Policy Update Week of
- SAF Policy Team and Committee on Forest Policy Release Position Statement on the Council on Environmental Quality's Draft NEPA Guidelines
The Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) recently released draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines aim to improve the NEPA process and increase efficiency of environmental reviews written under NEPA. SAF's Policy Team in conjunction with SAF's Committee on Forest Policy have released their comments on CEQ's guidelines, which commends CEQ for their efforts to clarify more confusing aspects of the NEPA process, but also recommends additional aspects of NEPA that would benefit from CEQ clarification. To read SAF's full comments link to:
CEQ's Draft Guidelines can be found here:
- New Forest Planning Rule Seeks to Restore the Nation's Forests through Science and Collaboration
USDA Forest Service News Release, January 26th
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today signaled the U.S. Department of Agriculture's intent to issue a new planning rule for America's 193-million acre National Forest System that seeks to deliver stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of our rural communities, by releasing online a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule. Today's action honors the commitment made by Secretary Vilsack in his 2009 speech on forest management, and by the President in the America's Great Outdoors Report. USDA and the Forest Service carefully considered nearly 300,000 comments received on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement issued last February, to develop the agency's preferred course of action for finalizing the planning rule. This is included in the PEIS released today as USDA's preferred alternative. A notice of availability for the PEIS will be published in the Federal Register on February 3, 2012, and the Secretary will issue a record of decision selecting a final planning rule no less than 30 days afterwards. To read more of this article link to:
Washington Post quotes SAF's Michael Goergen on the new Planning Rule: January 26th
SAF Comments on the Draft Planning Rule: May 13th, 2011
- 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
- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support for a New Advanced Biofuel Production Facility in Oregon
USDA News Release, January 26th
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has approved a conditional commitment in the amount of $232.5 million to ZeaChem Boardman Biorefinery, LLC (ZBB) through the Biorefinery Assistance Program. ZBB will operate a 25 million gallon per year biorefinery, which will be constructed on an industrial site in Boardman, Oregon, along the Columbia River. "In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his vision for a new era for American energy-an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers," said Vilsack. "This project and others like it will help to establish a domestic advanced biofuels industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets in the Pacific Northwest and across America."Projected to be operational by late 2014, the biorefinery will create 65 jobs while supporting another 38 jobs with the parent company. Under the conditional commitment, ZBB must meet specified conditions before the 60 percent loan guarantee can be completed.To read more of this article link to:
- BLM Seeks Nominations to Resource Advisory Council
BLM News Release, January 26th
The Bureau of Land Management announced on January 25, 2012, that it is seeking public nominations for open positions on its 29 Resource Advisory Councils, which advise the BLM on public land issues. As advertised in the Federal Register, the BLM will consider nominations for 45 days. The BLM's RACs, composed of citizens chosen for their expertise in natural resource issues, help the Bureau carry out its stewardship of 245 million acres of public lands. The Bureau, which manages more land than any other Federal agency, has 29 RACs across the West, where most BLM-managed land is located. Each RAC consists of 10 to 15 members with an interest in public land management, including such individuals as conservationists, ranchers, outdoor recreationists, state and local government officials, Tribal officials, and academics. The diverse membership of each RAC is aimed at achieving a balanced outlook that the BLM needs for its mission, which is to manage the public lands for multiple uses. To read more of this article link to: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/january/NR_01_26_2012.html
This Week in Congress
- No relevant actions were taken this week.
- Wood protection law creates splintering in guitar industry
Los Angeles Times, Published by Geoffrey Mohan, January 24th
Veteran guitar repairman Bob Wirtz faced a wall of pricey custom-built electric guitars, and he had the ear of Gibson Guitar Corp.'s resident expert on the instruments. But what Wirtz wanted to talk about was international law. Like many who attended the National Assn. of Music Merchants convention in Anaheim last weekend, Wirtz was tapping into a discordant tone among the makers, purveyors and purchasers of guitars that often are made from exotic woods protected by the federal Lacey Act. A raid on Gibson's Nashville factory last summer, the second at company workshops in as many years, vaulted the once obscure law into the national spotlight when Chief Executive Henry E. Juszkiewicz accused the federal government of "bullying" and "persecution." His high-profile campaign against the raids has made him the darling of the GOP and the tea party movement and their agenda of regulatory reform. At a hearing convened by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) shortly after the August raid, Juszkiewicz said the seizures, delays in bringing charges and wrangling over a Gibson countersuit were events he "just really would never have believed … would take place in this country." To read more of this article link to: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-namm-gibson-20120124,0,7282435.story
- Timber industry files lawsuit against murrelet designation
Natural Resource Report, Published by the American Forest Resource Council, January 26th
The American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) brought suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) claiming the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it designated millions of acres of forest land in Washington, Oregon and California as critical habitat for the marbled murrelet."There is nothing straight forward in how the FWS requires federal forest managers to deal with this bird," said Tom Partin, President of AFRC. "Because humans almost never see the bird, the FWS seems to think it can throw a net over millions of acres of federal timber land that not only aren't being used by the bird, but don't even have the characteristics it is looking for when it flies inland to lay its eggs. Someone has to speak up about this violation of the limits of the ESA."To read more of this article link to:
- U.S. Forest Service streamlines appeal process; critics object
