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 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
In the Administration
- Deadline Approaches for Farm Bill Conservation Programs
Stardem, Published by Michael Squires, January 15th
An important deadline is approaching for farmers, forest and agricultural landowners who want to sign up for fiscal year 2012 Farm Bill Conservation programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Maryland has set the deadline for the initial round of program funding consideration as Friday, Feb. 17. This deadline includes the Maryland Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI). EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals, according to a press release from the USDA. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement projects that will improve their natural resources. CBWI is a part of EQIP, and provides technical and financial help to producers to minimize excess nutrients and sediments to restore, preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay, according to the press release. The deadline for NRCS's national initiatives (EQIP Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel, and On-Farm Energy) remains Feb. 3.To read more of this article link to: http://www.stardem.com/article_ab9fac04-7b4e-55fe-9fc5-683786bd61d0.html
- Forest Service Grants $52.2M to Protect Working Forests, Rural Economies
USDA Forest Service News Release, January 19th
The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it is granting $52.2 million for 17 conservation and working lands projects across the U.S. in 2012. The Forest Legacy Program has protected 2.2 million acres through public-private partnership using federal and leveraged funds of more than $562 million. The program works with private landowners, states and conservation groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Forest Legacy is an important component of the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative's goal of conserving rural working farms, ranches, and forests by accelerating locally-driven landscape conservation priorities. "The Forest Legacy Program helps keep working forests working across the country," said Chief Tom Tidwell. "These projects will support rural economies and American jobs while protecting some of our most beautiful landscapes for our children and grandchildren." Intact forest lands supply timber products, wildlife habitat, soil and watershed protection, aesthetics, and recreational opportunities. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/01/working-forests.shtml
- USDA Appoints New Members to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee
USDA News Release, January 19th
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today appointed eight members to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides advice on private forestry and USDA's programs that assist landowners in managing their forests. "The experts selected for this committee are some of the best minds in forestry today," said Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman. "They will help us make the right decisions for our rural communities that will create jobs, sustain economic growth and conserve our working lands for future generations."
The appointed members are:
To read more of this article link to:
- Linda Casey, Prattville, Ala., representing state foresters from the Southern U.S.
- Mary Jane Packer, Trumansburg, N.Y., representing private forest landowners
- Rob Olszewski, Marietta, Ga., representing private forest landowners
- Michele Curtis, Perry, Fla., representing forest industry
- Amadou Diop, Mableton, Ga., representing conservation organizations
- Tom DeGomez, Flagstaff, Ariz., representing a land grant college or university
- Clifford Rushton, Olympia, Wash., representing a conservation district
- James Houser, Jacksonville, Texas, representing consulting foresters
- Obama Invites Public Comment on New Five-Year Climate Strategy
Environment News Service, January 19th
The public is asked to comment on the Obama administration's first draft national strategy to reduce the impacts climate change is already having on wildlife, fish and plants and ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them. The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, issued today in draft form, is intended to guide the nation's efforts over the next five to 10 years. It is open for public review and comment through March 5 at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov. "The impacts of climate change are already here and those who manage our landscapes are already dealing with them," said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes. "The reality is that rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, loss of sea ice and changing precipitation patterns - trends scientists have definitively connected to climate change - are already affecting the species we care about, the services we value, and the places we call home," said Hayes. "A national strategy will help us prepare and adapt." To read more of this article link to:
This Week in Congress
- No actions were taken this week.
