Board of Forestry
Minutes

The Board of Forestry met on Thursday, January 12, 2012, at the Virginia Forestry Association Office, Richmond, Virginia.

Convene Meeting

The formal Board meeting began at 12:30 p.m. on January 12, 2012. Those present were: Anne Beals, Nadine Block, David Blount, Phillip Bradshaw, John Burke, III, William Imbergamo, Hillary Little, J. Kenneth Morgan, David Wm. Smith, S. Lee Spradlin, Carl Garrison and Donna Hoy with the Department of Forestry.

The Board of Forestry members expressed their appreciation to Virginia Forestry Association for the use of their office conference room.

Call to Order

Chairman Blount called the meeting to order.

Ms. Hoy called roll.

Adoption of Agenda

Chairman Blount asked if there were any changes to the agenda. No changes were made to the agenda.

Recognition of Guests and Visitors

Chairman Blount welcomed Mr. Glen Worrell; Mr. Randy Bush, Virginia Forest Products Association; Mr. Bud Watson, Virginia Forest Watch; Mr. Paul Howe, Virginia Forestry Association; Mr. Jim Mooney, Virginia Loggers Association; Dr. Paul Winistorfer, Dean, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech; Dr. Robert Smith, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech; Mr. Ron Jenkins, Mr. John Carroll, Mr. Ed Zimmer and Mr. Charlie Becker with the Department of Forestry.

Hearing of Citizens

None

Approval of Minutes

Chairman Blount asked if there were any changes to the October 20, 2011 minutes. Mr. Little made the motion for the minutes to be approved as written. Mr. Bradshaw seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Action Items

Technical Standards for Classification of Real Estate Devoted to Forest Use (4VAC-10-20-20) Review/Discussion

Board of Forestry members had an in-depth discussion of the contents of this regulation. This regulation is used as a guidance document for counties, as well as continuity from county to county. The Board made the recommendation to have this regulation rewritten, to include an expansion of the definitions and to clarifying information so that it is more understandable. The Board requested that the Department of Forestry staff rewrite this regulation and present to Board members prior to the next meeting.

State Forester's Report

2012 General Assembly

Mr. Garrison reported the Department of Forestry has four bills in the 2012 General Assembly session. Those bills are:

  • Riparian Forest Buffers (HB456/SB404) - Makes the existing tax credit for riparian forest buffer protection for waterways refundable. Currently, the tax credit may be carried forward for five taxable years, but is not refundable.
  • DOF’s Use of Methyl bromide (HB239/SB126) - Directs the Department of Forestry's forest tree nurseries to continue to use methyl bromide gas fumigation in their pre-seeding land preparation under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's listed usage exemption QPS (Quarantine & Pre-Shipment). The bill also authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue a phytosanitary certificate or a permit verifying that shipments of conifers and hardwood seedlings are free of pests and diseases.

The use of Methyl bromide is critical to the Department’s nursery operations. The use of Methyl bromide is currently authorized in Virginia Code under an existing US EPA exemption that is scheduled to expire in 2012.

  • Payments to Counties (HB995/SB428) - Limits the payment made to localities by the Department of Forestry to one-fourth of the gross proceeds derived solely from the sale of timber harvested on state forest lands. Currently, localities receive one-fourth of the gross proceeds from revenue generated by any revenue-generating activity occurring on state forest lands.

Mr. Garrison reported that Counties would have the biggest opposition to this bill, although only a small amount goes to counties. The Virginia Association of Counties did not oppose this bill.

  • State Forest Use Permits (SB559) - Authorizes the State Forester to issue the special use permit for certain activities on state forest lands without the approval of the Board of Forestry. The bill expands the requirement for a permit for mountain biking to all bike riding. The existing $15 fee is removed; instead it is left to the Department to set the fee through the regulatory process. The bill also removes the option of the State Forester to issue a separate license to trap on state forest lands.

This bill will remove language “with approval of the Board of Forestry” and will increase the fee to match the fee of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for consistency.

Governor’s Bills

  • Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (HB766/SB128) - Creates the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. The bill establishes an economic development grant program targeted specifically at agricultural and forestry operations. Grants will be awarded to support localities' efforts to attract value-added or processing facilities using Virginia-grown products. Under the program, localities will apply for grants after having established a relationship with a new or expanding business.

