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E-news April 8, 2015
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Forest Landowners Association Launches Timber Talks and Forest Forum Campaigns

Georgia forest landowners host Cong. Hice for first event

Timber Talks sets the stage for forestry stakeholders to meet face-to-face with elected officials and advocate on behalf of forestry stakeholders to give policy makers a first-hand look at how private landowners manage their forests and how policy considered in Washington has an impact.

“The Timber Talks campaign is about showcasing our local private forest lands along with supply chain operations to urge policymakers to craft common-sense, bipartisan solutions to grow timber markets and sustain private forest landowners across the nation. Together, we’ll show Congress how Timber Talks,” stated Scott Jones, FLA CEO.

Throughout the 114th Congress, FLA invites the timber community to be part of a series of Timber Talks and Woods-to-Product tours with their lawmakers, aimed at successfully growing forestry stakeholder’s bench of timber champions in Congress.  Highlights of the Timber Talks Campaign will include strategic events with lawmakers in leadership committee positions as well as a focus on newly elected and incumbent policymakers in key forestry states. 

In addition to Timber Talks, FLA is also launching Forest Forums, which focuses on high-level round table discussions with land, species, and environmental agency representatives at the state and federal level on issues impacting regional forest management and market issues.

Timber Talks and Forest Forums will work with landowners and partner organizations to organize district events as well as high-level roundtable discussions to assist the lobbying efforts of forestry partners in Washington, DC to shape the outcome of public policy and federal regulations on working forest issues.

Georgia Forest Landowners Host Cong. Hice for First Timber Talks Event

The FLA Timber Talks campaign got off to a great start on April 2, with more than 50 representatives from the forestry community attending an event to engage in dialogue with freshman Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA10).  Serving his first term in Congress and the only Member of Congress in the Georgia delegation appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Hice was proactive in contacting FLA to organize a Timber Talks event.

“Georgia's 10th congressional district is heavily forested with private forestlands covering the entire district and a robust industry of forest products manufacturers that support the forests to markets supply chain vital to the sustainability and ownership of private forests,” commented Hice. “I wanted to meet and engage my forest stakeholder constituents right away so together we can work to promote legislation that benefits private forest landowners and the entire timber market.”

The first stop of the Timber Talks tour was at FLA member Lee Rhodes property, which has been owned and managed by his family for more than 75 years.  Rhodes discussed the management of the property and the importance of markets.  Congressman Hice remarked, "these trees look pretty old, when do you plan to harvest them?"  Lee quickly responded, "we're ready to harvest now but the market has been so low that we have to wait for better prices."  

Throughout the day the conversation focused on two key issues: the need for strong markets to sustain healthy forests and overreaching environmental regulations.

The second stop was on land managed by Forest Investment Associates.  Leading the discussion was FIA CEO Michael Kelly.  The focal point of the tour stop was at a stream crossing where the Congressman was shown how the proposed Waters of the United States and other administrative policies create unnecessary burden and regulation overreach for well managed forest land.  "Across the country we follow Best Management Practices to protect water quality on our forests," commented Kelly.  Standing next to a small stream with a wide forested buffer, an oversized culvert and well maintained roads it was easy to see the commitment forest landowners have to protecting water quality and the environment on their lands. 

The tour ended at AH Stephens State Park where Congressman Hice was able to spend face-to-face time with his forestry constituents and engage in conversation about how polices considered in Washington impact private forest ownership, markets and the economy in his district and throughout Georgia. 

The Congressman pledged to work with his colleagues to do "everything I can to promote Georgia’s 10th district forest owners and the timber industry from over-regulation imposed by the Obama Administration.”

“This was a great event to start an important relationship with our Congressman and the Committee on Natural resources to ensure the interest of private forest landowners are protected,” noted David Foil, FLA Board member and President of Forest Resource Consultants.

Thank you to Congressman Hice for taking time to meet with Georgias' private forests owners and supporting our issues in Washington, DC.

Partners and stakeholders who participated in the Timber Talks event included: 
American Forest Management, ArborGen, Bounds Farms, Brown & Brown Consulting Forestry, Congressman Isakson staff, Congressman Allen staff, Crop Production Services, Forest Investment Associates, Forest Resource Consultants, FRAM Renewable Fuels LLC, Georgia DNR, Georgia Forestry Commission, Hodges Land & Timber, Indian Creek Tree Farm, LLC, James M. Simons & Company, Inc., Langdale Industries, McCarlton Partners Ltd., Plum Creek Timber Company, Rayonier, Rhodes Timberland, Senator David Perdue, Southern Forest Management, LLC, Southern Land Exchange, Taliaferro County Commissioner, Timberland Investment Resource, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Warnell School of Forestry.

USFWS Decision to List Northern Long-eared Bat as Threatened Species under ESA Draws Criticism from Congress.

On Wednesday, April 1, the USFWS announced that it is listing the northern long-eared bat as “threatened.” The agency was considering listing the species as "endangered" — a more serious designation — but decided on "threatened" because the bat's population has not been affected outside areas where the fungal disease has caused problems. The agency is proposing interim rules meant to safeguard the bat's habitat, including limits on forest timbering. The listing becomes effective May 4 as an interim 4(d) rule that provides “flexibility” to landowners, land managers, government agencies and others as they conduct activities in northern long-eared bat habitat.  Given the significant number of comments received in response to the 4(d) rule as proposed on January 15, 2015, the USFWS opened a 90-day comment and will accept further input on the interim rule through July 1, 2015.

The decision was closely watched by private forest landowners, due to concern that the new regulations could affect timber management and harvesting.  Congressional proponents of private forests landowners quickly responded with statements in response to the USFWS decision.

Learn more about the NLEB threatened listing and interim 4(d) rule. 
The USFWS  is hosting three teleconferences to provide details and answer questions about the listing and interim 4(d) rule:

Friday, April 3, 2015 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time; 1 p.m. Central Time

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time; 3 p.m. Central Time

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at Noon Eastern Time; 11:00 a.m. Central Time

To participate, call toll-free:
877-918-2510, enter passcode 9285200#.





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