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(9/30/16) "Big tree hunters from across the country scoured backcountry wilderness, rural farmland, city centers and even college campuses to find 64 new champions to add to the register." Check out the species without a listed national champion - maybe you've got one on your property. Alabama's champion tree list added seven new champions in 2015.

(9/29/16)Alabama can play a vital role in supplying renewable fuel wood energy and make the most out of the uptick in international demand …Without continued growth of our forest products industry to create new markets to utilize these valuable resources, it is very likely that forest owners across our state would be faced with looking at alternative uses for their land.” – John McMillan, al.com, 9/22/16

(9/28/16) “This announcement is a call for help from the administration and an acknowledgement that [the Endangered Species Act] is broken … No matter who wins the White House in November, the law’s failings necessitate reform.” - Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, calling for an end to the “excessive litigation driving ESA-related policy decisions.” Read the full news release here.

(9/27/16) This research from Forisk Consulting digs deep into costs and returns on management activities by large timberland owners.
Some key points form the report:

  •  571 trees planted per acre with an 87.8 percent survival rate
  •  83 percent conduct first thinnings and 71 percent also conduct second thinnings
  •  average age of first thinning is 15 years with $371/acre revenue
  •  average age of second thinning is 21 years with $401/acre revenue
  •  average age of final harvest is 33 years, with range of 21 to 75 years, with average clearcut revenue of $1,614/acre

Source: Report compiled by Forisk Consulting and published by Forest Resources Association, Technical Release 16-R-17, 8/16.

(9/25/16) A new law in New Hampshire allows landowners to sue for treble damages and legal fees for damage caused by off-road vehicles or dumping. “This bill gives courts the authority to order clean-up and restitution to the landowner of any illegal dumping. It’s a strong deterrent for an illegal activity that is all too common,” said New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association executive director Jasen Stock.

(9/23/16) The Family Business Consulting Group offers advice on wealth continuity. "In my view, the key to successful wealth continuity (i.e., preserving both family relationships and family assets) lies in ensuring that the structures created to preserve family assets are aligned with the hopes, dreams and capacities of family members."

(9/22/16) Trade pact benefits our forest industry, says Alan Shelby of the Florida Forestry Association.

(9/21/16) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not add the angular dwarf crayfish, Icebox Cave beetle, Clifton Cave beetle, and the Virgin Island coqui to the threatened and endangered species list, the service said this week. This decision comes after petitions from outside organizations to list these species. Read the news release here.

(9/20/16) The "My Land Handbook" provides a document to help landowners ensure land is "smoothly and effectively passed on to the next caretakers." Although it was written for Wisconsin landowners, much of it will be useful for landowners in any state.

(9/19/16) Cultivating ginseng on your land could be a low-investment way to bring in income. Purdue University Extension is researching “simulated wild grow” of the native plant. “Our interest in ginseng kind of arises from the whole area of forest farming and agro-forestry,” says Lenny Farlee of Purdue Extension. “So, it’s the idea of combining forest management with some sort of crop that might be planted either underneath the forest or with the trees.” Wild ginseng has fetched upwards of $700 per pound in the past, but be careful – you can run afoul of regulations in place to prevent overharvesting due to high overseas demand.

(9/16/16) "Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country."

(9/15/16) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is placing the white fringeless orchid on the federal threatened and endangered species list as threatened. This plant occurs in eight Alabama counties: Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Dekalb, Jackson, Marion, Tuscaloosa, and Winston. A map of the affected counties can be viewed here.

(9/14/16) The newly announced Alabama Master Naturalist Program will offer a course in East Central Alabama beginning October 13, 2016. We look forward to attending these to learn more about the land we own and manage. Class locations will be at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City and other to be determined locations. Cost of this course is $30 per day or $200 for all 8 sessions. Full course details as well as online registration can be found here.

(9/13/16) The Alabama Forestry Commission has hired Ray Metzler to serve as a Threatened and Endangered Species Specialist. In addition to gathering information and providing comments to state and federal agencies, Metzler will also be a resource for landowners. See the full news release here.

(9/12/16) If you’re interested in turning your drone hobby into a business, Auburn University is preparing to offer a class on UAS (drones) that will help individuals get certified to become Remote Pilots. Please email Earle Thompson at earle.thompson@auburn.edu to ask questions or express interest in this Part 107 UAS class. If you have other questions about UAS related to agriculture or forestry, email Christian Brodbeck in Auburn's biosystems engineering department.

(9/9/16) In some areas of the south, replanting with longleaf after a disaster can reduce a plantation’s future vulnerability to hurricanes, fire, and pine beetles. U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) established the Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems unit to help landowners interested in exploring this option.

(9/8/16) Below are some market factors affecting your pine sawtimber prices.

(9/7/2016) Landowner upset with NPS over repairs to bridge to national monument

(9/2/16) Wildfire prevention cited as reason for subsidizing use of biomass in power plants in California: “Here is the real issue: there are 66 million dead trees in the Sierra Nevada that need to be removed. The taxpayer is going to pay either way."

(9/1/16) Additional videos of the AFOA 2016 Annual Meeting presentations are now online:

(8/31/16) The Alabama Graphite Belt, located in western Coosa County, was once home to significant graphite production. Alabama Graphite Corp acquired 42,000 acres of mineral rights in 2012 and is “focused on exploration and development.” Driving this project is the market for highly refined graphite for lithium-ion batteries. Source: http://alabamagraphite.com

(8/30/16) If you own land in one of the fifteen Alabama counties with shale formations, you might want to consult an expert before selling mineral rights too cheaply. “Last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released data showing the world’s tight [shale] oil production could more than double by 2040.” Furthermore, “the United States is expected to contribute the vast majority of the tight oil increase." Read the full article here.

(8/29/16) Research from South Carolina suggests that coyote predation on deer fawns could force changes in hunting regulations and deer management. “Deer numbers in some areas of the Southeast have declined below the level desired by wildlife managers,” says an article from the Southern Research Station. A long term study from 2012 “established predation by coyotes as the leading cause of death of fawns and suggested that levels of deer harvest in South Carolina at that time were unsustainable.”

(8/26/16) As the FWS reaches the end of its court-mandated work plan, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is again threatening to sue the FWS over the listing of 417 species. The Westerner points out, “These sue and settle tactics do nothing to actually recover species, which the FWS has accomplished for less than two percent of the species on the endangered list.” These listings and resulting “critical habitat” designations can lock up forestland and greatly restrict landowners’ options for managing their own land.

(8/25/16) "Fifteen states including Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama filed a petition in support of a landowner’s request to have his case heard by the entire 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the case of Markle vs. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Louisiana landowner is hoping to keep his 1500 forested acres from being classified as “critical habitat” to the dusky gopher frog, a species classified as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service." The frog hasn't lived on the land in question since the 1960s, and the FWS deemed it unlikely to ever live there again. Read more about it in an article posted here.

(8/24/16) A Sumter County, Florida man is fighting charges after shooting an alligator that was in his horse enclosure, and which then injured his son. The local news station reported that some details are unclear, but the FWC report noted that he knew a license was required to shoot an alligator. This story seems to suggest that a person can legally use a firearm to protect his home against intruders, but possibly go to jail for protecting livestock and a person from an attacking animal.

(8/23/16) Videos of selected presentations from AFOA's 2016 annual meeting are now available online. More will be added soon, so check back in for helpful seminars for landowners from experts.

(8/22/16)If you have been considering transferring your family business to your heirs, now may be the time to act.” Proposed changes may affect the valuation discount historically allowed for a family-controlled corporation, partnership or limited liability company.

(8/19/16) Hunters: Early Canada goose season runs from September 1-15 in several states, a tool to help manage the populations of resident geese.The focus of these hunts is to target resident geese. Resident geese reside year round in areas where in large numbers they are often considered a nuisance for the damage they can cause.” Goose season in Alabama is September 1-30, with a five-bird bag limit. Full information about waterfowl hunting is here. You can purchase a hunting license here, and must join the HIP (Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program) if you intend to hunt selected migratory birds.

(8/18/18) "Shelby County is one of 16 counties in Alabama where there have been positive tests for the Zika virus, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health." On Capital Ideas--Live!, John Phillips gave his three point system for keeping mosquitoes away. You may also be interested in mosquito repellent and safety information from the CDC.

(8/17/16) "There is good reason to feel optimistic about the economic contributions the wood energy industry has the potential to make in Alabama and beyond," said Lance Brown of PACE. For example, "Wood energy is proving to be a critical asset to British energy security, allowing the U.K. to meet its emissions goals and avoid over-dependence on foreign natural gas."

(8/16/16) With sorrow, we announce the passing of forestry leader Mike Dixon, Jr. from brain cancer. We were pleased to have Mike as an AFOA board member who helped us by giving us good advice over the years. Funeral services for Mike will be held Wednesday 8-17-16 at 2 PM at the First Baptist Church in Eufaula. Source: Alabama Forestry Association Newsroom, 8/15/16

(8/15/16) Alabama is not the only state facing hard decisions. "A budget cut of more than $3,000,000 forces the Mississippi Forestry Commission to lay off 25 employees, four of which are state arson investigators."

(8/12/16) Single family houses are getting larger, but that does not necessarily mean more lumber. The 2016 first-quarter analysis of the housing market by the Forest Research Group has current and historical data on housing starts, and also some good information about trends in lumber use in one of the biggest markets for pine growers.

(8/11/16) Many landowners would benefit from the upcoming workshop Forestry for Non-Foresters. “This course will be especially useful for landowners and those who work with foresters and the forest industry such as forestry agencies, associations, forestry investment firms, real estate investment trusts and banking institutions with forest investments.” The two speakers also presented a successful seminar on this topic at our annual meeting. The meeting program and links to speaker bios can be found here.

(8/10/16) The portable basketball courts used for the Rio Olympics are made of US hardwood, milled and put together in Michigan, and painted and sealed in Tennessee. “We were competing against companies from Europe, to U.S., Canada and Asia, and in the end, they chose us…in our industry, we won a gold medal.

(8/9/16) This week marks the 1944 debut of America's favorite fire prevention mascot. Read more about Smokey's history here.

(8/8/16) A timely reminder: If you order seedlings now, suppliers are more likely to have what you want; if you wait until they're needed, you might not be able to get what you need. Contact information for some seedling suppliers is below:

(08/05/16) TerraStride Pro is an "online mapping platform" used by real estate professionals. See how Matre Forestry Consulting used the software to show property boundaries and embed photos in the maps they are using to sell 368 acres of forestland in southwest Georgia. Click here and scroll to the bottom to look at the aerial image.

(08/04/16) Endangered Species Act Often Used for Political Purposes Report Landowners in Georgia Study.

(08/02/16) Webinar tomorrow, August 3, from 1 PM to 2 PM Central Time on a mobile GIS app, Wolf GIS Apex. The developers will go over the basics, functions, and features of this brand new smart phone app that should be of special interest to forest landowners.

(08/01/16) A successful model for "common sense, science-based approach to managing forests" is the privately owned working forest, according to Suz-Anne Kinney in her Forest2Market blog, The West's Ravaged Woodlands -- A Problem with a Proven Solution.

(7/29/16) You don't have to negotiate a timber sale by yourself. "Working with professional foresters and consultants consistently brings in higher bids on timber sales...There are many benefits that a landowner can receive by working with professionals such as local regulation expertise, tax advice, timber sale administration, reforestation assistance, financial cost share assistance, etc." Source: National Woodland Owners Association's Wednesday Woodland Word, 7/27/16

(7/28/16) “'For sixty years now, the sign of active fire protection has been an airplane dropping retardant or a helicopter dropping water,' says Stephen Pyne, a professor of history at Arizona State University and the author of over a dozen books on wildfire.“  This article is the best we’ve seen on the topic of the cost and effectiveness of fighting fire with aircraft. It argues that with any significant fire, “the effect is a bit like spitting on a campfire.” Some call unnecessary use of planes and helicopters to fight wildfire “the CNN drop” because good "media optics" reassure the public that enough is being done. 

(7/27/16) AFOA's current Hunting Insurance Liability Policy ends at midnight on July 31. To prevent a lapse in coverage, current users need to send renewal applications and payments ASAP.. New users can click here for the application. If you are renewing, your renewal application should have been received in early June. Please call our office at 205-987-8811 if you cannot locate yours.

(7/26/16) "Healthy forests, just like healthy human populations, are sustained by a diversity of age classes. Each class has a role to play in maintaining wildlife and human communities for years to come," says an article on Foster Folly News from July 13, 2016. For practical information, check out the segment on nurturing young forest with Dr. Katie Greenberg in this Capital Ideas--Live! interview from 2015.

(7/25/16) Pokemon Go and the free market: "People are walking, and even running, some for the first time in their lives ... it took a nostalgic video game available on every smartphone in the country to accomplish what no government program ever really could." Source: AL.com, 7/22/16

(7/22/16) The Republican 2016 platform calls for big changes to the EPA and administration of the Endangered Species Act. The platform calls for changing the EPA from a federal agency to a bipartisan commission to “…shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states.” The platform also calls for the end of the practice called "sue-and-settle"—"in which environmental groups sue federal agencies whose officials are complicit in the litigation so that, with the taxpayers excluded, both parties can reach agreement behind closed doors.” Read more at this July 20 post from The Westerner.

(7/21/16) PowerSouth CEO Gary Smith wonders why wind companies get a pass when it comes to killing eagles: “The favoritism and preferential treatment given to renewable energy over other, more reliable forms of energy – and the government’s tendency to choose winners and losers – is more troubling.” Read the full article from Alabama Living Magazine here, as well as further reporting from the Christian Science Monitor. Source: Alabama Living Magazine, July 2016

(7/20/16) The Fifth Circuit Court in Louisiana handed down a baffling decision recently about the dusky gopher frog: "The decision [to reject the challenge to the critical habitat designation] is remarkable because it upholds the determination by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate areas as “critical habitat” that are not currently habitable by the frog and have not been shown likely to be habitable in the foreseeable future."

(7/19/16) Lil' Lodges, based in Bear Creek, Alabama, makes mobile, customizable cabins. We were impressed--photos show lots of wood in the interiors and exteriors. The March 2016 issue of Business Alabama placed the cabins in the larger trend of tiny homes: "Steve Sullivan, sales director, now sees a different audience as three or four of these 400-square-foot park models are produced every week, covering the gamut from the most elegantly appointed and modernized to rustic and functional. Lil’ Lodges, too, was featured on Tiny House Nation, with a spectacular mini-structure built as a posh family getaway in the Northeast."

(7/18/16) Are you considering purchasing a bulldozer for your land? "ForesTree Equipment Trader is a new marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of used forestry machines, attachments, components, and parts; it connects allied service providers with potential customers; and it connects employers with potential employees." The service is provided in partnership by Hatton Brown Publishers and Southern Loggin' Times.

(7/15/16) The F&W Forestry Report, available here now, features second quarter stumpage prices, a surprising move by Weyerhaeuser, the first new pulp and paper mill in the US south since 1985, and more timber market news.

(7/14/16) We haven’t heard of issues problems in Alabama lately with the designation of a river under Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, but William Perry Pendley, President of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, is looking for evidence that these designations can have adverse effects for locals and their property rights. If you have any experience with or information about problems related to this act, please share them with him at 303-292-2021. He can also be reached via contact form on the MSLF website.

(7/13/16) The West could learn some lessons about fire from the South, this article reports, but attitudes here might also be changing as people unused to prescribed fire move closer to forests that need it. “They want the experience of living near nature, but they bring attitudes of not wanting to smell cattle urine or smoke from fires,” says Johnny Stowe, who manages fire in South Carolina. Managing where people and wild lands meet is an issue worldwide: this city has imposed new rules to regulate building near wildfire prone areas.

(7/12/16) “It is a rich irony that it is often experts who have exacerbated economic problems.” Forest landowners might want to watch the growing field of behavioral economics, which suggests that experts are needed to guide the decisions of irrational citizens. This article calls behavioral econ an “assault on reason,” and we agree it’s wise to think hard before completely turning over your rights to the experts.

(7/11/16) The Fort Payne City Council passed an ordinance last week requiring permits for logging operations. “The council [also] enacted a 2-month moratorium forbidding the issuance of the newly required logging permits, effectively shutting down new logging projects in Fort Payne for the next 60 days.” All Alabama landowners should be aware of this troubling precedent.

(7/8/16) Bringing deer parts into Alabama from Chronic Wasting Disease-affected areas (see this map) is now prohibited. "Body parts from [CWD] infected animals can carry the same deadly risk to Alabama’s deer herd as live animals ... Under this new regulation they must take steps to debone the meat or remove all brain tissue from their harvested deer before returning home to Alabama." Read the full news release from Outdoor Alabama.

(7/7/16) “In enterprising families, there are many facets to preparation: leadership, ownership, independence and stewardship…Continuity in the family business is dependent upon the next generation.” This article from the Family Business Consulting Group on how to get teens and young adults interested in the family business might be helpful for forest landowner families.

(7/6/16) We have expressed our misgivings about the Game Check Program, but since game checks will be mandatory in the 2016-17 hunting seasons, the Game Check Seminars happening statewide can give you the information you need to be in compliance.

(7/5/16) Technology could offer expanded markets for Alabama wood. Oxford's Kronospan plant, which makes wood-based panels and laminate flooring, is expanding, investing $362 million in a multi-phase plan which could result in hiring another 160 to 200 employees. Cross-laminated timber is also making advances in the US, and this commentator expects CLT manufacturing to grow as "research and demonstration projects fuel interest in prefabricated engineered wood systems."

(7/1/16) "Alabama had a great year in 2015 for new and expanding industry with over $7 billion in new capital investment. The forest products industry had its best year since the recession with nearly $900 million invested in the state, continuing a 7- year upward trend." - Ken Muehlenfeld, Director of the Forest Products Development Center, Alabama Department of Commerce. Read the news release from the Alabama Forestry Association here.

(6/30/16) "A pair of 90-second animations are delivering key messages for using softwood materials around the home at WoodNatually.com, the website sponsored by the Softwood Lumber Board targeting residential construction markets." Watch: "Wood: the Go-To Choice for Your Outdoor Oasis" and "Wood Wise: Building Planet- and People-Friendly Homes." Source: Southern Forest Products Association Newsletter, 6/28/16

(6/29/16) “Forest owners are pleased EPA exercised its broad discretion under the CWA by keeping management of water quality programs at the local level through state Best Management Practices (BMPs),” said Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO. Read the news release at the NAFO website.

(6/28/16) "The Hoover City Board of Education is facing decisions regarding Jefferson County's renewal of the ad valorem taxes set to expire in the next few years." Source: Shelby County Reporter, 6/15/16

(6/27/16) "Incredible video footage shows an air tanker dropping ten thousand gallons of water over a tiny fire and drenching the cameraman and a bystander." Source: Wildfire News of the Day, 6/14/16

(6/23/16) "Unfortunately, certain toxic chemicals have been found in some lakes and rivers in Alabama.  Some of these chemicals can accumulate in fish.  With some of the chemicals, higher levels of the contaminants can be found in older and/or larger fish.  When chemical concentrations are elevated in fish, they can pose health risks to people who eat them." Read the full report on toxins in Alabama fish.

(6/22/16) "The Obama administration is on the verge of approving routine commercial use of small drones. The long-anticipated rules will mean drone operators would be able to fly without special permission." Source: The Westerner, 6/21/16. Update, 7/5/16: The FAA has released the final rules on the use of small, unmanned aerial systems.

(6/21/16) For a worthwhile read on the background and management of shortleaf pine, check out the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan released by the Shortleaf Pine Initiative. “The Plan is intended for use by practitioners of such disciplines as forestry, wildlife and conservation biology, and natural resources management, as well as policy makers in state and federal governments, and most importantly, by the private landowners and public lands managers whose land management decisions are so vital to the future of shortleaf.” According to the plan, shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) has the largest geographic extent of the southern yellow pines, and commercially, shortleaf pine was once a valued timber commodity.

