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6/26/2018 » 6/29/2018
2018 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners

6/18/2019 » 6/21/2019
2019 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners


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News Archive from the Forest Landowners Association

Soft Lumber Agreement

On August 29, the Department of Commerce announced a two-month delay in its final subsidy determination for softwood lumber from Canada until November 14. Secretary Ross issued a statement indicating that the delay is intended to provide more time to negotiate with Canada.  World Trade Organization rules and U.S. law prohibit the United States from collecting countervailing duties in the absence of a final determination if more than 120 days have passed since the preliminary determination.  Therefore, this decision to delay a determination will effectively result in a lengthy period during which the 20% anti-subsidy tariff on softwood lumber does not apply to Canadian imports (the “gap” period). Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were vocal in their response to Secretary Ross’s decision to postpone the determination. (more)

Rollback on WOTUS Continues. FLA Submits Comments to EPA

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have extended the deadline to comment on the re-codification of the definition of “waters of the United States” until September 27. On August 15, FLA submitted comments on behalf of FLA members and indicated that provisions from the 2015 Rule (more)

Endangered Species Act Reform Focuses on Economic Impact

On Wednesday, July 19, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing to consider five legislative bills to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the Listing Reform Act (H.R. 717). The Listing Reform Act would allow either the U.S. Department of Interior or Commerce to review the economic cost of adding a species to the list of endangered species or threatened species when making listing determinations.

Greg Sheehan, the Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), testified in favor of the bill. Deputy Director Sheen expressed support for provisions of the bill that would prioritize petitions based on need, which he noted would provide the Service with more flexibility to implement ESA.

Sheehan stopped short of a full endorsement of the Listing Reform Act’s efforts to introduce an option to identify a protection for a species as “warranted but precluded” if the protection would result in “significant cumulative economic impacts.” (more)

Repeal and Replacement of Clean Water Rule Begins

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formally proposed withdrawal of the Obama administration's controversial water rule on Wednesday, July 26 marking the end of a year-long effort to scrap this burdensome federal overreach. The reversal will dismantle the proposal by President Barack Obama’s EPA to expand water pollution protections to waters beyond the traditional definition of navigable waters, interstate waters and territorial seas.

Administrator Pruitt recently completed a southeast tour to further his plan to protect the environment, which included a day with several FLmembers and private forest landowner advocates. Pruitt said his focus for the EPA is that it will begin a new era of “regulatory certainty.” (more)

Congress Presses Forward on Tax Reform; Latest push by Republican leaders mirrors FLA agenda benefiting forest landowners

A joint statement released in late July makes it clear that Republican leadership in the White House, Senate and the House of Representatives will craft, introduce and work to build support for a comprehensive tax reform package this fall.

“We are all united in the belief that the single most important action we can take to grow our economy and help the middle class get ahead is to fix our broken tax code for families, small business, and American job creators competing at home and around the globe. Our shared commitment to fixing America’s broken tax code represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and so for three months we have been meeting regularly to develop a shared template for tax reform,” the statement reads.

The statement was warmly received by Forest Landowners Association staff and board members, serving as a clear signal that the Association’s efforts to elevate the importance of this issue for members is beginning to pay dividends. (more)

Ag Secretary and EPA Administrator Tour Working Forest, Talk Importance of Private Forest Landowners

On Friday, July 7th Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt met with an array of forest and forestry advocates including Scott Jones, CEO of the Forest Landowners Association (FLA) at the property of Earl and Wanda Barrs. Earl is a longtime board member of the FLA. During the meeting private forest landowners and representatives from state and national forest landowner groups shared with the Secretary and Administrator the story of owning and managing working forest lands and the impact that state and federal regulation can have on those efforts.

“This is really the first time in a long time that the administrator of the EPA has shown this much interest in and appreciation for private forest landowners,” said Jones. “It was just so exciting and gratifying to hear Administrator Pruitt use words like ‘partner’ as he was talking about the agency and our members.”

