AFA involved in, tracking issues
FA monitors several state and federal issues that affect our community. Following are updates on important Max Braswell issues that AFA Executive Vice we have been President involved in and tracking on members’ behalf. Waters of the U.S. It should be no surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is at it again. This time, they, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are proposing to assert Clean Water Act jurisdiction over all natural and man-made tributary streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands that affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of larger, downstream navigable waters, according to a recent Bloomberg post. A copy of EPA’s draft rule has been leaked to Bloomberg. In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Chairmen of the House Science Committee and Subcommittee on the Environment requested that the Administration wait until the Science Advisory Board peer review of the Connectivity Study is complete before moving forward with the proposed rule, which is common practice.
See ISSUES on page 3
Coalition works on habitat designation
FA is part of a coalition of public and private organizations—led by the Association of Arkansas Counties—working to mitigate potentially negative impacts of an overly broad proposed critical habitat designation for two aquatic species—the Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels— by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Following are key points to consider as AFA works on members’ behalf:
1. AFA has reached out to USFWS, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and others with experience in this area to discuss implications. AFA’s primary concerns center on potential effects on landowners applying for and implementing Farm Bill forestry programs, increases in formal consultations going forward with USFWS that would slow down or halt projects that enhance forest health, manufacturing facilities that have a direct or indirect NPDES discharge impacting one of the identified water bodies, and the association’s ability to communicate the issue accurately and concisely to members. 2. The forestry community uses proven Best Management Practices, and Farm Bill programs that enhance water quality, wildlife and overall forest health. These activities have a positive impact on the species. 3. AFA is receiving feedback that the timber and forest products community is implementing the kinds of practices that should be “part of the solution, not the problem.” 4. AFA will stay vigilant in protecting private property rights and urges members to become educated on this issue, seek the counsel of company environmental managers or legal
experts, contact USFWS or NRCS if you have questions, and continue to implement practices that promote profitability and stewardship.
5. The proposed critical habitat designation is broad, encompassing 769 river miles in more than 30 counties, with the identified watersheds covering roughly 42 percent of the state. 6. There will be some level of critical habitat designation; however, the coalition is working to reduce it by 36 percent. In mid-November, coalition representatives and USFWS testified before members of the State Legislature’s Joint City, County and Local Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committees. During his testimony, Jeff Sykes, legislative director for the Association of Arkansas Counties, asked the committees to adopt a resolution urging the state’s Congressional delegation to work with USFWS to adopt the science used by the coalition that would reduce the proposed critical habitat. In addition, Sykes asked that the resolution include a request to change the way USFWS conducts its economic analysis in making critical habitat designation determination. USFWS uses an incremental approach that only takes into consideration the cost of interagency consultation, not the potential real-world impact to local economies, landowners and others. On November 15, Legislative Council passed the resolutions. It also asked Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to intervene in the matter and approved a resolution by Sen. Bruce Holland, asking McDaniel to use all of his power to protect the state’s interests. USFWS has 60 days from the October 28 comment filing deadline to review and make a final designation. AFA will provide updates as details become available.
CALENDAR December 10
Forest Practices Committee 9:30 a.m. - AFA Office, Little Rock
10 a.m. - AFA Education Foundation Board 1 p.m. - AFA Executive Committee AFA Office, Little Rock
10:30 a.m. - Tree Farm Committee 11:30 a.m. - Inspector Awards Golden Corral, North Little Rock
AFA Office Closed in Observance of Christmas
Paper check-off referendum passes
aper and paper-based packaging companies voted to approve the Paper Check-off promotion program. Companies covered by the program participated in the vote, held October 28 to November 8. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the results, in which 85 percent of the companies and 95 percent of the industry production of covered grades voting in the referendum approved the program. “The industry’s approval of the Paper Checkoff program offers a new opportunity to build on our long history of innovating paper products to meet the needs of consumers around the world,” said American Forest & Paper Association Board Chairman David Scheible, president and CEO of Graphic Packaging International. “Paper and paper-based packaging is a sustainable choice, and the Paper Check-off will allow us to make a concerted effort of educating and informing consumers of the benefits our products offer.” The check-off was initiated by a panel of industry leaders and approved by those companies who will be assessed. For more information about the program, visit papercheckoff.com.
Log A Load nearing fundraising record
he Central Arkansas Log A Load For Kids event on October 26 in Sheridan raised $160,000 for Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). The event kicked off with a visit from Angel One, which landed in a field across the road from the Sheridan Recreation Center. Other activities included a silent auction, bucket drawings, card raffle, 4-wheeler drawing, dessert auction, log auction, guest speakers, live auction, pocket change collection and much more. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Arkansas Log A Load For Kids, which has raised more than $6.8 million for ACH. In 2012, the campaign raised $483,341 as part of a $4 million commitment toward Emergency Services and the Trauma Unit. The new, state-of-the-art Emergency Department and Trauma Unit in the ACH South Wing is named for Log A Load For Kids of Arkansas.
