AFA Newsroom V8 No. 7, April 1, 2013
Status Reports on House & Senate Bills Introduced in 2013 Regular Session
By Tom Saunders
Attached are the House and Senate status reports reflecting legislative activity through Wednesday, March 20th, the 15th legislative day (half way!). The Legislature re-convenes on Tuesday, April 2nd after taking next week off for Spring Break.
1. AFA Priority Bill creating the RAMP program to provide funding to rural counties for bridge construction within the ATRIP program has passed both houses. An amendment was added in the House, however, that will require the bill to return to the Senate for concurrence.
2. AFA Priority Bill addressing certification standards within green building codes was introduced in the House (HB 457) by Representative Mike Jones (R-Andalusia). The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee. The Senate companion (SB 326) was voted out of the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee and awaits its second reading in the Senate.
3. A local bill (HB 434)to allow the Monroe County Commission to have a referendum allowing the county to collect gasoline and motor fuel taxes up to 5 cents/gallon for road and bridge projects within the county was introduced by Representatives Harry Shiver (R- Bay Minette) and Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville).
4. A local bill (HB 436) to allow the Lee County Commission to have a referendum allowing the county to collect gasoline and motor fuel taxes up to 5 cents/gallon for road and bridge projects within the county was introduced by Representatives Lesley Vance (R- Phenix City) and Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee).
STATESMAN'S CORNER: Senator Tom Whatley, R-Auburn
Senator Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, was elected to the Alabama Senate on November 2, 2010. He was born in Opelika, August 7, 1970, and received his Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University, and his Juris Doctorate from the Thomas Jones School of Law. Senator Whatley is a practicing attorney and attends Auburn United Methodist Church.
Senator Whatley is the Senate sponsor of the AFA-backed "certification bill" which would mandate that, on state construction jobs, all forest certification programs, including Tree Farm and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, must be treated equally.
Since his election in 2010, Tom has been a true friend of rural Alabama and especially the forestry community. As the son of a Lee County dairy farmer, Tom was a natural to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.
> Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (Chairperson)
> Banking and Insurance
> Energy and Natural Resources (Co-Chairperson)
> Finance and Taxation Education
> Local Legislation No. 1
> Veterans and Military Affairs
Senator Whatley can be contacted at his office at (334) 242-7865 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Senator Whatley for being one of forestry's champions!
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh Wants Your Help on the Education Accountability Act
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is looking for a few good conservaties to sign a petition in support of passage of the Alabama Accountability Act, a bill that will allow the parents of students in failing schools to vote with their feet by taking their children to a successful public, private or parochial school and provides a tax credit to offset some of the cost of that move.
Not surprisingly, the Alabama Education Association and other organizations have cranked up a fully-fledged political campaign and a legal challenge in court to prevent the bill from ever going into effect. General education reform in Alabama has always been a dicey prosition because of the strength of the AEA. This effort on the part of the newly elected (2010) Republican majority is as close as the Alabama Legislature has come to effecting true reform in many years.
It is with that in mind that Senator Marsh wants you to read and fill out the proposed petition and participate in the process of trying to make this reform stick.
11th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Labor Department has no Authority to Issue H-2B Rules
Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida enjoining the Department of Labor (DOL) from enforcing its non-immigrant non-agricultural unskilled labor visa program (H-2B) in Bayou Lawn and Landscape Services v. Solis.
The court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering the preliminary injunction and affirmed de novo the district court’s interpretation of the law. This case is mostly over – the preliminary injunction remains in effect through determination of the case, but the district court and the court of appeals have already determined the ultimate issue of the legality of DOL’s regulations.
Coastal Forest Products Announces Expansion, Creation of New Jobs
Coastal Forest Products is a wood products manufacturer in Butler County. Plant managers say they are expanding their plant by 60,000 square feet, at a cost of $20 million and construction is already under way.
"The intent is to replace our older drier technology with newer drier technology," said Nick Ausman, General Manager of Coastal Forest Products. "The long term goal is to put a third drier in place. It will allow us to expand our operations."
Auburn Wins Technical Award at Forestry Conclave
By Dean Jim Shepard
This past weekend (March 16) we hosted the 56th annual Southern Forestry Conclave. I am very pleased to report that we came in 1st Place in the technical events. We didn't do so well in the physical events and while it might have been fun to have done better, I suspect few of you ask questions about someone's pole climbing or ax chopping abilities when you interview prospective employees.
