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Weekly News 12.19.11

Posted By John Dorka, Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Weekly News 12.19.11

  • Heavier Trucks. The Columbus Business First Magazine carried a short article on the vehicle weight reform proposal pending before Congress. Interestingly, writer Adrian Burns put the proposal within the context of "heavy trucks and shale business” in Ohio. Kraft Foods is mentioned in the article. Kraft is a member of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) of which OFA is a member. The Business First article is focused on the costs that will be associated with road maintenance due to the heavier trucks. Interestingly, one of the main points of the 97,000# proposal is that to be able to haul at that weight, a sixth axle would be required. Although the GVW would be increased, the weight per square inch of tire surface on pavement would be virtually unchanged. In addition, the additional axle would provide extra braking capacity which would make the heavier trucks meet existing braking standards of the current 80,000# GVW.
  • Logging Road Issue Update. OFA received notice this week from the Pacific Legal Foundation, with whom we co-signed an amicus brief petitioning the US Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court Decision concerning NPDES permits for logging roads that the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General for the views of the federal government on the case. The legal experts who are representing forestry interests on this case believe this is a very good sign that the Supreme Court is taking this issue the issue seriously, believing that it could lead to Supreme Court review, which is not yet guaranteed. Here is a link to an article in the PR Newswire, explaining that forestry interests are pleased with the Supreme Court actions. The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) is the lead among a coalition of forestry groups working on this issue. Keep in mind that 26 state Attorneys General, including Ohio AG Mike DeWine, filed a petition supporting the historic approach of considering logging roads a "non-point” source of pollution and exempt from NPDES permitting. In additional action this past week, Congress, through the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (HR 2055), included support for the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (HR 2541 / S 1369) as part of the Conference Report on the bill. This Congressional act is a very positive step in reinforcing the traditional treatment of logging roads and forestry activities as "non-point sources” and exempt from NPDES permit requirements.

  • Agricultural Zoning, Ohio House Bill 276. Last week, the Ohio House voted 92-0 to pass HB 276 on agricultural zoning language which changed the legal definition of "agriculture” to include the production from certain feedstocks of biodiesel, biomass energy, electric or heat energy, and biologically derived methane gas. This legislation protects the "agricultural” aspect of growing crops for energy purposes against county and township zoning as well as insures its consideration under the CAUV law. Interestingly, added to the law was a legal definition of "biomass energy” which "means energy that is produced from organic material derived from plants or animals and available on a renewable basis, including, but not limited to, agricultural crops, tree crops (emphasis added), crop by-products, and residues.” It will be worth watching down the road if this definition is tested to determine what constitutes "tree crops.” I believe it can be asserted that any Ohio forest land not legally or administratively restricted from timber production can be considered a forest growing a "tree crop” as it can potentially be harvested for wood or fiber products.

  • OSU Extension – Woodland Stewards Newsletter. The Winter 2012 Edition of the Woodlands Stewards is now available on-line and can be accessed at this link. This issue contains information by Dr. Eric McConnell, OSU Extension, State Specialist for Forest Products and OFA Board member, on his efforts to get updated information on Ohio’s forest products industry. (The data reflects 2009 information. For example, total employment for 318 sectors (direct, indirect and induced impacts) was 114,500 people, or 1.8% of the Ohio’s employment; total value added was $9.03 billion; total industrial output was $22.4 billion. Even though this information is below the 2005 levels, it is still significant for the state. The newsletter also has the latest information on the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which has been found in Clermont County, with active tree removal projects now taking place...

  • Boiler MACT Taken Out of Jobs Package. Late in the negotiations for the Jobs Bill which included a 2-month extension for the payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits, legislation giving EPA more time to work on Boiler MACT rules (EPA Regulatory Relief Act) was taken out of the bill. It remains an important issue for the wood products industry and is one that Congress will need to be encouraged to take up after the first of the year.

  • ODNR Division of Forestry (DOF) – Invitation to Bid on Timber Marking at Shawnee Forest. The DOF has issued another Invitation to Bid on timber marking at Shawnee State Forest. This proposal involves the marking of an estimated 543,000 BF on 73 acres at Shawnee State Forest, which includes marking for both deferment harvests and clearcuts. The Invitation to Bid appears considerably shorter than the previous Request for Proposals (RFP) for past marking contracts. The bid opening will take place January 5, 2012 at 12:00 noon.

  • International Trade Conference. The US Department of Commerce, US Commercial Service is hosting the 6th Annual International Trade Conference in Cincinnati at Xavier University on March 21-22, 2012 with a topic "Hot Market Watch: Selling to Brazil, China, South Korea, Vietnam/ASEAN”. This flyer contains information on this event, as well as information on other upcoming trade missions, seminars and webinars in the southern Ohio region.

  • Editorial on Forestry Regulation. Les Ott sent me this brief commentary from Bill Apger, a consulting forester and lawyer from California, about the "left coast’s” forest regulations. Comments like these help focus the potential impact of the logging road issue mentioned earlier in this report. If logging roads are eventually regulated as a "point-source” by the US EPA, it’s not hard to envision a complex and burdensome regulatory approach to silvicultural activities, one in which as Mr. Apger relates "The process has become the object, and the tail is wagging the dog…” (The comments are provided with permission from the Association of Consulting Foresters).

  • ECOFA January Newsletter.  Here is the January Newsletter of the East Central Ohio Forestry Association.

  • Upcoming Events:
OFA Annual Meeting, March 23-24, 2012, Crowne Plaza –Downtown Columbus; "Shale Formation Drilling – What is the Impact on Ohio Forestry?” Plans are being completed and it should be a fun and informative time for OFA members. Here is a nomination form OFA Conservation Awards which are presented at the annual meeting. If you know of someone worthy of a nomination, please don’t hesitate to fill out and submit the form

Ohio Forestry Association is managed by Offinger Management Company, a member of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), "Charter-Accredited" Association Management Company member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a member of the Association Management Company Institute (AMC Institute).

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