Also in attendance were David Tenny, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Landowners and Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association.(more)

Hopkins, Straka, Richman Lead Award Winners

FLA honors longtime contributors at national conference in Asheville

With FLA holding its annual National Conference of Private Forest Landowners in Asheville, N.C., in June near the birthplace of U.S. forestry, it was appropriate that the organization recognized a number of its longtime contributors.

Joe Hopkins, who has spent nearly three decades at the helm of his family’s Toledo Manufacturing in Folkston, Ga., while working in a number of forestry leadership roles, including FLA President from 2013-2015, received the Forest Landowner of the Year Award.

Hopkins, who now serves as President of the Forest Landowner Foundation, received the award from outgoing FLA President Scott Rowland, who succeeded Hopkins in that role in 2015. Hopkins accepted the award with his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie, whom he credited for his success.

“She’s been with me every step of the way,” said Hopkins, who is profiled in this issue of Forest Landowner magazine starting on page 12. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten home at 2 a.m. after driving back from a forestry meeting and she never once complained.” (more)

Going on the Offensive

With a politically friendly administration and Congress, FLA embraces opportunity to shape agenda during the meeting of private forest landowners in Asheville.

With FLA holding its annual National Conference of Private Forest Landowners during a Republican administration for the first time since 2008, the mood was decidedly upbeat over the prospect of a favorable political climate and an economic upswing.

Congressman Bruce Westerman, a longtime FLA member, expressed optimism for landowners because of the new administration.

Though the stock market had soared and housing prices improved during the first four months of President Trump’s administration when FLA members gathered at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., from May 31 through June 2, FLA leaders cautioned that lasting change will take time to develop.

“We’re in a unique position right now in that we have an opportunity to work with an administration that we haven’t seen before,” said FLA CEO Scott Jones. “In the last eight years it’s been difficult to see policy initiatives forwarded through Congress. We’ve had to play a lot of defense. Now we see the opportunities for expanded markets and favorable taxation that weren’t there for us before.”

FLA bolstered its lobbying efforts earlier this year with the hiring of top Washington firm VogelHood, which already has helped FLA get the ear of new White House officials. (more)

FLA Applauds Commerce Department’s Preliminary Determination in Softwood Lumber Investigation

On Monday, June 26th the Commerce Department announced a preliminary determination that exporters from Canada have sold softwood lumber into the United States at a 4.59 – 7.72 percent discount from fair value “based on factual evidence provided by the interested parties.” Further, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will now be instructed to collect cash deposits from importers of those products from Canada based on those initial findings. These rates are in addition to the countervailing duties imposed on April 24, 2017 and together the new duty rates can range from 17.4 to 30.1%.

“The United States is committed to free and fair trade, as seen today with the preliminary decision to exclude softwood lumber from the Canadian Atlantic Provinces in the ongoing antidumping and countervailing duty cases,” said Secretary Ross. “While I remain optimistic that we will be able to reach a negotiated solution on softwood lumber, until we do we will continue to vigorously apply the AD and CVD laws to stand up for American companies and their workers.”

The Forest Landowner’s Association (FLA) applauds the announcement and commends the Commerce Department for its work. (more)

Reason for Optimism as Trump Administration Crosses 100 Day Mark

Just 100 days into his term, President Trump is moving quickly to make good on campaign promises. The executive orders, appointments and new policy initiatives coming out of the White House have gotten the attention of the Forest Landowners Association.

“The Trump Administration clearly understands that in many rural communities across our country, and almost all of the states in the Southeast, forestry is a primary economic driver to providing jobs and contributing to the funding of rural schools.  It all starts in the woods, with the landowners who own the land and grow the trees.” FLA CEO Scott Jones

We've prepared a rundown on all things forestry over the first 100 days, so please read on! (more)

Packed Agenda for Forest Conference

Regulatory changes under Trump administration provide optimism to forest landowners as FLA meets for annual conference in Asheville, N.C.

