Policy Update Week of
- Forest Service Seeks Nominations for Planning Rule FACA Committee
Applications to serve on a newly-formed advisory committee to guide management of our national forests and grasslands are now available. Members selected to serve on the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule will advise and give recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service on matters related to the implementation of the new planning rule.
The 45-day nomination period closes Feb. 21, 2012. Additional details on the committee and the application form are available at the U.S Forest Service planning rule website, or by calling 202-205-0830. Further information is also available in the Federal Register Notice calling for nominations. (Note that the nomination period has since been extended to Feb. 21, 2012.
The committee will be comprised of up to 21 members with diverse backgrounds, who represent the full range of public interests in management of the National Forest System lands and who represent geographically diverse locations and communities, within each three categories of interests.
- The Forest Resource Coordinating Committee (FRCC) is Filling Eight Vacant Positions
The 20-member committee was established by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on priorities and issues related to non-industrial private forest land.Candidates who wish to be considered for membership on the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee should submit an AD-755 application form, cover letter, and resume to the Secretary of Agriculture. Applications are to be postmarked by March 2nd, 2012. If interested in applying, please contact John Barnwell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-987-8720 Ext. 300, for more information about the committee and the specific qualifications necessary for appointment.
- The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Annual Report Released
A national report released last week on first-year results of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) revealed beneficial returns for forests, jobs, water, and wildlife. The CFLRP was designed by the Forest Service as a tool to promote active management on the ground, and in 2010, $10 million was distributed among ten projects on National Forests throughout the country. The CFLR Coalition played an integral role is advocating for funding in fiscal year 2011, and support full funding on the program in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.
As identified in the report, one year the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program:
- Created and maintained 1,550 jobs;
- Produced 107 million board feet of timber;
- Generated nearly $59 million of labor income;
- Removed fuel for destructive mega-fires on 90,000 acres near communities;
- Reduced mega-fire on an additional 64,000 acres;
- Improved 66,000 acres of wildlife habitat;
- Restored 28 miles of fish habitat;
- Enhanced clean water supplies by remediating 163 miles of eroding roads.
The CFLRP annual report was produced by the CFLRP Coalition, which is comprised of 144 member organizations that includes private businesses, communities, counties, tribes, water suppliers, associations, and non-governmental organizations. The CFLR Steering Committee members include American Forests, The Nature Conservancy, The Society of American Foresters, Sustainable Northwest, and The Wilderness Society.
Copies of the 2010 CFLRP Annual Report can be requested from Jon Schwedler of the CFLRP Coalition at email@example.com.
Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service's website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/
- The SAF Task Force Report "Managing Forests because Carbon Matters: Integrating Energy, Products, and Land Management Policy" is available to read online.
To read the Task Force Report link to: http://www.safnet.org/documents/JOFSupplement.pdf
- Updated SAF National Position Statements
The Society of American Foresters, through approval of the Committee on Forest Policy, the Forest Science & Technology Board, and the SAF Council, has updated two of the SAF National Positions Statements. The Committee on Forest Policy, with help from various SAF Working Groups, completed the revision process over the past year. These newly approved position statement represent the views of National SAF, and are active until October 2016. The revised statements include:
The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program: http://www.eforester.org/fp/documents/Forest_Inventory_Analysis.pdf
Federal Tax Treatment of Private Forest Land: http://www.eforester.org/fp/documents/Federal_Tax_Position_Statement_12-6-11.pdf
In the Administration
- Feds Ban New Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon
Las Vegas Sun, Published by Michael Squires, January 9th
The Department of Interior issued an order today banning new uranium mining for 20 years on 1 million acres of federal land near the Grand Canyon. Citing the need to protect the national park, sacred Native American sites and the Colorado River -- the primary source of Las Vegas' drinking water -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed the record of decision in Washington, D.C. "People from all over the country and around the world come to visit the Grand Canyon," Salazar said. "Numerous American Indian tribes regard this magnificent icon as a sacred place and millions of people in the Colorado River Basin depend on the river for drinking water, irrigation, industrial and environmental use." In June, Salazar issued a six-month moratorium on new uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon as the government studied the effects of uranium mining in the area. During the presidency of George W. Bush, the area, which is rich in uranium deposits, had seen a spike in mining activity. The order allows approved mining operations to continue. To read more of this article link to: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/jan/09/officials-ban-new-uranium-mining-near-grand-canyon/
- BLM Seeks Comments on Development of Regulations for Competitive Leasing of Solar and Wind Energy on Public Lands
Bureau of Land Management Press Release, January 13th
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today published in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to give the public background information about the BLM's interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for solar and wind energy development on the public lands. The BLM believes such a process would help ensure fair access to leasing opportunities for renewable energy development and capture fair market value for the use of public lands, as required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Existing regulations limit the competitive process to procedures for responding to overlapping right-of-way applications. The BLM is seeking input on how best to offer public lands through a nomination and competitive process instead of just by right-of-way application. The BLM intends to evaluate ways to establish competitive bidding procedures for lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas, define qualifications for potential bidders, and structure the financial arrangements necessary for the process. To read more of this article link to: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2011/december/NR_12_29_2011A.html
This Week in Congress
- The U.S. House and Senate are on recess.
