Policy Update Week of
June 18, 2012
Letter submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agenciesrelated to Activities with No Environmental Impact - June 26th
The Society of American Foresters led the effort in submitting a sign on letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies earlier this week. The letter was in response to a Federal Court decision which mandated that the Forest Service have notice, comment, and appeals on noncontroversial, minor activities with no effect on the environment. SAF detailed how this procedure would negatively affect forests and forest stakeholders by adding up to 135 day delays on projects that would normally take 5 to 10 days to complete. The letter also highlights numerous activities that are currently delayed. Ultimately, the letter asks for a Congressional action that would exempt such projects from requirements of public notice, comment and appeal in order to allow for more efficient and effective forest management.
A full version of the categorical exclusions letter can be found here.
Society of American Foresters Comments on the EPA NOI Forest Road Discharges - June 22nd
The Society of American Foresters submitted comments in response to the EPA's "Notice of Intent to Revise Stormwater Regulations to Specify that an NPDES Permit is not Required for Stormwater Discharges from Logging Roads." This revision is intended to respond to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Decision in Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Brown. In the comments, SAF supports changes in the regulation that would allow for the continued utilization of best management practices opposed to NPDES Permits in regards to management of forest road discharges. Additionally, SAF outlined some concerns regarding how the proposed monitoring program would be funded and structured.
A full version of the SAF comments can be found here.
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 National SAF comments can be found here.
A full version of the NESAF Yankee Division comments can be found here.
"Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health" Technical Symposium Videos Now Available Online - May 29thEarn 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 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
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
- US Forest Service adds four Heavy Helicopters to support Wildfire Suppression
USDA Forest Service, June 19th
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today announced the agency is adding four heavy helicopters to the aviation firefighting fleet. "The addition of these helicopters to our aviation fleet will increase our ability to respond quickly and aggressively to fight wildfires and protect lives and property," said Tidwell. "We will continue to mobilize our firefighting assets when and where they are needed as we respond to a very challenging wildfire season." The helicopters will be available this summer for large fire support and initial attack to any location in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service successfully suppresses about 98 percent of the approximately 10,000 wildfires that occur each year on National Forest System lands. Two of the heavy helicopters are S-61s owned by Siller Helicopters of Yuba City, Calif.; one is an S-64 Skycrane owned by Erickson Air Crane of Central Point, Ore.; and one is an S-70 owned by Firehawk Helicopters of Leesburg, Fla. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
This Week in Congress
- 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 mark up, please visit this link.
Upcoming in Congress
- June 27th - Full House Appropriations Committee Mark Up: FY 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. For more information about this mark up, please visit this link.
- Supreme Court to Review Decision Requiring Pollution Permits for Logging Road Runoff
Bloomberg BNA, Published by Alan Kovski, June 26th
The Supreme Court agreed June 25 to review a decision that required Clean Water Act discharge permits for runoff channeled from logging roads (Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, U.S., No. 11-338, certiorari granted 6/25/12). The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upended decades of Environmental Protection Agency policy that avoided application of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting requirements to millions of miles of forest roads used primarily for logging operations.In 2010, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center won the Ninth Circuit decision, which was reaffirmed in 2011, saying stormwater runoff from two logging roads in Oregon's Tillamook State Forest must be considered a "point source" subject to NPDES permitting if the water is channeled in any way.
To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Farm Policy Overhaul clears Senate
Politico, Published by David Rogers, June 21st
A landmark five-year farm bill cleared the Senate Thursday, putting pressure on the House to act this summer and adding a big new piece to the budget puzzle that Congress and the White House must resolve before automatic spending cuts take effect in January. Adopted 64-35, the measure is one of the few bipartisan bills to promise real savings: more than $24 billion over 10 years. With farm states like Iowa in play, it can no longer be ignored politically this presidential year. And it offers some certainty for an important segment of the economy, now faced with a Sept. 30 deadline when the current farm program expires. Amid all the acrimony of this year, the bill is foremost a personal triumph for the partnership forged between Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the panel's ranking Republican, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Appropriations Committee Releases the Fiscal Year 2013 Interior-Environment Appropriations Funding Bill
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, June 19th
The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, and various independent and related agencies. In total, the bill includes $28 billion in funding - a cut of $1.2 billion below last year's level and $1.7 billion below the President's budget request. The legislation also includes legislative provisions that will address the overreach of federal agencies, such as the EPA, that mandate overly burdensome regulatory hurdles that hinder job creation and inhibit the ability of American businesses to grow and thrive. "This bill cuts spending on programs by more than a billion dollars, and prevents the EPA and other federal bureaucracies from stepping out of their lane and stifling our economic recovery. At the same time, it funds programs that are necessary and important to the American people, including the maintenance of national parks, wildfire fighting and prevention efforts, and the stewardship of the nation's vast natural resources and federal lands," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
In the States: Oregon, Utah and Wyoming
- All Sides Claim Victory in Logging Lawsuit Ruling
Helena Independent Record, June 21st
A mixed ruling by a federal judge has all sides claiming victory in a proposed Lolo National Forest logging project whose collaborative approach toward forest management has pitted conservation groups against each other. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Wednesday that the U.S. Forest Service's 2,038-acre Colt Summit Project near Seeley Lake passes muster except in one area: the agency did not adequately analyze the project's cumulative effects on lynx habitat. The judge sent that portion of the proposal back to the Forest Service for further consideration. The project has received federal funding as part of the 1.5-million-acre Southwestern Crown of the Continent restoration project. The plan includes a combination of logging and burning timber, decommissioning roads or converting them to trails and treating noxious weeds. Its planning involved people and groups that have a stake in the forest, including governments, conservationists, industry and communities. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Utah May Take its Lands Battle to Congress, not Courts
The Salt Lake Tribune, Published by Brandon Loomis, June 21st
Utah is assembling a team of legal experts to plan its potential court battle for control of federal lands in the state, the governor's top public lands adviser told lawmakers Wednesday.The Herbert administration is assembling a round table of the "best and brightest" to discuss legal strategy and will seek to get other states on board with similar efforts, Public Lands Policy Coordination Office Director Kathleen Clarke told the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee.The result could be an effort to sway Congress to cede lands before a court battle, and Clarke said some of the state's team will travel to Washington next week to address the Congressional Western Caucus."Ultimately," she said, "we may find that, rather than a legal solution, we will be seeking a political solution."The Legislature previously passed HB148, directing the federal government to hand over most lands, excluding national parks, by the end of 2014 or face a lawsuit.To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Key Public Meetings in Portland Wednesday on Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Protection
The Oregonian, June 19th
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service holds two key public meetings Wednesday on a proposal that could designate up to 10 million acres of western forest as "critical habitat" for the northern spotted owl. The service will hold two sessions in Portland, a public information meeting from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room C-120 of the Oregon Convention Center. The only public hearing on the proposal, released in February, will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the same room. The service will take written comments through July 6, and hold a final public information meeting in Roseburg on June 27. The habitat designation, to be finalized in November, does not prohibit logging. Instead, it requires federal agencies such as the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to consult with the service when approving logging, road building or other activity in federal forests that might impact the owl's habitat. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
Last Week in Congress
- June 11th - The 2012 Farm Bill was active on the Senate Floor.
- 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.