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Policy Update Week of

September 3, 2012

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SAF ACTIONS

SAF Comments on USDA Forest Service Project-Level Predecisional Administrative Review Process- September 7th
SAF supports the Forest Service Proposed Predecisional Administrative Review Proposed Rule that was published in the Federal Register in early August. In the formal comments SAF addressed the current effectiveness of the predecisional process on hazardous fuels HFRA projects, and that applying the same process to EA's and EIS's of land use management plans will lead to better overall decisional and increased planning efficiency. SAF also expressed support for the 30-day objection period for non-HFRA projects implementing a land-management plan, and asked that the agency apply that same 30-day period to projects by land use management plans unless the Forest Service could demonstrate the-need for the extra 15 days. Other comments submitted address the US District Court for the Eastern District of California's ruling that mandated that the Forest Service provide for notice, comment, and appeals on non-controversial, minor activities with no effect on the environment, and page limitations for objections and appeals. To read the comments please follow this link.

SAF Submits Brief to Supreme Court in Forest Roads Case- September 4th
The Society of American Foresters (SAF) submitted an Amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court describing the science, implementation, effectiveness, and continuous improvement of best management practices (BMPs) related to addressing stormwater runoff from silvicultural activities under the federal Clean Water Act. The brief supports the arguments asserted by the petitioners in Decker, et al. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, et al. and Georgia-Pacific West, Inc., et al. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Fund, et al. — two consolidated cases currently before the Court on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The brief, signed by the National Association of State Foresters, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, the Association of Consulting Foresters of America, Inc., the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, and a number of academics and researchers from across the country, informs the Supreme Court that the United States Environmental Protection Agency's approach to addressing stormwater runoff from silvicultural activities for more than thirty five years is sound. To read the Amicus brief please follow this link.

In the Administration

  1. Merkley Asks Senate Leaders for Emergency Firefighting Funds Urges Additional Funding So Forest Service Doesn't Cut Back on Timber Sales
      Fire Engineering, September 1st, 2012

    Following 2012s record-breaking wildfires in the West, Oregons Senator Jeff Merkley is calling on Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to ensure that there are sufficient resources available for firefighting through the end of the wildfire season. Due to the high number of fires this summer, the U.S. Forest Service has already exhausted its fire suppression fund for the year and may be forced to divert funding from core functions such as managing timber sales.Because the U.S. Forest Service has now run out of money in the fire suppression fund, it has no option other than to transfer money from other accounts to cover the costs of fire fighting, Senator Merkley wrote in a letter to the leaders. This means that core functions of the Forest Service will take an even greater budget cut than they already faced this fiscal year. These transfers will have an especially dramatic impact in Oregon because the U.S. Forest Service is already struggling to advance timber projects due to tightened budgets. To read more of this article, please visit this link.

  2. Forest Service Announces $3.5 Million to Support Community Forests
      Forest Service, August 28th, 2012

    The U.S. Forest Service announced today $3.5 million in grants as part of a new program to support jobs and healthy forests in communities across the U.S The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program provides financial assistance grants to local governments, tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations working to establish community forests with a focus on economic and environmental benefits, education, forest stewardship and recreation opportunities. The federal grants will be matched with an additional $8.5 million in funding from other partners on the projects, and represent a strategic investment in local communities, a key component of the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.To read more of this article, please visit this link.

National News

  1. SAF Submits Brief to the US Supreme Court in Forest Roads Case
      Yahoo News, September 6, 2012

    The Society of American Foresters submits an Amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in an appeal of a recent Ninth Circuit decision on Clean Water Act permits. The brief, signed by the National Association of State Foresters, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, the Association of Consulting Foresters of America, Inc., the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, and a number of academics and researchers from across the country, informs the Supreme Court that the United States Environmental Protection Agency's approach to addressing stormwater runoff from silvicultural activities for more than thirty five years is sound. Citing scientific evidence and research supporting the efficacy of forestry BMPs, the brief explains how and why forestry BMPs are an effective method to manage stormwater runoff from forest roads, ditches, and culverts. To read more of this article, please visit this link.

  2. U.S. Tightens Limits on Cutting Timber in Sequoia Monument
      LA Times, Published by Bettina Boxall, September 5, 2012

    A new management plan for the Giant Sequoia National Monument places greater limits on timber cutting in and near groves of the world's largest trees, but would still allow logging in nearly a quarter of the monument. The plan, released Tuesday by the U.S. Forest Service, is the agency's latest attempt at devising a blueprint for managing the 328,000-acre monument, which President Clinton created in 2000 to protect 34 groves of giant sequoias scattered on the slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada in the Sequoia National Forest. Although the monument designation bans commercial logging, that didn't stop the Forest Service from issuing a plan in 2004 that would have allowed enough timber cutting in the monument to fill more than 2,000 logging trucks a year - all in the name of reducing the risk of wildfire. To read more of this article, please visit this link.

  3. Wildfire Budgeting Tool Scrapped After Agency Resources Threatened
      Denver Post, Published by David Olinger and Eric Gorski, September 2, 2012

    In November 2005, architects of a federal program meant to better allocate money and manpower to fight wildfires met in rented office space in Boise, Idaho, to examine the results of a test run. What it showed wasn't surprising: Some areas of the country needed more resources and some deserved less.The group prepared a briefing paper and color-coded chart to explain the findings to budget officers and decision-makers on Capitol Hill. Within short order, the model was dead - cast aside as flawed by agency officials and a scientific panel over the objections of its authors and an independent congressional investigator who say the U.S. Forest Service was unwilling to impose even modest budget changes. To read more of this article, please visit this link.

In the States: Oregon and Ohio

  1. Experts Drive Timber Harvest Increases
      The Chronicle, Published by Shari Phiel, August 28, 2012

    Data recently released by the Oregon Department of Forestry shows that timber harvest levels statewide have increased for the second year in a row. Harvests, which were at a low of 2.75 billion board feet in 2009 following the collapse of the domestic housing market in 2008, posted gains in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, approximately 3.65 billion board feet were harvested in Oregon, an increase of 32 percent from 2009's low and 13 percent from 2010's harvest numbers. "Much of these gains can be attributed to an active export market to Eastern Asia, especially China," said Brandon Kaetzel, the Oregon Department of Forestry's principal forest economist. "The U.S. housing market's slow recovery and other domestic markets are also driving demand for Oregon wood products." To read more of this article, please visit this link.

  2. Ohio National Forest Oks Natural Gas Drilling
      The Associate Press, Published by Lisa Cornwell, August 27, 2012

    The U.S. Forest Service said Monday that the shale drilling technique for natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing can take place in a national forest in southeast Ohio. The Forest Service released its report after a study of the Wayne National Forest's land and resource management plan drafted in 2006. The forest's supervisor, Anne Carey, said in a statement that she determined the plan could adequately address any damage and risks to the forest from the natural-gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. She also said there is no need for a new environmental impact study. For more of this article, please visit this link.

This Week in Congress

  1. Congress is currently in recess but will reconvene the first week in September.

Upcoming in Congress

  1. September 11th - House Committee on Natural Resources full committee hearing on H.R. 4969 addressing Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands in the California Coastal National Monument as a part of the National Landscape Conservation System, and for other purposes. More information can be found here.

Last Week in Congress

  1. August 15th - Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources full committee hearing on "Colorado Wildfires." More information can be found here.

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