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Policy Update Week of

March 26, 2012


SAF Committee on Forest Policy Chair Dr. Robert Malmsheimer Testifies Before Congress - March 22nd
CFP Chair Dr. Robert Malmsheimer testified on behalf of the Society of American Foresters at the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Public Witnesses Hearing. The hearing took place on March 22nd at 9:30AM.
For more information about the hearing, link to: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=277080

SAF Submits Comments on U.S. Green Building Council's LEED 2012 Third Public Comment Period - March 27th
The U.S. Green Building Council held their third public comment period regarding the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2012 draft. SAF submitted comments focusing on aspects of the LEED 2012 draft including local sourcing, forest certification, and sustainable forestry.
To see SAF's past comments on LEED, link to: http://www.safnet.org/documents/saf_leed_comments.pdf
For more information about the third LEED draft, link to: http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2360

SAF Task Force Submits Comments to EPA Scientific Advisory Board's Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel - March 16th
The SAF Task Force, who recently published the report "Managing Forests because Carbon Matters," submitted another set of comments to the Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel regarding the Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources. The Task Force comments were submitted in advance of the SAB's Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel Teleconference on 3/20/2012.

The Task Force comments can be found here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/30A99A024AC54B08852579C60049617B/$File/SAF+Comments.pdf
Information on the Teleconference and EPA Accounting Framework draft can be found here:
SAF's original comments can be found here: http://www.safnet.org/fp/EPA_GHG_Call_Info9-13-10.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. Broad Support for Final Planning Rule: Final rule to restore the nation's forests through science and collaboration
      US Forest Service News Release, March 26th

    On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture's final Planning Rule for America's 193 million-acre National Forest System that includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities. USDA and the Forest Service carefully considered more than a quarter million comments received on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement issued in February to develop today's final rule, which emphasizes collaboration, sound science and protections for land, water and wildlife. The final rule strengthens the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process. It also requires the use of the best available scientific information to inform decisions. To read more of this article link to:

  2. Collaboration on forest restoration projects key to sustainability: Agency Chief testifies before House Committee on Agriculture
      US Forest Service News Release, March 27th

    In testimony on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell emphasized the importance of collaboration in developing restoration projects on national forests and grasslands. "The aim of these efforts is to move beyond the conflicts which have characterized forest policy in the past and toward a shared vision that allows environmentalists, forest industry, local communities, and other stakeholders to work collaboratively toward healthier forests and watersheds, safer communities and more vibrant local economies," Tidwell said. Tidwell emphasized that such collaboration not only results in better projects, but will also create jobs. His remarks were made before the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry. "The Forest Service recognizes the need for a strong forest industry to help accomplish forest restoration work," Tidwell remarked. "Forest industry involvement also lowers the cost of restoration to the taxpayer by providing markets for forest products." Tidwell presented a list of programs already in place at the Forest Service that will enhance the restoration and management efforts on the nation's forests and grasslands. To read more of this article link to:

  3. US Forest Service and partners provide employment opportunities nationwide: Summer positions for thousands anticipated
      US Forest Service News Release, March 29th

    Thousands of temporary seasonal jobs with the Forest Service and its partners are available this summer and officials say now is the time to begin the application process. "Due to the nature of much of our work, such as wildfire fighting and seasonal recreation programs, we anticipate hiring many temporary workers," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "These jobs will provide economic relief for many unemployed Americans and help stimulate local rural communities." Annually, the Forest Service and its conservation partners hire over 15,000 people for summer positions. Of that total there are around 12,000 openings during the peak fire season months for those seeking temporary work in the fire and aviation management field. To read more of this article link to: http://www.fs.fed.us/news/2012/releases/03/employment.shtml

