Home > Forestry Professional > Policy/Law

Policy Update Week of

February 27, 2012

SAF ACTIONS

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:
http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/01/planning-rule.shtml

Washington Post quotes SAF's Michael Goergen on the new Planning Rule: January 26th
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/administration-issues-major-rewrite-of-forest-rules/2012/01/26/gIQAnquvTQ_story.html

SAF Comments on the Draft Planning Rule: May 13th, 2011 http://www.eforester.org/documents/comment_forestserviceplanningdeis_May13.pdf

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. Obama administration plan would kill rival bird to save spotted owl
      The Washington Post, Published by The Associated Press, February 28th

    To save the imperiled spotted owl, the Obama administration is moving forward with a controversial plan to shoot barred owls, a rival bird that has shoved its smaller cousin aside. The plan is the latest federal attempt to protect the northern spotted owl, the passive, one-pound bird that sparked an epic battle over logging in the Pacific Northwest two decades ago. To read more of this article link to:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ap-newsbreak-obama-administration-plan-would-kill-rival-bird-to-save-spotted-owl/2012/02/28/gIQAvxAUgR_story.html

  2. USDA Forest Service Makes $1 Million Commitment to Get Kids Outdoors
      USDA Forest Service News Release, March 2nd

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA's continuing commitment to get kids outdoors and connected to the natural world around them through $1 million in cost-share funding from the U.S. Forest Service to enhance children's programs in 18 states. Vilsack will highlight the announcement later today at the Interior Department during the White House conference, Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy, which emphasizes the link between conservation and strong local economies through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife. The conference has attracted boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and others from across the 50 United States to discuss ways to spur and support successful conservation projects around the nation. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/03/kids.shtml

  3. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces New Conservation Reserve Program Initiative to Restore Grasslands, Wetlands and Wildlife
      USDA News Release, March 2nd

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the opportunity for producers to enroll a total of 1 million acres of land in a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative to preserve grasslands and wetlands. Vilsack will highlight the announcement later today at the Interior Department during the White House Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy conference, which emphasizes the link between conservation and strong local economies through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife. The conference has attracted boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and others from across the 50 United States to discuss ways to spur and support successful conservation projects around the nation. To read more of this article link to: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/03/0076.xml&contentidonly=true

  4. White House Conference Sets Stage for New Era of Conservation
      USDA News Release, March 2nd

    Today, President Obama and members of his Cabinet convened the White House Conference on Conservation to engage directly with conservation leaders from all 50 states to strengthen partnerships and identify next steps in advancing community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives that are building strong local economies and healthy lands, waters and wildlife across America. Today's conference - titled Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy - is part of the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a community-based, 21st century agenda for conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors. The event brought together hundreds of boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and other key stakeholders from around the nation to meet with Obama administration officials to discuss issues surrounding conservation in urban cities and rural communities. To read more of this article link to: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/03/0079.xml&contentidonly=true

This Week in Congress

  1. February 28th - House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Oversight Hearing on "FY 2013 budget requests from the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management." To read more about this bill link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=281076

  2. February 28th - Full Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: FY13 Department of the Interior Budget Request. To read more about this hearing link to: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/2/full-committee-hearing

Upcoming in Congress

  1. March 6th - Full Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: FY13 Forest Service Budget Request. To read more about this hearing link to: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2012/3/full-committee-hearing

  2. March 6th - House Committee on Appropriations: Budget Hearing - Bureau of Land Management - Director. To read more about this hearing link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=277069

  3. March 7th - House Committee on Appropriations: Budget Hearing - Department of Agriculture - Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment To read more about this hearing link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=282152

  4. March 8th - House Committee on Appropriations: Budget Hearing - National Park Service - Director. To read more about this hearing link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=277076

  5. March 8th - House Natural Resources Committee: Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands Legislative Hearing on H.R. 752, H.R. 1415, H.R. 3377 and H.R. 3436. To read more about this hearing link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=282748

National News

  1. Idaho Gov. Otter wants state to control federal timber
      The Idaho Statesman, Published by Sean Cockerham, February 29th

    In a boost to financially strapped rural counties in Oregon and across the West, the Obama administration on Monday included $294 million to extend the county payments program in the next fiscal year. The line item in the 2013 budget is more important in political terms than pure economics since the White House budget is unlikely to be adopted. However, the addition of money for county payments offers a black-and-white, on paper confirmation of the administration's priorities for the coming year. That will help Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in his battle to secure funding when Congress writes its own budget and makes the hard decisions for how money will be spent.To read more of this article link to: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/29/2014315/otter-wants-idaho-to-control-federal.html

  2. Wyoming joins Black Hills National Forest management plan lawsuit
      Star-Tribune, Published by Kelsey Dayton, February 29th

    The mountain pine beetle epidemic led Wyoming to file a motion to intervene in a lawsuit to defend an amendment to the Black Hills National Forest management plan, Gov. Matt Mead's office announced Wednesday. The forest is divided into four ranger districts, with one based in Sundance. Black Hills revised its management plan in 1997, forest Environmental Coordinator Ed Fischer said. The plan was appealed and the forest was instructed to improve information and directions regarding wildlife and plant species, Fischer said. The forest amended the 1997 plan in 2005. To read more of this article link to:
    http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming-joins-black-hills-national-forest-management-plan-lawsuit/article_c0be039b-4a9e-5a8e-9639-501ebcb89123.html

