Policy Update Week of
July 9, 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 Available Online
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 Spends Millions to Grapple with Immediate Effect of Western Wildfires
The Washington Post, July 13th
Nearly $25 million has already been spent to prepare for the immediate aftermath of this year's wildfires, putting the U.S. Forest Service on track for another possible record year of spending on burned-area recovery efforts. So far, nearly all of the money is going toward building water bars, removing hazardous trees and spreading seed across hundreds of square miles in southern New Mexico. The state recorded both its largest and its most destructive wildfires in the last two months. Neighboring Colorado is also having its worst fire season in a decade. Teams of biologists, hydrologists and soil scientists are on the ground there, analyzing what it will take to deal with post-fire flooding and other hazards. Once their work is done, U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman said he expects spending to increase significantly. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
This Week in Congress
- July 11th - House Committee on Agriculture Business meeting entitled, "To Consider the 2012 Farm Bill." More information can be found here.
Upcoming in Congress
- July 20th - House Committee on Natural Resources meeting entitled, "Hearing on H.R. 5744, H.R. 5960 and H.R. 6089." More information can be found here.
- Official Press Release: House Ag Committee Advances Farm Bill
U.S. House of Representatives, July 12th
Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota issued the following statements after the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 by a vote of 35-11."Today marked an important step forward in the development of the next farm bill. I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues and the bipartisan nature in which this legislation was written and approved. This is a balanced, reform-minded, fiscally responsible bill that underscores our commitment to production agriculture and rural America, achieves real savings, and improves program efficiency, said Chairman Frank Lucas. To read more of this press release, please visit this link.
- Boehner: No Decision on Farm Bill Vote
Politico, Published by David Rogers, July 12th
Speaker John Boehner begged off making any immediate decision Thursday on when - or if - a new farm bill will be brought to the House floor before Congress leaves for the August recess. The timing is crucial if the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are to have any hope of negotiating a final package before the current farm program expires Sept. 30. And Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) told POLITICO a drought now hitting big stretches of the Midwest only increases the urgency. "There's a need to move before the Sept. 30th deadline," Roberts said, adding that he is skeptical of shortcuts like extending the current law until after the elections.
"That's the problem," Roberts said. "We're not sure we could get votes for an extension…You've got a deadline but you'd better move before the deadline or you're going to face even more problems." "If we don't get any rain and this deadline gets closer," Roberts said, "The pressure starts to build." To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Bill Opening Logging of Tongass Old-Growth Heads to Senate
The Epoch Times, Published by Joshua Philipp, July 12th
There are 14 different bills packaged together in H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, many of which would roll back some form of environmental protection-particularly around state parks-opening up new areas for hunting, fishing, logging, and other activities where they are currently banned. Among these is logging of old-growth in the Tongass National Forest, in Southeast Alaska. The forest is one of the world's largest temperate rain forests, and is home to some of the world's last old-growth forest. Old-growth forest is characterized by very large, very old trees and exceptional bio-diversity. Lumber cut from old-growth trees is also the most valuable. Title III of H.R. 2578 would give close to 65,000 acres of land in the Tongass to the Sealaska Native Corporation. According to a PEW Charitable Trust press release, this is "part of an effort to modify the outstanding claims that Sealaska has under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)," which was passed by Congress in 1971.The 65,000 acres in question represent less than one-half of 1 percent of the total land area of the 17-million-acre national forest. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
In the States: Montana, Oregon and Utah
- Dixie National Forest Pulls Logging Plan
Utah Daily Herald, July 15th
Federal foresters have backed away from logging a high-country swath of spruce in southern Utah, handing a victory to environmental groups fearing for the survival of a rare hawk. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Utah Environmental Congress say logging would have removed old-growth forests north of Escalante that support a dwindling population of goshawks. They held up the logging plan in federal courts and took credit for the reversal by the U.S. Forest Service. Logging proponents say the decision leaves conditions in the dense forest ripe for a catastrophic wildfire in the area north of Escalante. "It's dying faster than you can think. Beetles are wiping it out," Bruce Chappell, a logger and log home builder in Lyman, told The Salt Lake Tribune. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Federal Judge Explains Decision to Block Seeley-Swan Timber Sale
The Missoulian, Published by Tristan Scott, July 12th
A federal judge filed a lengthy opinion Wednesday explaining his decision last month to block the Colt-Summit timber sale, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service's analysis of the project's cumulative effects on lynx - as required by the National Environmental Policy Act - was not sufficient. The Forest Service will now have to conduct that analysis before the plan can move forward. The proposed timber sale is located in the Seeley-Swan Valley off of Montana Highway 83.The 46-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy comes on the heels of a June 20 order granting summary judgment on one issue raised by a host of conservation groups that sued the Forest Service in an effort to halt the Colt-Summit project: That the Forest Service "violated NEPA by failing to adequately analyze the project's cumulative impacts on lynx." The plaintiffs are Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Wild Swan, Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystems Defense Council. Although Molloy ruled that Colt-Summit complied with lynx critical habitat standards, inland native fish strategy standards and Endangered Species Act protections for lynx, bull trout and grizzly bears, he said it needed more work on the NEPA evaluation. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
- Large Timber Sale Ready to Go
Baker City Herald, Jayson Jacoby, July 11th
The first in a series of five large timber sales planned on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in eastern Baker County is slated to be offered to mills this summer.A local environmental group, meanwhile, is considering whether to go to court to challenge the Snow Basin project, which is also designed to reduce the risk of wildfires on 28,500 acres in the southern Wallowa Mountains."We are looking at our options," said David Mildrexler, ecosystem conservation coordinator for the Hells Canyon Preservation Council (HCPC) in La Grande.HCPC appealed Wallowa-Whitman Supervisor Monica Schwalbach's approval of the Snow Basin project in late March.The two parties weren't able to resolve that appeal.The sticking point is 691 acres where the Wallowa-Whitman is proposing to allow logging, Mildrexler said. To read more of this article, please visit this link.
Last Week in Congress
- Week of July 2nd - Congress will be on recess in observance of Independence Day.
- There were no relevant wildfire updates last week.
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