  4. Opinions mixed on new U.S. Forest Service planning rule
      The Missoulian, March 26th

    The U.S. Forest Service's recently released planning rule could turn the agency into a more efficient decisionmaker or create a department of perpetual planning, depending on who you listen to. "We are ready to start a new era of planning that takes less time, costs less money and provides stronger protections for our lands and water," Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in an email announcing the final version of the rule. "This new rule will bring 21st century thinking to a process that is sorely needed to protect and preserve our 193 million acres of amazing forests and grasslands." Critics have been equally expansive. Andy Stahl of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics predicted the process "would die of its own weight." "Anyone who thinks this rule will make forest plans quicker to develop is naive," Stahl said. "It requires more process than its predecessor. To somehow think it's going to be quicker and able to anticipate the future better - we're lousy at being able to anticipate the future. The Forest Service has become a planning agency, while the only thing it does is fight fires, which now consumes half its budget. And the irony is the one thing the forest planning rules don't address is fire management." To read more of this article link to: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/opinions-mixed-on-new-u-s-forest-service-planning-rule/article_6e1bbe7e-77c5-11e1-a7ae-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1qJtz8ntH

  5. Secretary Salazar Reaffirms Interior's Commitment to Environmental Justice
      Department of the Interior News Release, March 29th

    As part of President Obama's initiative to reinvigorate the federal commitment to environmental justice for minority and low-income communities, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced release of the Department of the Interior's Environmental Justice Strategic Plan 2012-2017. The plan sets forth goals, strategies and measures that will enable the Department's bureaus and offices to work more effectively with disadvantaged communities to reduce environmental and health hazards. It outlines steps that the department will take to help protect communities facing disproportionate health and environmental risks. To read more of this article link to: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Secretary-Salazar-Reaffirms-Interiors-Commitment-to-Environmental-Justice.cfm

  6. State Land and Water Conservation Fund Creates or Enhances Nearly 200 Parks across Country in 2011, New Report Shows
      Department of the Interior News Release, March 30th

    Revenue from leases for offshore oil and gas development in federal waters helped states build or improve 198 parks across the country in 2011, ranging from establishing a new park on Texas' most pristine river, to protecting and providing public access to prehistoric petroglyphs in Wyoming to building a new wheelchair-accessible playground in Indiana, according to a new report issued by the Interior Department's National Park Service. Under the Land and Water Conservation Fund State and Local Assistance Program, the Park Service awarded $33.3 million in grants to states to help communities invest in new parks or renovate or expand existing parks. States, local communities, and other partners exceeded the required dollar-for-dollar match by providing $43.9 million to complete the projects. To read more of this article link to:

This Week in Congress

  1. March 27th - House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Hearing on "U.S. Forest Service Land Management: Challenges and Opportunities". To read more about this hearing link to: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1551

  2. March 30th - Full House Committee on Agriculture Hearing: "Farm Bill Field Hearing - Arkansas". To read more about this hearing link to: http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1541

Upcoming in Congress

  1. Congress is not in session 4/2-4/13.

National News

  1. U.S. Forest Service suspends prescribed burns in Colorado in wake of wildfire
      The Denver Post, Published by Bruce Finley, March 30th

    U.S. Forest Service officials on Friday suspended prescribed fires on federal land statewide - setting up new challenges for protecting power lines and people from severe wildfire risks. Deputy regional forester Brian Ferebee made the decision covering the 14.5 million acres of national forest around Colorado - after prescribed fires scheduled this week on several individual forests were canceled - due to diversion of forest crews to suppress wildfires and to the exceptionally dry and windy conditions. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin characterized the suspension as "a tactical pause" and said it will be enforced for about two weeks depending on rain. Prescribed fire planning continues. To read more of this article link to: http://www.dailycamera.com/ci_20291392/u-s-forest-service-set-suspend-prescribed-burns?source=rss

  2. WILDFIRES: Senators urge outside review of tanker shortage
      The Press Enterprise, Published by Ben Goad, March 27th

    A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Tuesday called for a government review of the nation's depleted fleet of firefighting aircraft and the remedies needed in the face of increasingly severe fire seasons. Retardant-dropping air tankers are seen as crucial firefighting tools in remote or mountainous areas, including Inland communities near or surrounded by the fire-prone San Bernardino National Forest. But the number of tankers available to the U.S. Forest Service nationwide has decreased from 44 in 2002 to 11 currently. Many of the planes have been grounded because of airworthiness issues. To read more of this article link to: http://www.pe.com/local-news/politics/ben-goad-headlines/20120327-wildfires-senators-urge-outside-review-of-tanker-shortage.ece