(6/20/16) Brooks Mendell's Forest Finance Simplified is a solid guide to forest investment and the financial side of forest management, according to Steve Wilent in his article "Net Present Value: A Business Skills Refresher" in The Forestry Source, June 2016.  “'At the end of the day,' Mendell said at the workshop, 'the ability to do the math about where capital is spent or allocated responsibly and getting returns [is important because] the research shows—and we know from experience—that when forest owners and investors have the opportunity to manage their resources and generate a reasonable rate of return, they replant.'” Mendell also writes the Aunt Fanny series on forestry for beginners.

(6/17/16) A recently signed law in New Mexico bars the public from walking or wading in streams that run through private property without written permission. Source: The Westerner, 6/16/16

(6/16/16) AFOA member J. Hudson Hines of Beatrice, Alabama was named "Young Forest Landowner of the Year"  by the Forest Landowners Association at their national conference in Orlando, Florida on June 6, 2016. This national award is given to an outstanding FLA member under 50 years old and involved in the promotion and sustainability of timberland.

(6/15/16) The banning of the "hack and squirt" technique in California shows why it’s important to keep local and state lawmakers informed about forestry and land management practices.

(6/14/16) Wooden high-rise buildings? The University of British Columbia’s, 18-storey, mass-timber Brock Commons student residence will be the world’s tallest mass-timber building. “Brock Commons is intended to stand as a showpiece not only for the sustainability features of wood, but also for its cost-competitiveness with more traditional concrete and steel construction.” A 12-story building of cross laminated timber (CLT) is set to go up in Portland, Ore. later this year. "It's going to change the way we build here in the U.S.," said John Redfield, the chief operating officer at D.R. Johnson, the only lumber mill in the U.S. certified to make CLT.

(6/13/16) Bourbon producers testified recently to the Kentucky state legislature about the demand for white oak and their efforts to educate landowners on management techniques favorable for white oak. “'We need forests the size of Rhode Island populated with white oak just for our use,' said Jason Underwood with Sazerac, the parent company of Buffalo Trace and Barton 1792. Underwood said his company’s demand for white oak has reached “crisis” proportions as Buffalo Trace and the company’s other distilleries ramp up bourbon production each year."  Source: River City News, 6/3/16

(6/10/16) The Economic Impact of Privately-Owned Forests in the United States is the third update of a study begun by the National Alliance of Forest Owners back in 2009. See Dave Tenny’s interview with AFOA back in 2013.

(6/9/16) This video interview features Bobby Watkins, the Mississippi Forestry Association's 2015 Tree Farmer of the Year. "Watkins has a tree farm where multiple use is more than a label, it’s the guiding management principle. You’ll find beautiful pine timber, wildflowers, wild life, and family history at Coontail Farm."

(6/8/16) NAFO’s “A Visual Guide to Working Forests” is a learning resource (in pdf or jpeg format)  that might be useful for teachers and home bulletin boards. Some of particular interest are:

(6/7/16) "When tree removal starts, people jump to the conclusion that houses or a new Walmart is coming," says New Jersey forester Bob Williams. He says this article on educating the general public about forest management gets it right.  Bob talked more about his practice of putting up signs near timber harvests on our May episode of Capital Ideas--Live!

(6/6/16)Most people will conduct just one (or two) sales from an individual timber tract in their lifetimes. Getting full market value for the timber is therefore critical.” This primer from Forest2Market.com walks you through the basics of selling your timber.

(6/3/16) “…solid flooring sales have been impacted by the overall slump in the market across the United States in the past year and losing ground to and market share to engineered flooring.” Source: Woodworking Network, 5/19/16.

(6/2/16) At a special called meeting of the Alabama Forestry Commission on Tuesday, May 31, the Commission voted 4 to 2 to dismiss State Forester Greg Pate. Source: AFA Newsroom, June 1, 2016.

(6/1/16) The governor has signed HB418, a local bill sponsored by Representative Ralph Howard (D-Greensboro), which will allow a referendum in Sumter County to raise property taxes by 6 mills. We assume it will be on the ballot for general vote this fall, but will put it on the AFOA calendar of events when we get a definite date. Source: AFA’s From the Weeds blog, 5/26/16

(5/31/16) Chalk one up for the black pinesnake.

     “One of the species listed was the Black Pinesnake, and in the second meeting, they said it could be found in the Scotch Wildlife Management Area (WMA). At first, they indicated they were not likely to designate any critical habitat in Alabama, but rather on Federal land in Mississippi.
     “There had been a possible sighting in 1994 and another in 1995, for what was believed to be a Black Pinesnake. In 2014, they went back to sightings that were 20 years old, even though a single snake lives only about 11 years in the wild.
     “All it takes is for someone to think they see it and report it to your state’s agency. You don’t have to be a herpetologist. Or have a photograph. That becomes the 'best available science.'
     “The two sightings were three and half miles apart. From their studies of the New Jersey Pinesnake, the snake needs at least 5,200 acres. So, based on these two sightings and the satellite imagery, topography and soil, they decided they might make the two sightings into a 32,000-acre critical habitat.” Source: Gray Skipper, Scotch Land Management Company

     “…the listing of the Black Pinesnake as a Threatened Species … was based on insufficient scientific evidence that was presumably gathered by individuals accessing the WMA for their own purposes.” - Scotch Land Management, "Why we reached this decision."

     “Citing the rising threat of ever-stricter regulations from the Federal government, Scotch Land Management Company, LLC announced today it would remove roughly 19,000 acres of land from the Scotch Wildlife Management Area.”

(5/27/16) Woodland Owner Profiles developed by the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative break down landowner data by state and region. Some things, like landowner demographics and the average tenure of the land, remain remarkably similar nationwide. Some factors vary widely, like landowner objectives and reasons for owning forestland. Peruse the cache of information at www.engaginglandowners.org.

(5/26/16) Dr. Jim Brauker demonstrates his simple process for preventing poison ivy (and poison oak and poison sumac) rashes in this video.

(5/25/16) "What message does this send regarding our priorities? Timber and Agriculture are two of the most important segments to the state’s economy. At the rate that Medicaid and Corrections are expanding, the other General Fund agencies will soon be completely swallowed up. To make matters worse, the other agencies are forced to adopt higher fees and earmarked taxes in order to make up their reduced budget appropriations." Source: From the Weeds, Alabama Forestry Association, 5/24/16. Editor's Note: Agencies are not "forced" to adopt higher fees and raise earmarked taxes. It is the nature of agencies to almost always seek higher funding than appropriated by the legislature. It is the responsibility of lawmakers (appropriators) and voters to rein in this instinct. 

(5/24/16) How bad is it? This interactive map can zoom in to the street address of cogongrass infestations. This "highly invasive pest permanently alters plant and animal communities, increases fire frequency and intensity, and requires extensive investment to control." For Capital Ideas--Live! in 2015, Nancy Loewenstein talked about her research, which proved for the first time that the pest can be eradicated.

(5/23/16) We liked these videos for their perspective on two very different forestry operations in Oregon. The first is a drone's eye view of a cable logging operation on federal land, a technique not often used in Alabama. The second is an interview with a small-scale tree farmer many of us can relate to, showing his old-fashioned but still effective equipment.

(5/20/16) This free online workshop from FEE teaches the value of free markets. “It is designed to be delivered by non-economists using interactive, hands-on activities and guided discussions … Our expertise is teaching students how freedom matters to their lives and the lives of all.”

(5/19/16) “Once in the environment, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prions may remain infectious for many years.” If you lease your land for hunting or hunt on it yourself, CWD, which affects deer species, is a threat to keep an eye on. We were glad to see this map from the USGS, which shows Alabama and its neighbors free of Chronic Wasting Disease. More info from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center here.

(5/18/16) Subdividing, selling and developing land is the sad result forced on many landowners by this country’s laws and regulations that have unintended adverse environmental consequences.- Source: The Daily Caller, 4/14/16. Read the full article here. Additional information: Panel discussion on family-owned forestland at the AFOA Annual Meeting, led by Joe Hopkins, quoted in the above article.

(5/17/16)A lot of times it’s a result of dragging trailer chains, dragging exhaust systems, pulling over and parking on high grass.  Either that or poorly maintained vehicles.” - Dolores Garcia, fire mitigation and fire communication specialist. Read the full article for other less known hazards and mitigation tips.

(5/16/16) The Alabama Teachers Conservation Workshop (TCW) will be held July 11-14, 2016 at Auburn University. The TCW program focuses on forest ecology, management, and products through guest speakers, field trips, and hands-on activities. Please spread the word about this outstanding workshop and encourage teachers in your area schools to attend. If you are interested in financially supporting this effort, email Ashley Smith. Click here to learn more or register for the event.

(5/13/16) "...the housing sector remains a welcome support to an otherwise fragile economy; however, unlike the run-up leading into the Great Recession, the housing market will no longer be the driver of the economy with a positive but limited contribution." - Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist, Stifel Fixed Income. Read the VT/USFS March 2016 housing commentary here, and get past commentaries along with a new economic conditions report here. Both reports contain in-depth housing data, useful for market-minded forest landowners.

(5/12/16) The new monthly Driptorch Digest newsletter from SERPPAS Prescribed Fire Work Group offers current relevant news stories; articles and online resources of interest; training, webinar, workshop and conference listings; and more. It should be useful to any landowner or professional with an interest in prescribed fire. Click here to read and subscribe.

(5/11/16) "AFA supports sufficient funding for rural infrastructure, specifically, the repair/replacement of the approximate 1,000 bridges that are posted. HOWEVER, AFA further believes that adequate funding would exist for this purpose if existing fuel tax revenues are allocated fairly between ALDOT and the counties. Currently, 99% of the tax on diesel fuel is directed to ALDOT, while the current tax on gasoline is distributed 55% to ALDOT and 45% to the counties. AFA supports allocating the existing diesel tax in a similar fashion to that of the gasoline tax." Read the AFA's full position on the fuel tax here.

(5/10/16) We found this relevant in light of yesterday’s article about Tata Steel and green energy in the UK: “The main driver for wood pellet demand is the European Commission’s 2020 climate and energy plan… The United Kingdom is far and away the primary destination for wood pellets from North America.” We spotted this on page seven of F&W Forestry’s newsletter, available online here. Read through for more good articles on tree planting numbers, housing starts, and timber markets.

(5/9/16) If you sell to the export pellet market, it might be a good idea to watch that market carefully. Tata Steel has announced an immediate withdrawal from Britain, threatening 4000 steel working jobs, and 40,000 jobs in dependent industries. The main reason given for abandoning Britain, is the high price Tata is forced to pay for energy, thanks to Britain’s green energy policies.

(5/6/16) "Katrenia Pruitt Kier of Huntsville and Robert N. Turner of Sulligent, the two newest appointments by Governor Robert Bentley to the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), began their five-year terms by attending their first Commission meeting on April 19." Read the news release here.

(5/5/16) Both the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC) and the American Land Rights Association (ALRA) call for stopping the continued conversion of private lands to the federal estate under a permanently funded Land and Water Conservation Fund. An ALRA newsletter tells what to say to your Congressman. PERC describes why, “Without reform, the LWCF should be terminated.” Update: The LWCF amendment was barely defeated 212 to 205. Rep. Terri Sewell is the Alabama representative we spotted who voted "Yes" in favor of permanent funding of the LWCF. Source: American Land Rights Association, June 1, 2016

(5/4/16) The Land Show covers Alabama rural land issues on the radio (times and stations here) or on your device with podcasts. One topic in this episode covers how European mills in Live Oak, FL might affect Alabama Timber Markets. Segment starts at 20:40. Listeners can also email questions to the show to be answered on air.

(5/3/16) International Paper (IP) announced an agreement to purchase Weyerhaeuser's pulp business. "IP said it expects to save about $175 million annually in "synergies" — business lingo often used to refer to cost cuts, revenue improvements and savings from combined purchasing power."

(5/2/16) "The out-of-control logs flew over the landowner and rested across the partially loaded log trailer." A reminder that it's a good idea to take precautions and make sure you are seen when visiting logging sites.

(4/29/16) We're not sure if SB416 - allowing the use of purple paint on trees to mark property lines and boundaries as a conspicuous notice against trespassing - is a good idea or not. Be sure to let Senator Melson and your House member know what you think. If your property lines are already painted bright white, blue, or something other than purple, will trespassing loggers and hunters be allowed to ignore those colors?

(4/28/16) U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it will not designate “critical habitat” for the “threatened” Northern Long-Eared Bat. According to the Forest Resources Association's Neil Ward, the announcement is generally favorable, but "for landowners attempting to perform due diligence on project areas, the decision may reduce the availability of FWS resources in identifying hibernacula when planning harvest or management projects." Read the FWS explanation of the decision here.

(4/27/16) Alabama is home to 23.1 million acres of forest land. The number of live trees on Alabama’s forest land in 2014 is estimated at 17.0 billion trees, an increase of 2.0 percent from 2013. Read the full report from the USDA.

(4/26/16) To "ensure that affordable wood supplies remain available on the market," the "forest products industry needs to revitalize mutually beneficial landowner assistance programs," blogs Consultant Fred Souba, with ProVision Forestry, LLC, in Forest2Market's April newsletter. He suggests more commercial support for small landowners will “foster a stronger forest industry.”

(4/25/16) "Now I don't have to leave the truck cabin." Could these VR goggles  save money and lives in the logging industry?

(4/22/16) Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,089,000. This is 8.8 percent below the revised February estimate of 1,194,000, but is 14.2 percent above the March 2015 rate of 954,000. Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 764,000; this is 9.2 percent below the revised February figure of 841,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 312,000. Read the full report.

(4/21/16) Florida officials are planning second bear hunt after last year’s successful hunt, the first in many years. Bear numbers are increasing in that state. Georgia has established bear hunting season dates. We are keeping an eye on neighboring states, with the possibility that Alabama’s bear population might be increasing.

(4/20/16) On April 5, Verso Corporation announced the closure of its Wickliffe, Kentucky coated paper mill, which had been idle since November 2015, “the result of a continuing and accelerated decline in demand for the company’s coated paper products and a significant influx of imports driven by the strength of the U.S. dollar.”

(4/19/16) From a healthier stand to better return on investment, thinning forestland can yield many benefits. This page from the University of Florida will tell you everything you need to know about thinning your stand before maturity.

(4/18/16) "If the forces behind this show-us-your-papers subpoena succeed in punishing (or simply inflicting prolonged legal harassment on) groups conducting supposedly wrongful advocacy, there’s every reason to think they will come after other advocacy groups later. Like yours."

(4/15/16) "If pulp prices fall, older, high-cost producers, mainly in the northern hemisphere, may go out of business, reducing any excess capacity. In the long run, demand for tissue can only grow." Click here for the full article about Brazil's fast-growing eucalyptus plantations in a weak national economy, and what it could mean for the global pulp market.(4/8/16)

(4/14/16) Oregon purchases an insurance policy to reduce costs of extreme wildfire season. The policy covers private landowners as well, who help the state pay for the premium as part of their annual fees.

(4/13/16)Only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water ‘forming geographic features’ that are described in ordinary parlance as ‘streams,’ ‘oceans, rivers, [and] lakes.’” Could a more specific definition of waters of the United States curb property rights infringement by the Army Corps of Engineers?

(4/12/16) This might help you get ready to talk with your tax professional, especially if you sold timber last year, or are thinking about selling timber this year.

(4/11/16) Possible changes to the state’s dog deer hunting regulations may affect you. Click here for the full details from Outdoor Alabama.

 The House and Senate both voted to override the Governor’s veto on the General Fund budget on Tuesday.

(4/7/16) LEED now recognizes alternate paths to certification. But it must be remembered that Certified Tree Farms, SFI, and FSC, now all recognized by LEED, still only account for a small fraction of the wood grown in Alabama and the rest of the U.S. Most forestland is "self-certified" as “private forestland managed in the best interests of the owners’ families and their forested acres.” Organizations, private or government, who bias their wood purchases in favor of certification schemes negatively impact the vast majority of American private forest owners and the forests they manage.

(4/6/16) "Opponents to the fuel tax increase maintain that there is plenty of opportunity to cut the size of government to address the critical need for infrastructure…without having to raise taxes."

(4/5/16) “Here’s to a fully loaded truck leaving our landowners’ forest heading on a county road to the mill!” We are following with interest a Tennessee bill that would require a 2/3 vote of a County Commission before a county road could be posted at a lower weight limit than normal state highway weight limits. “TFA believes this bill will alleviate the arbitrary decision making powers in certain counties.” UPDATE: This bill has been sent to the Tennessee governor for signature. 4/13/16

(4/1/16) Check this map from the Forestry Commission to determine whether or not your property is in the habitat range of the protected Northern Long-Eared Bat. It also notes which counties have documented cases of White Nose Syndrome, and the article lays out the Endangered Species Act rules for landowners in areas where the bat lives.

(3/31/16) John Lancaster and Wilson Lowe were presented cash awards on March 30, 2015 from the Alabama Forest Owners' Association Educational Fund at the Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences' Student Awards Ceremony. John and Wilson were selected by an AFOA committee led by Dr. Emmett Thompson, former Dean of the School and a forest landowner. Award applicants were required to submit course transcripts and an essay reflecting their appreciation for the profession of consulting forestry. These awards totaled $2,500 and are given with the goal of improving the availability of quality forestry services to forest landowners.

(3/29/16) America's First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment will air Thursday, April 7 at 9:00 pm on Alabama Public television. Based on Schenck’s memoir, the program examines the pivotal role played by pioneering forestry educator Carl Schenck and his founding of America's first school of forestry—the Biltmore Forest School. Click here for more info and additional air dates.

(3/28/16) Our deepest sympathy and prayers to the family of Dr. Robert Parker, who passed away from injuries received in a prescribed burning accident on his forestland last week.

(3/25/16) Forestry 2017: The Simulation is available for PC today, March 25, with console versions coming later. Players will “use first- or third-person views to operate heavy machinery, process the wood in a sawmill, and then afterwards market the goods.” AFOA will give one copy away at the end of the annual meeting in April (must sign up and be present to win) and tentatively plans to have the game running on a PC during the meeting.

(3/24/16) The role that forests play in the water cycle is widely known and celebrated. Yet, many are unaware of the contributions of forest product markets in the forest/water relationship. Read the full article.

(3/23/16) A bi-partisan group in the US House of Representatives launched the Working Forests Caucus to “create awareness and facilitate discussions on America’s private-owned working forests.” See the letter from the co-chairs to their colleagues, and consider reaching out to your Members to encourage them to join the Caucus. Find your representative here.

(3/22/16) Biologists have determined [four] species found in the southeastern United States do not require further review for federal protection at this time. The Southern Dusky Salamander is found statewide, so its listing would have potentially affected many Alabama landowners.

(3/21/16) Some partial scholarships are still available for Auburn University’s Forestry Field Camp, now in its third year. For more information, listen to our interview with Dr. Becky Barlow about the program on Capital Ideas—Live! last March

(3/18/16) As expected, Representative Mac McCutcheon (R- Madison) introduced the second bill of a two bill package that will result in an increase in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel of six cents per gallon. Source: AFA blog, 3/17/16

(3/17/16) If you want a food plot on your land, you might need chainsaws instead of tractors. “Savvy deer managers know that planted food plots are nice, but native vegetation is necessary part of the deer property equation.” Click here for the full article. Source: Wednesday Woodland Word, National Woodland Owners Association, 3/16/16

(3/16/16) The Foundation for Economic Education is offering a full scholarship to its economic seminars for students (ages 14-26) who apply by this Friday, March 18."Economic thinking gives you an advantage in life. You’ll be better equipped to make decisions, take advantage of emerging opportunities, and gain a clearer view of the world around you." Use tuition scholarship code FEE2016 when you apply to take advantage of this opportunity.

(3/15/16) The AFA remains opposed to a proposed fuel tax increase until it is clear that some of the funds will go to county roads and bridges. It also opposes a 5-mill property tax increase (SB136) supported by 7 state senators, including Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), who, only a few weeks ago, tested the water for possible legislation that would increase property taxes on forestland. From the Weeds lists the six senators who opposed the 5-mill tax increase. You can find their phone numbers here to thank them directly for their continuing support in opposing the property tax increase. Source: From the Weeds blog, 3/14/16

(3/14/16) The Property and Environment Research Center is accepting applications for three educational programs for students and business people:

  • The Undergraduate and Graduate Colloquium will introduce students to a property rights and market approach to environmental issues. A scholarship covers tuition and lodging, and a travel stipend is included. Information and application here.
  • The Summer Graduate Fellows program offers a mentored research experience for students who have a well-defined natural resources or environmental economics topic. This opportunity includes a monthly stipend. Apply here.
  • The Enviropreneur Institute offers in-depth training for entrepreneurs to take their environmental business or solution to the next level. Success stories and application here.