- Industry Objects to Green-Gov Standards
Federal Times, Published by Andy Medici, January 7th
The Obama administration's effort to make government buildings more eco-friendly is drawing fire from Congress. The recently passed 2012 Defense Authorization Act bars the Defense Department from certifying new buildings as meeting LEED Gold or Platinum status. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold and Platinum are the two highest ratings given by the U.S. Green Building Council to recognize environmentally sustainable construction. The Defense Department and other agencies typically strive to attain LEED status for all new facilities as part of the administration's green government initiative. The 2012 Defense Authorization Act - which President Obama signed into law Dec. 31 - also requires DoD to submit a report to Congress analyzing the cost-effectiveness of LEED certifications. At issue: wood. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., argues the Defense Department's allegiance to LEED standards discourages the use of domestic lumber. "After completing this study, the Department of Defense should use credible standards that more accurately assess U.S. wood products," Wicker said in an email. Critics of LEED say it favors the use of steel and concrete over sustainable wood in construction and renovation projects. To read more of this article link to: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120107/FACILITIES02/201070302/
- Appeals Court Reinstates EPA's Boiler Clean Air Rule
Environment News Service, January 10th
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's administrative stay on a rule that sets air toxics standards for boilers and commercial solid waste incinerators. In March 2011, the EPA published maximum achievable control technology, MACT, standards for emissions of mercury and air toxics standards for boilers. The final rule was issued on May 18, 2011. But almost immediately, the agency issued a notice of delay and began to reconsider the rule after affected industries complained that the standards were too onerous and would hurt their competitiveness. The Sierra Club in July petitioned the appellate court for review of EPA's delay notice. Judge Paul Friedman ruled Monday that the EPA's "delay notice" on the rules was "arbitrary and capricious," and vacated the delay. The ruling reinstates the industry's obligation to comply with the so-called Boiler MACT rules. The EPA had been under court order to issue the final rule after the agency was found to have missed a Clean Air Act deadline for setting MACT standards to control air toxics from the industry. But EPA officials said the agency had received new information from industry sources after the rule was proposed that indicated the standards should be changed. To read more of this article link to: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2012/2012-01-10-095.html
In the States: New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Maine, and Washington
- Judge Halts Tree-Cutting Projects in NM, Arizona in Suit Over Mexican Spotted Owl Protection
The Washington Post, January 6th
A federal judge has halted three tree-cutting projects in Arizona and New Mexico that environmentalists contend could harm the Mexican spotted owl. WildEarth Guardians sued the U.S. Forest Service in 2010, claiming the agency ignored its responsibility to track the owl's numbers in the two states. The judge's decision Thursday to grant a preliminary injunction means the projects cannot move forward until the Forest Service consults with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the impacts to the owls. "The bottom line is we need to know whether the spotted owl is doing well or is declining," said Bryan Bird, the director of WildEarth Guardians' wild places program. "And we don't know that right now because the Forest Service has failed - and they've admitted it - to collect that information." The owl found on national forest lands, from steep wooded canyons to dense forests, was first listed as threatened in 1993. More than 8 million acres in four Western states - Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado - have been set aside by Fish and Wildlife as critical habitat for the bird. To read more of this article link to:
- Pima Backs Cattle Growers' Forest Preservation Plan
Eastern Arizona Courier, Published by Jon Johnson, January 8th
The preservation and intelligent use of Arizona's natural resources have been a hotbed of discussion since statehood with various groups offering a myriad of opinions. After witnessing one of Arizona's worst-ever fire seasons that produced the largest (Wallow fire) and third-largest (Hors-eshoe Two fire) wildfires in the state's history, the Arizona Cattle Growers Association is calling for a moratorium of the National Environmental Policy Act to allow logging and cattle operations to thin Arizona's forests. Arizona Cattle Growers Association President Andy Groseta addressed the Pima Town Council at its Tuesday night meeting and asked the town to support his organization's Save Arizona's Forest Environment plan. After listening to the presentation, the Town Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the plan. Groseta said the megafires could have been prevented with adequate thinning of forest fuels by logging and cattle and sheep foraging. He said the plant fuels were allowed to build up from a lack of harvesting by man, and when man fails to harvest the fuels, Mother Nature will pick up the slack. To read more of this article link to: http://www.eacourier.com/articles/2012/01/08/news/doc4f0909dc0f7e0501824450.txt
