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Policy Update Week of September 26, 2011


  1. SAF Supports a 10-Year Reauthorization of the Stewardship Contracting Authority

    On September 9th organizations including SAF, the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, The Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Northwest, The Pinchot Institute, Ecosystem Workforce Program, The Watershed Center, and others submitted a sign-on letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The intent of the letter was to request a 10-year reauthorization of the Stewardship Contracting authority in the FY2012 budget. The undersigned organizations collectively agree that stewardship contracting reauthorization is essential to restore and foster healthy forest ecosystems and provide stability and employment to rural communities.

    To read the letter link to: http://www.eforester.org/fp/positionstatements.cfm#FFM

In the Administration

  1. USDA Awards $136M for Advanced Biofuels
      Biofuels Digest, Published by Jim Lane, September 28th

    In Washington State, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects today aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil. Altogether, the five-year program will deliver more than $136 million in research and development grants to public and private sector partners in 22 states. University partners from the states of Washington, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Iowa will lead the projects, which focus in part on developing aviation biofuels from tall grasses, crop residues and forest resources. Vilsack made the announcement with partners from private industry, research institutions, and the biofuels industry at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. To read more of this article link to: http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/09/28/usda-awards-136m-for-advanced-biofuels/

  2. Obama Administration Opposes Release of Public Lands
      Examiner.com, Published by Michele White, September 28th

    H.R. 1581. Become familiar with it, as you're going to be hearing quite a bit about it (from both sides of the aisle), and in the coming days, how it affects us here in NY. H.R. 1581 (otherwise known as the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011) was written by Representative Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) to "release wilderness study areas administered by the Bureau of Land Management that are not suitable for wilderness designation from continued management as de facto wilderness areas and to release inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest System that are not recommended for wilderness designation from the land use restrictions of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Final Rule and the 2005 State Petitions for Inventoried Roadless Area Management Final Rule, and for other purposes." To read more of this article link to: http://www.examiner.com/government-in-rochester/obama-administration-opposes-release-of-public-lands#ixzz1ZSP4NyOI

  3. Forest Service Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Wood as a Green Building Material
      USDA Press Release, September 29th

    The findings of a new U.S. Forest Service study indicate that wood should factor as a primary building material in green building, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. The authors of Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction reviewed the scientific literature and found that using wood in building products yields fewer greenhouse gases than using other common materials. "This study confirms what many environmental scientists have been saying for years," said Vilsack. "Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design. The use of wood provides substantial environmental benefits, provides incentives for private landowners to maintain forest land, and provides a critical source of jobs in rural America." To read more of this article link to: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2011/09/0426.xml&contentidonly=true


This Week in Congress

  1. House Approves Stopgap Spending Bill
      New York Times, Published by Robert Pear, September 29th

    The House on Thursday gave quick approval to a stopgap spending bill that will finance the government for the first four days of October, until lawmakers can return and vote on a more ambitious seven-week spending bill. The stopgap bill, passed Monday by the Senate, goes now to President Obama, who is expected to sign it. The House action came in a brief session attended by just a few lawmakers. Both houses of Congress are in recess, holding only pro forma sessions like the one on Thursday. A partisan fight over the stopgap spending bill had raised the possibility that the government might have to shut down many of its operations starting on Saturday, the first day of the new fiscal year. To read more of this article link to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/us/politics/house-approves-stopgap-spending-bill.html?_r=1

National News

  1. U.S. Wins Forest Policy Award
      U.S. Department of State Press Release, September 23rd

    For its 2008 Amendments to the Lacey Act, the United States on September 21, 2011 was recognized as a winner of the World Future Council's 2011 Future Policy Award in New York City. The Lacey Act is a 100-year-old law amended to curb international trade in illegally harvested timber products. Daniel Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Environment and Sustainable Development at the U.S. Department of State, accepted the award on behalf of U.S. Government at a ceremony held in New York City's Central Park Zoo. The Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of The Gambia also received awards for their forest management policies. To read more of this article link to: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/09/173923.htm

In the States: Texas, California, and Alabama

  1. Austin to Spend Less on Trimming Trees, Despite Danger
      Statesman.com, Published by Sarah Coppola, September 26th

