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Policy Update Week of

December 5, 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. US Forest Service Takes Action to Confront the Threat of Invasive Species
      USDA Forest Service News Release, December 5th

    The U.S. Forest Service announced today the publication of its first ever national-level direction on the management of invasive species across aquatic and terrestrial areas of the National Forest System. "Invasive species cost the American public an estimated $138 billion each year. They deplete water supplies, destroy recreation opportunities and damage landscapes across the country," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "We are taking this bold approach to better protect our nation's forest and water resources from the threat of invasive species." While the Forest Service has long had a Forest Service Invasive Species Program, this policy adds new requirements for agency-wide integration of invasive species prevention, early detection and rapid response, control, restoration, and collaborative activities across all National Forest System lands. "The integrated nature of this new approach will make the Forest Service able to more effectively manage invasive species in the context of environmental issues such as adaptation to climate change, increasing wildfire risk, watershed restoration, fragmentation of habitats, loss of biodiversity, and human health concerns," said USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2011/releases/12/invasive.shtml

  2. Federal Agencies Announce Initial Step to Incorporate Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Measures in Land Management Plans
      Bureau of Land Management News Release, December 9th

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) today announced the initial steps in a formal planning process to evaluate greater sage-grouse conservation measures in land use plans in 10 Western states. The two public land management agencies are opening a 60-day public comment period on issues that should be addressed in Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (SEISs) that will be published in the Federal Register on December 9. Based on ongoing threats to the greater sage-grouse and its habitat throughout the West, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2015 deadline for making a decision whether to list the species under the Endangered Species Act, the BLM and the USFS aim to incorporate consistent objectives and conservation measures into relevant Resource Management Plans by September 2014. As a result, the accompanying environmental reviews will be conducted under expedited timeframes. "As the steward of more than half of all remaining sagebrush habitat in the United States, the BLM is playing a leading role in developing and implementing land management actions to conserve the sage-grouse and its habitat," BLM Director Bob Abbey said. To read more of this article link to: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2011/december/NR_12_08_2011.html


This 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/

National News

  1. Bark Beetles, Aided by Climate Change, are Devastating U.S. Pine Forests
      The Washington Post, Published by Andrew Nikiforuk, December 5th

    In the high alpine forests of Montana outside Yellowstone National Park, Jesse Logan, a skier and biologist, has watched ancient whitebark pines, the region's mountaintop guardians, die off one by one. These long-living pines once provided highly nutritious seeds for grizzly bears. Logan says that he sometimes feels as if he is watching the collapse of a great and remote ecosystem. The killer, active across North American pine forests, is the bark beetle, an insect no bigger than a grain of rice. Foresters around the world have been battling bark beetles for centuries, but the scale of recent outbreaks in North America has been unprecedented. Since the 1990s, vast swarms of nearly a dozen species have taken down nearly 30 billion conifers from Alaska to Mexico. Bark beetles are probably the world's oldest forest engineers and tree surgeons. They evolved along with conifers 300 million years ago. There are more species of bark beetles (7,500) than mammals. Most colonize a tree's inner bark, or phloem, and breed in broken, stressed or diseased timber. To read more of this article link to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/bark-beetles-aided-by-climate-change-are-devastating-us-pine-forests/2011/11/08/gIQA0B0CWO_story.html

  2. Smokey Bear Spared from GOP Budget Axe
      The Washington Post, Published by Emily Heil, December 8th

    Just like James Bond, Smokey Bear lives to die another day. The furry Forest Service mascot--famous for instructing generations of schoolchildren that only they could prevent forest fires--took a frightening turn on House Republicans' chopping block. The slash to the Forest Service's conservation-education budget was proposed under House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's YouCut program, in which the public can vote each week in favor of various budget-trimming plans. But Smokey and his pal, Woodsy the Owl, managed to duck the axe. Instead of voting to nix the conservation-minded animals, the public chose a rival-budget cutting proposal that would eliminate payments to states that increase the number of food-stamp beneficiaries. Of course, the selection might have more to do with a desire to conserve federal spending than it did sentimentality over Smokey. Slashing the bear's budget would only save taxpayers $50 million over 10 years, while the food-stamp trims are worth $180 million over 10 years. To read more of this article link to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/post/smokey-bear-spared-from-gop-budget-axe/2011/12/08/gIQAZ2RyfO_blog.html