Here are some specifics:
1st Daniel Heath Pole classification
2nd Travis Whatley DBH estimation
2nd James Robert Dearman Dendrology
We also hosted the Stihl Timber Sports Collegiate Series Friday night and raised $800 from the crowd, plus matching of $500 each from the AU Forestry Club for a total of $1800 for Log a Load for Kids!
As thanks for hosting the event, Stihl sent a cameraman to shoot video that they will use to make a 60 second commercial for our School. It will be aired with the Timber Sports event on the Outdoor Channel on April 7th and 14th. My sincere thank you to many of you who were sponsors.
Our students and faculty did a great job of organizing the event. I think our placing 1st in the technical events says a lot about the quality of our students, our faculty, and our program.
FMCSA: Drivers Beware!
By Ray Clifton
In the last two issue of Logger Notes I outlined the challenges our industry will face in complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA (FMCSA) program.
The measurement data is scored and weighted based on seven factors: Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo, and Crash Indicators.
Read Logger Notes...
Georgia Pacific to Invest $400 Million in Plants
By Christopher Seward
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An upswing in housing and other construction is prompting Georgia-Pacific to invest nearly $400 million in its plywood and lumber operations in the coming years, the Atlanta-based company announced Friday.
The money will be used to expand plants and upgrade equipment in several states. In addition to Georgia, the company has operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas.
U.S builders have been on a construction binge over that last several months, according to the Commerce Department. Construction in February was at its second-fastest pace since June 2008 and permits for future construction also rose at the fastest pace in 4 ½ years.
KiOR Makes First Shipment of Wood-based Diesel from Commercial-scale Mississippi Plant
PASADENA, TEXAS -- Kior, Inc, announced recently the initial shipments of cellulosic diesel in its first commercial-scale facility in Columbus, Mississippi. Unlike traditional biofuels like ethanol of biodiesel, KiOR's fuels have no compatibility issues.
KiOR's facility uses pine wood chips previously feeding a shut down paper mill at Columbus and produces gasoline and diesel, the first renewable hydrocarbon fuels in the U.S. manufactured at commercial scale and derived solely from non-food feedstocks to avoid competition with human food needs. KiOR's renewable gasoline is also the first renewable cellulosic gasoline ever registered by the EnvironmentalProtection Agency for sale in the U.S.
Are we in "Housing Bubble II", the Sequel?
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, April 1, 2013 (Belfast Telegraph) – As far as horror stories go, the US housing bubble that imploded and sparked the 2008 global economic meltdown was a blockbuster. No one in their right mind wants a sequel.
But, according to those warning that ramped-up US housing stats aren't what they seem, one might be coming, anyway.
April 5 is "Tax Free Day" in Alabama
Washington, D.C., April 2, 2013—Tax Freedom Day, the date on which Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state, and local levels, falls on April 5th for residents of Alabama. The nationwide date for all Americans, as announced today by the Tax Foundation, will be Thursday, April 18th.
In the new Tax Foundation study, “Tax Freedom Day 2013,” economists William McBride, Ph.D., Elizabeth Malm, and Kyle Pomerleau also calculate how long Americans would have to work in order to close the federal budget deficit. In order to pay for all spending in the current year, the government would need to raise an additional $833 billion in taxes, pushing Tax Freedom Day to May 9th.
Read full release
Professional Logging Manager Initial Training
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Forestry Commission will be hosting the initial training program for the Professional Logging Manager designation on Saturday, April 27 and Saturday, May 18 at the LP mill in Thomasville.
To receive the designation you must participate in both days of the program. These programs are intended for those who have never participated and do not count as continuing education for current cardholders. To register for the program click here.
Science Olympiad held in Montgomery
Carolyn Stubbs, Tree Farm Committee Member, and Chris Erwin, AFA staffer, recently volunteered at the Alabama Science Olympiad held at Huntington College in Montgomery. Thirteen middle schools and fifteen high schools from across the state competed in various programs including forestry. The tree identification quiz was particularly difficult considering it occurred just before leaf-out.