- Counties' Use of Consulting Money May Prompt Changes by State
Billings Gazette, Published by Martin Kidston, January 8th
The natural resource policy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead praised county commissioners from across the Bighorn Basin last week for their efforts to develop a land-use plan with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. But Jeremiah Rieman also offered a dose of criticism, asking counties to work harder at building a coalition of support across a wider range of interests, to stay in better touch with the governor's office about their needs, and to look to the state's natural resource experts for advice before hiring outside consultants. Rieman, who discussed land and wildlife issues with commissioners from Park, Hot Springs, Big Horn and Washakie counties last week ahead of an appearance by Mead, said the state is considering changes to how it manages its Federal Natural Resource Policy Account. Money in the account, which was created in 1999, comes from the state's general fund. It is expended by the governor as needed to help local governments work with federal agencies in land-planning and other efforts, including litigation. To read more of this article link to:
- Lawmakers Tell Conservation Commissioner: Give Us a LURC Bill
Bangor Daily News, Published by Eric Russell, January 10th
Members of a state task force created to reform the Land Use Regulation Commission urged lawmakers Tuesday to quickly pass changes to LURC's structure and rules. Many lawmakers balked, saying quick action was premature. Department of Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley presented a set of recommendations to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, accompanied by draft legislation. Those recommendations, approved unanimously by 13 task force members late last year, were the result of months of public hearings and sometimes contentious discussion. Beardsley said the LURC task force compromised in a number of areas to get to a unanimous agreement, and he hoped lawmakers might do the same. To read more of this article link to:
- Public Lands Commissioner Says Forests are in Trouble
SnoValleyStar.com, January 11th
Washington's forests are deteriorating. That is what Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark warned in November when he announced a Tier Two Forest Health Hazard Warning. At the same time, he called for the formation of a technical committee to advise him on which areas face the greatest threats and preventive measures to take. The committee will consist of foresters, scientists and other experts. "The trends are alarming and the environmental and economic threats of deteriorating forest health are substantial," Goldmark said in a public statement. "I am therefore taking action under the state's Forest Health Law to address these threats." Goldmark's declaration marks the first use of a 2007 amendment to the law enabling him to form a committee to recommend corrective actions. Forests in Eastern Washington "are suffering high stress due to an unnatural overcrowding as a result of past management," especially limiting natural forest fire, Kevin Zobrist, a faculty member with Washington State University's Extension Puget Sound Forest Stewardship Program, wrote in an email to the Star. To read more of this article link to: http://snovalleystar.com/2012/01/11/public-lands-commissioner-says-forests-are-in-trouble
Last Week in Congress
- The U.S. House and Senate were on recess.
- Fires: State Board Approves Revised Fees
The Press-Enterprise, Published by Jim Miller, January 11th
California's forestry board on Wednesday adopted revised regulations setting a fee on structures in rural areas, a charge that could raise as much as $100 million for wildfire prevention efforts. Wednesday's vote marked the third time in five months that the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection approved emergency regulations to carry out June budget legislation to impose a $150 fee on structures in the 31 million acres where the state has the primary firefighting responsibility. That includes about 1 million acres in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The revised rules target the fee at structures that have assessor numbers. For example, an apartment building would pay just one fee, but individually owned condominiums grouped together would each pay the fee. To read more of this article link to:
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