In the States: Colorado and Maine

  1. Colorado Mining Association Challenges Roadless Rule
      Summit County Citizens Voice, Published by Bob Berwyn, December 6th

    The legal battle over the management of national forest roadless areas will go at least one more round, as the Colorado Mining Association and Wyoming this week took the unusual step of asking the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear last month's decision that upheld a 2001 national roadless rule. Such requests are rarely granted and the roadless case doesn't have the earmarks of a decision that might qualify for a rehearing, said an attorney familiar with the case. Read the petition for rehearing online here. The appellate court in October ruled against the State of Wyoming and industry intervenors and in favor of conservation groups, the Forest Service, and the States of California, Oregon, and Washington. This decision formally ended an injunction against the Rule's enforcement imposed by a Wyoming federal district court in 2008. But this week's petition for a rehearing puts the injunction back in place, once again leaving the fate of more than 50 million acres of roadless areas in legal limbo. In asking the full 10th Circuit Court panel (at least 11 judges) to rehear the case, the plaintiffs are rehashing their old arguments that the 2001 roadless, rule, promulgated under Clinton, was "pre-ordained, in violation of NEPA." To read more of this article link to: http://summitcountyvoice.com/2011/12/06/colorado-mining-association-challenges-roadless-rule/

  2. Maine Executive Order Puts Forest Certification on Equal Footing
      Market Watch.com Press Release, December 8th

    Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order today directing that "any new or expanded state buildings shall incorporate 'Green Building' standards that give certification credits equally to forest products grown, manufactured, and certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, Forest Stewardship Council, American Tree Farm System, and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems." "This policy is great news for North American communities and shows that the Governor and people of Maine are true leaders by being the first jurisdiction in North America to take this important position," said Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry InitiativeĀ® Inc. "Inclusive and leading programs such as ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings and the ANSI/ICC 700-2008: National Green Building Standard for residential construction would meet the requirements set out for state construction in Maine. However, green building rating tools like the US Green Building Council's LEED rating tools that do not recognize forest certification equally would not meet the requirements of this executive order, in our opinion." To read more of this article link to: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/maine-executive-order-puts-forest-certification-on-equal-footing-2011-12-08-152600

Last Week in Congress

  1. Senate Proposes Cutting Wildland Fire Prevention Fund after Record Decade, and Year, of Destructive Fires
      National Association of State Foresters Press Release, November 28th

    A group of nine Western Senators are ringing the alarm about a 2012 proposal to cut support from two wildland fire prevention programs, the Hazardous Fuels and State Fire Assistance programs. These critical programs provide funding for work that makes people and forests safer, through thinning and controlled burn projects on National Forest System and state and private forest lands. Investments in the Hazardous Fuels and State Fire Assistance programs also save money, by offering preventative actions that limit costly emergency fires. Yet today we spend 4 times more money fighting emergency fires in our National Forests than we invest in preventing these destructive fires from occurring in the first place. The cuts are proposed on the heels of the nation's worst recorded fire decade, with record wildfires across the West and South. This most recent fire season burned more than 8 million acres of the nation's forests-an area larger than New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Only five times has the nation experienced more than 8 million acres burned in a year; all of these have occurred since 2004. To read more of this article link to: http://www.stateforesters.org/news_media/press_releases/senate_wildfire_cuts

  2. Crapo, Risch Urge Congress to Keep Collaborative Forest Funds
      IdahoStatesman.com, Published by Rocky Barker, November 29th