In the States: Oregon, Colorado, Montana, and Arizona

  1. Forest planning biggest timber sale in many years
      Baker City Herald, Published by Terri Harber, March 30th

    The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has released detailed plans for Snow Basin, a multi-year endeavor in eastern Baker County that forest officials say would improve forest health and also produce more timber than any project on the forest in the past decade. The Wallowa-Whitman's goal in Snow Basin, which encompasses about 28,500 acres north of Richland and west of Halfway, is to return to historic conditions with "open, park-like stands dominated by single-storied forests of large ponderosa pines surrounded by small patches of mixed conifers," said Monica Schwalbach, forest supervisor. To accomplish that goal, forest officials are proposing to cut many of the fir trees that have encroached on areas where in the past pines and tamaracks predominated. One part of that strategy - cutting mature firs that are larger than 21 inches in diameter, bothers environmental groups. To read more of this article link to: http://www.bakercityherald.com/Local-News/Forest-planning-biggest-timber-sale-in-many-years

  2. Colorado bill would force feds to sell off national forests: Sale could restrict public access to land
      The Coloradoan, Published by Bobby Magill, March 28th

    Have you summited one of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks? Skied at a Colorado ski resort? Rafted the Poudre River? Climbed Greyrock or hiked in the Indian Peaks? If so, chances are, you did it on federally owned public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. As currently written, a GOP-sponsored bill making its way through the Colorado Legislature would require the U.S. government to sell off nearly all of that land - 22 million acres of it - to the highest bidder, likely taking it out of the public domain and removing any or all environmental protections, and possibly public access, that land currently has. State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said Wednesday an amendment he plans to attach to House Bill 1322 would instead require the federal government to cede the land to the state of Colorado, not sell it. To read more of this article link to: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20120329/NEWS01/203290333/Colorado-bill-would-force-feds-sell-off-national-forests

  3. Judge orders Forest Service to rework EIS
      Billings Gazette, Published by Gazette Staff, March 27th

    A federal judge has ordered the Forest Service to halt implementation of a logging project in the largest island of public land in southeastern Montana and to issue a supplemental environmental impact statement to address deficiencies in its first one. On Monday, District Judge Donald Molloy ruled in favor of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council on some of their complaints filed in July, and dismissed others. Molloy found in favor of the environmental groups concerning the failure of the EIS to consider stormwater runoff from road construction. Molloy also said the Forest Service failed to explain why it analyzed road density only at the project level and ranger district level, why it applied the road density standard only to forest land and for failing to analyze road density during the project's implementation. The project is proposed for the Ashland District of the Custer National Forest, located 17 miles east of Ashland and north of Highway 212 in Powder River County. To read more of this article link to: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/judge-orders-forest-service-to-rework-eis/article_583e4e02-579d-5a9d-ad8c-2e7bf6051e9b.html

  4. Arizona Lawmakers Advance States' Rights Bills
      The Associated Press, Published by Michelle L. Price, March 26th

    Arizona legislators are pushing back against the federal government on a host of issues this session by advancing legislation that seeks a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service, sets up a committee to review all federal mandates and requires federal law enforcement officers to notify local sheriffs before taking action. Republican lawmakers say the federal government either isn't doing its job or is overreaching with unconstitutional mandates. Legislators cite the lawsuits over the federal health care overhaul and Arizona's immigration law as two cases where the state is fighting federal overreach and gaining traction. Both cases are set for rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. To read more of this article link to: http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/politics/state_politics/States-Rights-Bills-3-26-2012

Last Week in Congress

  1. March 20th - House Committee on Appropriations: Budget Hearing - National Park Service - Director. To read more about this hearing link to:

  2. March 22nd - Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests: Misc. Public Lands Bills. To read more about this hearing link to:

  3. March 22nd - House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Hearing: Public Witnesses To read more about this hearing link to:

  4. March 23rd - Full House Committee on Agriculture Hearing: "Farm Bill Field Hearing - Illinois." To read more about this hearing link to:

Wildfire Update

  1. There were no relevant wildfire updates last week.

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