- Trees Near Homes Boost Incomes, Sequester Carbon
SciDevNet, Published by Bernard Appiah, January 16th
A form of small-holder agroforestry in which trees are planted around the home, maximising the land left available for cash crops, may prove the best balance between sequestering carbon and making money by farming other crops, a study has found. There has been a proliferation of projects that encourage small-scale farmers to adopt tree planting as part of efforts to sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help mitigate climate change. But there is a conflict of policy interests because trees can take up land used for growing cash crops, thereby reducing farmer's profits. In many cases there are no payments for planting trees and, even where there are, the money does not match the lost profits from crops. To read more of this article link to: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/forestry/news/trees-near-homes-boost-incomes-sequester-carbon.html?utm_source=link&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=en_news
In the States: Washington, Montana, Alabama, and Oregon
- State pollution board ruling sides with Nippon Paper Industries USA biomass project in Port Angeles
Peninsula Daily News, Published by Tom Callis, January 14th
The state Pollution Control Hearings Board has sided with Nippon Paper Industries USA in a challenge from several groups, including PT AirWatchers, to its $71 million biomass energy project. Environmental groups are fighting biomass expansion projects at the Nippon mill in Port Angeles and the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill. In June, seven of the groups appealed a construction permit for Nippon that was granted by the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, alleging it was based on faulty data. In a summary judgment, the board ruled Jan. 4 that the groups failed to prove that the emissions calculations used by the agency were incorrect. "This ruling substantiates the excellent work that Nippon did to make sure that the biomass boiler project had the best environmental controls available," said Harold Norlund, mill manager, in a written statement. To read more of this article link to:
- Conservation Groups Challenge Watershed Plan for Third Time
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Published by Carly Flandro, January 18th
Conservation groups on Tuesday challenged a proposed thinning and prescribed-burn project in forests south of Bozeman that aims to protect the city's drinking water. It's the group's third time challenging the proposal. "Simply stated, the agency's proposal breaks a number of laws and this time around is no different," said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. The Gallatin National Forest's plan, called the Bozeman Municipal Watershed project, calls for burning, harvesting and thinning 4,800 acres in the Hyalite and Bozeman Creek drainages. Those drainages supply more than 80 percent of the Bozeman community's water, and thinning efforts there are intended to reduce the extent of any potential wildfires. A severe wildfire could put so much sediment and ash in the creeks that the treatment plant couldn't handle it and would have to shut down, according to Marna Daley, forest spokeswoman.To read more of this article link to: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/article_3bdd584e-418a-11e1-9b33-001871e3ce6c.html
- Feds: Alabama Forestry Commission should repay $14.4 million
The Gadsden Times, Published by Dana Beyerle, January 21st
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General in an interim report said Alabama's Forestry Commission should repay $14.4 million because the money from three grants was improperly spent on general operations. Alabama Forestry Commission State Forester Linda Casey on Friday said the OIG report is being discussed with federal officials. She said the issue is the state's former grant accounting system, which was used for 27 years, no longer is acceptable to the OIG. "That $14.4 million is absurd and it's not going to have to be paid back," Casey said in a telephone interview. She said state and federal officials plan to meet Tuesday to discuss the grants and the new accounting system. The U.S. Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, recommended changes to Alabama's operations and said its recommendations will be completed by April 30, according to the OIG report dated Nov. 23. It was posted Jan. 10 on the Agriculture Department's website. To read more of this article link to: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20120121/news/120129959?p=1&tc=pg
- Loss of federal forest payments has Oregon counties looking for revenue while having millions that can't be tapped
The Oregonian, Published by Eric Mortenson, January 21st
Curry County, teetering on the edge of insolvency as federal forest payments come to an end, needs to find a way out of a deep budget hole. It's considering a property tax increase, combining county departments, outsourcing services, selling carbon credits or even a county sales or gas tax. One member of a citizens committee assembled to find a solution wondered if the county's picturesque beaches and mountains could attract corporate sponsorships. But even as Curry and other counties look for answers, they sit on millions of dollars in road fund reserves -- money deposited over decades of timber harvests and earmarked for county roads. By law, they can't readily be used for sheriff's patrols or other general fund expenses, but some counties find creative ways around restrictions. The conundrum is a preview of what other Oregon counties may face. The counties lose about $230 million annually with the end of payments under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The act was a safety net for rural communities slammed by the recession and collapse of the timber industry, but it expired with no money available to replace it. To read more of the article, link to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/01/loss_of_federal_forest_payment.html
Last Week in Congress
- No actions were taken this week.
- Funding cuts felt by Texas volunteer firefighters
ABC Local, Published by the Associated Press, January 17th
Budget cuts that have reduced annual state grants for volunteer firefighters by almost three-fourths since 2009 had "a huge impact" on authorities' ability to fight last year's record-setting wave of wildfires, the director of the Texas Forest Service told lawmakers Tuesday. Testifying before the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, Tom Boggus said yearly grants to volunteer firefighters have fallen from $25 million as recently as the 2009 state budget cycle to $7 million today."It's a huge impact," he said, adding that volunteers, "are the backbone. They're the first line of defense." To read more of this article link to: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/state&id=8508720
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