Policy Update Week of
June 11, 2012
Comments on Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Proposed Biomass Regulations - June 18th
The SAF National Office worked in conjunction with the SAF Yankee Division and the Massachusetts State Society to submit two sets of comments in response to the proposed regulation for the utilization of woody biomass as a fuel source. SAF's comments advocated for increased involvement of professional foresters to help ensure a proper utilization of woody biomass while protecting forest health. A full version of the comments can be found here.
Comments on Stewardship Contracting submitted to the House Agriculture Committee - May 25th
The Society of American Foresters was one of over ninety organizations to sign a letter delivered to the House Agriculture Committee asking for permanent reauthorization of Stewardship Contracting through the House draft 2012 Farm Bill, which is expected to be released in the coming month.
To see the full Stewardship Contracting letter to House Ag, please visit this link.
"Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health" Technical Symposium Videos Now Available Online - May 29th
The symposium, co-hosted by SAF, the American Forest Foundation, the Environmental Law Institute, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, Plum Creek, the US Forest Service, and Southern Lumber Manufacturers Association, featured keynote speaker Honorable Benjamin H. Grumbles (President, Clean Water America Alliance), and administrative, legal, and scientific panels in exploring forest connections to the Clean Water Act. Videos of each of the panels, along with the keynote address, can be found on the SAF policy website: http://www.safnet.org/fp/ts_videos.cfm
Earn 4.5 hours of Continuing Forestry Education (CFE) credits by taking the SAF "Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health" Technical Symposium quiz online. Individuals may receive CFE credit for the Technical Symposium quiz for one year after June 18, 2012. The videos on which the quiz is based are available on the SAF website. The quiz is available online and in PDF format.
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
- Forest Service to cut Reviews on Restoration Projects
The Summit County Voice, Published by Bob Berwyn, June 17th
The U.S. Forest Service wants to speed restoration of national forest lands by streamlining the approval process for removing dams, and cleaning up debris and sediment and for reclaiming closed roads. Under the proposal, now open for public comments, projects in those categories could be approved under a categorical exclusion, a type of review that isn't nearly as extensive as an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement - all outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Forest Service touts Natural Fires
The Spokesman-Review, Published by Susan Montoya Bryan, June 14th
A combination of decades of vigorous fire suppression and the waning of the timber industry over environmental concerns has left many forests a tangled, overgrown mess, subject to the kind of superfires that are now regularly consuming hundreds of homes and millions of acres. As firefighters continue to battle massive blazes in New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell is renewing his call to restore forests to a more natural state, in which fire was a part of the landscape and in many instances was far less destructive. The Forest Service is on a mission to set the clock back to zero, and the urgency couldn't be greater, Tidwell said. The plan calls for accelerating restoration programs - everything from prescribed fire to mechanical thinning - by 20 percent each year in key areas that are facing the greatest danger of a catastrophic fire. This year's target: 4?million acres. The budget: About $1?billion. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- USDA Forest Service Announces Award of Large Air Tanker Agreements; Federal Partners to Have New Resources to Suppress Wildfires
The US Dept. of Agriculture, June 13th
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell announced today that the U.S. Forest Service has awarded contracts to four companies to provide a total of seven next generation airtankers for wildfire suppression. The announcement follows the President's signature of S. 3261 earlier today, a bill which cleared the House and Senate this week that expedites the Forest Service contracting process that had been underway. "This is a major milestone in our efforts to modernize the large airtanker fleet, which plays a vital role in wildfire suppression," said Chief Tidwell. "As we mourn the recent loss of two airtanker pilots, we must continue to meet our responsibility to be prepared to respond vigorously to wildfires threatening lives, communities, and cultural and natural resources."To read more of this article, please visit this link.
This Week in Congress
- June 11th - The 2012 Farm Bill will continue to be active on the Senate Floor.
Upcoming in Congress
- All Week - The 2012 Farm Bill will continue to be active on the Senate Floor.