    Idaho's two U.S. senators have urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to keep $40 million in the budget for collaborative forest projects. The Clearwater Collaborative, a group of loggers, environmentalists, local officials and recreation groups attracted $3.5 million for projects in Northcentral Idaho from the $22 million available this year. But forest groups from the Boise and Payette national forests are hoping to get similar dollars. The projects range from thinning to habitat improvement. Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo joined Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico in writing the letter that was signed by 13 other senators from both parties including Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch. The senators said the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program saved or created 1,550 jobs, produced 107 million board feet of timber, improved 66,000 acres of wildlife habitat, treated 90,000 acres of hazardous fuel and restored 28 mile of fishing streams. The program generated $6 in labor income for every $1 spent on the program, the senators wrote. To read more of this article link to: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2011/11/29/rockybarker/crapo_risch_urge_congress_keep_collaborative_forest_funds#ixzz1fg9vMtox

  3. Sen. Jeff Merkley Demands Reforms to Visa Program that Permitted Foreign Workers to be Hired for Jobs in U.S.
      The Oregonian, Published by Charles Pope, December 1st

    Sen. Jeff Merkley urged the Department of Labor and the White House Thursday to toughen regulations and oversight of a visa program that allowed foreign nationals to be hired for forest jobs in Oregon intended for unemployed Oregonians. Merkley made the demand in a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget. It is the latest fallout from disclosure in October that the H-2B visa program was used to hire foreign workers for jobs financed by the federal stimulus law. "The unequivocal intent of Congress was to use funds in the Recovery Act to put Americans immediately to work while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improving forest health," Merkley wrote, describing a collection of forest programs for Oregon underwritten with more than $7 million in stimulus funding. "Thus, it is extremely disconcerting that ... millions of dollars in Recovery Act funding were used to pay contractors who employed hundreds of foreign nationals through the H-2B program," the two-page letter says. To read more of this article link to: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/12/sen_jeff_merkley_demands_refor.html

  4. Udall Highlights Forest Service Findings to Manage Bark Beetle Epidemic
      Press Release, December 1st

    Today, Mark Udall announced the findings from a report he requested from the U.S. Forest Service to study the bark beetle epidemic that has consumed millions of acres of Western forests. The report looks at the conditions that contributed to the outbreak, the Forest Service response, ways to address it, and what to expect from the "new forest" as it regenerates. Udall plans to consider these results as he develops legislation that could reauthorize important mitigation and management tools, streamline the process to protect communities and watersheds in "insect emergency areas," and support the forest-management industry. "I appreciate the work done by the Rocky Mountain Region and the Rocky Mountain Research Station in compiling this report. As the mountain pine beetle epidemic continues to spread across our Western forests, it's clear that we need to address the problem more intensely and effectively. I will continue to fight for adequate funding for our forest-management agencies to help them protect our public safety, natural resources and local jobs," Udall said. To read more of this article link to: http://markudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1786

Wildfire Update

  1. Experts: Managing Tribal Forest Helped Stop Wallow Fire Near Reservation
      KTAR.com, Published by Brandon Quester, December 8th

    Blackened, rusted and bent, a barbed wire fence snakes along the boundary of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona's White Mountains. To the east, a sea of black rolls with the land as trees resemble burnt matchsticks. The national forest stand is dense with young trees. Most won't survive. To the west, on tribal land, the trees are spread farther apart, with blackened dirt hidden by growth of wild strawberries and forest grasses. The trees on this side of the fence, for the most part, will live. It was along this line that fire ecologists and forest managers say the westward expansion of the Wallow Fire, the largest in Arizona's history, slowed and eventually stopped. Touring the area, Jonathan Brooks, tribal forest manager for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, said forest-management strategies unhindered by environmental litigation and drawn-out federal government processes helped check the wildfire here. To read more of this article link to: http://ktar.com/6/1476774/Experts-Managing-tribal-forest-helped-stop-Wallow-Fire-at-reservation

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