(3/11/16) Forest landowners in the Birmingham area: learn how hunting regulations are developed and turned into state laws that can directly affect enjoyment and income of private landowners who lease hunting rights. The Alabama Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) will meet Saturday, March 26, in Pelham, AL. Click here for full meeting information.

(3/10/16) If you are leasing land for turkey hunting, it might be a good idea to coordinate with your hunters before you visit in the morning during turkey hunting season. Even if you're not leasing it, be sure to wear bright colors in the woods for safety. Click here for official turkey season dates.

(3/9/16) "The South’s forests are so productive that, while they makeup only 2 percent of the global forest cover, they produce 12 percent of the world’s industrial roundwood and 19 percent of its pulp and paper products—greater production than that of any other nation." This data-rich slideshow from the Southern Forest Products Industry includes graphics and interactive maps for large or small scale perspectives on the industry.

(3/8/16) If your forestland property tax exceeds $2/acre, you could benefit from current use property tax assessment, available in all counties. Click here for more information and an application.

(3/7/16) "If you are contemplating selling stands with hardwood sawtimber, this is the time before the prices plateau or even fall. Any tract with merchantable timber that can be harvested during wet weather should do well relative to wet tracts with similar timber." Source: Newsletter of Forest Management Specialists, Inc., Vol. 3, Iss. 2. Other topics include: Timber market update; like-Kind exchanges; forest-use trends; pricing reports.

(3/4/16) Alabama's roads received a grade of D+, and its bridges received a C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.According to NFIB, this puts the state's businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Would the gas tax increase being considered fix the problem?

(3/3/16) Is it time to move forestry law enforcement back home to the Alabama Forestry Commission from  ALEA?

(3/2/16) This new app is a pocket guide to the native plants of North Georgia. Plants are searchable by bloom time, common name or scientific name and feature descriptions with color photos. Available on Google Play and the App Store. Source: SREF Annual Report, 2014-2015

(3/1/16) Planters can inadvertently damage tree seedlings by cutting the roots for easier planting. More about the proper handling of seedlings here.

(2/29/16) Property tax and timber severance tax increase proposals: Senator Trip Pittman (a Republican from Daphne), is exploring legislation that would almost double the forestland property tax (now 10 cents/acre, proposed 19 cents/acre). The tax would be called an “assessment” to avoid the “burdensome” necessity of requiring a vote of the people to raise the tax.

(2/26/16) Senate bill SB24 (full text here), which would remove sales tax on farm equipment and machinery, may be helpful for forest landowners. If it might affect you, take action: contact the bill's sponsor, Tom Whatley, to voice your opinion, get more info, or suggest changes.

(2/25/16) We suspect there may be some critical information hidden in the US Fish & Wildlife Services’s 2/11/16 announced “Changes to the Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat” and “Final Policy on Exclusions from Critical Habitat.” Many private landowners equate the designation of critical habitat as nothing more than a federal seizure of private land, as was done in southwest Alabama with the designation of critical habitat for the black pine snake. If you consider yourself “informed” on the ESA, please email us (rll@afoa.org) if there is anything noteworthy buried in these two announcements.

(2/24/16) With spring storms arriving, these links on dealing with timber losses might be useful for you or someone you know.

(2/23/16) The Mississippi Forestry Commission released Mississippi Trees, a free Tree ID app available on Google Play and the App Store. Based on their popular handbook, the app has photos and information for both native and non-native species, searchable by common name, scientific name, or family group.

(2/22/16) One solution to the problem of poor cell phone coverage in remote locations, via Forest Operations Review.

(2/19/16) A bill that would allow hunters to use bait to hunt white-tail deer and feral swine passed in the Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday. Read the full text of the bill here. Source: al.com, 2/18/16

(2/18/16) "These reforms would enable parks to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on Congress for annual appropriations." Proposed reforms begin with "Stop acquiring more land for the park system and start prioritizing the care and maintenance of existing lands." Source: Property and Environment Research Center, 2/16/16

(2/17/16) Strong local resistance to a proposed expansion of a New Hampshire wildlife refuge calls to mind similar circumstances around the Cahaba River in 2010. It is vital for landowners to stay informed in these situations.

(2/16/16) This video series from the Alabama Forestry Commission features the 2016 winners of the Treasure Forests Helene Mosley Award talking about their land and how they approach stewardship.

(2/15/16) Tax changes related to property and roads will be on the ballot in five Alabama counties on March 1. Click the county name to view the sample ballot.

BALDWIN: 1 mill, 30 years; 3 mills, 30 years
BARBOUR: 2 mills – no end date specified on ballot
CHOCTAW: ½ mill, 30 years
FRANKLIN: ¼ cent sales tax from schools to be moved to roads (ATRIP) – to be continued with elections every 2 years
RUSSELL: $50/residence and $100/business for volunteer fire protection outside city limits of Phenix City

(2/12/16) Rural county roads and bridges are vital to the income of forest landowners and farmers, and they need your support. Click here to read more.

(2/12/16) 2016 VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES:

  • February 12, 2016 - Hand-delivery to county Board of Registrars
  • February 13, 2016- Postmarked
  • February 15, 2016 - Online (Click here to register online)
     

(2/11/16) Recent headlines about the biomass market from the Society of American Foresters:  

(2/10/16) "With the real unemployment rate in the U.S. at 10.3% (16 million individuals unemployed, stopped locking, or work part-time) and household income growth nonexistent or negative, it's hard to envision a scenario where the U.S. housing market returns to "normal" anytime soon." Read Virginia Tech's December 2015 Housing Commentary report here.

(2/9/16) "Senator Cam Ward (R- Alabaster) introduced SB15 to un-earmark approximately $400 million in taxes to direct them to the General Fund as opposed to specific state agencies. Included in his bill is the Forest Products Severance Tax and the Forest Product Processor’s Privilege Tax. These taxes amounted to $5.865 million in FY15 and had previously been directed to the Alabama Forestry Commission. AFC’s total budget for FY15 was $22.4 million which included the $5.865 earmarked tax and also a $8.757 million General Fund Appropriation. AFC’s budget for FY16 (the current year) is $25.2 million which includes a $7.042 million General Fund Appropriation. Potentially losing the earmark for AFC will have a dramatic effect on services provided to Alabama’s timberland owners. Additionally, by removing the earmark, the bill also removes the statutory requirement that AFC must use 85% of the severance tax for fire protection." Source: From the Weeds blog. We wonder if the severance tax on timber would have passed had the funds not been earmarked for fire protection? Is it time to repeal the timber severance tax? AFOA members will be attending the Alabama Agribusiness Council's Legislative Reception at 5 PM tonight. (see AFOA Calendar of Events)

(2/8/16) This Agroforestry Handbook is a good starting place if you want to know more about the principles of agroforestry and how they can work for you. Source: Tuskegee University, 1890 Agroforestry Consortium, Southern SARE

(2/5/16) "The Forest Landowners Association Awards recognize outstanding landowners and forestry professionals contributing to the stewardship and sustainability of private forests – and protecting the rights of the families who own them …Think of private forest landowners who set an example in the landowner community and nominate your peers for the recognition they deserve.

(2/4/16) A new Senate bill will set forest biomass on equal footing with other bioenergy sources. The amendment directs federal agencies to establish policies that:

  • Reflect the carbon neutrality of forest bioenergy;
  • Recognize biomass as a renewable energy source;
  • Encourage private investment throughout the biomass supply chain,
  • Encourage forest management to improve forest health; and
  • Recognize state initiatives to use biomass.

(2/3/16) An update of Linda Wang's Tax Tips for Forest Landowners is now online. The second page contains an important change on Depreciation and Sec. 179 Expensing. Compare to the original version at page four of the November issue of our newsletter.

(2/2/16) "In productive, heavily-forested areas, does the land itself suffer long-term due to repeated tree removals?" Forest2Market looks at the effects of biomass harvesting and soil quality.
In a March 2012 interview with AFOA, Dr. Becky Barlow suggests you ask, “How can negative effects of pine straw harvesting be mitigated?”

(2/1/16) It's important to have the support of local law enforcement to prevent and control illegal dumping and littering. This conference may help. PALS asks: "Please contact your local law enforcement agencies and encourage them to send a representative from their agency."

(1/29/16) Five key factors can affect the price you get for your timber (stumpage). It's good information to consider when buying land as well. Source: Forest2Market blog, 1/12/16

(1/28/16) The Alabama Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) assists in shaping Alabama’s natural resources policies and regulations, including hunting seasons and bag limits that can affect hunting leases. Citizens can address the CAB at their meeting on Saturday, February 20, in Montgomery. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m., and those who wish to speak should bring 16 copies of any printed materials they wish to share with the Board. Get full meeting details here, or view a map of CAB districts and representatives here.

(1/26/16) Speaking today to the Alabama Forestry Council in Millbrook, Alabama, Oscar Berry, Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D, AL 7) reassured Council members that Sewell continues her support for important forestry tax provisions. AFOA board member Henry Barclay, III, CPA, described the importance of the provisions in the 1/20/16 issue of Capital Ideas - Live!

(1/25/16) "Republicans on Thursday moved a bill to the brink of Senate passage that would overhaul Wisconsin's managed forest land program." Wisconsin forest owners struggle with confiscatory taxes, state intrusion in their management activities, and rules that force them to allow trespass on their land. We hope that doesn't happen here. Source: Journal Sentinel Online, 1/14/16.

(1/22/16) "Despite slower growth in China’s overall economy, the nation’s high timber deficit will sustain growth in its already high import volumes of wood fiber." Read the full article at RISI, Inc.

(1/21/16) The law allows landowners to deduct from their income tax return up to $10,000 in reforestation expenditures per tax year, per qualified timber property. Note that you are allowed more than one qualified property. We strongly advise you to consult your tax advisor about what constitutes a "qualified timber property."

(1/20/16) “Bernie Sanders' Socialized Healthcare Plan Would Double The Death Tax.” Source: Forbes, 1/18/16

(1/19/16) If you're thinking of warmer days, check out some of our state's natural beauty in this slideshow featuring 50 Butterflies of Alabama.

(1/18/16) How do you determine the age of a tree? Just count the rings, of course! One ring equals one year of growth. But if you're counting rings on a stump, the life of that tree is over. So how do you count those rings while the tree is alive? Foresters use a special tool called an "increment borer". Read more and listen to the audio segment here. You can buy this tool from Ben Meadows or Forestry Suppliers. Thanks to the Wednesday Woodland Word (Volume 4 Number 2) for this story.

(1/15/16) The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published its much-awaited Final Rule concerning the threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat, found in north Alabama. One notable change from the Interim Final Rule reduces the protected radius from 1/4 mile to 150 feet around “known, occupied maternity roost trees” during the June 1-July 31 pup season. Read more at the FWS website.

(1/14/16) The website Ballotpedia has sourced information about each of the candidates for the upcoming March 1 primary for US Senator in Alabama. Links to the candidate's campaign site can be found in the "External Links" section on each page.

(1/13/16) This article suggests that forestland might soon be facing an ownership crisis, but savvy commenters disagree. A 2014 age survey of AFOA membership reveals 78% of members are age 60 or older, but we are not convinced this is either new or a source of worry. Source: American Public Media’s Marketplace, 1/11/16. Editor’s Note: For as long as I can remember, typical hair color for forest landowners has been gray.

(1/12/16) "The Southeast accounted for a little over 8 million acres [68%] of the total activity and continues to lead the nation in all categories of prescribed fire use." Source: 2015 Prescribed Fire Use Survey Report, National Association of State Foresters

(1/11/16) The Big Short attempts to describe the cause of The Great Recession (and the crash of sawtimber stumpage markets), but the movie leaves out the role of government in creating the housing bubble that led to the crash. The House That Uncle Sam Built by Steven Horwitz & Peter Boettke provides background information not included in the film. On a related note, Virginia Tech's Housing Report for November 2015 is out and mostly positive; see slide 6 for a useful synopsis.

(1/8/16) "The recent listing of the Black Pine Snake is the first time I know of where a landowner must get approval from the US Fish & Wildlife Service to change land use (e.g. longleaf to loblolly, or longleaf to agriculture or pasture)." Tune in to Capital Ideas - Live! on January 20 to hear more from Keville Larson, quoted above, about how the Endangered Species Act could affect you. For additional reading, a Q & A from the USFWS - scroll down to the last paragraph of Q5.

(1/7/16) In light of events in Oregon, we suspect the 2010 resistance to a government land grab in Bibb County and neighboring counties was justified. Does it surprise you when private landowners are not excited to have the federal government as a neighbor? Source: National Review, January 2016.

(1/6/16) MachineryLink is betting that the sharing economy can cut costs for the agriculture industry. Could the Uber and Airbnb model work for forestry equipment? Source: Progressive Farmer, Winter 2015

(1/5/16) Tennessee landowners and loggers have the same problems Alabama does when it comes to low weight limits on county roads. See how Tennessee is handling the issue on page two of the Tennessee Forestry Association's newsletter.

(1/4/16) "...increasing overall profit on timber sales is only one of several benefits that a landowner should consider when contemplating hiring a consulting forester to help manage their land. Consulting foresters also provide other valuable services that improve the quality of the timber and, therefore, the overall value of the timberland. Read the full article here.

(12/30/15) Although black bears are not common in Alabama, they are present in some areas. Remember that they are not harmless cuddly teddy bears, as this incident in New Jersey reminds us.

(12/29/15) "It is time to admit the Endangered Species Act’s penalty-based approach is a mistake, end this country’s senseless 42-year war on its most vulnerable species and chart a new, successful course for endangered species conservation based on a new approach that has been around for a long time."

(12/28/15) It's too easy to grow trees for 30 years, only to make disastrous choices at the end. Watch this video from the University of Kentucky if you're thinking of making a timber sale.

(12/22/15) Some take-aways from last week's "omnibus" funding bill:

(12/21/15) "I think it is completely indefensible that the federal government is America's largest landlord," Cruz said in this video at The Westerner.

(12/18/15) We thought you might like this newsletter from the Southern Christmas Tree Association. Note the ads in the newsletter for equipment and supplies you may need if you decide to grow Christmas trees.

(12/17/15) According to the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), "The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the enemy of rural America, ranching, farming and private land ownership." ALRA would like you to "Call your Congressman to oppose reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund as a permanent Trust Fund. Call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121." Read ALRA's recent email for details.

(12/16/15) “After you have harvested several deer from your ground blind, you might wonder why you don’t hunt this way more often.” One hunter says ground blinds offer safety, concealment, and ease of set-up. Read the full story at Georgia Forestry Today, page 27.

(12/15/15) “Landowners may face different types of eminent domain situations with local utility companies or government agencies [called the “condemning authority”] that will take private land for public use [think power lines or pipelines], with payment or compensation.” Here are tips to consider if you find yourself in this situation (Source: Georgia Forestry Today, p. 14):

  1. How did the condemning authority arrive at its offer amount? Request a written summary of the appraiser’s valuation. 
  2. Request a drawing or map identifying the land being acquired. Is the location of the land being acquired established or is the location subject to change?
  3. Is the land going to be owned by the condemning authority, or is it acquiring a permanent easement and/or temporary easement?
  4. What use limitations will the landowner be subject to with regard to the land being acquired?
  5. Did the landowner have any plans to use his/her land for any particular purpose?If so, will the acquisition impact the future planned use?
  6. What impact will the loss of land have on the value of the remaining land?
  7. If the land being acquired does not abut a public road, how will the condemning authority gain access to the land being acquired, and is the landowner being compensated for that access right?
  8. Most of all, contact an attorney and a local appraiser with expertise in condemnation law. This is a complicated area of the law with many pitfalls for the unwary landowner.

(12/14/15) If a gas tax increase is enacted, we hope rural roads and bridges will get a fair proportion of the new revenues. Hear an interview with DOT director John Cooper about ATRIP, rural roads and bridges, and how this affects you as a landowner.

(12/11/15) Seedlings need to experience cold weather acclimation to withstand freezing and below-freezing temperatures, says an alert from the Southern Forest Nursery Management Co-op. Warm days and nights before a freeze can compromise dormancy, especially in pine seedlings. Take special care with your seedlings this winter, and learn more about how to protect them with tips from SuperTree seedlings.

(12/10/15) Message to Lawmakers and Government Procurement Officials buying lumber and other construction materials made from wood: Buy the best quality products at the lowest possible prices. We have been watching various “certification schemes” pressuring government agencies and lawmakers to reject lumber and other forest products not blessed by their particular organization. Please ignore emotional pleas from Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, American Tree Farm System, and others. Buy the best quality wood product at the lowest possible price, whether “certified” by one of these schemes or not.

(12/9/15) The Agriculture and Rural Crime Unit (ARCU) currently has 12 agents assigned throughout the state. Click here for a map of agent location and contact information. The stats listed below are for FY2015 ARCU (the timber cases only include Jan-Oct 2015, after consolidation with Alabama Forestry Commission’s law enforcement personnel). Editor’s note: If you called ARCU to report a timber theft in the past 11 months, were you satisfied with their handling of your problem? Write to AFOA at rll@afoa.org.

  • Cases: Total 277
  • Property Crimes Cases – 200
  • Animal Crime Cases – 85
  • Timber Crime Cases – 10 (all of these cases were resolved by the parties involved or turned out to be civil cases)
  • Other Cases – 82
  • Calls for Service: Total 165 (calls phoned into the hotline [1-855-75-CRIME] or ALEA dispatch)
  • Property Crime Calls – 27
  • Animal Crime Calls – 95
  • Timber Crime Calls – 36
  • Other Crime Calls - 7

(12/8/15) Thinking about a family trip to cut a Christmas tree? Here are a few places in Alabama to choose and cut your own tree. (Full list at Southern Christmas Tree Association):

(12/7/15) "The [Pacific Northwest] fires have been in the mainstream news for months, but a recent Wall Street Journal piece about the “controversial” subject of forest thinning and its impact on fire suppression simply gets it wrong. In the article, journalist Jim Carlton failed to discuss the myriad benefits that regular thinnings have on the overall health of our forests and their peripheral ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and the safety and economic wellbeing of the communities that border them." Read the six reasons thinning trees is good for the forest here.

(12/4/15) Treat your venison right: “Sometimes you’ll get a gamey flavor if you don’t get it on ice and get it processed right. If you process it right, you’re going to get great flavor from your venison.” Find out how to age venison for great flavor and other tips here. Source: Outdoor Alabama. Past outdoor essays from David Rainer.

(12/3/15) Intended as a comprehensive and authoritative history, "Forestry in the U.S. South explores the remarkable commercial and environmental gains made possible through the collaboration of industry, universities, and other agencies." Purchase directly from the Forest History Society here.

(12/2/15) A new Aunt Fanny essay makes sense of housing reports and Timber REITs.

(12/1/15) Deer farmers and the state of Texas are battling over actions taken to manage Chronic Wasting Disease in whitetail deer. CWD poses a serious threat to deer species and hunting-related activities and income in the states where it is found.

(11/30/15) Landowners can submit comments here until December 11, 2015 regarding the Sabal Trails Pipeline Project, a 515-mile natural gas transmission pipeline. “Roughly 86 of those miles are located in Alabama. The current study corridor affects four counties in Alabama, including Tallapoosa, Chambers, Lee and Russell Counties.” Source: The South Next Month, Jim Noles, Balch & Bingham LLP.

(11/24/15) "A country’s long-term “potential” growth rate depends on two things: the number of workers, and how productive they are. Slower population growth directly chips away at the number of workers." We thought this was interesting in light of the housing reports this month.

(11/23/15) This interactive Federal Footprint map is an interesting, detailed look at land owned by the U.S. government. "The feds control a lot of land and shouldn’t be rushing out to add more territory and responsibility. In these days of budget deficits and spending cuts, the federal government clearly is becoming hard pressed to manage what it already owns." Source: Ketchican Daily News, 11/21/15

And another perspective on federal land ownership from our friends at the Property and Environment Research Center.

