Loss of Silvicultural Exemption for Forest Roads Progresses—FLA Seeks Answers and Considers Options
On May 26, Forest Landowners Association CEO Scott Jones heard from Robert M. Sussman, Senior Policy Counsel to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson. Jones participated with a select group of forest products executives representing the National Alliance of Forest Owners.
The group was seeking clarity on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that effectively nullifies the 1976 Silvicultural Exemption for permitting forest roads under the Clean Water Act.
The answer they received from Sussman was emphatic, “This is going to happen”. That is, permitting of forest roads will definitely be put into place in the 9th District, nullifying the Silvicultural Exemption for forestry management operations in AK, AZ, CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, and WA.
Speculation remains that "bureaucratic creep" will lead to nation-wide application of the decision through a gradual move towards the more strenuous forest management practice requirements already established in the 9th District states.
If some landowners, not in the affected states, take preemptive action by meeting the permitting requirements before they are actually required, then the new requirements could be accelerated nationwide.
Contract Lobbyist Frank Stewart and Jones questioned White House staff how EPA will define forest roads as this process evolves. Would roads with sophisticated collection systems be the target? Or, would regulation go beyond those highly engineered roads to include seldom-used logging roads, trails, etc.? White House staff acknowledged that the question would be the key within the 9th District and throughout the US, if the changes eventually become national.
FLA is working to help organize forestry community allies about this issue in preparation for an issue that could be as continuous as the TMDL issue a decade ago.
To learn more about these issues, or others affecting private forest landowners, please contact Frank Stewart or call (703) 549-0347.