Mr. Garrison stated this is a good opportunity for the forestry community for the creation of a new business, new job, expansion of current business, etc. Funds will be awarded by the Governor as grants or loans. The Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Department of Agriculture and consumer Services, and the Department of Forestry shall assist the Governor in developing objective guidelines and criteria used in awarding grants from this fund.

  • Consolidate the Reforestation of Timberlands Board into the Board of Forestry (HJ49). The Reforestation of Timberlands Board is charged with advising the State Forester in all matters concerning the administration of the Reforestation of Timberlands Program (RTP). The General Assembly authorized the RTP in 1970 as a financial incentive for private landowners to plant pine seedlings in response to over-harvesting of pine timber. Funds for the program come from three sources: forest industry, the Commonwealth, and private landowners. The industry pays into the fund through a self-imposed severance tax when pine timber is harvested. This money is matched with General Fund revenue. The DOF's field offices located throughout the state run the program.

Consolidation of the boards makes sense because both the RT Board and the Board of Forestry are advisory boards. DOF is confident that the two boards can be combined without any loss of emphasis on the importance of the RTP. Consolidation will not result in any interruption of the program because the RTP is already being run out of DOF offices.

Consolidation of the boards also provides the opportunity for further reform to better represent the forestry industry. In order to retain the diversity required of the current RT Board, BOF membership can be adjusted in the Code. The proposed consolidation may allow the BOF an opportunity to better reflect industry interests by moving away from the current Congressional district allocations.

The current RT Board consists of three representatives of the pine pulpwood industry, three representatives of the pine lumber industry, one of whom is the owner of a sawmill annually producing not more than five million board feet, and three small forest landowners.

Chairman Blount reported he had sent an e-mail to Deputy Secretary Travis Hill regarding the reorganization of the Board of Forestry. In the e-mail he pointed out that he felt the reorganization would not represent the various geographies of the State and would limit the expertise on the Board, would not adequately represent the many facets facing the management of the state's forests beyond the basic industrial component, and would not provide the broad vision needed by the State to assist in the management of the forest resources.

Chairman Blount further indicated the proposed legislation would impede the opportunity for the BOF to have membership representing the academic community, the local county/ town government perspective, the urban forestry needs and the conservation/"green" NGOs, etc. and would not be in the best interest of the Commonwealth. He recommended the proposed legislation be delayed until a more thorough investigation could be conducted on the needs and operations of the BOF and RT Board with the intent of introducing legislation at the 2013 General Assembly meeting that supports the requirements of both Boards and the Commonwealth.

Board of Forestry members also expressed their concerns about the merger of these two Boards and the proposed membership. Mr. Bradshaw made a motion that Chairman Blount draft a letter on behalf of the Board to the Governor with a copy to the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry’s office expressing the Board’s concerns with the proposed merger. Mr. Imbergamo and Ms. Block stated they would be willing to help with the draft letter. All members were in favor.

FY 2012 DOF Budget

Emergency Response Fleet - $250,000 for DOF to replace or purchase emergency response equipment through the state’s Master Equipment Lease Purchase. Depending on the term of financing, the total investment over this period will either be $1.3 million over five years or $2.5 million over 10 years.

Going Mobile – DOF is authorized to sell three surplus buildings and use the proceeds (approximately $434,000) to fund an initiative to develop a mobile information technology environment for employees. Over the long-term, the implementation of the new mobile technology will increase efficiency and reduce costs.

DOF will move to an area management concept versus a county concept. The area management concept will consist of 3 – 5 counties, with a team to cover the needs of that area. This concept will allow field employees to work remotely using laptops, smart phones, internet, etc., provided more flexibility in serving Virginia landowners.

The Department will sell six offices: Farmville, Goochland, Sandston, Prince George, Brunswick and Galax. Employees currently working out of these offices will be reassigned to different office locations. Over time, additional offices will be reduced throughout the state.

Fiscal Systems Upgrade - $240,000 to replace DOF’s existing accounts receivable fiscal system. One primary function of the system is to administer the RT Program. The current system is out of compliance with the Commonwealth’s standards and is difficult to support and operate. DOF will use $120,000 from the RT fund and $120,000 from the General Fund for the upgrade.

Budget Reductions

DOF will eliminate four vacant positions, one additional administrative level position, its annual calendar, and its support of Virginia Tech hydrology research.

It is also estimated that there will be a $125,000 reduction in federal funding. This will affect Forest Health, Fire, and Research.

