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Timber Talk

Posted By Denise Foster, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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 newsletter contains an interesting article on the positive connection between timber harvesting and wildlife management. See the complete newsletter at: 

Kentucky Forest Industry Association (KFIA) December 2018 Newsletter 
For those interested to see some of the same, as well as different, issues that our forest industry members in neighboring Kentucky are dealing with, read the KFIA December Newsletter. Thanks to former OFA president, Rob McCarthy for forwarding us this information.

Custom Chainsaw Training
OFA will be conducting a 4 hour custom C-Saw Class on March 20, 2019. The class will be held at The Ohio State University Extension - Champaign County Extension in Urbana, Ohio from 5pm – 9pm. Interested parties can register here.

Wayne National Forest Project Aims to Benefit Wildlife
Following is a recent news release from the Wayne National Forest concerning the Sunny Oaks Project. 

The Sunny Oaks Project Area  Image illustrating a Clearcut

PEDRO, Ohio (Dec. 13, 2018)
The Wayne National Forest is seeking public feedback during a 30- day comment period on an environmental assessment for a project that promotes young brushy forest habitat emphasizing the regeneration of oaks and hickories on the Ironton Ranger District in southeast Ohio.

The project, called The Sunny Oaks Project, is located east of State Route (SR) 93, west of SR 141, north of the community of Aid and south of the community of Oak Hill. The project area is located in parts of Jackson, Gallia, and Lawrence Counties.

“Based on public input, as well as continued work by my team of staff, we developed an alternative 2 for the public to consider in order to meet the project goals,” said Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone.

Alternative 2 includes placing a higher emphasis on the oak-hickory objective of the project, determining whether or not there was the potential to increase flooding in small localized watersheds, and addressing recreation and scenery impacts identified by the public. The Forest Service has determined that the project’s proposed action and alternative 2 will have no significant environmental effects. 

“The Wayne National Forest invites the public to view the environmental assessment through 11 video presentations that cover the background and potential effects to various resources within the project area,” said Slone. “We believe this new approach for delivering our analysis will produce increased public engagement and understanding of our work.”

The presentations can be accessed from the project website. 

If approved, the project would authorize the harvest of about 2,740 acres of forest through a mix of clearcut and shelterwood harvests. These harvest types are designed to favor oak and hickory forest regeneration, especially when they are combined with other “timber stand improvement” (TSI) treatments. TSI treatments include prescribed fire, manual girdling/felling of competing trees, and herbicide treatment of competing trees. Prescribed fire would occur on 2,000-4,000 acres per year across the 25,000 acre project area. Natural re-growth could be supplemented with planted trees.

The project also includes timber harvests that would create a number of temporary clearings. Nine of these would be greater than 40 acres in size. The National Forest Management Act (36 CFR 219) allows temporary clearings greater than 40 acres, provided that the public is given 60 days’ notice and the Regional Forester reviews the proposal. This 30-day comment period plus the scoping period (April 2 – May 1, 2018) constitute the 60 days’ notice. The larger harvests are proposed in order to respond to the need to create young brushy forests.  

Following the 30-day comment period Ranger Slone will consider if there is a need to further analyze or change the proposal, or if the proposal should proceed as planned. A Draft Decision Notice will then be issued. Those that submitted timely comments during the scoping period or submit timely comments during this 30-day comment period will be able to object to the project, if desired, prior to a final decision being made.  When objections are received the agency works to collaboratively resolve issues when possible. When no agreement can be reached the agency will review the project in relationship to the objection points and make a determination on the merits of the objection(s). When an agency review is completed, a Final Decision Notice on a project must be consistent with the direction from that review. If approved, a decision would likely be made in the spring of 2019, with the project implementation occurring over 10-20 years. This process follows agency regulations found at 36 Code of Federal Regulations 218 Subsections A and B.

Comments should directly relate the proposed action to a resource impact and must be submitted within 30 calendar days of the official notice of the comment period. This notice will publish on or about Thursday, December 13, 2018 in the legal notices section of The Ironton Tribune. The day following publication is considered day one. If day 30 falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the next federal business day marks the end of the comment period. 

Public comments on the environmental assessment can be made to Rachel Reed at Wayne National Forest, Ironton Ranger District, 6518 State Route 93, Pedro, Ohio 45659, specifically stating that they are in reference to the notice and comment period for The Sunny Oaks Project. Comments should directly relate the proposed action to a resource impact. Include your name, current physical mailing address, phone number and signature or other verification of identity with your comments.  

You may also call to discuss this project at (740) 534-6500 during normal business hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or submit comments electronically.

Information about this and other projects being developed and analyzed can be found online at the Wayne National Forest website.

For more information about the Wayne National Forest, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Dovetail Partners December “Outlook” Newsletter
The December issue of Dovetail Partners “Outlook” newsletter is a wrap-up of the year for them and has links to their major reports from 2018. "The Outlook" is the monthly e-newsletter of Dovetail Partners, Inc, a 501c3 non-profit corporation.

East Central Ohio Forestry Association (ECOFA) Newsletter
The East Central Ohio Forestry Association January 2019 Newsletter, as always, it gives reports from their previous meeting, which was highlighted by a presentation from Levi Arnold entitled “The Word on Waterfowl”, as well as a schedule of upcoming events.