(11/20/15) More housing numbers: "Forisk projects 12.1% growth over 2014."

(11/20/15) "Georgia-Pacific last week announced plans for $110 million in upgrades to its Alabama River Cellulose (ARC) mill in Monroe County." Work will begin in early 2016, and is expected to take 18 months. Source: Yellowhammer News, 11/19/15

(11/18/15) A new report says wood pellet export markets pose no threat to the sustainability of U.S. Southern forests or the viability of other forest products manufacturers. In fact, removals for export pellet production represented .08% of the total forest inventory in 2014. Source: National Alliance of Forest Owners, 11/18/15.

(11/16/15) “Alabama timber, forestry industry may get big worker boost with new state grant.”

(11/13/15) According to the European Food Safety Authority, glyphosate/Roundup “is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.” This news should bring relief to many forest owners, who use Roundup for a variety of forestry uses, after a March 2015 World Health Organization report, based on “limited evidence of carcinogenicity,” classified glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

(11/12/15) Virginia Tech’s latest housing report remains dismal and provides little hope for a quick upturn in sawtimber stumpage prices. On the other hand, while American’s are not building as many single family homes as they were pre-recession, we are slowly recovering from the recession lows – lows that are very high for much of the rest of the world.

(11/10/15) The EPA wants information from the public on any ongoing efforts to address stormwater discharge from forest roads to determine whether additional measures to protect water quality are necessary. Since these “additional measures” could include regulations or a permitting program imposed on the owners of forest roads, consider whether you want to take advantage of this opportunity. Such input could very well shape any future regulatory rulemaking on this topic. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2015–0668, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Read the entire announcement from the Federal Register. (1/5/15) Update: Comment period has been extended to Feb. 11

(11/9/15) The two biggest publicly traded forest landowners in the U.S. will merge. Weyerhaeuser is buying Plum Creek for $8.4B to form timber giant.

(11/6/15) Prescribed Grazing is a term we hadn’t heard before for using goats and other livestock to control unwanted vegetation. A Google search found Rent A Goat, unfortunately based in North Carolina, but with a focused message that will be of interest to anyone in Alabama who is thinking about setting up a prescribed grazing business. A 2010 WBHM story, Rent-a-Goat Business Takes Off, featured Todd & Allison Sluiss. The Michigan couple were also featured in a Farm Show article back in 2009. At that time they charged $300 per day with a 2-day minimum. Goat Busters were used in 2014 to clear privet and other brush and vines on Birmingham’s Red Mountain Park.

(11/5/15) Could an organized, well-informed group of forest landowners harm local wood markets? That is the interesting situation described in Antti Kämäräinen's recent Forest2Market Blog, "The Cost of Market Power: When is Too Much Market Power Detrimental to a Market’s Global Competitiveness?"

(11/4/15) Cogongrass, a weed that burns hot enough to kill mature pines, now infests over 65,000 acres in the South, and is, unfortunately, common in south Alabama. Herbicides applied in late April and late September have proven to be the most effective form of eradication. "The two herbicides currently being used are 41% glyphosate [Roundup] and 52% imazapyr [Arsenal]. A good tank mix is two quarts of glyphosate and 12 to 15 ounces of imazapyr per 25 gallons of water. Adding a non-ionic surfactant at one pint per 25 gallons, or AMS (ammonium sulfate) at five pounds granular per 25 gallons can increase herbicide efficiency." For more details about identification and control, go to www.cogongrass.org. Source: Great Days Outdoors, 11/15.

(11/3/15) The White Fringeless Orchid has been proposed for the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The orchid has been found in 8 Alabama counties: Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, DeKalb, Jackson, Marion, Tuscaloosa, and Winston. Since forestry practices may cause modification of the orchid’s habitat that could harm individual plants, forest owners may want to learn more about the proposed listing, and possibly send comments to the Fish & Wildlife Service before the November 16, 2015 comments deadline. See 9/14/15 press release for contact information.

(11/2/15) Timber Markets In a Nutshell: pine stumpage prices down; hardwood stumpage prices up -- more or less. Source: Forest2Market Blog, US South Stumpage Market Trends: YDT 2015 Results and Historic Data by Daniel Stuber, 11/15.

(10/30/15) "US Department of Agriculture Terminates Consideration of Hardwood Checkoff." "Based on comments received, outstanding substantive questions and significant proposed modifications from stakeholders, USDA is terminating the proceeding." Many of the wood processors were so unhappy with the proposed tax that they created a website entitled NoHardwoodCheckOff.com. Editor's note: While stumpage growers (landowners) do not directly pay the tax (the check-off is paid by the wood processors), the burden of the tax falls directly on stumpage growers, since payments for standing timber tend to be the amount left over after costs of producing lumber and plywood are covered. Stumpage growers would not have been given a seat on the decision making board, if the checkoff had been imposed.

(10/29/15) A Tree Identification webinar kicked off a series of webinars designed for woodland owners in Kentucky. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service webinars will continue on October 29, November 12, November 19 and December 1. More details including registration information is available on the UKAgNews website.

(10/28/15) Aunt Fanny Learns Forestry: Managing Timberland as an Investment "highlights the key obligations, risks and metrics for owning and managing timberland investments. The book serves any investor, from individual to institution, interested in a tight and entertaining tutorial for prioritizing what matters and what does not when managing their timber assets as an investment." $12 from Forisk Consulting. To read some of the Aunt Fanny essays click here and here.

(10/27/15) Protect your home from wildfires: "Roof Saver Sprinklers® wet roofs, gutters, decks, surrounding trees, and shrubs."

(10/26/15) "Understory Prescribe Burns: Understory burns in pine plantations are typically conducted during the dormant season. Now is the time to begin planning for those burns. Install firelanes after leaf fall and have both a prescribe burn and smoke management plan prepared by a Certified Burn Prescriptionist." Source: Newsletter of Forest Management Specialists, Inc., Vol. 2, Issue 3. Other topics in the newsletter include Timber Market Update, Focus Industry, Timber Sales, Boundary Line Maintenance, and Mineral Leases.

(10/23/15) Letters to Dad is a short video created by the Paper Check-off as part of a consumer campaign to "slow the decline in paper usage." A check-off for softwood lumber similar to the Paper Check-off has been opposed by Resolute Forest Products, Inc., as an unconstitutional tax. A hardwood check-off under discussion has been reduced in size so much as a result of complaints that "it would exclude over 80% of the hardwood forest products industry," and be "severely underfunded." Source: Timber Mart-South ~ Market News Quarterly, 3Q15. 

(10/22/15) Helpful fire weather links are available at the Alabama Forestry Commission website. Even if you're not planning a prescribed burn, we think you'll find some of this data fascinating.

(10/21/15) The domestic cat is the top killer of America's native birds. A new study suggests that even with this knowledge, cat owners are unwilling to restrain their cats to protect wildlife. Source: Great Days Outdoors magazine, October 2015

(10/20/15) We hate to bring up western fires again, but they are costing you. "Sometimes the science really has to matter." "By shifting the blame to climate change [politicians] think they can avoid taking responsibility for their action."

(10/19/15) Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forest by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel may be of interest to some Alabama forest owners, even though the authors' target audience are forest owners in the northern U.S.

(10/16/15) Confiscatory Property Taxes Push Wisconsin Forest Owners into Untenable Position. In order to avoid very high forestland property taxes, many Wisconsin forest owners signed on to the Managed Forest Law program which reduced property taxes, but also forced participants to open their lands to public access. Now a district court has "approved regulations allowing Wisconsin's Lake Superior Chippewa Indians to conduct night hunting for deer on lands open to public hunting (including Managed Forest Law "open" lands)..." Source: Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association, 10/14/15.

(10/15/15) Trump: Eminent Domain, Even For Private Projects Is ‘Wonderful Thing,’ ‘You’re Not Taking Property’  Source: www.breitbart.com, 10/6/15.

(10/14/15) Lyme Disease is present in 7 Alabama counties. They are Calhoun, Chambers, Jefferson, Mobile, Russell, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa counties, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

(10/13/15) The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today stayed the waters of the U.S. rule issued by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that became effective on August 28. The court vote of 2-1 suspended the effectiveness of the rule nationwide. The following statement in response to the court’s decision was issued by Dave Tenny, President and CEO, National Alliance of Forest Owners:

“We are pleased the court took the prudent step of staying the rule while it sorts through the legal issues. The finding of the court that the petitioners have a strong likelihood of success on the procedural and substantive issues in the case is encouraging, but it will take time for the court to consider these issues individually. Postponing implementation of the rule pending a determination of its legality makes good sense. In the meantime, we continue to encourage Congress to enact legislation that will enable all parties to take a fresh look at this issue outside of the courtroom.”

The next step in the case will be a decision by the Sixth Circuit as to whether or not that court has jurisdiction to review the validity of the rule. Source: National Alliance of Forest Owners, 10/9/15. See also: The Washington Times, 10/9/15.

(10/12/15) Alabama's Pickens County 4-H Forestry Team earned third place in the National 4-H Forestry Invitational held in Weston, West Virginia.

(10/08/15) "The black pinesnake, a burrowing constrictor found only in pine forests of southern Mississippi and Alabama, is now listed as threatened, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday." Source: www.AL.com, 10/5/15. We understand that another 65 species in the southeast have been proposed for federal protection under the same lawsuit that forced the US Fish & Wildlife Service to consider listing the black pinesnake as threatened. See: Black Pine Snakes Protected Under Endangered Species Act: Declines Driven by Destruction of Southeast's Longleaf Pine Ecosystem.

(10/06/15) Is it reasonable to ask why government should be in the entertainment business? If entertainment is not an important function of government, why do we worry if several state parks will soon be closed? See: 5 Alabama state parks to close following budget cuts.

(10/01/15) "Cameras Will Soon Do The Job of Fire Tower Lookouts." Source: www.opb.org, 9/22/15.

(09/29/15) Poor forest management to blame for out-of-control western fires, says Capital Press, 9/24/15.

(09/27/15) Facing a 19.6 percent cut in state funding, "Alabama State Forester Greg Pate said the commission couldn't handle any cuts, especially one so drastic." Source: WSFA, 9/24/15. 

(09/25/15) Forest and Humans: From the Midwest to Madagascar is the focus of a University of Wisconsin "Massive Open Online Course," scheduled to begin on 9/30/15. "Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), are unique virtual teaching, learning and research experiences that are not for credit, aimed at unlimited participation and available at no cost to learners around the world." An introductory video about the course and enrollment information is at: https://moocs.wisc.edu/mooc/forests-and-humans/  

(09/24/15) Three species of parasitoid wasps have been released in North America in an attempt to control the emerald ash borer, the "most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America."

(09/22/15) Flying Robot Spiders -- there must be some use for this technology in the forest.

(09/21/15) Forest Economist Dr. Jack Lutz discusses the growth of trees and the growth of stands of trees in Limits to [Tree] Growth, Forest Research Notes, Volume 12, Number 3. Be sure to look at Figure 2, which focuses on the value of planting, site preparation, competition control, fertilization, and tree improvement. (MAI = Mean Annual Increment)

(09/18/15) Seattle, USA. Softwood lumber prices (in US $) have fallen throughout a majority of the main markets in the world during the 2Q/15 because of weaker demand, ample supply throughout the distribution chain and a strengthening US dollar. The biggest declines have occurred in the US, Canada and the Nordic countries, while the drop in import prices to China and Japan has been more modest. Source: Wood Resource Quarterly Press Release, 9/16/15.

(09/17/15) U.S. Forest Service scientist not allowed to discuss federal fire policy. A paper written by the scientist, "Reform Forest Fire Management," says suppressing every fire in overgrown forests is not only expensive, but dangerous and ill-advised.

(09/10/15) More Aunt Fanny essays from Forisk Consulting: (see below)

(09/9/15) Private forestry plays a key role in in both Finland and the United States. "In Finland, 80 percent of the domestic wood used by the forest industry comes from privately owned forests. In the United States, the number varies by region, but is roughly 55 percent." Source: Forest2Market Blog by Antti Kamarainen.

(09/3/15) A gun law passed during the 2015 Regular Legislative Session went into effect Tuesday, after a bipartisan effort ushered through several significant reforms.
     The changes, sponsored by Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), were backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
     Governor Bentley signed the bill into law on June 4.
     “This is a victory for the Second Amendment and Alabama’s law-abiding gun owners”, said executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Chris W. Cox. “Among other reforms, the new law gives young people greater opportunities to learn and enjoy our firearms and hunting heritage…” Source: Yellowhammer, 9/2/15

(08/31/15) Seven new Champion Trees were recently registered in Alabama's list of big trees. Two of the seven new champions have a good chance of being declared national champions next year - a post oak and a red hickory. Champion Trees of Alabama 2015 contains measurements of the largest trees by species recorded in Alabama and is published periodically by the Alabama Forestry Commission.

(08/28/15) Athens voters reject property tax increase.

(08/27/15) Tom the Sawyer was introduced to us in the latest issue of Independent Sawmill and Woodlot Management magazine and we thought you might like to visit Tom's Portable Sawmill Service webpage. One of the links on his Resources page is the "Portable Sawmill Finder" which can help you find portable sawmilling services here in Alabama and other states.

(08/26/15) IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A HOLE...the first thing to do is stop digging. Good advice from the Property and Environment Research Center to the U.S. Congress as it debates whether to continue spending $900 million per year to acquire more land (Land & Water Conservation Fund, LWCF) while National Parks has an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog. Perhaps good advice, too, for Alabama lawmakers who are struggling to keep Alabama parks open while Forever Wild continues to spend millions of dollars every year on more land.

(08/25/15) Western Forest Fires: "Same sad stories, new year." If forest growth is not harvested, all that useful wood becomes nothing more than fuel. An opinion piece in The Washington Post (8/21/15) reviews "Five myths about wildfires," while a logger spokesman in Oregon (GoLocal, 8/21/15) points out, "When a fire starts on federal land, it is almost always bigger than one that starts on a private owned area."  "In fact, there are examples of fires that start on federal land and are very severe but once they get to private land, where forests are healthier, they weaken considerably."

(08/21/15) Will you be around long enough to enjoy your forestland?

(08/20/15) Four recent headlines:

(08/19/15) Choose loblolly pine seedlings resistant to fusiform rust to minimize future damage. ArborGen claims "breakthrough in rust resistance with genomics."

(08/18/15) "Louisiana-Pacific expanding Thomasville mill, adding 20 jobs." Source: AL.com, 8/5/15

(08/04/15) The U.S. South remains significantly cost competitive for delivered softwood fiber when compared to Coastal British Columbia, Scandinavia, U.S. Northwest, and New Zealand/Australia. Only Southern Brazil is close to us according to a chart in a F2M Market Watch article by Suz-Anne Kinney, Finnish Forestry Expansion: Increased Demand Affects Supply and Price.

(07/24/15) Need a land surveyor in Alabama? Use the Find a Surveyor webpage of the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors. We selected "Marion" in the "Professional County" drop down menu and then clicked on the "Continue" button. In about 10 seconds Phillip Lindley's name popped onto the screen. When we hovered over his name with the mouse/cursor, Mr. Lindley's name, address, and phone number popped up. When we selected Talladega in Professional County, seven names popped up. A great service.

(07/23/15) "Threatened bats halt some timber projects." "Some members of the industry are already being affected, even with the interim rule in place. Five hundred timber projects that were to receive federal funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture, have been tabled for the summer. June and July are the months when the bats tend to raise their pups in the trees, and the NRCS has opted to err on the side of caution and stop funding all projects until the pup season ends." Source: North Andover, Massachusetts Eagle Tribune, 7/19/15.

(07/21/15) "Americans should not have to fear the government’s taking their homes, farms, or businesses to give to other persons. Governments should not abuse the power of eminent domain to force rural property owners from their land in order to develop rural land into industrial and commercial property. Congress has a duty to protect the property rights of rural Americans in the face of eminent domain abuse." Source: Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2015, a Bill introduced by James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) in the 114th Congress, July 9, 2015.

(07/19/15) Walker County voters will decide whether to continue a 3 mill property tax on September 8. Original source: Daily Mountain Eagle, 7/14/15. The Daily Mountain Eagle has since removed the article, but we have posted a picture of it to AFOA's Facebook page. Baldwin County voters will make a similar decision on March 1, 2016. Source: AL.com, 6/16/15.

(07/17/15) "How much rain fell on my land during the last 24 hours?" If you have ever asked yourself that question, Intellicast might have an answer for you. Check out their 24 hour precipitation map here.

(07/13/15) State Budget Mess - Part II -- a morning commentary from forest industry lobbyist, Tom Saunders, in From the Weeds, July 13, 2015. You may also find Tom's commentary from June 16, June 12, June 10, and June 5 useful background information for what you will read or hear in the daily news duing the next 30 days.

(07/07/15) Hearing: The State of Property Rights in America Ten Years after Kelo v. City of New London, 2 PM Eastern Time on July 9, 2015 in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. Brian Seasholes, Reason Foundation, one of the witnesses, will focus on the impacts on property rights from the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. You can listen to the hearing on your computer.

(07/06/15) New housing starts down in May. Scroll down to slide 4. Source: Virginia Tech May 2015 Housing Commentary by Urs Buehlmann and Al Shuler. Archive of past reports.

(07/01/15) The Boutwell Family of Alabama were recently named Southern Regional Tree Farmers of the Year - 2015.

(06/30/15) "Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and grazing lands it currently owns. Rather than using the conservation fund to acquire more land, Congress should use the money to help address the deferred maintenance backlog." Source: Property and Environment Research Center, 6/30/15.

(06/26/15) "Beetle Plague Spurs Canadians on U.S. Lumber-Mill Buying Spree." "Chased from their home forests by rising costs and a plague of tree-killing beetles, West Fraser Timber Co., Canfor Corp. and Interfor Corp. have been on a buying spree, doubling the number of mills they own in the South since 2009 to about 34. The Canadians are drawn by the region’s 210 million acres of fast-growing forests and expanding housing markets from Texas to Virginia to Florida, according to Brooks Mendell, president of Forisk Consulting, an Athens, Georgia-based timberland researcher." Source: Bloomberg.com, 6/22/15.

(06/22/15) The Case Against Pope Francis's Green Encyclical. Source: Anything Peaceful, 6/22/15.

  • Pope Francis: Let us realize, for example, that most of the paper that is produced is thrown away and not recycled.
     
  • Borders & Bier: So would Pope Francis have us burn fossil fuels to go around and collect processed pulp? Is he unaware that demand for paper is what drives the supply of new trees? We aren’t running out of trees because we throw away paper. The Pope’s plan sounds like it could have been hatched in Berkeley, California, instead of Vatican City.

(06/18/15) "On May 26, 2015, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a Notice of Intent (Notice) that initiated environmental review of a proposal to regulate the incidental take of most of the bird species found in the United States. In the Notice, FWS outlined a plan for development of a multi-layer permitting program under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), an almost 100-year-old statute designed to control poaching and commercial hunting." "The MBTA makes it a crime to 'pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill,' possess, sell, purchase, or ship any migratory bird or any part, nest or egg of a migratory bird." About 1,000 species of birds are included. FWS invites comments on their proposal through July 27, 2015. Source: Marten Law, June 17. 2015.

(06/15/15) Alligator hunting season in Alabama is just around the corner. Registration at www.outdooralabama.com/registration-instructions is currently underway and will continue until 8 a.m. July 14, 2015. Hunters who draw tags are required to attend mandatory training classes. See www.outdooralabama.com (scroll down towards the bottom of the page) for mandatory class schedules and season dates. A 17-minute video in five segments has been developed for alligator hunters to watch online. Permit holders will then answer a series of questions related to the video.

(06/08/15) "2 Alabama ATV riders killed in 2 weeks, authorities share safety tips."

(06/05/15) A bipartisan effort to "preserve timberland tax provisions in an ongoing national tax reform effort" resulted in a June 3, 2015 letter sent by 80 Members of Congress to Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Paul Ryan and Ranking Member Sander Levin. Read an Alabama Forestry Association press release praising the leadership of Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell and the rest of the Alabama delegation. Read the letter here.   Editor's Note: While we appreciate the efforts made by our Members of Congress and the other 73 signers of the letter in our behalf, we couldn't help chuckling at the 4 words in fine print at the bottom of the first page of the letter: PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER. We wonder if it would be appropriate for a letter sent to a Congressional committee focused on agricultural issues to bear a message: EAT LESS CORN, or, in Congressman Ryan's case: EAT LESS CHEESE.
 

