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Policy Update Week of

February 6, 2012


SAF to Host Technical Symposium February 17th : Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health

The symposium will feature the Honorable Benjamin H. Grumbles (President, Clean Water America Alliance), and administrative, legal, and scientific panels in exploring forest connections to the Clean Water Act. The symposium will take place at the Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 210-212 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Participants are asked to RSVP by February 13, 2012. For more information, the symposium agenda, or to register, please contact the SAF Policy Department at policyi@safnet.org or (866) 897-8720, ext. 113. Link to the symposium agenda:

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: http://www.safnet.org/fp/documents/Comments_on_CEQ_Draft_NEPA_Guidelines.pdf

CEQ's Draft Guidelines can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ceq/nepa_improving_efficiency_draft_guidance.pdf

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 http://www.eforester.org/documents/comment_forestserviceplanningdeis_May13.pdf

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, barnwellj@safnet.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

  1. Forest Products Employees Urge Obama Administration to Seek Supreme Court Review of Forest Runoff Ruling
      The Sacramento Bee, Published by The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council, February 8th

    American workers employed in the U.S. forest products industry today urged members of the Obama administration to ask the Supreme Court to review a pending case that could threaten tens of thousands of forestry-related jobs. The Pulp & Paperworkers' Resource Council (PPRC) is a grassroots organization of hourly employees of the forest products industry who work on issues that impact jobs in their industry. PPRC members from across the U.S. visited Washington this week to discuss the issue with administration officials of the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Domestic Policy Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Forest Service. To read more of this article link to:

  2. CEQ and Forest Service announce project to improve efficiency of federal environmental reviews
      USDA Forest Service News Release, February 9th

    The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) today announced a new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Pilot project under an initiative launched in March 2011 to increase the quality and efficiency of Federal environmental reviews and reduce costs. CEQ has selected a U.S. Forest Service proposal to develop NEPA best practices for forest restoration projects using lessons learned from two restoration projects currently being analyzed in Arizona and Oregon. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/02/environmental-reviews.shtml

  3. National Forests Added and Comment Period Formally Extended on Planning for Sage-Grouse Conservation Measures
      BLM News Release, February 9th

    In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will issue a corrected Notice of Intent to address sage-grouse in 10 additional National Forest System Lands and Resource Management Plans and formally extended the comment period through March 23, 2012. The notice will appear in the February 10, 2012, Federal Register. The BLM and the Forest Service are seeking public comment on issues that should be addressed in Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements (SEIS) that will evaluate and provide greater sage-grouse conservation measures in land use plans in 10 Western states. This notice extends the time period for public comment on the scoping process for the EIS/SEIS through March 23, 2012. To read more of this article link to: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/february/ntr_02_09_2012.html

  4. US Forest Service announces strategy to replace large airtankers for wildfire efforts
      US Forest Service News Release, February 10th

    The U.S. Forest Service announced today a strategy, developed with input from the Department of the Interior, to replace the fleet of aging air tankers used to battle wildfires with a next generation of newer, faster, more cost-effective large airtankers. "We need a core fleet of the next generation large airtankers to supplement our boots-on-the-ground firefighters for what we know will be longer and more severe wildfire seasons in years to come," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "Not only will these newer, more effective airtankers help us keep fires contained and communities safe, they will also protect our brave men and women on the fireline." To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/02/airtankers.shtml

This Week in Congress

  1. February 9th - Rep. Mark Amodei [R-NV2] introduced H.R.3996: "To direct the Secretary of the Interior to convey to the Nevada System of Higher Education Federal land located in Clark and Nye Counties, Nevada, and for other purposes." To read more about these hearings link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3996

Next Week in Congress

  1. February 15th - Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Hearing: Energy and Economic Growth for Rural America. To read more about this hearing link to: http://www.ag.senate.gov/hearings/energy-and-economic-growth-for-rural-america

  2. February 15th - House Committee on the Budget Hearing: The President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. To read more about this hearing link to: http://budget.house.gov/HearingSchedule/hearing2152012.htm

  3. February 15th - Full Committee Oversight Hearing: Department of the Interior Spending and the President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal. To read more about this hearing link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=277782

  4. February 16th - Full Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing: To Receive Testimony on the U.S. Department of Energy's Budget for Fiscal Year 2013. To read more about this hearing link to: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=1aab7fd3-a404-c511-3661-85d446391975

National News

  1. Appeals court cuts down Forest Service plan
      Capital Press, Published by Mateusz Perkowski, February 9th

    The U.S. Forest Service violated environmental law by approving a plan to greatly increase allowable logging levels on national forests in California's Sierra Nevada, according to a federal appeals court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned federal judge's ruling that sided with the Forest Service. The agency failed to take a sufficiently "hard look" at the effects of the plan on individual species of fish, violating the National Environmental Policy Act, according to the 2-1 majority opinion of the three-judge panel. The legal controversy stems from changes made by the Bush administration to a plan developed under the Clinton administration for managing national forests in the region. The Sierra Nevada Forest Plan, which governs management in 11 national forests across nearly 11.5 million acres, was updated by the Clinton administration in 2001. To read more of this article link to: http://www.capitalpress.com/california/mp-sierra-logging-021012

