Legislative Forestry Task Force Issues 2015-16 Report, Recommendations
The Legislative Forestry Task Force Tuesday issued its 2015-16 report done pursuant to Senate Resolution 55 (Hutchinson-R-Venango) of 2015 to make recommendations related to public and private forest lands and practices.
Specifically, the 15-page Task Force report makes recommendations in four areas--
-- The implications of DCNR’s revised State Forest Resource Management Plan--
-- Require the inclusion of a fiscal note to accompany State Forest Resources Management Plan programs to provide increased transparency of program costs.
-- Require routine monitoring and evaluation to gauge the effectiveness of the programs outlined in the State Forest Resources Management Plan.
-- Support the continued use of the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program on DCNR forestland to help meet land use goals.
-- Create incentives for resource developers to participate in voluntary invasive species early detection surveys
-- The impact of pests and invasive species on Pennsylvania’s forestry industry, as well as the impact to overall forest health--
-- Support legislation similar to the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act, introduced by Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) in the previous session-- Senate Bill 1110. This Act updates the current list of noxious weeds and forms the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee, which will be able to add and delete plants from the list following risk assessments and studies.
-- Consider adding a tier of invasive plants that require labeling prior to commercial sale.
-- Establish biosecurity training for commercial importers including invasive species risk education and reporting procedures.
-- Create an emergency response fund which would allow for a flexible reaction to immediate threats posed by invasive species. Early response prevents costly eradication or “slow the spread” programs in the future.
-- The regulatory relationship between the State’s forestry industry, local governments and county conservation districts--
-- Guidance materials developed by DEP, Penn State University and other partners are critical for the forest products industry to remain in compliance. The materials listed below should be updated without delay: Erosion and Sediment Control Plan for a Timber Harvesting Operation; Timber Harvest Operations Field Guide for Waterways, Wetlands and Erosion Control; Professional Timber Harvesters Action Packet.
-- Amend the ACRE law to shorten the time frame in which the Office of the Attorney General will respond to requests for legal review. Consider the need for additional resources to deal with an expedited case load within the Office of the Attorney General.
-- Promote the historical Local Conservation District operating model of educating the public and industry, providing technical assistance for environmental law compliance and solving problems.
-- Encourage conservation districts and local governments to review Penn State University’s model ordinance to prevent unlawful restrictions on forestry operations.
-- Encourage ongoing forest product industry involvement with Conservation Districts.
-- The decline in qualified timber harvesters and other related occupations--
-- Meeting with representatives from the insurance industry as well as the Insurance Department in future task force meetings to understand worker’s compensation structures and other issues facing employers, employees and independent contractors.
-- Develop forestry programs and curricula for high schools and vocational technical schools to foster youth interest in forestry occupations.
-- Introduce a resolution urging Congress to reexamine OSHA regulations as they relate to logging, recognizing the roles that minors could safely fill while introducing them to career opportunities in the timber harvesting industry.
A copy of the report is available online.
The Legislative Forestry Task Force operates under the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Conservation Committee.
[Posted: March 28, 2017]
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