(06/02/15) Waters of the U.S.: "Congressman Gary Palmer spoke out this week against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest major regulation, which opponents say is a significant overreach of the bureaucracy’s power. Along with the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA is seeking to redefine “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act to include small areas water collects or could collect, such as ditches, puddles and small ponds." Source: Yellowhammer, 5/29/15

(06/01/15) "Outpost Campsites" at Gulf State Park may be just the idea you've been looking for to add extra income from your forestland.

(05/29/15) A Key to Common Native Trees of Alabama, ANR-0509, was revised last year by Auburn University's Dr. Nancy Loewenstein. The 16 page publication contains good line drawings and a dichotomous key to help you identify 69 native trees. Open it in your tablet or print out a copy and take an educational walk in the woods.

(05/28/15) 2015 Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Prevention Cost-Share Program. For a limited time, help is being offered to fight against the number one killer of pine trees in Alabama. Now through the end of June, technical assistance and financial incentives are available to help forest landowners across the state apply prevention practices to reduce the susceptibility of their pine stands to attack by southern pine beetle.

(05/26/15) Don't Write Off Paper Just Yet. Be sure to look at the top two lines in the graph, "Ten Years of Paper Production." Tissue and Containerboard -- diapers and cardboard boxes -- stable or slightly growing demand. Source: NPR, 5/26/15

(05/20/15) In his new book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty without Permission, Charles Murray proposes "a declaration of limited resistance to the existing government." For a discussion of the book and to view an interview with Murray, read Thomas Firey's review, Insuring John Galt?.

(05/11/15) Tory win in United Kingdom may give Prime Minister Cameron the power to remove "...the 'green crap' that subsidises renewable power..." The U.K. is a major importer of wood pellets shipped from the Southern U.S. Government mandates in U.K. and other European countries force electric power producers there to use renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and wood pellets.

(05/05/15) No more public funds in tax increase referendums. "Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), announced in a press conference Monday morning that he is personally filing a lawsuit to stop school boards from using taxpayer money to campaign for tax increases."
"It is estimated that the Baldwin County school board spent upwards of $1 million to campaign for the failed tax hike." Source: YellowHammer, 5/4/15.

(05/01/15) Time to Move on from the Endangered Species Act, an article on the Heartland blog, 4/30/15, concludes that authority over environment and land issues be returned to the states. We might suggest that authority over property should be returned to the millions of private owners who have a strong vested interest in caring for the land and the plants and animals that live on it. The constant grinding away of property rights by governments, large and small, must stop. Forest America Take Action on Black Pine Snake.

(04/30/15) From Fear to Facts: A Landowner's Perspective was produced by Michigan State University Extension to help forest owners overcome their fears of harvesting the trees they have grown. If you have never made a timber sale, this video may be useful to you.

(04/29/15) "Voters defeat tax increase in Lawrence County by landslide vote." Source: The Moulton Advertiser, 4/29/15.

(04/28/15) "Knowing the price paid for a timberland property does not tell us whether it was a good price or not. Just as with a house, we need to know where it is and what its physical attributes are. A good timber inventory is most important. A full inventory report will provide information on land types, timber volumes and sizes, site indexes and age class distributions." Source: Forest Research Notes, 1Q15.

(04/27/15) Legislation in Montgomery that we thought you might find interesting (there's lots more at From the Weeds, 4/27/15):

  • SB12 (Sandford) Allows General Fund to participate in growth tax revenues
  • HB135 (Clouse) General Fund Appropriations Bill that would cut budget by 11% from 2015. Forestry Commission would receive $1.7 million less than last year
  • SB227 (Singleton)/HB477 (Knight) Constitutional Amendment to increase property taxes statewide by 8.5 mills
  • HB485 (Melton) Perry County Constitutional Amendment raising ad valorem taxes by 3 mills

(04/24/15) Message to Governor Bentley: "Sell the Parks." AFOA received an email a few days ago that read: "One question that should be asked at this public meeting is -- 'Since the purpose of government is not to entertain, why doesn't the state sell the parks to private enterprise?' " "Bentley to address budget crisis, possible state park closures", source: The News Courier, 4/17/15.

(04/23/15) "Mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae just debuted its new 'HomePath Ready Buyer Program,' which lets first-time homebuyers get up to a 3% rebate of a home’s purchase price if they buy a Fannie Mae property, so long as they complete an online homebuyer education course which costs $75.00." "But is this new effort good for taxpayers and the economy, or is this similar to programs that led to the subprime mortgage crisis and housing crash? Is the federal government acting once again like the boozy bartender handing out free drinks at the frat party?" Source: FoxBusiness, 4/17/15.

(04/22/15) April 22 is Earth Day! Environmentalists and their friends may have brought us Earth Day, but please say it isn't true that big corporations and Republicans have forced upon us the demise of the incandescent light bulb. If a misguided Congress can take away light bulbs, it shouldn't be too hard for them to abolish capital gains treatment of timber sale income and expensing of forest management and tree planting costs -- in the name of tax reform. See: Paul Ryan  See: Orrin Hatch See: Forest Landowners Association - What is Tax a Expenditure?

(04/14/15) Death Tax Repeal Vote Scheduled for this week.

(04/13/15) "The Park Service gets around $2.6 billion to manage 84 million acres at 407 different sites, and includes Parks, Monuments and Wilderness areas. Congress, the administration and various lobbying groups keep telling us there is a huge demand for these type areas. If that be the case, why hire a private marketing firm to conduct a seven-year, multimillion dollar campaign to raise 'awareness' of these areas? Sorry, but this is all about current and future funding, i.e., money. First, they want to use the 100 year anniversary to obtain a substantial increase in their annual operating budget. Second, the dirty little secret is that youth and minorities make fewer visits to these areas than their national population would indicate, thereby becoming a threat to future funding. The future of the agency and the crony capitalists in the outdoor industry is at stake. Jarvis says they want a 'personal connection to the public.' They do. To your wallet and to Congressional coffers. Just wanted you to be 'aware' of that too." Source: The Westerner, Frank DuBois, 4/6/15.

(04/10/15) The Ecologically Destructive Tax: How the Federal Estate Tax is Ecologically Harmful and How to Fix It is the title of a Reason Foundation Working Paper by Brian Seasholes. "...because it is a working paper, comments/criticisms are welcome, as I will hopefully be turning this into a bit longer study," wrote Seasholes in a recent email note.

(04/09/15) Federal Land Acquisition and its Impacts on Communities and the Environment is the title of a public hearing to be conducted by the Subcommittee on Federal Lands of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. Visit the Committee Calendar for additional information, once it is made available. The meeting is open to the public and a live video stream will be broadcast at House Committee on Natural Resources. Contact: Committee Press Office (202) 226-9019.

(04/08/15) Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Arthur Orr, "Creates felony crime and penalties for hunting on land without permission." Source: From the Weeds, 4/3/15. The original bill was amended to include trespassing to catch fish as well as game.

(04/06/15) The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "manage more than 100 million acres of timberland in the United States, yet both agencies lose money on their vast timber resources. Simply put, these losses are the result of high management costs and low revenues. From 2009 to 2013, the Forest Service generated 32 cents for every dollar it spent on timber management, while the BLM received 38 cents per dollar spent." See Table 3 on page 14 of Divided Lands: State Vs. Federal Management in the West by Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan.

(04/02/15) Baldwin County voters "crushed a tax increase proposal at the ballot box." "On the ballot in Baldwin County Tuesday were referendums that would have implemented a new 30-year, 8-mill property tax to pay for a $350 million education building campaign, and the renewal of three separate existing taxes totaling 7-mills. The county reportedly spent nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to promote the tax increase and hold the election. The new taxes were each defeated by over 30 points, and only one precinct in the entire county voted to support them. Only one of the renewals succeeded, which will keep an existing 3-mill tax in place." Source: YellowhammerNews.com, 4/1/15.

(04/01/15) Do-It-Yourself Information on Portable Sawmills, Log Splitters, Logging Winches, Dry Kilns and all sorts of related equipment and supplies can be found in the 52 page 2015 Independent Sawmill & Woodlot Management Buyer's Guide.

(03/26/15) Forest Management Practices to Enhance Habitat for the Gopher Tortoise is short publication that may be helpful to south Alabama forest owners who want to prevent unnecessary harm to these interesting residents of their land from timber harvesting or other management activities.

(03/16/15) Property Tax Referendums Now Listed on Secretary of State's Website!  PLEASE THANK Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill for adding this very important new information source to the Secretary of State's website. Follow this path to Upcoming Elections: open www.sos.alabama.gov  in your web browser; then click on the red "Elections" tab on the left; then click on "View Alabama's UPCOMING ELECTIONS."    Here's what we found today:

(03/11/15) "Reforestation at Risk  - U.S. Department of Labor Must Resume Processing H-2B Visas!" reports the Forest Resource Association in an action alert dated 3/9/15.

(03/06/15) There have been 195 bills introduced in the Alabama House and 167 in the Alabama Senate this week. Some are really important, but may we digress from the bigger picture to note that SB123 (Whatley) "requires permit and $50 fee for game feeders." Source: From the Weeds, 3/6/15. Sounds like more regulations and higher taxes, but we could be wrong.

(03/04/15) Shipments of Southern Pine Lumber Up in 2014. The Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) announced on March 3rd that, for the fifth consecutive year, shipments of Southern Pine lumber recorded an increase from the previous year. Shipments in 2014 totaled 15.79 billion board feet (Bbf), an increase of 5% over the volume shipped in 2013 (15.03 Bbf) and 34% above 2009 shipments (11.79 Bbf). Source: SFPA Press Release, 3/3/15

(03/03/15) Tuscaloosa County Property Tax Vote Today, March 3. The 30-year tax is equivalent to $210 per year on a $100,000 home. Source: Alabama13.com, 2/27/15.

(02/27/15) Investing in Timberland is a blog written by realtor and consulting forester Eddie Stone. We think you might find the conversation interesting.

(02/24/15) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposes eliminating red tape that strangles private forest owners in his state -- and by eliminating regulations that require a state forester to approve of timber harvests on private land, he also proposes eliminating a few state forester positions due to the reduced workload. To reduce confiscatory property taxes, many Wisconsin forest owners have allowed the state to take over the management of their land. Walker's proposals may be good, but will not eliminate the problems caused by unreasonably high property taxes. According to the LaCrosse Tribune, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has 2,600 employees! 

(02/20/15) Bentley "will propose a $700 million tax hike in his State of the State address March 3rd." Source: YellowHammer, 2/19/15

(02/19/15) Two publications on silviculture that you may find interesting:

(02/18/15) Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation, by Terry Anderson and Donald Leal, continues their eye-opening idea that property rights and markets can provide real-world solutions for impending environmental concerns. Listen to Dr. Anderson explain the meaning of "free market environmentalism" during an interview with AFOA last September. 

(02/17/15) Currently at about 1.2 million housing starts, Forisk projects housing starts to peak at 1.6 million starts by 2019.

(02/11/15) "Lack-luster household formation," among other things, still holding down demand for lumber products. Source: Virginia Tech December 2014 Housing Commentary. Archived at: Virginia Tech Housing Reports

(02/10/15) The Strategic Plan to Grow Alabama's Agriculture, Agribusiness, Forestry, and Forest Products Industries 2015 - 2020 was unveiled today at a Montgomery press conference led by Governor Robert Bentley, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Industries, John McMillan, and leaders of Alabama's agriculture and forestry industry.

(01/30/15) Grandchildren: Company leadership might skip a generation.

(01/23/15) Lyme Disease in Alabama. "A little more than three years ago, Carrie Mason was your normal 16-year-old, looking forward to having a driver’s license and enjoying the outdoors with her parents, Art and Dianne Mason." Past outdoor essays from David Rainer.

(01/21/15) "Capital Gains Taxes Should Go Down, Not Up." "The President wants to raise the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 28 percent." Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Raising Taxes on Capital Hurts the Middle Class, Economics21, January 20, 2015. See also: What Dynamic Analysis Tells Us About the President's Tax Hike on Capital Gains and Dividends, Tax Foundation, 1/21/15

(01/15/15) Planning to build a boat dock or light vehicular bridge? The Southern Forest Products Association has recently published the Marine Construction Guide: "The 40-page publication provides information for the correct use of southern pine materials for the construction of docks, piers, bulkheads, pedestrian walkways, and light vehicular bridges. New to this edition are 16 pages of sample designs and a glossary of marine construction terminology." Source: Marina Dock Age, Dec 14/Jan 15.

(01/13/15) The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has given an Idaho company permission to provide drone surveillance services for agricultural uses. We are not sure if forest imaging is included in Advanced Aviation Solutions' permit, but if not now, we suspect commercial forestry services will become available in the not too distant future. Original source: Idaho Statesman, 1/7/15. Somewhat related: Unmanned Aircraft System News.

(01/06/15) "Based on the vote [on Amendment 5 on November 4, 2014], 20% of Alabama voters were not in favor of hunting being guaranteed as a basic right. That means one out of five people who voted do not support hunting. The constitutional amendment should stand as a vivid reminder that our rights are defined for us by society. This is why our conduct as hunters should always be responsible and ethical." Source: Hunting at the Ballot Box by Corky Pugh at www.classifiedsforhunters.com. Editor's question: Do you believe "growers and harvesters of timber" would command greater respect from Alabama voters than "hunters" if the question were put to a vote?
 

(01/05/15) Forestland security depends on lots of factors, including the sense of responsibility of neighbors to report timber trespass (theft) and other potentially illegal activities on nearby forestland. Unfortunately, that sense of responsibility may be declining, according to a National Center for Policy Analysis Research Report, American's Sense of Civic Duty Declining. The NCPA report was based on an Associated Press-GfK poll. See also: https://www.youtube.com/embed/YjntXYDPw44.   

(01/02/15) 10 Predictions for Wood Consuming Industries in 2015 from Forest2Market. While basking in the glow of F2M's infallible predictions, you may consider a more reserved approach to belief in predictions after reading Botched environmental predictions for 2015 from FoxNews.

(12/30/14) As we understand it, beginning on January 1, 2015, law enforcement problems related to timber theft and forest arson should be reported to the Alabama Rural Crime Unit at 1-855-75-CRIME. Based on a 12/28/14 article on AL.com, it appears that our highways will receive a lot of attention from the newly created Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, but we're not sure if calls reporting timber theft or forest arson will be handled effectively. We look forward to reports from forest landowners -- rll@afoa.org.

(12/29/14) PROPERTY TAX INCREASE FOR BALDWIN COUNTY to be decided in a referendum set for MARCH 31, 2014. Source: AL.com, 12/27/14. Total of 15 mills will be on the ballot ($150 tax per year on $100,000 home or forestland for several decades). See: Proponents and opponents of Baldwin County's school tax referendum keeping an eye on Gov. Robert Bentley's tax plan.

(12/22/14) "Federal Government Mandating Off-Road Vehicle Design: Negative Effects on Safety & Performance." "Polaris opposes [Comsumer Product Safety Commission's] proposed mandatory standard because there are significant gaps in the data CPSC is using to support a mandatory rule, the proposed metrics and safety claims do not apply across all categories and models of ROV, and the proposed standard will actually lead to unintended safety consequences in off-road conditions." Background and comments at the CPSC website.

(12/22/14) Based on October 2014 data, single family housing starts were up 15,4%, year to year. Source: Virginia Tech Housing Reports (archive)

(12/18/14) Today, Thursday, December 18, is the last opportunity you have to comment on the proposed listing of the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an endangered species. A TAKE ACTION webpage that makes it easy for you to send your comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is available on the Forest America website. For more information on the bat and the disease that is causing its possible extinction, see: 10/19/14, 8/29/14, 8/25/14, 6/13/14.

(12/17/14) Christmas Gift ideas from the Family Business Bookstore. A few titles caught our eye: Family Meetings, How Families Work Together, and How to Choose and Use Advisors.

(12/16/14) Practical Decisions and Applications of Finance and Timber Prices in Forestry (from Forisk Finance):

(12/15/14) Georgia-Pacific announced an investment of approximately $6 million at its Thorsby, Alabama, engineered lumber operations to expand production capacity of laminated veneer lumber (LVL). Source: PR Newswire, 12/8/14.

(12/12/14) Softwood Lumber Prices: "Prices for softwood lumber imported to China increased this fall, while they fell in Japan as the housing market weakened. In the US, lumber prices were moving downward in the 3Q, while still being close to their highest levels in ten years, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. In the Nordic countries and Russia, lumber exports have increased because of higher demand for wood in key markets in Europe and the [Middle East and North Africa] countries." Source: Wood Resources Quarterly, 12/9/14.

(12/11/14) How much is needed? "Between the four largest landholding agencies (the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Parks Service) the federal government owns over 623 million acres. To put that in perspective, it is larger than France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands combined." Source: The Daily Signal, 12/5/14.

(12/11/14) Christmas Gift Ideas: AFOA T-Shirts and AFOA Caps.

(12/04/14) "New study shows progress towards eradicating cogongrass infestations," states an Auburn University Press Release dated 11/24/14. "Auburn University College of Agriculture associate professor and Extension specialist Stephen Enloe, along with Nancy Loewenstein, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences research fellow, published a new study that reports significant progress in the fight against cogongrass. Cogongrass is ranked as the seventh worst invasive plant species worldwide and is both a significant economic and ecological threat to much of Alabama. The results of this study offer land managers several viable options in controlling the troublesome weed."

(12/03/14) The Complete Guide to Chain Saw Safety and Directional Felling: Forest Applications, EBook [NOOK Book], by Tim Ard, Mike Bolin (Director), and Laura Ard (Photographer), $16.49. Tim Ard is a chain saw expert who travels all over the U.S. teaching loggers and landowners the safe use of chainsaws and the art of directional felling. For those of you who do not have a Nook, there are free Nook Apps for iPad and Android tablets. 

(12/02/14) Death Tax, Part II. The Anti-Environment Tax Rolls On: the State-Based Version by Brian Seasholes, Reason Foundation Out of Control Policy Blog, 12/2/14. Editor's note: Forest owners who are considering an out-of-state move to be closer to the children may want to consider state death taxes before making a final decision.

(11/26/14) "With nasty cold fronts thrusting an icy and early winter across the continental U.S. — along with last winter described by USA Today as 'one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record' — climatologist John L. Casey thinks the weather pattern is here to stay for decades to come. In fact, Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, is out with the provocative book, Dark Winter: How the Sun Is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell, which warns that a radical shift in global climate is underway..." Source: The Westerner, 11/17/14

(11/25/14) Good news on the Endangered Species Act front: Federal Court Rules for Property Owners in Endangered Species Act Case, National Center for Policy Analysis, 11/24/14. Original source: Ron Arnold, "For Once, a Court Sided With People Rather Than ‘Threatened' Rodents," Dailysignal.com, 11/18/14.

(11/21/14) In a speech to the Birmingham Business Alliance on November 19, Governor Robert Bentley reported that an expected 2016 General Fund shortfall will be greater than he expected. Instead of the $250 million shortfall he expected for 2016 fiscal year, "It's about $265 million now." The Alabama Forestry Commission is funded from the state's General Fund. (11/25/14) Bentley calls for more revenue, but ‘No New Taxes’ campaign pledge leaves few options.

(11/20/14) Tracking Forest and Landscape Change from Space Using The Forwarn system is an interesting webinar on a forest monitoring system that may alert you to changes on your land, such as tornado damage, timber theft, defoliations from insect or disease, etc. ForWarn is a "satellite-based change recognition and tracking" service made available by the U.S. Forest Service, NASA, USGS and others.

(11/10/14) "This proposed rule is patently unreasonable and should be amended or withdrawn," wrote Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Reed Hopper in "Waters of the United States" -- the ultimate power grab. Source: Liberty Blog, 11/10/14. Editor's note: Twenty or thirty years ago, we thought the whole idea of calling perfectly dry land "waters of the U.S." was crazy, but we've learned to never be surprised by the folks who push for greater and greater control of private property by the federal government. Unfortunately, they continue to win the arguments on the national stage.

