Pennsylvania Forest Products Association
Highlights of 2011-2012 Legislative and Regulatory Activities
- PFPA's advocacy resulted in a solution to the problems faced by forest product haulers that found themselves co-bonding posted state routes with Marcellus operations. A provision in Act 13-2012 required PennDOT to adopt a methodology to issue Letters of Local Determination to haulers associated with forest products and "at risk" industries operating on posted state routes that are bonded by the Marcellus industry. This Letter will exempt the hauler from the bonding and excess maintenance requirements of Chapter 189, so long as the route is bonded by the Marcellus industry. PennDOT also adopted a methodology to issue Letters of Local Determination for de minimis hauling on certain posted state routes. PFPA worked not only with its legislative allies, but also with DCNR, the Department of Agriculture and PennDOT to secure and ensure smooth implementation of this new policy.
Ensuring reasonable road posting and bonding on the state and local level will continue to be a priority issue for PFPA into the future.
- PFPA has worked with National Alliance of Forest Owners and other groups to challenge the erroneous ruling of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found forest roads to be a point source under the Clean Water Act. PFPA is a noted participant of an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court's on-going review of the ruling. PFPA is also working with this coalition to seek federal legislation to properly codify forest roads as a non-point source.
- PFPA identified and alerted members on the proposed actions of the Pennsylvania Game Commission to protect bats species by imposing significant restrictions on timber harvesting. This issue will be an ongoing priority issue for PFPA.
- PFPA effectively blocked the consideration of legislation that would mandate the licensing and regulation of foresters and forestry operations in the state.
- PFPA helped secure continued state funding and staffing of the Department of Agriculture's Hardwoods Development Council, allowing the HDC to continue its market promotion, public outreach and industry support activities.
- We continue to educate our members and work closely with state and federal agencies to ensure that the regulations meant to control the spread of invasive pests such as Emerald Ash Borer and Thousand Cankers Disease are reasonable, practical and effective.
- PFPA effectively blocked the consideration of legislation that would dramatically increase the criminal and civil restitution penalties for timber theft and the unintentional conversion of timber.
- PFPA worked to secure positive amendments to legislation creating green building standards for state buildings and state supported construction.
- PFPA continues to participate in a coalition of landowners and recreation groups seeking to improve the state's Recreational Use of Land and Water Act by improving landowner litigation protection for certain land improvements and recreation activities, and further discourage frivolous lawsuits.
- DCNR has solicited input and assistance from PFPA on the design and implementation of an upcoming Timber Product Output survey.
- PFPA arranged for the PA SFI® Program Manager to brief legislators and policy staff on the status and benefits of PA SFI® logger training.
- PFPA helped secure the appointment of forestry representatives to the Governor's Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.
- With PA SFI®, DEP and Wayne County Conservation, PFPA hosted a harvest tour and BMP training for conservation district E&S technicians.
- PFPA worked with DCNR to reestablish the State Forest Timber Harvesting Committee and we continue to provide input to DCNR's Bureau of Forestry and the Game Commission on timber sale volumes, timber contracting, forest planning, green certification and various other policy issues.
- We supported DCNR's recently released gas development guidelines, which encourage PA SFI® logger training for those engaged in Marcellus-related timber harvesting and vegetation removal.
- PFPA has worked with national groups such as the Hardwood Federation, AF&PA, and the National Alliance of Forest Owners to comment on federal issues, including pesticide permitting, the listing of endangered species and the continued non-point source designation for forest roads.
- PFPA was awarded a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Ag Research program to work with Penn State Goddard Chair Jim Grace to examine the potential for implementing a state-sponsored, third-party certification of private forests. The resulting investigation concluded that such an initiative would be premature at this time.
- The 2012 PFPA Legislative Event included participation by 55 PFPA members and was attended by over 50 legislators and agency officials.
- PFPA developed a 30 minute presentation entitled Engaging in the Political Process: Effective Communication of Logging Interests for use as a component of 2011 PA SFI continuing education training. The presentation focuses on tips to effectively communicate with legislators and other officials.
- Acting as industry spokesperson, PFPA fielded media inquiries, issued press releases and submitted letters to the editor on a variety of issues impacting our industry. PFPA was quoted in major newspapers of the state, as well as a number of national hardwood publications. PFPA is also a regular contributor to the Pennsylvania Forestry Association quarterly magazine and has provide updates and issue presentations to a number of other outside groups.
- PFPA provides financial support to the Hardwood Federation, which conducts lobbying on federal hardwood industry issues.