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Policy Update Week of

December 12, 2011


  1. SAF Comments on the Washington Office Merger of the Forests and Woodlands Management and the Rangelands Resources Division

    SAF strongly values the BLM's support of our organization, and recognizes that BLM employees are an integral component of SAF's success. The Society was recently made aware of the Washington Office division merge. While we strongly support both professional forest and rangeland management, we are concerned that shifting resources and leadership from forestry will reduce the role of forestry in the Headquarters office. To continue the excellence required to effectively lead and manage BLM lands, we urge the agency to maintain strong forestry leadership and presence in Washington DC. To read the letter link here: http://www.eforester.org/fp/documents/SAFLtrtoBLM_Final.pdf

  2. 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 jschwedler@tnc.org.
    Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service's website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/

  3. 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

  1. Forest Service Chief Signs Record of Decision for Aerial Fire Retardant Application
      USDA Forest Service News Release, December 14th

    U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell signed Tuesday a record of decision establishing new direction for the use of fire retardant applied from aircraft to manage wildfires. The new direction, initiated as a result of litigation in Montana, will help the Forest Service better protect water resources and certain plant and wildlife species on National Forest System lands when fighting wildfires. It will allow the Forest service to aggressively fight fire with the use of airtankers while protecting aquatic ecosystems. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the Forest Service identified and mapped waterways and habitat for certain threatened, endangered, and sensitive species in order to avoid applying retardant in those areas. To decide when or where to drop fire retardant, fire managers now have roughly 12,000 maps identifying avoidance areas on 98 National Forest System units that identify locations of waterways and areas for hundreds of plant and animal species. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2011/releases/12/aerialretardantdecision.shtml


This Week in Congress

  1. County Asks for Feinstein's Help in Forest Service Dispute
      Plumas County News, Published by Dan McDonald, December 14th

    The county has come to the aid of a Greenville logger in his battle against the Forest Service. The Plumas County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein asking her to intervene in a dispute over a 2009 timber sale. Pew Forest Products owner Randy Pew said his company is on the verge of bankruptcy after a job he bid on failed to produce the amount of timber the Forest Service said it would. The Forest Service said it was ultimately Pew's responsibility to estimate the amount of usable timber before he bid on the job. Supervisor Robert Meacher and Chairwoman Lori Simpson said they drafted the Nov. 22 letter with the hope that Feinstein would assign a staff member to assist Plumas County. "We would be forever grateful," the latter stated. "It became clear that we had to go to a higher authority to get some support on this issue," Meacher said. The dispute between Pew and the Plumas National Forest is over a salvage logging operation that Pew's company worked on in the wake of the 2007 Moonlight Fire. To read more of this article link to: http://www.plumasnews.com/mcondon/8914-county-asks-for-feinsteins-help-in-forest-service-dispute

  2. 2. Omnibus Spending Bill Held Up as Congress Dickers Over Riders
      The New York Times, Published by Robert Pear, December 14th

    Travel to Cuba. Abortions in the nation's capital. Energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Those are a few of the issues that have ensnarled members of Congress trying to finish an omnibus spending bill that was due to be completed more than two months ago. A stopgap spending bill, for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, runs out Friday. In a rare feat of bipartisan cooperation in the badly divided Congress, members of the House and Senate appropriations committees have nearly reached agreement on legislation to finance most of the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The bill has been held up by a passel of Congressional restrictions and riders in which lawmakers try to impose their policy preferences on the president by exercising the power of the purse. One, for example, would reinstate restrictions on travel to Cuba and remittances sent there from the United States. Since President Obama relaxed the restrictions in 2009, Cuba has seen a surge in visitors and remittances. To read more of this article link to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/us/politics/spending-bill-held-up-as-congress-dickers-over-riders.html

National News

  1. Forest Owners Applaud Supreme Court on Forest Roads Order
      The Sacramento Bee, December 13th

    Court moves closer toward review of Ninth Circuit Reversal of 35-year Clean Water Precedent. David P. Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order asking the Solicitor General for the views of the federal government on two petitions challenging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that forest roads are "point sources" requiring an industrial discharge permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA): "We applaud the Supreme Court for scrutinizing the Ninth Circuit's decision to disregard EPA's 35 years of success regulating forest management as a nonpoint source under Clean Water Act. The Court is hearing not only the voice of forest owners and managers across the country but also Attorneys General from 26 states who joined a brief supporting EPA's historic approach. The policy and legal importance of this case is clear." To read more of this article link to: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/13/4119297/forest-owners-applaud-supreme.html

