Policy Update Week of
July 2, 2012
SAF ACTIONSLetter submitted to the House Committee on Agriculture Regarding the Farm Bill - July 9th
The Society of American Foresters submitted a letter to the House Committee on Agriculture outlining several priority forest management programs that are to be addressed in the 2012 Farm Bill. SAF asked for continued funding and/or reauthorization of these programs while outlining their benefits and indicating ways in which they could be approved. SAF will continue to track the progress of the 2012 Farm Bill as it advances through the House of Representatives while advocating for these priority forest management programs. A full version of the letter can be found here.
Committee Markup for the 2012 Farm Bill is scheduled for July 11, 2012. For more information, please visit this link.
Letter submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies related 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 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.
"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
- Federal Partners Continue to Support Response Efforts Combating Western Wildfires
U.S. Department of Agriculture,July 6th
The U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and FEMA continue to support efforts to protect life, public safety and aid in community recovery from wildfires in multiple Western states. Last Friday, President Obama approved a disaster declaration for Colorado providing additional support to state and local officials responding to the fires, as well as federal assistance for individuals affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.Six Department of Defense (DOD) C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) and under the command and control of U.S. Northern Command are assisting in the efforts to control fires in the Rocky Mountain region and western United States at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.As of early Friday morning, DOD aircraft have conducted 140 air drops and discharged more than 332,400 gallons of retardant. C-130 MAFFS efforts yesterday were centered on the Squirrel Creek Fire, three miles west of Woods Landing, Wyo. Yesterday, the MAFFS C-130 aircraft conducted a total of 3 air drops, flying nearly 3 hours and discharged approximately 8,500 gallons of retardant.To read more of this article, please visit this link.
This Week in Congress
- Week of July 2nd - Congress will be on recess in observance of Independence Day.
Upcoming in Congress
- July 11th - House Committee on Agriculture Business Meeting entitled, "To Consider the 2012 Farm Bill." For more information, please visit this link.
- Lucas & Peterson Release House Farm Bill
U.S. House of Representatives, July 5th
Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota released a discussion draft of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) today. FARRM is a bipartisan bill that saves taxpayers billions, reduces the nation's deficit, and repeals outdated policies while reforming, streamlining, and consolidating others. It is the product of a two-year process that examined every single policy under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Agriculture. The legislation cuts spending, reduces the size of government, and makes common-sense reforms to agricultural policy.To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Debate Over Use of Military Planes Grows After Fires, C-130 Crash
USA Today, Published by Trevor Hughes, July 3rd
Eight of the government's biggest firefighting airplanes sat on the tarmac for weeks as fires erupted across the Rockies last month because incident commanders first called in smaller, privately owned aircraft to bombard flames with water and retardant.The military's C-130 tankers were not called to duty until June 25, weeks after large fires began destroying homes and causing deaths across the West. The planes flew multiple missions in Colorado before one crashed fighting the White Draw fire in South Dakota on July 1, killing three members of its crew. The cause of the C-130 crash remains under investigation. The remaining planes were temporarily grounded but resumed flying today. Federal law prohibits fire managers from calling in the military planes until they first call in private aircraft leased to the government. The law has been the subject of some debate in the aftermath of the recent fires. Beth Lund, leader of the national-level Type 1 Incident Management Team that managed the 87,284-acre High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colo., says that contrary to popular belief, the bigger planes aren't necessarily better. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
In the States: Colorado and Oregon
- Colorado: Forest Service Finalizes Roadless Rule
The Summit County Voice, Published by Bob Berwyn, July 3rd
The final version of a Forest Service roadless area management rule includes a few concessions to environmental groups, and goes a long way toward preserving natural resources on about 4.2 million acres of roadless lands in Colorado, but may still face challenges because it's seen by some critics as weaker than the national version. The rule will be published July 3 in the Federal Register. The final Colorado Roadless rule will be finalized a minimum of 30 days after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is published in the Federal Register. Specifically, about 9,000 acres of the Currant Creek area were removed from the North Fork mining area based on wildlife concerns. Coal mining was a huge issue for conservation groups in the long-running tussle over roadless area management.
To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- 10 timber sales put on hold
The Register-Guard, Published by Saul Hubbard, July 3rd
(Oregon) State foresters have frozen 10 recent and upcoming timber sales on close to 800 acres of state land as they prepare for a legal battle with conservation groups over the threatened marbled murrelet.That battle will center on whether or not the state's increased logging goals in the coastal Elliott, Tillamook and Clatsop state forests illegally harm, under the federal Endangered Species Act, the natural habitat of the murrelet - a rare seabird that lays its eggs on the large and mossy branches of primarily old growth trees.State officials say they already have a "vigorous" forest management plan to protect the murrelet, which includes frequent surveying of the birds' whereabouts, buffer zones of protected forestland - ranging from 20 to several hundred acres - where murrelet activity is detected, and a ramped-down logging schedule in nesting months between April and September.Some environmentalists disagree. Three conservation groups - including Eugene-based CascadiaWildlands - filed a lawsuit against Gov. John Kitzhaber and Oregon forestry agencies in late May.The looming lawsuit led to the unprecedented suspension of 10 timber sales, which will allow state foresters who normally administer timber sales to help prepare a legal defense, said Kevin Weeks, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry.To read more of this article, please visit this link.
Last Week 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.
- There were no relevant wildfire updates last week.
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