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July 2018
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Dear FRA Member,
July is shaping up to be a busy month. House Leadership is considering another floor vote on the AG Act that may take place in the next couple of weeks. On the Biomass front, we successfully beat back a proposed amendment that would have eliminated a federal provision recognizing forest-based biomass fuels and energy as carbon neutral. In the Lake States, work continues on putting together comments on the Lake States Bat Habitat Conservation Plan.

Guest Worker Reform
RECENT DEVLOPMENT: The House Leadership is committed to bringing the AG Act back for a floor vote during July. This provides FRA with another opportunity to pass the H-2C provisions in the House that provides a reasonable solution to supplement our U.S. workforce to sustain forests and manage vegetation. We can’t let this opportunity pass without giving a 110% effort from ALL FRA membership. FRA will be preparing an action alert that you will be able to directly send to your House members in the upcoming days.


Guest worker reform is a top advocacy priority for FRA. We had a couple of opportunities in June where favorable legislation was considered on the House floor but unfortunately did not pass. The bill, known as the AG Act, would shift forestry workers into a newly created H-2C program with much higher caps than H-2B and an escalator provision in the event these caps are hit. The standalone bill received a full House vote 2 weeks ago, which was fairly close. The following week, provisions of the AG Act were folded into the House leadership “compromise” immigration package which failed.

Unfortunately, our guest worker priorities are caught up in the larger issues of border security and DACA. Further complicating the effort is the upcoming election in November where control of the House and Senate is in play, making it difficult to find a compromise approach acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats. FRA will continue to work with our allies in the agricultural sector in pressing Congress about the urgency to act on this issue. At this point, it does not appear that action will occur before November. Our hope is that opportunities to move the AG Act, or some variation thereof, will present in the fourth quarter.

On the H-2B front, FRA supported the increase in guest worker visas that was announced in May, but noted in our communications with policymakers that the increase was insufficient to meet the needs of employers who rely on this labor pool. As part of the Senate’s consideration of the Farm Bill, Senator Jeff Merkley (R-OR) filed an amendment that would have made the forestry sector’s access to the H-2B program much more difficult. FRA quickly mobilized our grassroots network to oppose this amendment and we were successful in preventing its inclusion in the Farm Bill, which passed the Senate June 28.

Just last week, House leadership indicated that the “AG Act” may be reconsidered for a House floor vote in July. FRA has scheduled a number of meetings this week with House Members to inform them of the importance of the “AG Act” to our industry, especially the H-2C provisions. If House leadership determines they have enough votes to pass the “AG Act” a floor vote could take place during the week of the 23rd of July.

Biomass
RECENT DEVELOPMENT: Representative Don Beyer filed an amendment with the House Rules Committee for consideration in the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations legislation. This amendment would strike the provision legislating that forest-based biomass fuels and energy be treated as carbon neutral in any federal environmental and energy policymaking. FRA engaged with Members of Congress that we have relationships with on the House Rules Committee to oppose this measure. As a result, the Committee ruled that the amendment was “not in order,” thereby killing the proposal.


FRA’s federal policy work in the biomass energy space has yielded important results. Several years ago during the Obama Administration, FRA teamed with our allies in the forest products and forestry sectors to advocate for statutory recognition of the carbon neutral benefits of forest-based biomass fuels and energy. The release of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan proposal was the action forcing event and created urgency in seeking legislative recognition of the biomass carbon neutrality concept, as our extensive work with EPA at the time was not finding traction. After countless meetings with Members of Congress, their staff, and the Executive Branch, we finally succeeded in enacting favorable biomass carbon neutrality language as part of an omnibus spending measure in 2017. Among other aspects, the language directs the EPA Administrator and the Secretaries of USDA and DOE to implement policies ensuring that any rules or directives promulgated by regulatory agencies and departments fully recognize the carbon neutral benefits of biomass.

FRA is now involved in follow-up advocacy to ensure that this lobbying victory is made permanent. Since the biomass carbon neutrality provision was enacted as part of a federal government funding measure, the issue has been raised that the provision may be at risk of expiring. To address this concern, FRA has been working to include language in appropriations legislation clarifying that the biomass carbon neutrality policy directive extends in perpetuity. Currently, the FY 2019 House Interior appropriations legislation that funds EPA and related agencies includes this language and we are working with our champions on Capitol Hill to see that this language makes it to the President’s desk.

Outside of the legislative and regulatory arena, FRA funds a campaign known as Biomass 101, which allows us to engage in media reporting with our opponents when rebuttal is needed to address incomplete and inaccurate coverage of biomass to allow for our policy objectives to be reached.

