - For outstanding promotions of logging and/or the Ohio Master Logging Company Program
  • Outstanding Individual in Conservation Education - For outstanding effort in the field of conservation education.
If you know someone deserving of one of these awards, please contact us at the OFA office, or better yet, go to the following Annual Meeting nomination form link on the OFA website, and fill out and submit the nomination form on the bottom half of the page.

Upcoming Events

  • SOLC Chapter Meeting – 1/10/17 – Lucasville, Ohio
  • MVLC Chapter Meeting – 1/11/17 – 7:00 PM, McConnellsville, Ohio
  • SVLC Chapter Meeting – 1/19/17 – 5:30 PM, Bergholz, Ohio
  • ECOLC Chapter Meeting – 1/23/17 – Millersburg, Ohio

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