    Austin Energy will spend less money on tree trimming in the coming year, even though the drought has weakened trees and state fire officials said last week that trees falling on power lines probably sparked the Bastrop wildfires. The utility recently cut $500,000 from the roughly $9 million it sets aside each year for tree pruning and removal. It was one of several cuts the City Council approved for the 2011-12 budget, which will take effect Saturday. Austin Energy spokesman Ed Clark said that three fewer crews out of 50 will be out trimming trees but that the change won't increase the risk of limbs hitting lines. To read more about this article link to: http://www.statesman.com/news/wildfires/austin-to-spend-less-on-trimming-trees-despite-1881258.html

  2. California Questions $18-Million Logging Industry Subsidy
      Politics Wires, Published by Matt Weiser, September 28th

    California taxpayers subsidize the logging industry to the tune of $18 million a year, according to testimony at an Assembly hearing Tuesday. The key question before the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee was whether any of that subsidy is justified. Owners of the state's 8.7 million acres of private forestland argue they provide public benefits including wildlife habitat, clean air and carbon sequestration - not to mention about 22,000 jobs. Environmental groups counter that logging causes habitat loss and water pollution and that the industry should cover all of the state's cost to police those problems. To read more of this article link to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/28/2428917/california-questions-18-million.html#ixzz1ZN1UEPWY

  3. Tree-Killing Laurel Wilt Disease Confirmed in Alabama
      Montgomery Advertiser, Published by Scott Johnson

    A disease that has been killing trees in several Southeastern states has now been found in two Alabama counties, the Alabama Forestry Commission reported. ??The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University laboratories confirmed that tree stem samples collected in Marengo and Mobile counties were positive for the fungus that causes laurel wilt disease. ??The non-native insect-disease complex primarily affects trees in the laurel family, with redbay, camphor and sassafras being especially susceptible, the Forestry Commission reports. Other potential hosts include pondberry, pondspice, spicebush and avocado. ??A host tree becomes infected when a redbay ambrosia beetle transmits the fungus into the walls of the sapwood. To read more of this article link to: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20110928/NEWS/110928016/Tree-killing-laurel-wilt-disease-confirmed-Alabama?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage

Last Week in Congress

  1. September 19th - The House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public lands held an oversight Field Hearing on "Restoring Public Access to the Public's Lands: Issues Impacting Multiple-use on Our National Forests." To read more about this hearing link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=258843

  2. September 21st - Senate National Parks Subcommittee held a hearing to consider a recently released report by the National Park Service: A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement. To read more about this hearing link to: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=4abf9036-a9c0-7d3e-8d1f-234f1267e579

  3. Witnesses: Forested Counties and Schools to Gain Stable Revenue Stream, Jobs Created Through Active Forest Management
      House Natural Resources Committee Press Release, September 22nd

    Today, the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held an oversight hearing on draft legislation to provide vital funding for education, roads and infrastructure in rural counties with large portions of National Forest Service land. H.R. ___, the National Forest County Revenue, Schools and Jobs Act of 2011, addresses the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program and lays the framework for a long-term solution by restoring healthy forest management. "Restoring active management of our national forests, as this draft proposal does, would provide a stable revenue stream for counties and schools. It would create new jobs, strengthen rural economies, promote healthier forests, reduce the risk of wildfires, and decrease our reliance on foreign countries for timber and related products," said Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). To read more of this article link to: http://naturalresources.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=261309

Wildfire Update

  1. Lawmakers Say Federal Response to Area Wildfires Slow
      News-Journal.com, Published by Robyn Claridy, September 30th

    Texas Congressional representatives met with county and emergency management officials Thursday to discuss the federal government's response to wildfires that have torched thousands of acres across Northeast Texas. Officials from Gregg and Harrison counties, Texas Forest Service and emergency management officials met with U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-10th Congressional District, and Louie Gohmert, R- 1st Congressional District, to voice concerns with how quickly resources were moved to Texas as wildfires ravaged tens of thousands of acres, causing millions of dollars in damage. To read more of this article link to: http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/lawmakers-say-federal-response-to-area-wildfires-slow/article_2d246591-13c8-516c-9c2f-20c1695eb5a7.html

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