In the States: Colorado, Montana, Oregon, California, and Arkansas

  1. State Goes Its Own Way to Regulate Forest Roads
      The New York Times, Published by Kirk Johnson, February 5th

    A road into the piney woods can be fraught with consequences. That was the premise, more than a decade ago, behind a Clinton administration rule that restricted road building on millions of acres of national forests in the West. The so-called roadless rule, fought over in court from the start, was validated last year by a federal appeals panel, setting off a wave of euphoria among supporters and consternation among critics. But there is a big wrinkle here in Colorado, which was one of only two states - Idaho was the other - that at the urging of the Bush administration developed their own rules about roads in the wild. The state restrictions are supposed to be at least as stiff as the national rule, and a decision on Colorado's draft plan, now under review in Washington by the United States Forest Service, is expected within weeks. But conservationists say the plan is much less protective of forestland and creates the likelihood that a state many Americans identify with the very aeries and woods the national rule was designed to protect could become a kind of orphan. To read more of this article click here.

  2. Finding Common Ground
      Flathead Beacon, Published by Myers Reece, February 8th

    Deep in northwestern Montana near the Idaho border, an expansive 28,000-acre conservation easement proposal is bringing together a diverse group of interests, with conservationists, loggers, wildlife managers and outdoor enthusiasts discovering they can all agree on a common vision: protecting working forestland from development while keeping it open to public recreation. Thanks to a recent $6.5 million federal grant, their vision is inching, if not accelerating, toward becoming a reality. To read more of this article link to: http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/finding_common_ground/26535/

  3. Televised Forum on Oregon Forest Plan Produces Sparks
      Earthfix, Published by David Steves and Amelia Templeton, February 8th

    The loss of federal support to Oregon's forested counties is fueling a spirited debate about increasing logging in those counties. Sparks from that debate were on display Tuesday night during a forum hosted by Southern Oregon Public Television and EarthFix, a regional collaboration of public media in the Northwest."Local Focus: Dollars and Trees" brought together a diverse panel, including Steve Swanson, president of the Swanson Group, which mills lumber and plywood in southwest Oregon, and Eugene, Ore.-based environmentalist Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild. To read more of this article link to:

  4. Rural schools struggle as timber payments end
      California Watch, Published by By Joanna Lin, February 10th

    It's been more than 30 years since Kermith Walters hauled logs of pine and fir through the mountains of Siskiyou County. He says he left it behind when the habitat of a dark brown, white-speckled bird became a matter of federal law. Since 1990, when the northern spotted owl was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, millions of acres of old-growth forest have been closed to logging, stripping rural communities throughout the Pacific Northwest of their primary economy. But even now, as the county's superintendent of schools, Walters' most pressing concern is still rooted in timber. Over the past decade, a federal program that's based on historic timber revenue has cushioned the loss of logging in forest communities. It's provided nearly $3.8 billion for schools and roads in more than 700 counties in 42 states, including 32 in California. With nearly 21 million acres of national forest within its borders, California is among the biggest beneficiaries of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The state has received more than $573.7 million for county schools and roads since the program's inception. To read more of this article link to: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/state&id=8539269

  5. Forestry Commission director resigns in face of critical audit report
      Arkansas News Bureau, Published by By John Lyon, February 10th

    Embattled Arkansas Forestry Commission Director John Shannon announced his resignation today after state auditors released a report sharply critical of his management of the agency's finances. In the report, presented today to the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, state auditors said Shannon "did not exercise due diligence in his oversight of agency financial activities," which included the misuse of federal grant money over a four-year period. Facing a $4 million shortfall, Shannon laid off 34 employees last month. Two others agreed to retire. Auditors said the report would be turned over to the Pulaski County prosecutor's office. To read more of this article link to: http://arkansasnews.com/2012/02/10/forestry-commission-director-resigns-in-face-of-critical-audit-report/

Last Week in Congress

  1. February 1st - Sen. Debbie Stabenow [D-MI] announced the Farm Bill hearing schedule for February, March. To read more about these hearings link to:

  2. February 2nd - Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] introduced S. 2066, "A bill to recognize the heritage of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting on Federal public land and ensure continued opportunities for those activities." To read more about this bill link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-2066

  3. February 2nd - Sen. Rand Paul [R-KY] introduced S. 2062, "A bill to amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to repeal certain provisions relating to criminal penalties and violations of foreign laws, and for other purposes." To read more about this bill link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-2066

  4. February 3rd - The Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands met to discuss H.R. 3685: To amend the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act to extend and expand the scope of the pilot forest management project required by that Act. To read more about this hearing link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=276751

Wildfire Update

  1. Forestry issues Red Flag Alert for much of state
      South Carolina Forestry Commission, February 10th

    The South Carolina Forestry Commission is issuing a Red Flag Fire Alert for all counties within its Pee Dee and Coastal operating regions effective at 7:00 Friday. A Red Flag Fire Alert does not necessarily outlaw outdoor burning. It means that Fire Management staff with the Forestry Commission strongly advises postponing outdoor burning until weather and fuel conditions improve. Be advised, however, that there are a few counties where local ordinances do ban outdoor burning under Red Flag conditions. To read more of this article link to: http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/16909880/forestry

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