Randolph School in Huntsville won in the high school division and Auburn Junior High won the middle school division. The winners will represent the state at the national competition in Dayton, Ohio, May 17 and 18.
Alabama Project Learning Tree Committee Hosts the International Coordinators Conference
The Alabama Project Learning Tree Committee will be hosting over one hundred environmental education specialists from around the world on April 29 – May 2 at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala. The program will include plenty of speakers on providing quality EE programs and running sustainable organizations. Field trips include a “Forests of the World” workshop at the Port of Mobile, Five Rivers Delta Resource Center, Orange Beach Elementary School, Bon Secour and Weeks Bay.
The Committee is asking for donations for its silent auction at the conference. All proceeds from the auction go back into the state committee budget and are used to support workshops to implement the Project Learning Tree materials into Alabama schools. Please contact Chris Erwin at email@example.com or call (334)300-0254 if you can help.
2013 AFA Architect Tour a Great Success
The Alabama Forestry Association hosted 54 students and three faculty members from Auburn University’s College of Architecture March 22. Students toured Structural Wood Systems in Greenville and the Alabama Forestry Foundation Building in Montgomery.
AFA EVP Chris Isaacson discussed the benefits of wood in design and forest sustainability and certification in Alabama. Afterward, students toured the AFA building to see first hand how the various varieties of wood were used in its construction.
John Gandy, the architect who was primarily responsible for the building design usually does a presentation for the tour. Unfortunately this year, Mr. Gandy was ill and unable to attend the 2013 tour. We wish John a speedy recovery.
Up next for the students is a wood design competition that is sponsored by the Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Implementation Committee of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
PHOTOS: In the above two photos students tour Structural Wood Systems of Greenville which makes GluLam beams for building projects.
Log a Load Update: April and May Will be Busy Months for Log a Loaders!
Spring is in the air so, of course, it's time for the busiest part of the Log a Load for Kids 2013 fundraising season. This year's effort started with a 5-K run over in Demopolis. That was followed by a fund raiser held in conjunction with the 56th Annual Forestry Conclave at Auburn University (see story above).
Other Announced Log a Load Events in 2013 include:
> April 6. Warrior District will hold first ever Blacktie and blue jeans event to be held at Tuscaloosa. Click here for event flyer and registration document.
> April 20. Piedmont District will hold its 1st Annual Log a Load Turkey Shoot at the Oaks in LaFayette. See attached flyer
> May 3rd. Shannon White will hold his annual Piedmont Sporting Clays event at Selwood Farms. Contact Shannon White at (256) 207-0166 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a flyer/registration document, click here.
> May 13. Wiregrass District Golf event in Troy. Click here for Flyer.
> May 18th. Angie Sherrill will hold her annual Wiregrass District Trail Ride near Abbeville. Click here for flyer.
> May 21. Capital District golf event will be held at Lagoon Park in Montgomery. Click here for flyer.
> May 23rd. The Delta District will hold its annual golf event at Chatom. Click here for event flyer. For registration document, click here.
> June 12. Piedmont District Golf Tournament will be held at Greystone in Birmingham.
PS: Don't forget that the national Log a Load program is selling chances on a brand new John Deere Gator to help raised funds for Log a Load. For $10 you can purchase one ticket and $20 will buy you three chances to win this classic 4-wheeler. The good thing is, the money raised will stay in each state. So if you buy chances you will be contributing to the Alabama program. For more information about the Gator giveaway, contact State Log a Load Chair Janet Ison at (334) 757-8282 or at email@example.com. For a press release on the Gator program, click here. For a copy of the Gator Giveaway guidelines, click here.
Ag Praises Supreme Court Ruling as a Victory for Class Action Fairness and Free Enterprise
(MONTGOMERY)—Attorney General Luther Strange called the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Standard Fire insurance Co. v. Knowles "a tremendously important victory for class action fairness and free enterprise."
In a unanimous decision in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles, No. 11-1450, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a class action filed by plaintiffs in Arkansas state court belonged, instead, in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed the class action in an Arkansas county with a history of abusing the class action system, approving high awards for class attorneys, and providing little meaningful relief for consumers. The plaintiffs’ lawyers sought to keep the case in state court by filing a “stipulation” that promised not to seek damages of over $5 million, even though the plaintiffs’ claims might be worth more than that.