(11/10/14) Alabama Hunting Incident Summary 2013-2014 and Alabama Hunter Education and Hunting Incident Statistics, both produced by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, contain information that you may find interesting, especially if you are a hunter or lease your land to hunters. We notice in the Statistics report that, while firearms and treestand "incidents" have generally decreased since hunter safety courses were required of young hunters, the 2012-2013 hunting season saw a sharp rise in both, based on incidents per 100,000 licenses sold. As a hunter or a landowner, you can make a difference in the number of hunting related accidents. Show the Hunting Incident Summary to your friends and the hunters who hunt on your land.

(11/06/14) A new federal wildlife refuge for the Paint Rock Valley in north Alabama? Dwight Cooley, Refuge Manager, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge will discuss the possibility of a new Paint Rock Valley refuge at the Clean Water Partnership meeting scheduled for 10 AM on November 20. The meeting will take place at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Decatur. Remember the upset folks in Brent when the feds tried to lock up 200,000+ acres along and near the Cahaba River?

(11/05/14) Potlatch Corporation, one of the largest forest landowners in the U.S. whose stock is publicly traded, recently signed a purchase agreement for 201,000 acres of Alabama and Mississippi timberlands. Source: Potlatch Press Release, 10/20/14.

(11/04/14) Avoiding ESA's Perverse Incentives, a letter from Reason Foundation's Brian Seasholes to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/14. See also 10/22/14.

(11/03/14) Ken Freeman's Discussion of Amendments on Nov. 4th Ballot offers an interesting perspective on the constitutional amendments we'll vote on tomorrow. Source: The Informed Voter. See also, 10/1/14, 10/8/14, 10/25/14.

(10/30/14) "Daughters being chosen more often as successor." "Although it was almost unheard of just a few decades ago, it is predicted that one in three family businesses will soon be headed by a woman." Source: News from JamisonMoneyFarmer, 10/29/14. We suspect that forestland businesses are experiencing the same changes as other family businesses. Three suggestions from the article:

  • Expose your children to the business at an early age, but don’t pressure them
  • Be sure they get the right education and experience
  • Show support of your successor

(10/29/14) Our Hunting Land for Lease webpage, www.HuntingLand.bz, has been really busy this fall. Yesterday we posted two tracts. A 40 acre tract in Crenshaw County with photos to prove trophy deer were present ($25 per acre) and a 99 acre tract in Montgomery County with excellent deer hunting potential and an old farm house with power and water ($30 per acre). Both were leased within 24 hours. If you have been thinking about leasing your land for hunting, you probably won't get those high prices, but you may well get $10 or more per acre. It's just 3 weeks until deer season begins. Send the information about your hunting land to rll@afoa.org.

(10/28/14) America at Work: Forestry, written by Jane Drake and Ann Love and illustrated by Pat Cupples, is a children's book (ages 7-10) which "examines all aspects of the industry, from the planting of new seedlings to the inner workings of a sawmill and a pulp and paper mill." If you have read the book ($5.35 at Amazon.com) (or reviewed the online preview), please let us know if you think America at Work: Forestry would be a good book for the Alabama Forest Owners' Association to give to Alabama public libraries. The association has been giving forestry books (both adult and children's) to Alabama public libraries for many years. Send your comments to Lee at rll@afoa.org.

(10/27/14) Ag and Forestry Museum Opens at Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds. "The museum features historical and educational exhibits that spotlight different segments of agriculture: aquaculture; forestry and wildlife; row crops; ornamental nursery and greenhouse; fruit, vegetables and bees; and livestock." "The museum is located at 1035 Cody Road N., Mobile, AL 36608. It will be open during all events at the fairgrounds. It will also be available for school field trips." Source: alfafarmers.org, 10/24/14

(10/25/14) 2 states to have pro-hunting ballot amendments in November. Source: www.guns.com, 10/25/14.  For more information, see 10/1/14, below.

(10/22/14) The Black Pinesnake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi) has been proposed for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The black pinesnake is a subspecies, currently known from Alabama and Mississippi. Among other things, pine plantations are thought to be leading to the extinction of this subspecies. Your comments on the proposed listing must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 8, 2014. Details about the proposed listing, including information on sending your comments to the USF&WS, are available in the Federal Register, Volume 79, Number 194 (Tuesday, October 7, 2014) [pages 60406-60419]. You may also find interesting Dr. Terry Anderson's opinion piece in the October 20 Wall Street Journal, When the Endangered Species Act Threatens Wildlife.

(10/21/14) October 19-25 is National Forest Products Week. "Since 1960, the seven-day period beginning on the third Sunday in October in each year has been designated by Presidential proclamation as a time to recognize the many products that come from our forests, the people who work in and manage our forests, the people who make the products, and how forest products contribute to our daily lives. The proclamation calls on all Americans to celebrate the varied uses and products of our forested lands, as well as the people who carry on the tradition of careful stewardship of these precious natural resources for generations to come." Source: Southern Forest Products Association NewsNote, 10/21/14.

(10/20/14) "Last year there were 14 treestand falls in Alabama, including one that resulted in a fatality. Treestand incidents are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters." Source: Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, 10/20/14. Editor's note: Treestand falls are also a leading cause of liability claims against forest landowners. Be sure to remind your hunters to check safety straps and follow the advice at www.tmastands.com/_safety.html.

(10/19/14) "...a reason for optimism." A research team may be close to developing a cure for the deadly white nose syndrome which has killed the Northern Long-Eared Bat by the millions. Rules proposed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help the bat species avoid extinction include curtailing summertime harvest of timber in much of the Eastern U.S., including Alabama. See also: 8/29/14, 8/25/14, 6/13/14.

(10/16/14) What is your opinion? Are you surprised that the last of the Key Findings of Chapter 6 of the Southern Forest Futures Project (written by salaried academics and bureaucrats) encourages "...increased monitoring of ownership changes and of forestland transaction values to better understand the conservation implications of economic trends."? May we suggest that the federal government has many more serious problems to solve than those regarding the ownership of forestland in the only place in the world where economic and political cultures encourage long-term investment in private forests? 

(10/15/14) Perhaps forest management is not the primary reason Gopher Tortoises could be listed as "Endangered"?  See: Florida man charged with smuggling protected tortoises out of Alabama, AL.com, 10/8/14.

(10/13/14) Timber Investments Cut Down Portfolio Risk -- an essay by Robert Stammers at Investopedia.com. AFOA thanks Forest Management Specialists for leading us to the Investopedia essay.

(10/10/14) A control method for some mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya, is available, but cannot be used in the U.S. Source: How Many Regulators Does It Take to Kill a Mosquito?, Forbes, 10/8/14. AFOA thanks the National Center for Policy Analysis for leading us to the Forbes article.

(10/9/14) Would it give you great heartburn if laws against hiring illegal aliens were strictly enforced? Would your tree seedlings get planted? Would private forestland go into decline? Chris Mathews, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell, Andrea Mitchell Reports, MSNBC, 10/8/14, described a compromise on the "issue of immigration" that he thinks would stop the huge influx of illegal aliens into the U.S.: "There is a compromise...Simply say you can't hire people illegally in this country." Mathews' interview begins (after the short ad) at 1:39 and proceeds on the "immigration issue" to 3:32.

(10/8/14) "Everything you need to know about voting in Alabama." Source: YellowHammer, 10/1/14.

(10/7/14) Deforestation Myths Debunked by Facts. Source: F2M Market Watch, 9/16/14.

  • Myth: Forests in the United States are being depleted.
  • Myth: The use of wood for energy will lead to deforestation.
  • Myth: Forest owners clearcut trees to supply biomass markets.

(10/6/14) "In a great victory today for property owners in Alabama, the United States Supreme Court has issued an order denying certiorari in Case number 13-1232, Lynch, India, et al. v. the State of Alabama."
     "...the plaintiffs were seeking to show that Alabama property tax revenues fail to adequately fund K-12 public schools and that this shortfall unconstitutionally shortchanges black public school students."
     "Success by the plaintiffs would have resulted in application of existing state and local tax millage rates to the full fair market value of all property. This would mean that timberland and farmland owners would see an increase in property taxes by at least a factor of ten, unless millage rates were reduced by subsequent local or state legislative action." Source: From the Weeds, 10/6/14. Also, see 5/15/14 and 4/16/14, below.

(10/3/14) Single-Family Housing Starts, a key driver of pine sawtimber stumpage demand, still far below 50 year average (Scroll down to page 10). Source: Raymond James Real Estate, Industry Brief, Timber Topics, 10/14. There's lots more information in the 29 page report - take a look around once you've opened it.

(10/2/14) A FEW QUESTIONS asked at the end of the best report on the Endangered Species Act that we have seen:

  • What if landowners treat endangered species like bluebirds and wood ducks, instead of spotted owls?
  • What if landowners see endangered species as assets, not liabilities?
  • What if landowners voluntarily and willingly pick up the phone and call their local Fish and Wildlife Service office to have someone come out and survey their land for endangered species?
  • What if we draw on Americans’ world-leading charity, voluntarism and civic- mindedness for the cause of conserving endangered species?
  • What if landowners no longer fear state and federal regulatory agencies and instead view them with confidence and openness?
  • What if landowners are liberated to use their ingenuity and knowledge of their property in order to conserve endangered species?

Source: Fulfilling the Promise of the Endangered Species Act by Brian Seasholes - Reason Foundation Policy Study 433, 9/14.

Food for thought in Alabama: Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Red Hills Salamander, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Eastern Gopher Tortoise, Northern Long-Eared Bat...

(10/1/14) Did You Know? Five statewide amendments to the Alabama constitution will be given an up or down vote on November 4. There will be 4 local amendments, too. The Alabama Forestry Association supports Statewide Amendments 1, 3, 4, & 5, but not Amendment 2. Fair Ballot Commission ballot statements approved with Commission Comment on 9/2/14. (10/2/14) Alabama Candidates Endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

(9/30/14) U.S. Steel sells 70K acres in Alabama. Source: Birmingham Business Journal, 9/30/14. Editor's note. As we understand it, the 70 thousand acres did not include timber rights which were purchased in a separate deal from SWF Birmingham, LLC. Other names of interest: Valley Creek Land & Timber LLC, Molpus Woodlands Group, Claw Forestry Services.

(9/29/14) The Alabama Hunting and Fishing Almanac will be useful to you if you hunt on your land, and may help you know more about the interests of your hunters, if you lease your land. The Almanac is published by the Hunting Heritage Foundation.

(9/22/14) While Alabama's General Fund is expected to take another big hit next year (see 9/2/14 below), we just learned, "The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) has purchased 3,649 acres that will be added to the state’s Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system in south Alabama. The land is located in Covington County and will become part of the Geneva State Forest WMA." Source: OutdoorAlabama.com.  Editor's note: According to The Economic Impact of Privately-Owned Forests (page 19), 3,649 acres of average Alabama private forestland contributes about $897,654 to Alabama's Gross Domestic Product; 3,649 acres of average Alabama public forestland contributes only $18,245 to the GDP. Annual cost of the state owning 3,649 acres of forestland to the economy of the state: $879,409.

(9/19/14) Pat Minogue: "Studies show early site prep yields best pine growth."

(9/16/14) "Don’t give gifts to your heirs until you’ve answered this question. With health-care costs rising, can you afford to be generous?" Source: Market Watch, 9/11/14.

(9/15/14) "Byrne: EPA’s senseless regulations are hurting Alabama farmers and foresters. Imagine this: a thunderstorm rolls through Alabama and causes a small puddle to develop on a farm. Under a rule proposed by the EPA, this puddle could be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. This is the epitome of big government." Source: YellowHammer, 9/14/14

(9/12/14) "Cameras in the [Oregon] woods replace forest fire lookouts" Source: Eugene Register-Guard, 9/10/14. Not writing in response to the Register-Guard article, but focusing on the same problem - out of control western forest fires - forester Doug Turner wrote in The Forestry Source, 9/14: "The money that would be necessary to build the 'latest big gizmo' would be better spent on road and trail maintenance, improved safety gear for firefighters, and serious reduction of existing fuel loads."

(9/11/14) October 17 is Signup Deadline for Ala NRCS Conservation Programs. Some wildlife and forestry practices on private land are subsidized by these programs.

(9/10/14) "The pulp and paper industry in the Nordic countries has started to see a new dawn with a growing demand for pulp and paper products made from long wood fiber from the vast conifer forests in Northern Europe. Just over the past few months, there have been a number of announcements in investments made by forest companies in Finland, Norway and Sweden totaling close to three billion dollars, as reported in the Wood Resource Quarterly.
     "The primary end-products will be softwood market pulp and virgin fiber-based container board, but major investments are also being considered in increasing the utilization of forest biomass for energy on a larger scale. Although the investment decisions have not been finalized for all projects, these ruminations are a sign that the forest industry in this part of the world sees the future in a much brighter light than just a few years ago."

(9/9/14) Wild Fire Services, Inc., provides firefighting crews and engines to help suppress forest fires for state and federal agencies in the northwestern U.S. If Alabama's General Fund Budget gets squeezed, as some are predicting (see 9/2/14, below), do you think private fire fighters would be an effective supplement to a reduced full-time state employee staff? According to their website, Wild Fire Services, Inc., thins hazardous fuels and conducts prescribed burns along with Wild Land Fire Suppression and other related services. See also, 6/10/14.

(9/8/14) Announced Wood Bioenergy "projects in the South that pass viability screens could consume 20.1 million additional tons of wood per year by 2023." Source: Wood Bioenergy US, June/July/August 2014. Editor's note: Environmentalists who worry that biomass harvesting may consume all the trees in the South should read the periodic Wood Bioenergy reports. 20.1 million tons (the amount that might be additionally consumed by all known southern biomass projects) could easily be grown on 2 million acres (10 tons per acre or less than 2 cords per acre). Alabama alone has 23 million acres of forestland and Wood Bioenergy's southern regions encompass 12 states.

(9/6/14) "Firewood shortages hitting parts of Nova Scotia." Firewood suppliers "on Nova Scotia’s south shore used to get some of their hardwood from contractors that worked for Bowater Mersey. Since the mill shut down and the province bought the land, the source has dried up." Added 9/19/14: "Minnesota firewood shortage 'unprecedented,' timber exec says." Source: TwinCities.com

(9/4/14) "Former junior firefighter charged in 3 Jefferson County blazes." "Joshua Lynn Dodd, 23, of Bessemer, is charged with three counts of intentionally setting a woodland fire, said Jefferson County sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian. He is being held in the county jail with bonds totaling $45,000."

(9/3/14) Repeat photography in Alabama: 1949, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1957, 1962. For lots more interesting repeat photography, go to www.repeatphotography.org, a project of the Forest History Society.

(9/2/14) "You Can Pay Me Now, Or Pay Me Later." Read the editorial in the Summer 2014 issue of Alabama Forests to find out why Alabama's forest industry leaders are concerned about the rapidly rising costs of prisons, Medicaid, and higher education. See also: "Here's what every Alabama taxpayer's share of the state's debt is, and why." Source: YellowHammer, 9/2/14.

(8/29/14) Bat-Friendly Forestry - a video to help you create bat habitat on your land. We realize that some of the management activties suggested in this Minnesota video won't apply to the forests of Alabama, and we realize that the real threat to the Northern Long-Eared Bat (see below 8/25/14 and 6/13/14) is a disease problem, not a habitat problem, but you may find something in the video that you can do that will make you and your bats happy.

(8/28/14) Florida Forest Service Sets Prescribed Fire Record. "The Florida Forest Service oversees one of the most active prescribed fire programs in the country in order to reduce the risk of wildfires and keep Florida’s natural habitats healthy and growing. During the past year, the Florida Forest Service reports that more than 2.5 million acres across Florida were treated with prescribed fire, one of the highest numbers ever reported by any state in the country." Source: News Release, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 8/21/14.

(8/27/14) A GoPro camera gives a bird's-eye view from an Italian Corpo Forestale dello Stato helicopter in action over wildfires. At a recent meeting in Birmingham of the Cahaba Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, foresters briefly discussed the pros and cons of the Alabama Forestry Commission acquiring a small helicopter for dousing fires and other reconnaissance work.

(8/26/14) Should BP Oil Spill funds be used to remove private land from productivity and the tax rolls? Source: Associated Press, 8/22/14

(8/25/14) Northern Long-Eared Bat ESA Listing: Time to Comment. "The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s public comment period on its proposal to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat as “Endangered” under the Endangered Species Act will conclude on Friday, August 29." Editor's note: The Alabama Forest Owners' Association will not send comments to the USF&WS concerning this issue. It is the association's policy to keep you informed, but allow you to speak to the issues of the day. See 6/13/14 below.

(8/21/14) "Reining in the EPA Through the Power of the Purse." (see section 3) Removing the word "navigable" from the definition of waters of the U.S. was made meaningless many years ago when "navigable waters" came to include dry land long distances from water that would be incapable of floating a canoe. The overreach by our regulators (our owners?) must be stopped and pushed back. Don't you agree?

(8/20/14) "Pay your protection money. Do the secret handshake. And kiss the ring." An interesting perspective on forest management certification schemes - in particular, the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC. Source: The Daily Signal, 4/19/14

(8/19/14) To make them easy to remember, AFOA has created special web addresses for our most popular web pages. They are:

(8/18/14) Not something you'd expect to find up on a hill in your woods, but watch out when you're wading a creek in the bottoms. A 1,012 pound alligator was pulled from "a creek several miles above Millers Ferry Dam..." For the full story and photos, visit AL.com, 8/17/14.

(8/15/14) Timber Market Update (for North-Northwest Alabama) from the Newsletter of Forest Management Specialists, Volume 1, Issue 3, 8/4/14.

  • Pine pulpwood: The bad news is that this product still has relatively low prices but the good news is that it is moving better than it was 3 months ago as area mills have eased their restrictive quotas.
  • Pine chip-n-saw & saw timber: Not much movement in the price paid for this product. Prices paid for softwood lumber in China have fallen this quarter. However, most experts predict that the overall prices paid for this finished product will slowly continue to increase. Hopefully, the prices paid for standing timber will soon reflect this optimistic outlook.
  • Hardwood pulpwood: Prices paid for this product in the heart of the Tennessee Valley continue to be low. However, standing timber sales in northeast Alabama, southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and central to south Alabama indicate relatively good prices paid for this product. Prices in east Mississippi and west Alabama are also improving.
  • Hardwood blended saw timber: These products continue to be in high demand. Even hickory and poplar tracts have brought good prices recently. Tracts that can be harvested in wet weather are still bringing a premium.
  • Hardwood high quality/specialty: The past six timber sales that we have coordinated have brought much higher than anticipated prices for high quality hardwood, especially white oak. Prices for ash and cypress have improved recently and specialty products like cherry and black walnut remain high.

See also: Timber Mart-South: Alabama State-wide Average Prices.

(8/12/14) While furniture imports from China, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia have been on the rise and some U.S. furniture manufacturers have closed their doors, "...it is not necessarily bad news for the American hardwood lumber industry. The U.S. hardwood forest is sustainable and the forest products industry has the infrastructure in place to manufacture the resource. The U.S. is a leader in the world with more than $765 million in timber exports in the first six months of 2014, up 32% from the same period in 2013." Source: US Furniture Industry Update by Tom Inman, President of Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Tennessee Forestry Association TreeLine, August 2014 (scroll to page 9)

(8/11/14) What do we mean when we say, "I own this piece of property."? "Ownership is nothing less than the right to shape, use, and dispose. Even if you have legal title to something, you wouldn’t think you really owned it if the government told you what you could do with it, how, and when; in that instance, the government would be the de facto owner. In a real sense, ownership is control and the actual owner of anything is the controller." Source: Clichés of Progressivism #16 - Ownership Must Be Tempered by Sharing by Lawrence W. Reed, 8/1/14.

(8/8/14) Published in 1976, "The Genetics and Breeding of Southern Pines, is used as a text and reference book all over the world." For a bit of background information about the author, Keith Dorman, read the 8/7/14 Compass Live article, The Olustee Experimental Forest: From naval stores to southern pine genetics.