Information Items

Forest Products Branding Update

Mr. Charlie Becker gave a brief presentation to the Board on the Forest Industry Roundtable meeting reference identifying forestry and industry issues and what DOF and the State could do to address them. One of the top issues was improving promotion and expansion of Virginia forest products and markets. The committee included industry, Virginia Tech, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Forestry. Due to budget and other resource limitations, the committee decided to start with general education and promotion.

The planned program will be a joint effort with DOF and VDACS. It will be an extension of the Virginia Grown program to Forest Products. The program will have a Virginia Grown Forest Products logo and materials to promote the value of using Virginia wood through various venues. The initial efforts will focus on local/regional use and value of local grown products and jobs.

The program logo and other promotional materials are scheduled to be in draft form by February 1, 2012, with the final design scheduled to be complete by the end of April 2012. The program will roll out at the 33rd East Coast Sawmill and Logging Equipment Expo in Richmond on May 18, 2012.

Committee/Liaison Reports

Sub-Committee Report – State Forest Update

The State Lands Subcommittee (Dave Blount, Dave Smith, Ken Morgan, and Lee Spradlin) met with Harvey Darden, State Lands Division Manager, John Carroll, Ron Jenkins and Donna Hoy with the Department of Forestry on December 6, 2011. Mr. Darden gave a more detailed presentation to the subcommittee as a follow-up to his presentation to the Board on October 20, 2011.

Mr. Darden shared the future direction and goals for nurseries, research, tree improvement, and state forests. He indicated the Board could be of help to him by:

Give consideration to the Objectives and their relevance to the management of the Commonwealth’s forest resources.

Share ideas and comments regarding any facet of State lands with DOF.

Provide expertise in evaluation of business plans as they are developed.

In the future, help to protect surplus funds the State lands may generate.

Serve as a sounding board and source for ideas for future plans.

The sub-committee plans to meet with Mr. Darden again in June or July.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee will be put on hold until after the General Assembly session and the outcome of the merger of the Reforestation of Timberlands Board and the Board of Forestry.

Old Business

Enhancing Legislative Awareness

Board members were given two 1-page handouts to share with legislators. The first included current facts about the Department and a list of concerns. The other included a list of trends and conditions, threats, multi-state issues, etc.

Update on DOF Action Plan for 2012

Board members were given a copy of DOF’s goals, objectives, measures, and strategies from the Strategic Plan. The link to that document is: http://www.dof.virginia.gov/info/resources/2010-Strategic-Plan_06-15_reduced.pdf.

New Business

Education of Citizenry (Professor Smith Letter)

Chairman Blount shared two articles recently written by Dr. Smith and Mr. Morgan. These articles pertain to educating children and the general public about the forest resources in Virginia. The Board recognizes improvement is needed in this area and will hold future discussions focusing on how to improve the education of forestry for children and citizens of the Commonwealth.

Scheduling of Next Meetings

The next meeting of the Board will be May 18, 2012, 9:30 a.m.in conjunction with the Logging Expo in Richmond, Virginia.

Adjournment

There being no further business, Chairman Blount accepted a motion that the meeting be adjourned. The meeting was officially adjourned at 4:12 p.m.

                                                                        Respectfully submitted,

                                                                        Donna S. Hoy
Donna Hoy
Recording Secretary
c:          Board Members
The Honorable Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry
Dr. Paul Winistorfer, Dean, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech
Mr. J. R. Bush, Virginia Forest Products Association
Mr. Paul Howe, Virginia Forestry Association
Mr. David E. Anderton, Jr., Association of Consulting Foresters
Ms. Tammi Belinsky, WildWood
Mr. Steve Brooks, Virginia Forest Watch
Mr. Jim Mooney, Virginia Loggers Association
Mr. Gerald Gray, Virginia Forest Watch
Ms. Donna Pugh-Johnson, Virginia Agribusiness Council
Ms. Martha Moore, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
Mr. Roger Sherman, MeadWestvaco Corporation
Ms. Staci Henshaw, Auditor of Public Accounts
Mr. Andrew Smith, Virginia Farm Bureau
Mr. Jason Woodfin, Virginia Forest Watch
Mr. Bud Watson, Virginia Forest Watch
Mr. Kurt Christensen
Mr. Charles F. Finley, Jr.
NOTE:  Tapes of Board meetings are on file in the Office of the State Forester.