  2. Federal Agencies Join NFWF and Southern Company to Save Vanishing Southeastern Forests
      Marketwatch.com, December 14th

    Building on nearly a decade of investment to restore vanishing longleaf pine forests in the southeastern United States, NFWF (the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation) has established the Longleaf Stewardship Fund, a landmark public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Southern Company. With the combined financial and technical resources of this group, the Fund will support accelerated restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem and implementation of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine. The longleaf pine ecosystem once encompassed more than 90 million acres of North America. Today, only three percent of the original acreage remains, and threatened and endangered species that depend on the habitat - for example, the red-cockaded woodpecker, the gopher tortoise and the indigo snake - are struggling to survive. Since 2004, a partnership between NFWF and Southern Company, the Longleaf Legacy Program, has invested over $8.7 million into projects that will restore more than 82,000 acres of longleaf pine forest and the native species that rely on it. To read more of this article link to: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/federal-agencies-join-nfwf-and-southern-company-to-save-vanishing-southeastern-forests-2011-12-14

  3. Spotted Owl
      SiskiyouDaily.com, Published by Ami Riding, December 15th

    Changes to the Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat (CH) designation on federal lands are on the horizon - a process that county supervisor Michael Kobseff said "will probably be a bumpy ride."?U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) personnel made a presentation to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting Tuesday regarding the proposed CH designation revision.?USFWS Field Supervisor Erin Williams explained that the USFWS is under an order from the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court to revise the CH designation by November 2012.?"This is only being proposed for federal lands,"?USFWS Forest Resources Branch Chief Brian Woodbridge said at the meeting. "No private lands are being considered."?Woodbridge's comments were met with relief from meeting attendees, some of whom were under the impression that the USFWS's proposal included stricter regulations on private lands.?Woodbridge stated during a follow-up interview that roads through federal forests would not be impacted by the revision, nor would the revision impede public access, recreation or firefighting capabilities on those lands. To read more of this article link to: http://www.siskiyoudaily.com/news/x795100671/Spotted-Owl

In the States: Minnesota and Virginia

  1. Agency Uses New Way to Find Emerald Ash Borer
      Jordan Independent, December 15th

    The MDA has teamed up with five metro area cities, the University of Minnesota and the U.S. Forest Service to better detect new infestations of emerald ash borer (EAB). Over the next three years researchers will conduct a study where they collect branches from 300 trees in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights and Roseville. The area is centered on the first confirmed find of EAB in Minnesota in May 2009, northwest of Highway 280 and University Ave. in St. Paul. The method, known as branch sampling, will allow scientists to collect a total of 1,800 branches from the selected trees over the period of the study. The harvested branches will be examined for EAB and signs of stingless wasps that were released in the area to combat emerald ash borer. Branch sampling is a new approach when it comes to searching for EAB. Currently, scientists do visual checks of ash trees looking for signs of the insect and use purple traps to detect emerald ash borer in counties previously thought to be free of EAB. Branch sampling provides a more sensitive measure than the visual evaluation and the purple traps, but due to the more intensive labor it is only appropriate in some situations. To read more of this article link to; http://www.jordannews.com/view/full_story/16769098/article-Agency-uses-new-way-to-find-emerald-ash-borer

  2. Report: Va.'s Forests Declining, at Risk
      Newsleader.com, Published by Spencer Dennis, December 15th

    More than 62 percent of Virginia is classified as forest, but the state's woods have been disappearing at a clip of 16,000 acres a year over the last decade. That's 44 acres a day or 1 acre every 33 minutes, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry 2011 State of the Forest report. "Development is the primary cause," said Charlie Becker of the department. "We lose a little bit to agriculture, but we also get some back from agriculture converted to forest. "Once you lose forest to development, you generally lose it forever." Housing development in woodland areas has been increasing, the department said. "It's getting harder to find open land that's available," Becker said. "People want a little piece of paradise, with some woods nearby." The single-greatest threat to the health of the forest, however, is invasive species, the report said. Gypsy moth counts have hit an 11-year low, but are high locally. "The hardest hit areas (by Gypsy moths) include parts of the Shenandoah National Park ... (and) parts of the George Washington National Forest in Augusta and Rockingham Counties," the report says, adding that "oak mortality and decline in these areas will lead to significant changes in forest composition." To read more of this article link to: http://www.newsleader.com/article/20111215/NEWS01/112150325/Report-Va-s-forests-declining-risk