(8/7/14) The Service Forester's Toolkit, based on the old U.S. Forest Service's Service Forester's Handbook, is now available as a free app for iPhone or iPad. The main menu includes the following topics: Financial, General Measurements, Site Index, Stand Measurements, Tree Measurements, and Volume Measurements. Among the many interesting tables in the Toolkit is one titled: Comparison of Log Rules. Did you know that a 16 foot long log with a 12 inch diameter inside the bark at the small end scales 64 board feet (Doyle Scale), 79 board feet (Scribner Scale), and 95 board feet (International Scale)? Chew on that awhile. 

(8/6/14) "Once hailed as one of the world’s most progressive climate measures, Australia’s carbon tax is now dead and buried. Will American policy makers take note?" Source: http://energyfairness.org/blog/, 8/4/14. Editor's note: It is important to keep an eye on carbon taxes and mandates, since a growing wood pellet market in the South is highly dependent on European government mandates.

(8/5/14) The Google Maps Area Calculator Tool by Daft Logic was sent to AFOA yesterday by AFOA member Steve Dyess, Sylacauga. Steve wrote, "It’s free, simple to use, and I’ve found it to be very accurate. I’ve checked behind areas that were surveyed and gotten similar numbers, and I use it often to determine acreage for various projects on the farm. There’s no reason to guess at how many acres are in an opening or a tract of timber anymore; just measure it and find out."

(8/4/14) Alabama's Lee County Forestry Judging Team recently placed first overall in the National 4-H Forestry Invitational held in Weston, West Virginia. "Events included tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, insect and disease identification, topographic map use, forest evaluation, the forestry bowl and a written forestry exam. Alabama was represented by Lisa and Polly Barron, both from Auburn, and Gavin and Seth Rankins, both from Cusseta. The team was coached by Greg and Angela Nichols from Lafayette. Lisa Barron ... received the high point individual award."

(8/1/14) The $400,000 Decision. Are you nearing retirement age and planning to use Social Security to help you enjoy your forestland? Economist Larry Kotlikoff, NCPA, reported to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security on July 29: "A 62-year-old couple that has contributed the maximum amount to the Social Security program would be eligible for benefits at age 62. If they take their benefits then, their lifetime benefits will be $1.2 million. However, if they wait until age 70 to collect their benefits, lifetime benefits will total $1.6 million."

(7/31/14) "Six indicators enable reasoned assessment of the environment: guest opinion" by John Hill, senior policy analyst at the Alabama Policy Institute (API) on AL.com, 7/30/14. Highlights of Alabama's Environment 2014 are found at the API website, including a summary paragraph on Forests & Land. Editor's Note: While we are glad that API has put together this positive report, you should be aware that the summary paragraph on Forests & Land and bulleted items on pages 3 and 54 of the report understates the forest cover of Alabama at only 53%, about 11% lower than 64% reported by the Forest Inventory & Analysis data gathered by the Alabama Forestry Commission and the US Forest Service. That's a difference of almost 4 million acres, an area 5 times larger than the state of Rhode Island. See page of 3 of Forest Resource Report 2013.

(7/30/14) "Some people will say, 'We don't want to go to Alabama. It's just rivers and forest.'" Source: AL.com, 7/29/14

(7/29/14) Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. (PCL) rating reduced by Raymond James from Outperform 2 to Market Perform 3. "While we maintain a positive long-term view on Plum Creek, we believe PCL shares are likely to remain range-bound near-term given our view that the current 'consensus' housing outlook for 2015 remains overly optimistic."

(7/28/14) Eleven new Champion Trees were recently registered in Alabama's list of big trees. "One of the new champions, a southern shagbark hickory, has a good chance of being declared a national champion later this year!" Champion Trees of Alabama 2014 contains measurements of the largest trees by species recorded in Alabama and is published periodically by the Alabama Forestry Commission.

(7/25/14) We don't know how you might acquire one, but we know that some of you will want to own the 2-wheel drive motorcycle featured in a video on YouTube. Check here for more information and here, too.

(7/21/14) According to David Peterson (see 1/20/14 below), the "'Friends of the Delta' are attempting to resurrect the attempt to Federalize the Delta." To stay up-to-date on this issue, visit (and like) Save the Mobile/Tensaw Delta Facebook page.

(7/10/14) Forest Road Construction - an interesting, though dated, video from The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.

(7/8/14) Resource Management Apprenticeship available at Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Newton, Georgia.

(7/7/14) No more government trucks for rural fire departments. Because surplus military vehicles don't meet EPA air pollution standards, "The federal government has ended a program that provides millions of dollars worth of equipment to thousands of rural fire departments... the federal government will send surplus vehicles — even those with only 1,000 miles — to depots and supply yards to be crushed or scraped." Source: EnidNews.com, 7/1/14. The Hill reported on 7/11/14, "The change may not have been intentional, as the EPA is now working with the DOD to clear it up."

(6/30/14) Direct seeding southern pines was a common practice 40 years ago, and can be used today by landowners who take the time to make it work. A recent report by James P. Barnett, entitled Direct Seeding Southern Pines: History and Status of a Technique Developed for Restoring Cutover Forests will give you a little background on the science and use of the technique. A Mississippi State University publication you may find useful is Direct Seeding: A Forest Regeneration Alternative. Louisiana Forest Seed Company sells treated, stratified (ready for sowing) loblolly pine seed for about $55 per pound. They said you will need to put out about 1/2 pound per acre. The seed needs to touch mineral soil to germinate and survive, so preparing the site will be your biggest problem. If you try direct seeding and are successful, send AFOA a few photos.

(6/24/14) Chubb Urges Homeowners in Wildfire Areas to Use Fire-Resistive Construction Materials.

(6/20/14) Selling the Right to Access Private Land for Hunting and Recreation, in Oregon and Washington, threatens their "way of life." "...a flood of frustration and disgust basically came over me when I heard that" Weyerhaeuser will begin charging access fees to their land. Source: Timber Giant Begins Selling Seasonal Permits, But Some Push Back, Northwest Public Radio, 6/17/14

(6/19/14) "Several of the housing market indicators exhibited marginal increases in April – this is not typical for spring. Historically, March, April, and May are the best months for housing starts and sales (new and existing). It appears as the overall market is muddling along." Source: Virginia Tech Housing Reports (archive).

(6/18/14) "Calling for Alabama Tree Farmer of the Year Nominations. Each year, the Alabama Tree Farm Committee recognizes superior stewardship of its Tree Farm members through the Alabama State Tree Farmer of the Year Award. These landowners are chosen for their remarkable efforts to demonstrate, communicate and spread sustainable practices. The winner will be recognized at the annual Alabama Natural Resources Council Awards Banquet scheduled for February 6, 2015. To nominate a Tree Farmer for their outstanding efforts, please visit www.alaforestry.org/treefarm and download the State Tree Farmer of the Year Nomination Form. The deadline for nominations is September 1, 2014."

(6/16/14) Sawfly Update for Northwest Alabama: "A sawfly monitoring flight made by the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) last week indicated that the sites infested by the pine sawflies are recovering with new needle growth. It does appear that the sites that have been attacked for multiple years are recovering more slowly. No new sites were found during the flights. Since the trees on the infested sites are stressed, the AFC will continue to monitor them for other issues, mainly Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) activity. A regular SPB detection flight for the entire North Region will occur in July." See 5/28/14, below.

(6/13/14) Being pushed to the brink of extinction by a fungal disease (WNS), the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB), which lives in Alabama, has been proposed for listing as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Leaders of the Society of American Foresters from Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota wrote a letter to the Fish & Wildlife Service on June 10, 2014 agreeing that the bat is threatened with extinction because of the disease, but questioning the logic of imposing forest management restrictions unrelated to the cause of the possible extinction. They wrote, "...populations of NLEB were at or near peak levels prior to the outbreak of WNS — indicating that sound habitat management has been taking place in our managed forests."   (6/20/19) Further information and possible ways of dealing with the disease from Forest Resources Association, Inc.

(6/12/14) Land Market News from Matre Forestry Newsletter, June 4, 2014

     In our core market of southwest Georgia, activity has improved, but timberland dirt prices are only very slowly trickling up. But, improved timber prices along with ample rain increasing productivity has pushed the value of timberland tracts up measurably. Irrigated farmland seems to be stagnate or receding, as chatter about a potential farmland bubble and concerns about declining commodity prices have increased.
     We most all know by now that recreational and higher and better use (HBU) value sharply declined in this recession. We are starting to see some improvement there. Several of our clients from middle Florida have indicated that middle Florida is building homes again, and we here Atlanta is to. As a result, we are seeing more recreational land buyers back in the Georgia land market, which is one of the strongest recreational land markets being a favorite hunting destination for Floridians and Atlanta suburbanites. But, sellers should not get to excited yet, the recreational land buyers are more grounded and cautious than they were prior to this recession, and they are looking for deals - not looking to over pay. As more and more come into the market, we will see recreational values increase. After sustained housing starts improvement, we will see HBU values rise as well.

(6/11/14) Cahaba Pressure Treated Forest Products (Cahaba Timber Co.), "the largest single site round wood processing plant in the world" in Brierfield, Alabama, has recently announced plans to expand its operation to include wood crossties. Source: Cahaba Timber Press Release, 5/27/14.

(6/10/14) Insurance-funded wildfire fighting crews are being deployed in Colorado for high end property owners. Is this a model that might be used to fight eastern forest fires when crews are not conducting prescribed burns, planting trees, building fire lanes, painting property lines, etc., etc.?

(6/9/14) "Work with, not against, the state's landowners." "We hope the federal government ... is learning it can better protect wildlife and endangered species by working with, rather than against, Alabama and its property owners." Source: Montgomery Advertiser, 5/31/14.

(6/6/14) "Jack Daniel's Cooperage hiring for new Lawrence County[, Alabama] barrel-making plant." North Alabama forest owners with stave-quality white oak might want to learn more about the cooperage market before making their next timber sale.

(6/5/14) "It's time for a final policy on biomass," states the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) in a 6/3/14 press release. NAFO urges the EPA to produce a "clear, affirmative policy" that treats biomass as a renewable fuel, not a fossil fuel as some would prefer. Editor's note: Do we detect a bit of conflict between those who say, "Carbon (CO2) is not a pollutant," and those who say, "If carbon is a pollutant, than let's minimize the fossil fuel problem by burning more 'renewable' biomass."? Can we have it both ways? Do we want it both ways?

(6/4/14) Lack of forest management, not climate change, is likely cause of wildfire numbers & size, reported Auburn University Emeritus Professor David B. South in his June 3, 2014 testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs & the New Economy. Be sure to review the transcript of Dr. South's testimony - Figure 1. and Figure 6 are eye-openers. Also, a C-Span video of his testimony is available on the web -- South's 5 minute testimony begins at 1:25:06. You might also find the testimony of Dr. David R. Legates interesting, as well. It begins right after David South's at 1:30:09. Humorous addition (6/6/14): Washington Governor Inslee: Fires will worsen without emission control.

(6/3/14) Another Biofuel Plant Bites the Dust? "KiOR has expressed 'substantial doubt' regarding its ability to restart its Columbus, Mississippi facility. According to the company’s recently released quarterly report, design and reliability issues have caused the facility to run 'significantly below' its capacity of 500 bone dry tons of biomass per day. KiOR has the funds necessary to operate through August but will require additional capital to continue past that time." Source: F2M Market Watch, 5/27/14. KiOR, a biofuel hopeful, given a $75 million loan by the Mississippi Legislature in 2010, "owes the state $69.4 million and cites debts of $279.5 million as of Feb. 28." Source: Mississippi Watchdog.org, 3/18/14. Editor's note to Alabama legislators: Fix the roads and bridges.

(5/29/14) Candidate Endorsements for the June 3rd Primary Election are available from the Alabama Forestry Association's ForestPAC and Alabama Farmers Federation's FarmPAC. Editor's note: Although I don't follow AFA's and Alfa's recommendations for all my personal election choices, their lists are a good place to start for a forest landowner. If you would like AFOA to post other endorsement lists, please send details to rll@afoa.org. Thanks.

(5/28/14) "During the last few weeks, there have been numerous reports from Northwest Alabama about dying pine trees. Most of the visible damage is [surprisingly] occurring on reasonably healthy, mature loblolly pines, growing in well-managed stands. According to officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), the apparent culprits are larvae of the loblolly pine sawfly, feeding on and defoliating pine needles. With infestations reported in Colbert, Marion, Franklin, Lamar, and Fayette counties, the AFC is in the process of conducting aerial surveys of the affected counties. Infestation notices are being prepared for landowners where problems are detected, along with stand management recommendations." Source: AFC Press Release, 5/28/14. Contact your local AFC county office to let them know you would like to receive an alert if sawfly damage is detected on your land. Images of Loblolly Pine Sawfly.

(5/23/14) If the Retirement System of Alabama goes broke, as predicted by a think tank at Troy State University, do you think there will be pressure to raise property taxes? Source: AL.com, 5/19/14. More on this subject from Alabama Citizens for Media Accountability, May 27, 2014.

(5/17/14) Alabama Voters: "If you wish to vote an absentee ballot in the 2014 primaries [June 3], your application must be received by your local registrar - either hand delivered or by postal service - by May 29, and your completed absentee ballot must be hand delivered or postmarked by June 2.... If you will be voting at your assigned polling place, be aware that all voters will be required to present a photo ID to election officials prior to casting a ballot." Source: ARSEA/APEAL Weekly Update, 5/16/14. For complete details about voter registration, voter ID, and absentee ballot information, go to AlabamaVotes.gov, The State of Alabama's Official Election Center.

(5/15/14) Property Tax Case (Lynch Lawsuit, Part III) may be finished by October 6, 2014, reports From the Weeds, 5/15/14. Also, see 4/16/14, below.

(5/13/14) In Europe: "The freedom to roam, or everyman's right is the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise." A short read on the Public Trust Doctrine may be enlightening, as well. Source: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

(5/9/14) A Crack in the Consensus on Global Warming. It's important to remember that the market for wood pellets manufactured in the southern U.S. comes primarily from European government mandates that limit the burning of fossil fuels. If enough of these "cracks" develop in the "consensus," those mandates may disappear -- as will the market for fuel wood shipped across the Atlantic to Europe.

(5/8/14) No Net Gain in Federal Land. That's not the name of Virginia Congressman H. Morgan Griffith's legislation entitled, Acre In, Acre Out (HR 4423), but the results will likely be the same if the legislation were to be passed into law. "This bill would require the Federal Government to sell an acre of land it already owns for every new acre of land that it acquires. Proceeds from the land sales would go towards paying down our national debt."

(5/7/14) "As in previous months, the near-term outlook on the U.S. housing market remains unchanged -- there are potentially several negative macro-factors or headwinds at this point in time for a robust housing recovery (based on historical long-term averages). Once the economy improves, we should expect to see housing activity increase as well." Source: Virginia Tech's March 2014 Housing Commentary.

(5/5/14) Last week the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives "approved four bills that will improve and modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA)." The measures seek to improve scientific and litigation transparency, enhance states’ role in species restoration, and cap government-paid attorneys’ fees under ESA-related litigation. Source: The Westerner, 5/2/14.

(5/2/14) American Farm Bureau is calling on its grassroots to bring attention to its concerns regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Waters of the U.S. rule and how it will negatively affect farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau wants members to get involved in its new “Ditch the Rule” grassroots campaign.
More on the same subject from the American Land Rights Association:
     "The EPA and Corps of Engineers continue their effort to bypass the word “Navigable” in the Clean Water Act thereby expanding the lands and waters they can regulate to nearly all waters and lands in the United States.
     "If successful, the EPA and Corps will effectively undermine the word “Navigable” in Clean Water Act so the EPA and Corps of Engineers will have wetlands jurisdiction over all waters of the United States and “all activities affecting all waters of the United States.”
     "That means private property, ranching, farming, mining, logging, recreation, rural roads and many other uses. That includes nearly all land in the U.S. also.
     "Congress must take away the money (defund) the EPA and Corps can use for new Clean Water Act regulations.
     "You can stop the EPA and Corps by getting both your Senators and your Congressman to support taking the funding away from the EPA and Corps for their proposed new Clean Water Act regulations.
     "This is important because the EPA just released their proposed new Wetlands Jurisdiction Regulations and a new report on Wetlands and the jurisdiction of EPA and the Corps of Engineers over most of the water and land in the US.
     "Call your Senator at 202-224-3121 for a copy of the new EPA wetlands jurisdiction report. That is important to engage them in a dialogue about the term “Navigable” and Wetlands Jurisdiction. You can also
type:
     "Call your Congressman at (202) 225-3121 and make the same request. It idea is to get both your Senators and your Congressman up to speed on this issue and taking action to protect you. That means taking the money away from EPA and Corps for these new regulations.
American Farm Bureau is calling on its grassroots to bring attention to its concerns regarding the proposed Waters of the U.S.
rule and how it will negatively affect farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau wants members to get involved in its new “Ditch the Rule” grassroots campaign."

(5/1/14) Property Tax Increase to be voted on in Macon County Soon. “A referendum allowing a 7.5% increase in property taxes will be on the ballot soon in Macon County. The bill (SB468- Act 14-310) was a local bill and the proceeds from the increase will go to fund the Little Texas Volunteer Fire Department. If this measure prevails at the ballot box, we will most likely see similar initiatives in other areas of the state.” Source: Legislative Session Wrap Up, From the Weeds, 4/18/14

(4/30/14) Wood pellet exports from North America to Europe have doubled in two years to reach 4.7 million tons in 2013 with the U.S. South accounting for 63% of the volume, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review. There are about a half dozen wood pellet mills in Alabama.

(4/22/14) “It is simplistic to assume that people will blindly use up what sustains them without regard to the incentive structures they face; if they have incentives to conserve, they will do so.” And yet, some members of our society fear that we’re running out of natural resources and that government must manage those resources. Source: Clichés of Progressivism #2, 4/22/14 by Max Borders. “Private property is a powerful incentive to conserve resources. You lose if you squander what’s yours.”

(4/18/14) An interesting video series on Forest Farming Non-Timber Products focuses on Growing Ramps - a wild onion or leek - was produced by Research Forest Products Technologist, Dr. Jim Chamberlain, Southern Research Station.

(4/17/14) The Longleaf Alliance, in collaboration with the Regional Forestry Extension staff at the University of Georgia, has developed a self-taught web-based course in the Economics of Longleaf. The course seems easy to open and use and allows users to back up and listen to the presented information several times, if needed. A spreadsheet calculates “economic metrics like Net Present Value and Internal Rate of Return from longleaf investments. These spreadsheets can be manipulated by the user, offering the opportunity to alter costs, returns, and timing of management and harvests at the user’s will.” The course and spreadsheets can be accessed at http://lleconomics.sref.info/, or, for Continuing Education Credit, at http://cfegroup.org. Source: The Longleaf Leader, Spring 2014.

(4/16/14) "A property tax case [that could significantly raise forestland ad valorem taxes in Alabama] has taken a new turn when the plaintiffs filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the property tax case. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange representing Alabama taxpayers won the case in the Alabama Northern District Court and also at the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The attorneys for the plaintiffs argued Alabama’s property tax system is unfair to public schools attended by children in Alabama’s rural black belt. The plaintiffs are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to scrap Alabama’s property tax system. Attorney General Luther Strange will file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in response to this petition.” Source: National Federation of Independent Business Legislative Links, 4/16/14. See also, AL.com.

(4/15/14) Forecasts by Forisk Consulting were announced today concerning U.S. housing starts projections (Feb. 2014 projection of peak demand was lowered since Forisk’s Feb. 2013 projection), and the Panama Canal expansion and its implications for the U.S. forest industry (“…no material, measurable implications to timberland investors, forest industry firms, and timber prices.”). An archive of past Forisk Newsletters is at http://www.forisk.com/events-and-news/newsletter/.

(4/14/14) Preventing Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) outbreaks by encouraging landowners to reduce the susceptibility of their pines to beetle infestations is the announced purpose of the Alabama Forestry Commission’s (AFC) SPB Prevention Cost-Share Program. Applications are available at local AFC offices. The deadline to apply is May 30, 2014. The $160,000 was provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

(4/11/14) Alabama Voters this fall will get to decide whether the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife should be further "enshrined" as an amendment to the Alabama constitution (Voters will really be amending a previously passed amendment (#597 approved back in 1996). HB322 was sponsored by state Representative Mark Tuggle, (R, 81). The bill passed the House, 90 to 2 on March 13 and passed the Senate 32 to 1 on April 3. 