- June 21st - Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Business Meeting to consider S. 1324 to amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981
- June 20th - House Committee on Appropriations Mark Up: FY 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. To read more about this hearing, please visit this link.
- Senate Farm Bill off to Rough Start
Politico, Published by David Rogers, June 12th
The Senate farm bill stumbled badly coming out of the gate Tuesday evening, but its floor managers promised to persevere despite the partisan dysfunction that so plagues Congress this year. "We will get this done," vowed Sen. Pat Roberts (R. Kans.) "I guess we're John Paul Jones. We have just begun to fight." The stakes are big: a bipartisan bill promising real savings and impacting an important part of the economy. Failure of the Senate to act would kill any chance of House action this summer, as well as invite chaos when the current farm law expires Sept. 30. "People have to understand that alternative is not good," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told POLITICO. But proponents are battling a mindset that nothing will get done before the November elections and better to seek short-term political advantage with amendments. Indeed, more than 220 have been filed thus far, many not relevant to the farm bill itself. Part of this is a conservative strategy to bait Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) into a confrontation that will ultimately kill the bill. Given his temper, Reid can be his own worst enemy in these situations and appears to get little help from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), under pressure from his own right. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Udall, Bennet Introduce Amendments to Combat Bark Beetles
The U.S. Senate, June 11th
Mark Udall, joined by Senator Michael Bennet, introduced amendments today to the 2012 Farm Bill to increase funding to meet the needs for bark-beetle mitigation efforts in the West and, in doing so, encourage private sector partnerships. The amendments build on a multi-year effort to advance legislation and provide additional resources that would strengthen our capabilities to address the ongoing beetle epidemic in Western forests."Anyone who has driven through Colorado's high country has seen the effects bark beetles have had: leaving our mountain sides streaked with stands of red and brown trees," Udall said. "I continue to echo the concern that we cannot turn back the clock on bark beetles, but we can relieve the immediate risk to human health and safety by removing beetle-killed trees from high-risk areas, including around residential areas, roads, trailheads, campgrounds and power lines. And biomass energy facilities and traditional sawmills can convert this problem into jobs and revenue if we approach it the right way." To read more of this article, please visit this link.
In the States: Alabama and Arizona
- Unique Management Plan aims to prevent Catastrophic Forest Fires
The New Haven Register, June 17th
The U.S. Forest Service and Apache County, Ariz., have launched a first-of-its-kind management plan to thin more than 90,000 acres of forest in hopes of preventing catastrophic fires like last year's record Wallow Fire. The partnership grew out of county accusations last year that decades of forest mismanagement by the Forest Service aggravated the Wallow Fire, the largest in the state's history. Since then, the two sides have come together and developed a program for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest that they hope can be repeated around the country. "We're working very well with the Forest Service," said Apache County Manager Delwin Wengert. "It's a win-win for everyone - it helps the county, it helps the Forest Service, it helps the residents and it's a model for future projects." Work began May 23 with a crew of 18 workers - professionals, recent high school graduates and college students - who are cutting down trees with less than 9-inch diameters in the Greer area. After an area is cut, the cleared materials will be burned by the Forest Service, with the county providing some equipment and support staff. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- State Delegation seeks help with Forestry Issue
The Tuscaloosa News, Published by Dana Beyerle June 12th
Five of the seven members of Alabama's U.S. House delegation have asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack for help in resolving a funding issue that is affecting federal money for the Alabama Forestry Commission. The members of Congress wrote Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell on May 29 asking about the status of an audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General of the Alabama Forestry Commission. The U.S. Forest Service said the forestry commission owes the federal government $5.1 million for alleged "unsubstantiated" costs as determined by the Office of Inspector General and the Forest Service, a division of the USDA. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
Last Week in Congress
- May 31st - Representative Glen Thompson (R-PA) along with 28 cosponsors introduced the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 to include forest products in the definition of biobased products. For more information or to read the entire text, please visit this link.
- There were no relevant wildfire updates last week.
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