When FLA CEO Scott Jones welcomes members to the 2017 National Conference of Private Forest Landowners on May 30, the dust will have settled on the transition to a Trump administration and the view of his policy priorities and direction will have clarified.

This year’s conference will open with an informed discussion about what the Trump administration means for the policy priorities the association has been working toward for years.

“Like it or not, federal policy really does impact core components of our mission,” Jones said. “President Trump campaigned on a platform of regulatory reform, a fresh look at the tax code and a commitment to domestic manufacturing and all of those really resonate with our members. We look forward to discussing the opportunities we see within this administration.”

The discussion will be led by Alex Vogel, co-founder and managing partner of VogelHood, a policy advisement firm recently retained by FLA.

“We feel like with the Trump administration in place it’s time for the association to play some offense again and Alex and his team are a big part of that offensive strategy,” Jones said.

The conference is much more than a policy forum and this year’s event again features content designed for the younger members of landowner families that might be unfamiliar with the basics of land management or the markets that provide timber sale opportunities for landowners. (more)

How Healthy is Your Forest?

Proper management keeps a forest strong and better able to resist pest issues, leading to healthier and more productive forestland.

Forest health can mean many things. For forest landowners the primary consideration is how the health of the forest affects the ability to manage, monetize, and enjoy property.

Forest health is a function of tree health, but they are not synonymous. A healthy forest can have a few unhealthy trees, and an unhealthy forest can have some healthy trees. A healthy tree has adequate water, nutrients, and sunlight. It can acquire the resources it needs to grow, defend itself from insects and pathogens, and store energy in its roots. 

Any condition that limits a tree’s ability to do these things can impair the tree’s health and in turn cause that tree to be stressed. Stress can be devastating; think of your own body.  When you’re stressed, whether it’s from lack of sleep, poor eating habits or any number of factors, you’re more likely to get sick. When an animal is stressed, its immune system is compromised. When a tree is stressed, it’s more susceptible to insects and pathogens. Thus, staying healthy and free from stress is the key to a tree’s continued survival. (more)

Forest Landowners Association Applauds Trump’s Ag and Rural Prosperity Executive Order

The Forest Landowners Association (FLA) applauds the Trump Administration’s recognition of the contribution forests and forest landowners make to vital rural economies evidenced most recently by the Tuesday, April 25 signing of the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

The FLA has been working closely with the administration and are encouraged by their quick understanding of, and willingness to promote the amazing resource that are this country’s forests and their owners. We see this executive order as evidence that forestry and the forest products sector is finally being recognized by an administration for the incredible contributions it makes to our agricultural economy. (more)

Legislative Update: Endangered Species Act

Three new bills have been introduced to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that pertain to transparency and citizen suits.

Under current law, when a species is proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, the Department of Interior publishes the listing proposal in the Federal Register and allows for public comment for a 60 day comment period. To promote awareness of a proposal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then issues news releases, conducts special mailings, and informs the scientific community and other Federal and State agencies. In addition, the government publishes a summary of any proposal as a legal notice in newspapers serving each area in which the species is believed to dwell and holds public hearings in cases of high public interest or if an interested party requests one within 45 days of the proposal. (more)

Legislative Update: WOTUS Rollback Moving Forward

As the Trump administration prepares to pull back the Obama administration’s signature water rule, Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, a longtime Waters of the United States critic, will preside over a hearing Wednesday aimed at detailing flaws with the 2015 rule and the process that produced it. His Environment and Public Works Committee hearing will host a who’s who of players from the WOTUS battle, including Michael Josselyn, a wetlands consultant and dissenting voice from the external EPA science panel that worked on the rule, and Ken Kopocis, the Obama administration water chief who oversaw it.  