Lake States Forest Bat Habitat Conservation Plan (LS HCP)
The Lake States Region of FRA continues to work with members and allies to develop comments on the LS Bat HCP. The committee met on July 17th to review the prepared comments. Following the meeting, a comment letter will be prepared for signature or stand alone for those wanting to send in their own comments.

General concerns regarding the first three chapters that were released for public review are The HCP does not adequately acknowledge that WNS is the real threat to the four covered species and that forest habitat is not limiting. Specific concerns relate to the possible “caps” on forest harvest that could potentially limit increased harvest in the Lake States.

FRA staff will continue to advocate for the issues important to our membership. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me or FRA policy staff.

Sincerely,
Deb Hawkinson
NATIONAL NEWS
America’s Trucker Shortage Could Undermine Economy
Bob Blocksom, an 87-year-old former insurance salesman, needs a job. He hasn’t saved enough for his retirement. And desperate trucking firms are willing to give him one. Age didn’t matter, they said. If Blocksom could get his CDL — commercial driver’s license — they would hire him for a $50,000 job. One even offered to pay his tuition for driver training school, but there was a catch: Blocksom had to commit to driving an 18-wheel truck all over the United States for a year.
READ MORE
Forest Service Firefighting Not Aggressive Enough?
Today, our nation has more than a billion acres of vegetated landscapes, most naturally adapted to periodic wildfire. In a backcountry area such as a wilderness, we might decide to monitor and manage a fire, using it as a land management tool to reduce hazardous fuels and restore fire's natural ecological role to the landscape. Our policy is to use every tool we have to improve landscape conditions, evaluating and managing the risks in conjunction with our state and other partners. Instead of waging a losing war on wildfire, we are learning to live with fire.
READ MORE
FRA Fall Meeting Season is Set to Begin
FRA’s Fall Meeting schedule starts with the Lake States Fall Meeting on Monday, September 17, taking place this year at the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau, Wisconsin. That same week, FRA’s Western Region Fall Meeting will be held from Tuesday, September 18 through Thursday, September 20 at the Hotel RL in Olympia, Washington.

FRA’s 2018 FRA Fall Board Meeting kicks off on Wednesday, October 10 at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa in Lexington, Kentucky. The three-day event is a joint meeting coinciding with the Appalachian Region Fall Meeting. You can register for all three meetings now (Note: please click on the Regional Meetings tab to access the Lake States and Western Region Meetings). CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Additionally, the monthly Northeast Region Forest Forums are set to start up again on Thursday, September 6 in Brewer, Maine. Please contact Eric Kingsley ekingsley@forestresources.org for more information on this event and the monthly forum series.

Finally, keep a lookout for information on the Fall Southeastern Region Policy Committee Meeting as well as the Southcentral Region Fall Policy Committee Meeting & Southwide Forest Products Security Group Meeting as it is released later in the summer.
Appalachian, Southcentral, Southeastern Regions – Rick Meyer
Alabama’s Logging Equipment Operator School Graduates First Students
The Alabama Forestry Association’s “Forestry Works” initiative recently graduated the first class in its inaugural logging equipment operator school. This five-week course is designed to equip inexperienced individuals with the necessary safety training (and other topics) to become logging equipment operators. Potential students can apply for this program at www.forestryworks.com/apply or contact school instructor Ray Clifton at rclifton@alaforestry.org or 334-703-0218.
READ MORE
Timber Company Helping to Restore Endangered Mussel
FRA member-company Westervelt recently partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Alabama Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources to introduce a federally threatened mussel into a creek running through one of its properties. The MNN.com article describing Westervelt’s efforts praised the company’s excellent forestland stewardship.
READ MORE
Threatened Snake and Endangered Frog: ESA Listings in Louisiana
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) recently applied “threatened” status to the Louisiana Pinesnake and proposed a 4(d) rule that would allow certain forest management activities such as timber harvesting and prescribed burning.
READ MORE
Another species, the federally endangered Dusky Gopher Frog, is the subject of litigation that the U.S. Supreme Court will address later this year. The FWS designated critical habitat for the frog in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish in 2012. The frog has not been sighted in Louisiana since the 1960s, but some of the designated critical habitat includes privately owned land currently growing plantation pine.
READ MORE
Lake States Region – Tim O'Hara
Lake States Forest Management Bat Habitat Conservation Plan
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are seeking comment on the Lake States Forest Management Bat Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP Steering Committee will consider submitted comments, and if changes are necessary they will be incorporated into the final administrative draft of the HCP that will be submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) for review and consideration. Ultimately, the US FWS will make the final decision as to what can be included in the HCP. After the Lakes States HCP is complete, each state will, individually, apply to the US FWS for an incidental take permit and develop a Certificate of Inclusion process for covering forest management on non-state lands. Comments on the HCP are due July 31, 2018. The FRA Lake States Region Policy Committee will be meeting to discuss and prepare comments. The HCP, when completed, will be submitted to the USFWS for consideration. To download the chapters that are available for comment CLICK HERE.