  3. Key lawmakers confident of renewed timber payments
      Idaho Press, Published by The Associated Press, March 2nd

    Key federal lawmakers say they're confident that Congress will renew a program this year that has become a lifeline for rural communities suffering from a decline in timber harvests on federal lands, but they can't say when or how. The uncertainty over the Secure Rural Schools program is making some local officials nervous. They would have a hard time making up the financial loss and many would have to resort to layoffs. The program compensates counties for a decline in federal timber payments resulting from environmental protections for the spotted owl, salmon and other species. To read more of this article link to:
    http://www.idahopress.com/news/state/key-lawmakers-confident-of-renewed-timber-payments/article_1fba32fd-c5e7-5c2d-acbb-171d6b844051.html

  4. Congressional hearing in Elko March 12
      Elko Daily Free Press, Published by Adella Harding, March 3rd
    It's official. A congressional subcommittee will be holding an oversight hearing in Elko on March 12 on the "Explosion of Federal Regulations Threatening Jobs and Economic Survival in the West," according to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The hearing will begin at 1 p.m. at the Elko Convention Center before the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee - with the focus expected to be on the U.S. Forest Service's proposed Travel Management Plan for Elko County and travel plans throughout the West. "There wouldn't be a need to hold the hearing if local elected officials in Nevada felt like they were true partners in this process," U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said Friday regarding the travel plans. To read more of this article link to:
    http://elkodaily.com/news/local/congressional-hearing-in-elko-march/article_f8052bd8-64e3-11e1-a564-0019bb2963f4.html

In the States: Idaho, Oregon and Montana

  1. Rethinking wilderness: Panhandle proposals would shift boundaries
      The Spokesman-Review, Published by Rich Landers, February 26th

    Wilderness is politically hard to sell in North Idaho, where national forest clientele seems to love or hate the concept. Only Congress can designate wilderness. It's the highest level of federal land protection, precluding roads as well as motorized vehicles and even mechanized equipment such as bicycles and chain saws. No official wilderness has been designated in Idaho north of the Selway-Bitterroot. Yet, for decades, the U.S. Forest Service has guarded some pristine roadless areas as candidates for wilderness. To read more of this article link to:
    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/feb/26/rethinking-wilderness/

  2. Bill increases timber harvest 60% to 85%
      Rep. Sal Esquivel Press Release, February 27th

    Oregon's most abundant resource, timber, is being underutilized. This lack of productivity has hurt Oregon's economy and our rural communities. The federal government owns 60 percent of Oregon's forest land, and many in Southern Oregon understand that Washington DC does a very poor job managing our forests. Timber harvest on federal lands has declined, leading to high unemployment in rural communities. As Co-Chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, I have been working to advance measures that allow Oregonians to responsibly utilize our natural resources to improve our economy. While the Oregon Legislature can do little to affect federal timber policies, we can act to properly manage our state forests and put rural Oregonians back to work. To read more of this article link to:
    http://naturalresourcereport.com/2012/02/bill-increases-timber-harvest-60-to-85/

  3. Conservationists oppose logging lawsuit in Lolo National Forest
      The Missoulian, Published by Eve Byron, February 28th

    A proposed project that includes logging, roadwork and weed spraying on national forest land north of Seeley Lake is pitting a wide-ranging array of organizations against four environmental groups that filed a lawsuit opposing the work. On Monday, organizations including the Seeley Lake fire department, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Wilderness Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Lewis and Clark, Missoula and Powell counties all filed legal briefs supporting the five-year project on 4,330 acres of the Lolo National Forest. To read more of this article link to: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/conservationists-oppose-logging-lawsuit-in-lolo-national-forest/article_378a11e8-6254-11e1-ae6c-0019bb2963f4.html

  4. Conservationists sue over timber sale on Flathead's South Fork
      The Missoulian, Published by Tristan Scott, February 29th

    Conservation groups on Tuesday sued the U.S. Forest Service in an effort to halt a logging project in the South Fork of the Flathead River, arguing the timber sale will jeopardize critical wildlife habitat along the scenic river corridor. Friends of the Wild Swan and the Swan View Coalition filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Missoula with the aim of stopping the Spotted Bear River logging project, which would occur on public land in the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. To read more of this article link to:
    http://missoulian.com/news/local/conservationists-sue-over-timber-sale-on-flathead-s-south-fork/article_c7b0e12e-6287-11e1-b6db-001871e3ce6c.html

Last Week in Congress

  1. February 13th - Rep. Tim Scott [R-SC1] Introduced H.R. 4015: Responsible Farming Act of 2012 "To repeal the conservation stewardship program of the Department of Agriculture." To read more about this bill link to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-4015

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. February 16th - Full House Committee on Natural Resources Markup on H.R. 1837 and H.R. 4019 ("Federal Forest County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act of 2012"): To read more about this hearing link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=280436

  7. February 17th - House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Budget Hearing - US Forest Service - Chief. To read more about this hearing link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=277059

Wildfire Update

  1. There were no relevant wildfire updates last week.

About the Policy Update:

Disclaimer: The Society of American Foresters does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the news items and/or links to additional information that appear in the Policy Update.

Problems? If you experience any problems with the Policy Update please let us know so we can work to resolve the problem. If problems persist, we can make arrangements to send the Policy Update to you in an alternative format.