(Left to right) James, Karla and Blake Wilson in front of the Angel One helicopter. In 2005, Blake was transported to ACH after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident.
At this time, the 2013 campaign has raised $473,641, with additional funds expected before the end of the year. Following are approximate totals, by chapter: • • • • •
South Central - $75,000 Drew County - $75,000 Bradley County - $57,527 River Valley - $108,641.61 Central Arkansas - $160,000
See pictures from this year’s Log A Load events on the Log A Load For Kids Facebook page (facebook.com/arlogaload) and the Arkansas Forestry Association Flickr page (flickr.com/arkforests).
Logger Butch Kelley bought this log truck cake, created by his daughter Lindsey Wise, for $6,500 during the Central Arkansas Log A Load For Kids auction on October 26. The cake was delivered to the Family House in the Hematology/Oncology Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Pictured above is Registered Nurse Christy Miller. Ozark-St. Francis National Forest employees showcase a wooden log truck made by William Hurst, of Russellville, during the River Valley Log A Load For Kids live auction on September 21.
PAC increases forestry community’s influence in political process
eing engaged in the political process is more critical than ever before. Elected leaders need to understand the issues that keep forests growing and mills running. This fosters a legislative environment conducive to economic growth and sustainability for this industry, a goal of AFA’s Forest Express Political Action Committee (PAC). Going forward, AFA will have the opportunity to help elect more high-quality candidates who understand and support forestry-related issues. The Forest Express PAC provides members the means to support candidates who will work for the timber and forest products community. To make a Forest Express PAC contribution, download a donation form online at arkforests.org/advocacyPAC.html or call AFA at (501) 374-2441. Formed in 1998, the Forest Express PAC makes donations to candidates
seeking election to state-level offices. PAC contributions may also support campaigns for or against Constitutional amendments, initiated actions, recall petitions or any other kind of ballot measure. PAC contributions are not tax deductible, but donors can receive a $50-per-person or $100-per-couple tax credit on their Arkansas income tax return. The timber and forest products community enjoyed a successful 89th General Assembly, and AFA played a key role by advocating on members’ behalf. The association heightened its profile by hosting two successful legislative receptions and worked hard to pass legislation that will positively impact forest landowners, manufacturers, forest nursery operators, and loggers, to name a few. In so doing, AFA strengthened its relationships with legislators, particularly those with an interest in forestry. By growing the Forest Express PAC, AFA can continue to increase its influence.
Free landowner workshops address benefits of prescribed fire
he Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Private Lands Section is proud to announce a series of workshops offered to landowners, free of charge, to teach the proper and safe use of prescribed fire to improve wildlife habitat. December 7 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Makeup date - December 14) Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain WMA near Scotland (Van Buren County) January 11 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Makeup date - January 18) Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA near Ash Flat (Sharp County) These workshops will teach private landowners to conduct prescribed burns on their property. Topics include burn weather, equipment, ignition techniques, burn plans and a live
demonstration of a small prescribed burn. Space is limited to 30 participants. Lunch will be provided. Registration is required up to one week before the workshop. More specific meeting location and directions will be provided upon registration. Call Clint Johnson, 877-470-3650, to register or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISSUES, continued from page 1 The American Forest and Paper Association provided AFA with an update that includes final comments from the Waters Advocacy Coalition and the Federal Water Quality Coalition, both of which capture concerns from the timber and forest products community. These two groups were scheduled to meet with OMB on November 20. Farm Bill AFA continues to reach out to the Arkansas Congressional delegation to urge support of the inclusion of important forestry provisions in a comprehensive Farm Bill. Arkansas has two conferees: Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. The panel will be meeting for the second time soon. AFA joins national partners such as the National Alliance of Forest Owners, American Forest & Paper Association, Forest Landowners Association, Forest Resources Association and the American Forest Foundation in urging the conferees to include an array of positive forestry provisions in the final, comprehensive bill. Rural Fire Department Dues The association was successful recently in its request for two Hot Spring County rural volunteer fire departments to remove timberland from the list of properties being assess fire dues on property tax statements. AFA met with the South Malvern and Lono-Rolla departments to inform them that Arkansas Code Annotated 14-20-108 only permits the levy of dues “on each residence and on each business having an occupiable structure.” In addition, AFA continues to work with the Pt. Cedar VFD to clarify this issue and received news late last week that a positive resolution is in the works. Moving forward, the association will evaluate opportunities to include this issue in the 2015 legislative package.