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Timber Talk 4/13/15

Posted By Gayla Fleming, Monday, April 13, 2015

Ohio Legislative and Policy News
The legislature has been on Easter break and is expected back this week to take up action.

  • House Set to Nix Kasich Tax Plan from Budget Bill - House Republicans are expected to delete virtually all of the Kasich tax plan as proposed in the Budget Bill (HB 64), and in turn are expected to propose a substitute version this week during House Finance and Appropriations Committee hearings. The governor’s plan which is targeted toward rewriting the tax code toward consumption based taxes and away from income taxes would have cut personal income taxes by nearly $6 billion while raising sales taxes and other taxes to cover most of the revenue loss. The Republican caucus is interested in cutting taxes but not the way the governor has proposed and has questioned whether the plan would boost the state’s economy in a way envisioned by the governor.
  • Finance Committee Expected to Change School Funding Formula; Rising CAUV Rates Skewing Picture on Rural Districts Finances - As part of the overall budget provisions, the Finance Committee is expected to change the school funding formula with the intent of aiding rural school districts. Concerns have been raised that rising CAUV rates are making rural school districts appear wealthier than they are.
  • Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Water Quality Standards Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that water pollution limits based on TMDL standards have not been administered according to Ohio law, in that OEPA has not submitted the standards according to Ohio rule making processes before using them in discharge permits. OEPA is trying to figure out how it must comply with the ruling. At first review, it appears that every TMDL for more than 1,700 waterways could be subject to the rule making process, which the agency believes it could take years to complete. The ruling affects recently passed law addressing toxic algae problems in the state. In the meantime, existing water pollution limits based on TMDS are unenforceable until they go through the rule making process. Facilities operating with TMDL limits are advised to review their permits to see if the TMDLs must be promulgated as a rule first.

Ohio Tree Farm Committee Meets
The OTFC held its quarterly meeting last week at ODNR in Columbus. The committee had the opportunity to meet in the ODNR Director’s office and use the remarkable walnut table that came from walnut grown on state forest land which was then harvested and manufactured into the table by the Division of Forestry (pictures in future weekly report). The committee covered a wide variety of subjects but had key discussions about CAUV and the Ohio Forest Tax Law change proposal and relating current issues. There was also considerable discussion about the Ohio Tree Farm Program currently going through a certification audit necessary for Ohio Tree Farmers to remain in the third-party certification program. The Ohio Tree Farm Program is preparing for a strategic planning review in June, 2015. The OTFC also agreed to sponsor a camper at this year’s OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp.

Hocking College Planning "Appalachian Adventure at Hocking College.”
Tom Vorisek, a member of the Hocking College Foundation, reached out to OFA last week to let us know that Hocking College is making plans for a new October show called the "Appalachian Adventure at Hocking College.” OFA was advised that the show will take place on the College campus the weekend following the Paul Bunyan Show. The show will focus on a broad range of outdoor activities and competitions and will include vendors and equipment dealers supplying outdoor equipment. The first show will be October 2015. Mr. Vorisek advised that a development committee has a 5 year plan to grow the show into a large event. He further indicated an interest to include a forestry component in activities, but expected that would be some point in the future.

Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB) Found for the First Time in Indiana at Sawmill
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reporting that WTB, the vector of Thousand Canker Disease of Walnut, was found at a sawmill in Franklin County, Indiana where an insect was isolated in a trap placed in 2014. The disease has not yet been isolated, however, according to IDNR. The sawmill was quarantined and is working to with IDNR on controlling and eliminating any potential existence of the disease or twig beetle. Movement of walnut logs, lumber, and other walnut materials within Indiana is not restricted, but movement into and out of Indiana is restricted. IDNR will trap for beetles again this summer at the sawmill.

February 2015 Housing Commentary from Virginia Tech
For your review is the February 2015Housing Commentary prepared by Associate Professor Urs Buehlmann, from the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech University and Al Schuler, Retired Economist. The report contains very good information on the Housing Market with a lot of data and the authors draw several conclusions about current conditions:

  • They believe the economy will see 3% growth in 2015, but housing may not follow;
  • The housing market is not healthy with few first-time buyers and household formations are down 50% from trend information;
  • Housing recovery will depend on first-time buyers, usually young; but they are not finding jobs;
  • Political uncertainty will continue to slow a housing recovery;
  • US economy is one of the few global economies doing well; devalued currencies from other countries is affecting the US economy and further slowing the housing recovery;
  • In the past, housing has led an economic recovery, but it is not happening now.

Forest Inventory and Analysis Program Support Letters to Congress
As previously reported, the OFA supported a coalition letter to the House and Senate urging enhanced support for the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program.Here are letters to theHouse and Senate Interior Appropriations Committee chairs and ranking member staff.

ECOFA and NEOFA Newsletters
are the May 2015 Newsletter for the East Central Ohio Forestry Association and the April 2015 Newsletter for the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association. Both newsletters highlight recent and upcoming general and annual meetings and contain other information on other events and activities, as well as general forestry information valuable for area landowners.

Coming Events

  • CSAW Chainsaw Training Classes. See the OFA websitefor the complete list of Chainsaw training classes. There are classes scheduled for April and May.
  • Employment Law Seminar, May 15, 2015, Dublin Embassy Suites.
  • OFA Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp, June 7-12, 2015, FFA Camp Muskingum. Camp is approaching and sign-ups are already taking place. Those registering before May 1 can get the "early-bird” rate of $325, a $50 savings. Go to the OFA website for camp information.
  • Lumber Grading Short Course, June 8-11, 2015, Yoder Lumber Company, Millersburg, Ohio. OFA is once again hosting the Lumber Grading Short Course at the Yoder Lumber Company, Buckhorn Mill in Millersburg, Ohio. The course is taught by NHLA Inspector Barry Kibbey. The fee for the course is $325 for OFA members/$400 for non-members. You can find information about the course here.
  • OWIN Summer Meeting, July 22-23, 2015, Marietta, Ohio. Maybe you’ve heard, but the OWIN Summer Meeting will be back once again in Marietta, Ohio! Also back by popular request is a reception on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler the evening of July 22. On July 23, there will be golf at the Marietta Country Club and a sporting clay shoot at Hilltop Sporting Clays in Whipple. Save-the-date Information will soon be mailed to members.
  • Forest Heritage Festival, August 8, 2015, Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds.
  • Ohio Tree Farm of the Year Tour, September 19, 2015, Sycamore Hills Tree Farm, Harrison County.
  • Paul Bunyan Show, October 2-4, 2015, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.

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