Last Week in Congress

  1. Excessive Endangered Species Act Litigation Threatens Species Recovery, Job Creation and Economic Growth
      House Natural Resources Committee Press Release, December 6th

    Today, the Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee oversight hearing to examine how excessive Endangered Species Act (ESA) related litigation impacts species recovery, job creation and the economy. This was the first hearing in series that will be held by the Committee to take a fair look at the ways in which the ESA is working well and areas where it could be improved and updated. "The purpose of the ESA is to recover endangered species - yet this is where the current law is failing - and failing badly. Of the species listed under the ESA in the past 38 years, only 20 have been declared recovered. That's a 1 percent recovery rate. I firmly believe that we can do better. In my opinion, one of the greatest obstacles to the success of the ESA is the way in which it has become a tool for excessive litigation. Instead of focusing on recovering endangered species, there are groups that use the ESA as a way to bring lawsuits against the government and block job-creating projects," said Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). To read more of this article link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=271408

  2. EPW Approves Legislation to Protect and Restore Lake Tahoe, Delaware River Basin and Chesapeake Bay
      U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Press Release, December 8th

    Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved several pieces of legislation, including bills to help restore Lake Tahoe and the Delaware River Basin, and a measure to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. The Committee also approved several General Services Administration (GSA) resolutions. The measures now go to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said: "I am pleased this Committee passed bipartisan legislation today to help restore Lake Tahoe and protect other important water bodies. Lake Tahoe is one of the most treasured places in California and is vital for tourism in California and Nevada. It is critical that we continue to protect this important resource for our children and grandchildren. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we move forward with this legislation." To read more of this article link to: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=1fd04a8d-802a-23ad-41ad-cd28a7797d94&Region_id=&Issue_id=

  3. December 8th - Senate Bill 1065: Blackfoot River Land Settlement Act of 2011 has been scheduled for debate. To read more about this bill link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-1065

  4. EPA Spending Bill Among Measures to be Considered by Conference Committee
      BNA.com, Published by Amena H. Salyid, December 8th

    The House and Senate plan to hold a joint conference committee Dec. 8 to begin consideration of the nine remaining spending bills for fiscal year 2012, including both chambers' Interior-Environment appropriations measures, which fund the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee also will consider whether to retain policy language from the House version of the spending bill that would limit EPA's regulatory authority over air, water, and climate change programs, according to House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing. The nine spending measures will be rolled into the fiscal year 2012 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that the conference will take up Dec. 8. Proposed spending levels are expected to reflect the agreement that the White House, Senate, and House leadership reached July 31 on the debt ceiling as well as revised spending limits for FY 2012 and beyond. To read more of this article link to: http://www.bna.com/epa-spending-bill-n12884905204/

Wildfire Update

  1. After Huge Calif Wildfire, Report Says Forest Service Needs Clear Policies to Avoid Confusion
      The Washington Post, Published by the Associated Press, December 16th

    Federal investigators Friday revealed conflicting accounts of why an air tanker was not summoned in the early hours of what became the largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history, but concluded it's not possible to know if different decisions would have curtailed the damage. The 2009 Station Fire killed two firefighters, destroyed 89 homes and blackened 250 square miles on the edge of Los Angeles, and residents who were burned out have long complained the U.S. Forest Service failed to bring in enough firefighters and aircraft to halt the spreading flames. Government records released after the blaze opened questions about whether firefighting aircraft could have been ordered and deployed more quickly, including at night, and whether a tight federal budget drove firefighting decisions on the ground. To read more of this article link to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/apnewsbreak-calif-fire-report-says-forest-service-needs-clear-policies-to-avoid-confusion/2011/12/16/gIQA5X0AyO_story.html

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