The Missoulan, Published by Rob Chaney, January 29thWhat's the difference between an appeal and an objection? When dealing with the U.S. Forest Service, it determines whether your complaint gets dealt with on paper or face-to-face. A recent change in Forest Service decisionmaking requires project opponents to argue their points much earlier in the process. Proponents of the change expect better, faster decisions on logging sales, special use permits and other activities on national forests. Agency sparring partners fear it limits people's ability to block bad decisions. To read more of this article link to: http://missoulian.com/news/local/u-s-forest-service-streamlines-appeal-process/article_e9bec5f4-4a38-11e1-9bad-001871e3ce6c.html
In the States: Colorado, Oregon, and Arkansas
- Lawmakers aim to wrest control of Colorado's public lands from federal government
Coloradoan.com, Published by Bobby Magill, January 23rd
A Northern Colorado lawmaker has a message for the federal government: Get your hands off our Fourteeners. Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said Monday he plans to sponsor a bill that will require the state to wrest control of most of Colorado's Fourteeners and more than 23 million acres of federal public land across the state, including most of Roosevelt National Forest west of Fort Collins and most of Colorado's BLM and U.S. Forest Service land. The state would either sell the land off to private individuals or manage it itself. He said he envisions the bill excluding all national parks and monuments, including those on BLM land. "When is enough enough for the amount of land that the state owns or the federal government owns?" he said, adding that the federal government hasn't been taking care of the land. "Quite frankly, they allow noxious weeds, they don't manage the land the way they need to be managing it," he said, citing restrictions on timber harvesting in national forests. To read more of this article link to: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20120123/UPDATES01/120123028/Lawmakers-aim-wrest-control-Colorado-s-public-lands-from-federal-goverment-
- Environmental groups voice concerns about plan to replace county payments
The Oregonian, Published by Charles Pope, January 23rd
A collection of environmental groups demanded Monday that negotiations to replace the county payment program be more public amid concerns that an emerging agreement could open 1.2 million acres federal land in Oregon to more logging while loosening environmental protections. Oregon Reps. Greg Walden, a Republican and Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader have been working for months to designate about 2.4 million acres of federal land in Oregon as public "trusts." Half of the acres would be managed as a conservation area wile the rest would be designated for commercial purposes, such as logging. Revenue from the logging would go to local counties replacing federal payments that have sustained them for years. In a letter to the lawmakers, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Oregon Wild and five other groups said the process was a dangerous and a major departure from traditional protections. Shrouding it in darkness prevents the public from clearly understanding what ideas are being considered, the letter said. Other groups signing were: Cascadia Wildland, Coast Range Association, Geos Institute, The Larch Company, and KS Wild. "You are all on the record advocating that very significant acreages of these public lands be transferred into a logging 'trust,' to be governed under weakened environmental safeguards," the letter said. "This would be an enormous change in public forest policy, and have severe implications for the rest of America's public lands system. To read more of this article link to: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/01/environmental_groups_voice_con.html
- Beebe says he'd sign forest tax hike but doubts it would pass
Arkansas News Bureau, Published by John Lyon, January 24th
Gov. Mike Beebe said today he would sign a measure to increase the state's forest fire protection tax if lawmakers pass one, but he expressed doubts that such a bill would pass. Legislative leaders said the idea was unlikely to get any traction. The director of the state Forestry Commission, John Shannon, told a subcommittee of the legislative Joint Budget Committee on Monday that he favors raising the tax to pay for the restoration of more than a dozen firefighter jobs that were eliminated at the commission this month because of a shortfall in the agency's budget "If the Legislature passes it I will sign it," Beebe said today when asked about Shannon's comments. "But that's pretty tough on an industry that's suffering. … If you're going to add more taxes to a depressed industry, it creates a problem, and I would imagine before it's all said and done most legislators will be influenced by that." To read more of this article link to: http://arkansasnews.com/2012/01/24/beebe-says-he%E2%80%99d-sign-forest-tax-hike-but-doubts-it-would-pass/
- Colorado GOP's Beetle-Kill Timber Bill Questioned
CBS Denver/The Associated Press, Published by Ivan Moreno, January 25th
In their war against red tape, Colorado Republicans cited local regulations they say prevent lumber businesses from selling lumber made from trees killed by beetles, which otherwise goes to waste. House Speaker Frank McNulty highlighted the plight of a Montrose business owner during a speech to start this year's legislative session, saying "unnecessary government restrictions" prohibit the use of the beetle-kill timber and that a GOP bill would tackle the problem. There's only one problem: The red tape Republicans say blocks the sale of beetle-kill timber doesn't exist, according to the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Inc. To read more of this article link to: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/01/25/colorado-gops-beetle-kill-timber-bill-questioned/
- Environmental groups plan to sue over state forest logging
Tillamook Headlight Herald, Published by Anthony Rimel, January 26th
A coalition of environmental groups issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue the state of Oregon to prevent the planned increase in logging in several state forests, including Tillamook State Forest. The groups allege that increasing logging in the forest violates the U.S. Endangered Species Act's protection of the marbled murrelet, a small seabird. The lawsuit could have a huge impact on Tillamook County, which received 20 percent of its general operation funds from state forest timber harvests in the 2010-2011 budget year. The lawsuit comes at a bad time for Tillamook County - the end of Secure Rural Schools program, which had helped make up for revenue lost as logging decreased in the county's federal forests.To read more of this article link to: http://www.tillamookheadlightherald.com/news/article_9dfe3018-46d8-11e1-95cf-0019bb2963f4.html
Last Week in Congress
- No relevant actions were taken this week.
- Officials continue fight against fire fee
Corning Observer, Published by Julie R. Johnson, January 24th
State and county officials are continuing their fight against emergency regulations implementing the $150 State Responsibility Area fire prevention fees. On Tuesday, the Tehama County Board of Supervisors received confirmation that a letter was sent to the State Office of Administration Law and California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection stating that Tehama County "remains deeply opposed to the 'Fire Fee' in principle, as it is grossly inequitable for rural residents and represents unwise and unworkable public policy." To read more of this article link to: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/state&id=8508720
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