At the same time, farmers will be meeting with Trump on the issue. In addition to signing the aforementioned executive order geared toward rural America, Trump will hold a roundtable discussion with farmers on Tuesday. (more)

Legislative Update: Strengthening Timber Markets with Trade Agreements

The forestry sector in the United States has experienced extreme volatility, unprecedented challenges, and substantial change during the past two decades.  We are at a tipping point regarding the importance of increasing wood markets for the economic livelihood of forest landowners and sustaining healthy forests.  The future suggests both opportunities and challenges.  FLA has increased its commitment to public and government affairs work to leverage a policy atmosphere favorable to the use of wood as an environmentally preferred product.

The FLA is focused ensuring trade agreements advocate the interest of US wood markets and landowners to ensure access to emerging markets for forest related products. (more)


Legislative Update: Tax Policy Gaining Interest

President Trump indicated that the process to reform America’s tax code will kick into high gear this week, with an expected annulment of the Administrations tax reform plan on Wednesday.

There are three legs to the tax reform stool: the House, the Senate, and the White House. Little is known about what will be the priorities of the Senate and White House so we will be watching closely to see how their positions evolve this week. Knowing that tax reform is a high priority of the White House and Congress,  FLA is on the Hill weekly talking to members of Congress about key provisions (more)



Conference Preview: Mini-Q&A with Alex Vogel, Founding Partner, VogelHood Group

Everyone agrees that the Trump presidency will be like none other before it. Forest landowners are optimistic that Trump’s platform of tax reform, domestic jobs creation and better trade deals will be a very positive thing for them and their interests. Is their optimism well-founded?

I believe that optimism is well founded. The president has laid out a broadly deregulatory agenda focused on policies centered on incentivizing and promoting U.S. based producers and jobs. When combined with a broad push towards an America-focused trade policy, these initiatives should be viewed with optimism. (more)


Early Forestry Education

Auburn University’s summer forestry camp for high school students helps prepare the next generation of land managers.

On warm June mornings, you might notice groups of students in forests near Auburn, Alabama.  Listen and you might hear cicadas hum in the distance, the clinking of logger’s tapes and the unmistakable squeak of an increment borer biting into a pine. There is a murmur of voices as an Auburn University professor moves from group to group.

These are not, however, college students. They are high school participants in a forestry camp as part of Auburn’s summer youth programs. This fourth-annual, week-long residential camp, scheduled this year from June 25-30, gives students ages 15 to 18 the opportunity to learn about the profession of forestry and the management of associated natural resources. (more)



Being Prepared

Generations of boys have learned about the woods through Boy Scouts of America. With kids spending more time indoors and in front of screens, BSA’s efforts are increasingly important in educating the next generation of forestry.

Jimmy Sawgrass is leading a group of Boy Scouts and adult scout leaders through the woods at Camp La-No-Che. It’s a balmy afternoon a week before Christmas at this mostly wooded, 1,480-acre Central Florida camp on the border of the Ocala National Forest.

Sawgrass, a member of the Muskogee Creek tribe, is providing a running commentary on trees, animals, hunting, and living off the land. He points out a 100-year-old oak felled by Hurricane Matthew two months earlier, notes various edible and poisonous berries, and shows where scouts like my 11-year-old son, who hope to earn their wilderness survival merit badges, must construct lean-to shelters and spend a night with only the clothes on their backs. (more)


Barreling Along

Though Alexandra Richman’s grandfather and his siblings sold the Jack Daniel’s distillery six decades ago, the fourth-generation landowner manages more than 6,000 acres of Tennessee forestland in the shadow of where her great-great grand uncle founded his famous whiskey empire. 

Alex Richman is driving through history. On a crisp chamber-of-commerce morning in mid-October, with the sun accenting a kaleidoscope of fall colors, Richman pilots her SUV through Tennessee land her family has owned for more than a century.

She points out specimen white oaks on either side of the road while mentally reviewing a packed schedule that includes a forestry field event the next day, along with an ongoing red oak logging operation and a timber sale the following month. She’s a landowner, forester, hunter, graduate forestry student at the University of Tennessee and, on this day, perhaps the most insightful tour guide of Lynchburg, the tiny town that draws 300,000 annual visitors wanting a glimpse of how the world’s most famous whiskey is made. (more)  

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