New Forestland Owner Tax Guide Available Online
Since we are entering that wonderful period in the year when we must get our tax house in order, the USDA has worked up an updated Forest Landowners' Guide to the Federal Income Tax just in time for your use.
The new document is now available online.
Field Day Event and PLM Credit Reminder for April 18 Event
The Conecuh County Forestry Planning Committee will host a landowner field day at Saloom Properties, LLC on April 18 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The field day will include professional speakers on wildlife, longleaf and forest product markets, a free lunch and 29 vendors and exhibitors.
Salem and Dianne Saloom have been recognized as winners of the Helene Moseley Treasure Forest Award and were the National Tree Farm Family of the Year in 2010. Mark your calendars now for this opportunity to learn new ideas on wildlife and forest management and to network with like-minded landowners and resource professionals. Call 251-578-2762 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-register.
Poor Condition of Alabama Roads Cost Drivers Millions Each Year for Vehicle Repairs
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- One-quarter of the state's public roads are in "poor" or "mediocre" shape, and driving them costs Alabamians more than $500 million per year in vehicle repairs, a nationwide civil engineering study concluded.
The same study also gives Alabama high marks for working to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on its highways.
Melvin Dixon Recognized for Forestry Activism
Roanoke, VA – On March 6, the Forest Resources Association’s Southcentral Region honored Melvin Dixon as its 2013 Forestry Activist Award Winner. This award honors an individual or organization for grassroots accomplishments in the legislative, media, or educational arena to help promote the cause of forestry and the forest products industry.
Melvin is a farmer and a mechanical maintenance trainer at Georgia-Pacific’s Naheola, Alabama tissue mill. His most visible service to our industry regionally and nationally has been through his leadership on the Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC).
Photo: Melvin Dixon (center) FRA's 2013 Southcentral Region Forestry Activist Award winner, with FRA President Deb Hawkinson (left) and FRA Southcentral Region Chairman Arnulfo Zendejas (right).
PACE: Sowing Renewables, Reaping Instability!
Recent news out of California should concern anyone who cares about the reliability of electric power. That means manufacturers and small businesses who rely on stable power to produce goods, families who depend on electricity to stave off the cold and heat, and just about every other facet of the U.S. economy that converts electric power into gross domestic product.
Shutterbugs Have Until the End of the Week to Enter the SFI Photo Contest!
This is a reminder that the 2013 SFI Photo Contest will close the door on entries on April 5, 2013. So you aspiring photographers have until the end of the week to get your submissions in to qualify for one of the six category winners and a $300 gift card from either Best Buy, Walmart or National Geographic.
Review the rules
Supreme Court Sides With Forestry on Forest Roads Water Pollution Case
In a defeat for environmentalists, the Supreme Court recently sided with the U.S. timber industry in a dispute over whether loggers should have to get special EPA permits because of gravel and dirt falling into nearby waterways.
In a 7-1 vote, the court reversed a lower-court ruling which said the run-off from logging sites is the same as any other industrial pollution, requiring a Clean Water Act permit from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Toomer Oaks to be Taken Down on April 23
Auburn, Alabama –Auburn University plans to remove the stricken Toomer’s Oaks at the edge of its campus on April 23.
During its meeting recently, the Auburn City Council approved a resolution to close the intersection of South College Street and Magnolia Avenue for the removal, according to David Dorton, director of public affairs.
Crews from Asplundh tree service will perform the work, which is expected to take three to four hours, according to Gail Riese, communications and marketing Specialist with AU’s Facilities Management Department. In a related story, the man who poisoned the trees, Harvey updyke, received a 6 year sentence for the offense.
Photo: In this file photo, crews prune the oaks at Toomer's Corner in Auburn. Auburn University plans to remove the poisoned live oaks at the edge of its campus on April 23. The city of Auburn voted Tuesday to close city streets at the intersection for the removal.
Legacy's 2013 Educator Workshop Series Schedule Announced
Legacy has announced that it will hold eight educator workshops across the state of Alabama starting this month and ending in September. The first workshop will be on the subject Preserving Alabama's Natural Treasures and will be held April 26-27 at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The second workshop will take place in June at the Beckwith Camp and Conference Center.
Review 2013 Schedule
Why There Will Always be a Need for Paper!
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