SAF Supports Hurricane Recovery Provisions
December 13, 2018
SAF joined a diverse group of organizations within the forestry community to support disaster recovery assistance - specifically related to hurricane recovery in the South. Please note, we recognize there will also be a significant need to assist communities and landowners recovering from the catastrophic wildfires in the West. While some of the suggestions will be applicable in both areas, we look forward to working with Congress on a more specific response to that devastation in the future. Coalition letter excerpted below:
While Congress debates a continuing resolution to complete funding of the federal government through FY2019, we respectfully ask that you recognize the pivotal nature of Southern forests in the hurricane recovery process, and include the following solutions to empower landowners and ensure economic and infrastructural forestry losses are minimized:
• Extend or renew the USDA’s 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) to provide landowners, especially where insurance is cost-prohibitive, with some recovery of lost value, and ensure that commercial silviculture in working forests that remain forests is eligible.
• Expand federal assistance to state forestry agencies that allows them to collect post-storm Forest Inventory and Analysis data in affected areas.
• Provide funding to state forestry agencies for landowner reforestation assistance programs to ensure damaged forests are promptly restored, for addressing increased post-hurricane threats to forest health from invasive species, and for additional wildfire response capacity due to increased wildfire risk from down timber.
• Support codification of the casualty loss provisions in the Forest Recovery Act (H.R. 4962) to allow all affected landowners to deduct the full value of their lost timber. Current law allows only claims by landowners in a presidentially-declared disaster area and only for a small fraction of the loss.
• Allow 100% expensing of all reforestation/establishment costs for the year in which they occur
• Allow expedited permitting for temporary wet deck storage areas.
• Expand the 2014 Farm Bill “Good Neighbor Authority” to authorize state forestry agency to help the U.S. Forest Service salvage damaged timber from federal lands.