FRA has formed a committee to review and provide comment on Chapters 1-3. The committee consists of representation from FRA members, the regions forest industry/logging trade associations, NCASI and NAFO. The first meeting of this group took place on July 17. Tim O’Hara, FRA Manager, Lake States Region and Policy Communications, is taking lead for FRA on this issue, contact 218-390-7965.
From RISI: Lake States Biomass, Pellet Feedstock in Strong Supply, Especially with Seasonally Lower Industrial Demand
For second quarter, biomass markets remain oversupplied in the Lake States while pellet-grade wood is readily available, according to RISI’s North American Woodfiber & Biomass Markets report. Stellar logging weather over the past nine months, reduced pulpwood demand, mill downtime, and strong sawmill activity add up to keep roundwood and residual availability strong for wood energy and pellet production. A pellet mill rep said, "Chip availability is better than average, especially with paper mills not purchasing as much." A biomass buyer for a power plant said, "There is plenty of fuel and people want to bring more." Said another, "We're not buying a lot, but want to keep suppliers viable." For second quarter, biomass prices are unchanged since third quarter, 2017, and up $1/ton from a year ago. Pellet-grade wood is sideways from first quarter and up $1/ton from second quarter, 2017. Typically, biomass demand at industrial cogeneration plants tapers off for the warm months, so surpluses are expected. "It's hard to get rid of fuel chips right now," a source said. The only hiccup reported was the long break-up, but inventories were so strong going into spring that logging slowdowns were barely noticed.
New FRA Member
Nagurski Transportation recently joined FRA as an Industry Supplier. Based out of International Falls, MN, Nagurski Transportation is a trucking company that employs 30 people and runs 25 tractors and 50 open top trailers in Minnesota and Ontario. They haul wood chips for paper mills and a variety of Bio fuels used in wood boilers.
Northeast Region – Eric Kingsley
More Uncertainty for NH Biomass on the Horizon
In New Hampshire, nearly half of the volume of wood harvest goes to biomass markets. With the recent veto of legislation to support some of the wood energy plants that utilize this biomass, the future of that market is in question. With the loss of pulp markets in Maine and New Hampshire in recent years, biomass has become an increasingly important market for low-grade wood in the Granite State.
READ MORE
New Owner of Rumford, Maine Paper Mill Will Retain Workers, Eyes Investment
ND Paper LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper Ltd., completed on Friday its acquisition of Catalyst Paper Corp.'s mills in Rumford and Biron, Wisc. Under the terms of the agreement previously announced on May 25, ND Paper paid $175 million for the two pulp and paper mills. The acquisition is expected boost Nine Dragons' performance in the second half of calendar 2018.
READ MORE
Western Region – Vickie Swanton
Idaho Gears Up to Boost Logging, Restoration on Federal Land
Idaho has more than doubled the number of workers assigned to logging and restoration projects on federal lands in the state with the goal of doubling the timber harvest and restoration treatments on by 2025. The Idaho Department of Lands starting this week is increasing the number of workers, from five to 13, taking part in a federal-state partnership allowing state workers to manage timber sales on U.S. Forest Service land.
READ MORE
Wyoming Senator Barrasso Releases Draft Legislation to Strengthen the Endangered Species Act
U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 discussion draft. The discussion draft reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. The discussion draft emphasizes elevating the role of states and increasing transparency in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It also prioritizes resources to better meet its conservation goals and provides regulatory certainty to promote conservation and recovery activities.
READ MORE
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FRA JOB BOARD
Members may announce job vacancies at no charge on FRA’s online Job Board, (Basic posting is $350 for non-members). All job postings receive 60 days of exposure. Please email Jacob Minor, jminor@forestresources.org, to list your open position.
Click on job links below for more information
NEW! VETERANS IN FORESTRY – RELATED EMPLOYMENT

Operations Forester – West Stewartstown, New Hampshire

Procurement Forester - Southeast U.S.

Operations Forester - Northern Maine Region

Resource and Timber Market Analyst - Charlotte, NC

FRA UPCOMING EVENTS
Sep 17-19

Lake States Fall Meeting (Jefferson Street Inn, Wausau, WI)
Sep 18-20

Western Region Fall Meeting (Hotel RL, Olympia, WA)
Oct 10-12

2018 Fall Board Meeting (Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, Lexington, KY)
Oct 25

2018 Fall SE Region Policy Committee Meeting (Athens,GA)
Oct 31-Nov 1

2018 Southcentral Region Fall Policy Committee Meeting & Southwide Forest Products Security Group Meeting (Starkville, MS)
May 20-22

2019 Annual Meeting (Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island, FL)
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