Nominations Still Needed for OFA Conservation Awards
At the OFA Annual Meeting on March 7, 2019, we will once again be honoring those individuals that have stood out from the pack in their respective areas of expertise by presenting them with one of OFA’s Conservation Awards. We are still requesting nominations for the following awards:

  • Outstanding Individual in Government Service
  • Outstanding Individual in Conservation Education
  • Outstanding Logger Activist
  • Ohio Forestry Hall of Fame

If you know someone deserving of any of these awards, please contact us at the OFA office, or go online and fill out a nomination form.

OFA Issues and Advocacy
One of the major announcements last week was the long awaited passage of the Farm Bill in Congress. It is now on the President’s desk to be signed, which is expected. Following is a summary of recent national issues that OFA has advocated for, as reported to OFA by Deb Hawkinson, President of the Forest Resource Association.

Guestworker Visa Reform

This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the first half allotment of H-2B visas for FY 2019 have already been used up in the first quarter, a development which underscores the urgent need to fix the guestworker visa program. To that end, language is in play as part of the year end government funding negotiations to double the cap on H-2B visas and allow forestry workers eligibility under the H-2A program. Thanks to all of you who have reached out to your Member of Congress urging enactment of these critical reforms. As you know, Congress and the Administration are in the midst of a standoff regarding funding the government past December 21. The situation is fluid, but we continue to communicate with Congressional leadership and the Administration about the urgency of the guestworker visa situation and the need to enact guestworker reform this year. 
If you have not already done so, it is important that you contact your House and Senate members, and request they make a personal contact with party leadership and support the inclusion of the Tillis/Harris H-2B package in the FY2019 government spending bill. FRA has set up an action alert that will assist you in contacting your House and Senate members. To access the action alert, CLICK HERE. To review the FRA one pager on this issue please CLICK HERE.

Farm Bill

A final Farm Bill conference report was released late Monday evening and subsequently passed by the Senate and the House this week. As we have reported in previous updates, there were several positive provisions in play in both the House and Senate versions, many of which were included in the final compromise. A few highlights include:

  • Timber Innovation Act (TIA): The stronger Senate version of TIA was included in the final package. Both the research and development provisions as well as the Wood Innovation Grant language were agreed to by conference committee negotiators. FRA has been supporting the TIA as it promotes use of wood in taller structures, generally buildings higher than six stories. This provision was opposed by organizations representing the concrete and steel industries and so its passage through Congress is a considerable victory for FRA and the rest of the forestry and forest products sector.  
  • Biomass Energy: The final conference report includes a number of provisions promoting use of sawmill-derived fuels for heat and power. Primary among them is the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation program, which is authorized at $25 million a year over the life of the new Farm Bill to deploy high efficient biomass heating and biomass heat and power systems across the country. The provision also allows innovative wood product facilities—including sawmills and pellet plants--to apply for grants under the program.   Also included in the final Farm Bill is a reauthorization of the Biomass Program for Advanced Biofuels which provides mandatory money to producers of advanced biofuel, the definition of which specifically includes wood pellets. That program will receive $7 million in mandatory funding per year.   
  • Forestry: The final agreement includes a number of forestry related provisions. On the federal forestry front, the bill expands the use of Good Neighbor Authority to tribes and counties and requires non-Federal partners to undertake “similar or complimentary” restoration activities on non-Federal lands. There is also a directive in the final conference report that calls upon the Department of Interior and USDA to prepare a report detailing how much timber is being harvested on federal lands and what is being done to prevent forest fires, among other items. FRA had been advocating for additional authorities for the Forest Service to help manage the federal forest landscape, but there was not sufficient support in the Senate to include them in the final deal. Notable on the private forestry side is language directing the US Forest Service to find efficiencies in the operations of the forest inventory and analysis program through improved use of remote sensing technologies, and to partner with states and stakeholders to carry out the program.

Overall, FRA is pleased with the final Farm Bill product as it supports the many links in the wood products value chain. President Trump is expected to sign the measure.   

Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)

Also this week, the Administration proposed a new WOTUS rule. The proposal seeks to clarify which waters are covered under the federal Clean Water Act. Recall that the issue of what is and what is not a “water of the U.S.” has been a hotly contested issue for many years, pitting landowners and states’ rights advocates against environmental groups and organizations favoring a more command and control approach to water quality regulation. Under the Agency’s proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated. It also details what are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems. For forestry, clarity around ephemeral streams should narrow the types of waters regulated on forestlands. And importantly, this proposal is a first draft for which EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will be soliciting comment. A 90 day public comment period will commence as soon as the proposal is published in the Federal Register. FRA will be submitting comments on the proposal.

Upcoming Events:  

  • SRVLC Meeting – Thursday, Jan. 24 – 7:00 PM – Wakefield Fire Station – Chainsaw Recertification and Officer Elections
  • Christmas Holiday – Tuesday, Dec. 25 – Merry Christmas to all OFA Members!
  • New Year’s Holiday – Tuesday, January 1, 2019 – May All Your Trees Grow Fast and Clear!

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