(4/10/14) Don’t take away our right to treat timber income as capital gains and our right to deduct tree planting and forest management expenses. That’s the message the Forest Landowners Association urges you to carry to your member of the U.S. House of Representatives while he or she is home April 11 through April 28. Find your representative

(4/9/14) Corky Pugh, former Director of the Alabama Freshwater Fisheries Division, in Great Days Outdoors, 4/14, recommends three books and urges readers to consider science and common sense when state rules and regulations are initiated. The books are Common Sense Wildlife Management by Nathaniel R. Dickinson, A Matter of Context (Pugh suggests reading Chapter 8, “Et Up With the Dumbs”) by Tom Kelly, and The Wild Turkey in Alabama by Steven Barnett and Victoria Barnett.
 

(4/8/14) Woodstoves have been in the news lately, thanks to new rules proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Paul LePage, Governor of Maine, wrote in The Wall Street Journal, 4/4/14, “An EPA proposal may end up increasing the amount of harmful smoke in the air.” The Southeast Missourian, 4/2/14, reported, “Members of the Missouri House of Representatives came together in a bipartisan effort … to approve a bill that prohibits the implementation of regulations on wood-burning heaters.” A woodstove that won a recent Popular Mechanics contest is the Soapstone Ideal Steel Hybrid. The Ideal Steel Hybrid draws “exhaust gases into a second chamber where temperatures reach 1800 F – hot enough to incinerate all particulates.”

(4/7/14) The Transformation of Timberland Ownership and Markets in North America – a lecture by Mike Covey, CEO of Potlatch Corporation at the University of Montana on March 12, 2014. Covey’s whole lecture should be interesting to forest owners, but if your time is limited, be sure to listen to the question and answer session from 54:15 to 56:45.

(4/4/14) “In upland hardwood forests of the Southeastern U.S., prescribed fire is increasingly used by land managers citing objectives that include hazardous fuels reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, promoting oak regeneration, or restoring forest composition or structure to an historic condition.” Source: Prescribed Fire in Upland Hardwood Forests, US Forest Service Science Update – 99.

(4/3/14) The American Farm Bureau is not happy with EPA’s proposed ‘Waters’ rule, released March 25, 2014. “The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners. Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters – even ditches – are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. … The American Farm Bureau Federation will dedicate itself to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that Congress meant what it said: ‘navigable waters’ does not mean all waters. This proposed rule shows that EPA refuses to accept those limits.”

(4/2/14) If you are planning to build a trail or road on your land, you may want to review the information available in Trail Design for Small Properties by Baughman and Serres and A Landowner’s Guide to Building Forest Access Roads by Wiest. You may also find it useful to listen to road and trail discussions from past issues of Capital Ideas – Live!: Cam Lockwood, Troy Scott Parker, Rick Roark, Rans Thomas, Tom Sauret, and Brian Kramer.

(4/1/14) $250 million in legal costs – that’s the financial cost of Arizona’s Yarnell Hill Fire that resulted in the deaths of 19 firefighters last June. While it would be highly unlikely for 19 forest rangers to ever work together on one fire in Alabama, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if legislation similar to that being debated in Arizona were discussed in Montgomery. The entire annual budget of the Alabama Forestry Commission is around $21 million.

(3/31/14) Environment of Uncertainty Undermines Economic Growth. Source: The EPA Administrator is a prankster by Reed Hopper in Liberty Blog 3/26/14

(3/28/14) The State of Oregon is making plans to sell state-owned forestland. We are told there was a large ad in The Wall Street Journal, 2/26/14, describing the sale. We suspect this land sale may be in some way related to the concerns of the GOP candidates for U.S. Senate in Oregon. See 3/18/14 below.

(3/27/14) Mineral Documentary Tax: If you own mineral rights that have been “severed” from the surface rights, you can pay the ad valorem taxes in a one-time lump sum of 15 cents per acre instead of paying an annual tax. Thanks to landman Mark Chapman for the information.

(3/26/14) Joe Hopkins, President of the Forest Landowners Association, will be leading the "My Vision for My Forestland" panel discussion at the 2014 Annual Meeting. Read his testimony on the Endangered Species Act given today, March 26, 2014, to the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry of the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.

(3/25/14) Robotic Tractor: Can it disc a green field? Can it mow roads and fire lanes? We wonder what would stop it from running over a child or pet?

(3/24/14) “Black Smoke on the Horizon.” The Alabama Senate Bill (SB411) that would have merged the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is dead, reports the Alabama Forestry Association in its March 21 blog, From the Weeds. BUT, the really interesting news in the blog is not the possible merger of the AFC into non-existence, but the budget cuts the Commission will face next year – 4 percent in FY2015 – and even bigger cuts, possibly 15%, in FY2016. If you were the State Forester, what would you cut? Fire suppression, prescribed burning services, Alabama's Treasured Forests magazine, wildfire prevention campaigns, Forest Inventory & Analysis, landowner advice and services, Champion Tree program, Tree Farm inspections, water quality complaints, Treasure Forest Certification Program support…?

(3/21/14) The National Timber Tax Website contains everything you ever wanted to know about federal income and estate taxes related to forestland. Previously hosted by Purdue University, the site is now hosted by the University of Georgia.

(3/20/14) "Boatright Companies to sell Montevallo railroad tie treatment facility" to Montreal-based Stella-Jones.

(3/19/14) Pine Sawtimber Prices Depend Heavily on Single-Family Housing Starts. Unfortunately, while housing starts are projected to increase for the next six to eight years, the numbers slowly decline after that. Get more details by listening to Kansas City Fed Economist Jordan Rappaport on AFOA's Capital Ideas - Live!, 3/19/14.

(3/18/14) Oregon GOP Candidates for U.S. Senate are sending a strong message to those who might believe federal forestland ownership is a good idea. Is there a message here for Alabama, where 94% of the forestland is privately owned? Source: The Westerner, 3/18/14, quoting from the Portland, Oregon Herald and News, 3/18/14.

(3/17/14) Letters were sent by AFOA to three candidates for Secretary of State asking the candidates to respond to a need for the Secretary of State’s website to publicly announce dates of Property Tax Referenda throughout the state. Property tax votes are usually held on odd dates, announced in local newspapers just days in advance, and experience very low voter turnout. We asked that special elections, primaries and runoffs also be accurately posted to the SOS website. The three candidates are Judge Reese McKinney, Judge Jim Perdue, and Rep. John Merrill (we did not find address information for Lula Albert-Kaigler). The first response to our letters is from Judge Reese McKinney: “Informing the public about election matters should be a priority for our chief elections official…As Secretary of State, I will see to it that we develop a first class web-based platform that becomes the source for election information on local, state, and national issues for the citizens of Alabama.”

(3/14/14) "For the fourth consecutive year, shipments of Southern Pine lumber recorded an increase from the previous year. Shipments in 2013 totaled 15.026 billion board feet (Bbf), an increase of 5% over the volume shipped in 2012 (14.279 Bbf) and 27% above 2009 shipments (11.79 Bbf)." Source: Southern Forest Products Association NewsNote, 3/6/14. The good news doesn't stop: In Woodworking Net, we read on 3/7/14, "U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled a record 1.463 billion board feet in 2013, besting the previous one-year high set in 2006 by 11%. Record shipments to China and Vietnam, and the strongest shipments to Mexico in seven years, offset a 2% decline in exports to Canada and the slowest exports to Europe since 1986. It marked the fourth consecutive annual increase since exports bottomed out at 802 million board feet in 2009.”

(3/13/14) According to A Primer on State and Local Tax Policy published by Mercatus Research: Alabama is at the low end of Total State Tax Collections per Capita in the U.S. (page 32), BUT Alabama’s Property Tax Collections per Capita are much higher than our neighboring states (page 38). Interesting, too, Alabama’s Sales Tax Collections per Capita are lower than our neighboring states (page 37) and our Individual Income Tax Collections per Capita are higher than most of our neighboring states (page 36). The information reported by Mercatus Research is so different from what we read in many Alabama news sources that it’s hard to believe. Please let us know how it is in error. Thanks. rll@afoa.org

(3/12/14) The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail now has a newsletter and a scheduled event (May 31-June 1 Hatchett Creek Canoe Float). The Trail consists of 34 birding sites in nine counties.

(3/11/14) From the Weeds is a new political news blog recently created by the Alabama Forestry Association (AFA). The blog will “provide legislative, legal and political matters of interest” to AFA members. We’re not sure if the blog will be password protected in the future, but it isn’t today. SB411, the bill that would merge the Alabama Forestry Commission into the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is the top story today. The 3/11/14 blog contains links to an analysis of the bill and a copy of the bill.

(3/10/14) “The Supreme Court sided today with a Wyoming landowner who challenged the Forest Service's construction of a bicycle trail on an abandoned railway that slices through his property…. The ruling is a broad victory for property rights activists. There have been many lawsuits filed challenging so-called rail trails under the Constitution's takings clause, which states that no property may be taken without just compensation. … potentially a third of the country's 270,000 miles of rail lies on rights of way granted under the law at issue in the case. Trails or highways built on that land are now susceptible to legal challenges, potentially putting the government on the hook for millions of dollars in settlements.” Source: E&E Publishing, LLC, 3/10/14. Click here for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

(3/7/14) “The expansion of the February deer season to cover most of Alabama south of Montgomery and a reduction in the daily bag limit for antlerless deer statewide were among the recommendations presented by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) for the 2014-2015 hunting seasons.” Click here to see a map of the recommended February deer season expansion. We thought you also might enjoy reading an opinion piece on hunting regulations by “legendary woodsman, author Tom Kelly:” Why ending Alabama’s fall turkey season is so completely preposterous.

(3/6/14) Free Market Environmentalists are invited to participate in "the 14th annual Enviropreneur Institute sponsored by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). This two-week professional development program for entrepreneurs and conservation leaders will be held in Bozeman, Montana from July 17-18, 2014. The application deadline is March 17, 2014. A young person who dreams of improving wildlife habitat on family land, making possible successful guided hunts, a busy lodge and cabins, and even off-season trail riding and for-fee bird watching might be the perfect candidate for the Enviropreneur Institute. 

(3/5/14) The Alabama Forestry Commission may become a Division of the Alabama Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Industries if Senate Bill 411 becomes law. SB411 (117 pages) was passed out of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee today (with one amendment) to be debated at some future date in the full Alabama Senate. We heard that no comments from the public were allowed by the committee. We also understand that there is no companion legislation in the House. Send comments about the legislation, pro or con, to rll@afoa.org. Thanks.

(3/4/14) Aerogel, made from wood, may someday be used to clean-up oil spills. Watch Wisconsin Institute for Discovery video demonstration.

(3/3/14) North Alabama woodland owners may find the Tennessee Forest Products Bulletin a useful resource. Check out the price for Grade 1 White Oak Stave Logs (for whiskey barrels) ($950+ per thousand board feet (mbf), Doyle Rule) (page 4) compared to Miscellaneous Hardwoods, Region II ($167+ per mbf, Doyle) (page 6). Moving the tree species that remain on the land after thinning towards higher quality species holds potentially big rewards for landowners and their heirs.

(2/28/14) Talladega County passed a “Logging Notice Ordinance” that will go into effect on March 10, 2014. “The county now joins 15 others scattered across the state in requiring notification before logging on farm-to-market roads. Talladega’s version is basically a copy of that being used in the other counties.” The Alabama Loggers Council believes this ordinance violates state law (Act No. 2012-257) and goes beyond “notification” into the realm of “permitting.” If you would like to help the Alabama Loggers Council stop unnecessary regulations, contact Ray Clifton at (334) 265-8733 x 130.

(2/27/14) “Southern Pine exports finished 2013 at a volume approaching 445 million board feet (MMbf), a jump of 13% above the 2012 export total, according to the latest trade data released by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. That 2013 volume exported represents an increase of 43% above the 312 MMbf exported in 2010. The top three destinations for Southern Pine exports in 2013 were the Dominican Republic (69.9 MMbf), China (64.2 MMbf) and Mexico (60.7 MMbf).” Source: Southern Forest Products Association News Note, 2/26/14.

(2/26/14) "I shudder at the idea..." Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill that would require a permit for development within contiguous forest. The restriction on development rights is being done “to curb [forest] fragmentation.” In Colorado, a county government is using the power of eminent domain to take private forestland “to preserve open space.” The Colorado case received national attention on the February 21 Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren show.

(2/25/14) “The United States’ high tax burden on capital gains has long-term negative implications for the economy. This non-neutral tax creates a bias against savings, slows economic growth, and harms U.S.’s competitiveness,” reported the Tax Foundation in a February 11, 2014 paper entitled The High Burden of State and Federal Capital Gains Tax Rates. To make matters worse for forest owners, the U.S. Congress is considering removing timber income from long-term capital gains tax treatment.

(2/21/14) High school students who want to learn about forestry as a career are urged to sign up for Auburn University Summer Youth Program Forestry Camp. The camp will run from July 13 – 18. Tuition is $605. For more information about the camp, contact Dr. Becky Barlow at (334) 844-1019 or becky.barlow@auburn.edu. If you would like to donate a copy of the book, Managing Forests on Private Lands in Alabama and the Southeast, to be given to a camper upon completion of the camp, send your check in the amount of $60, made payable to Auburn University Foundation, to School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Attn: Heather Crozier, 602 Duncan Drive, Auburn University, AL 36849 or contact Heather at (334) 844-2791 or Sharon Tatum at (334) 844-1983 or sfwsdevelopment@auburn.edu.

(2/20/14) Alabama now officially has a new State Forester. Greg Pate was sworn in by Gov. Bentley on February 18th.

(2/19/14) The demand for furs is increasing as the "buyers in China, Russia, and Korea watch their incomes grow," reported The Missoulian on 12/26/13. The Alabama Trappers and Predator Control Association (ATPCA) reported to AFOA that there is a market for Alabama wild fur, the reporter having recently sold otter and beaver pelts. The ATPCA is planning to conduct a 3 day Trapper Education Workshop in Greenville, Alabama, February 21-23.

(2/18/14) AFOA has 10 copies (ALL HAVE BEEN DISTRIBUTED 3/14/14) of the Forest Landowners Guide to the Federal Income Tax, Ag Handbook No. 731, and will give them to AFOA members who pay shipping costs of $3.75 each. Make your check payable to AFOA and send to AFOA Tax Guide, P. O. Box 361434, Birmingham, AL 35236. If you don't need a hardcopy of the Guide, you can read it on line at www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/42921. Last year the Southern Research Station paid the cost of printing and AFOA paid shipping costs to provide copies of the Guide to more than 200 public libraries in Alabama.

(2/17/14) Firewood Ministry begun by the men’s ministry of the Ethelsville Baptist Church grows to cover several counties. 75 pickup loads of firewood were recently delivered to families in need. Source: McShan Plane Dealer, February 2014.

(2/14/14) “The greatest risk in timberland investing is paying too much for a property and this is driven largely by uncertainty around future timber volumes and values.” For an interesting discussion on investment risk, read Forest Research Notes, Vol. 10, No. 2. An archive to all past Forest Research Notes is at www.forestresearchgroup.com/newsletter.html.

(2/13/14) In a conversation last week with Extension Agent Beau Brodbeck, we asked him about Apps for iPhone or Android that would help landowners navigate around their properties – record paths where they walked or drove and mark special places like property corners. He quickly held out his smartphone with MotionX-GPS showing us the last few trails he followed on his morning exercise routes. If you know of an App that other forest owners might find useful, please write to AFOA at rll@afoa.org. (additional bio for Beau)

(2/12/14) Election results from February 4th. Mike Holmes, Tree Farmer, won the runoff in Alabama House District 31 (Elmore & Coosa counties) and, since there was no Democrat Party opposition, will complete the term of former Rep. Barry Mask. Margie Wilcox won the District 104 (Mobile County) special general election. Anthony “Alann” Johnson won the Democrat Primary Runoff for District 53 (Birmingham) and will face Republican Willie (W.A.) Casey in a special election on March 25. House District Map.

(2/6/14) You are invited to assist the Forest Landowners Association by nominating individuals for the following awards: Forest Landowner of the Year, Extension Forester of the Year, and Young Forest Landowner of the Year.

(2/5/14) Picture a Litter-Free Alabama is the theme for this year’s PALS (People Against a Littered State) Poster (K-6) and Essay Contests (7-12). Litter clean-up and prevention of trash dumping are important to forest owners. If your child’s or grandchild’s school participates in the contest, please take time to thank the teacher or administrator who makes it happen. Thanks too, to PALS.

(2/4/14) Congress passed the $956 billion Farm Bill today. The pony in the legislation (there must be one in there someplace) is “a provision preserving the treatment of forest roads and forest management as nonpoint sources subject to state-derived Best Management Practices (BMPs) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).”

(2/3/14) Set to go into effect in second quarter 2014, a new biomass sustainability verification policy requires [UK] electricity generators to offer proof that the biomass they process originates in forests that are sustainably managed. ... Because the vast majority of timberland owners [in the US South] have small timber tracts—less than 50 acres—and because they make harvest decisions based on sawtimber markets in which no price premium for certified wood is offered, few will be inclined to submit to the certification process.” Source: The Wood Pellet Manufacturer’s Guide to Biomass Sustainability Verification by Suz-Anne Kinney, F2M Market Watch Blog, 11/25/13.

(1/31/14) Special Elections (see below) scheduled for Tuesday, January 28 were postponed to February 4 by Gov. Bentley due to the winter storm.

(1/27/14) Be sure to Vote Tomorrow if you live in these counties:
    • Mobile (Special General Election for Alabama House of Representatives District 104, formerly held by Jim Barton)
    • Coosa and Elmore (Republican Party Primary Election for Alabama House of Representatives District 31, formerly held by Barry Mask)
    • Jefferson (Democratic Party Primary Runoff for Alabama House of Representatives District 53, formerly held by Demetrius Newton)

(1/24/14) “USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service recently reported exports of Southern Pine to be approximately 41.3 million board feet (MMbf) for November 2013. This volume represents an increase of 23% above the same month last year, supporting a solid year-to-date boost of 16% when compared with the first eleven months of 2012. Offshore shipments during November roughly break down as follows: 23.9 MMbf dressed, 8.9 MMbf rough, and 8.5 MMbf treated lumber.
    “Softwood lumber imports to the U.S. during November were just over 985 million board feet (MMbf), up 13% from the volume imported during November of 2012. Canada shipped approximately 955 MMbf into the U.S. in November. For the first eleven months of last year, the volume of imports remained steady, running 15% ahead of the rate recorded during the first eleven months of 2012.” Source: Southern Forest Products Association Newsletter, January 21, 2014.

(1/23/14) How might a pine tree grown by a gray haired Alabamian be related to a Chinese manufactured smart phone used by a text messaging, 20-something Londoner? I Pencil, The Movie, may help you appreciate the small but very significant role we, forest landowners, play in producing many important products used here in Alabama and all over the world. You may also find valuable a series of video commentaries featuring, among others, Samford University Professor Art Carden.

(1/22/14) Back to the Cabin: More Inspiration for the Classic American Getaway by architect/author Dale Mulfinger, is available on Amazon.com. $24.59 hardcover, $15.39 Kindle. “In this new collection of 37 cabins, Mulfinger rekindles his love for this treasured American icon with fresh insight and seasoned strategies for the logic, utility, and beauty of cabin design.”

(1/21/14) Utah Prairie Dogs and Dusky Gopher Frogs in Louisiana are protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act. If the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and the Gopher Tortoise are declared threatened or endangered in South Alabama, can we expect different behavior from the agency? Watch Shoot, Shovel & Shut-Up.

(1/20/14) Delta National Park Study Stopped. The Save Our Delta group was able to convince Rep. Bradley Byrne to request removal of Alabama from H.R. 3131, The National Park Service Study Act of 2013. Listen to an AFOA interview with David Peterson, head of Save Our Delta. On January 17, Peterson wrote on the Save Our Delta Facebook page: “I urge any of you to email Congressman Byrne and thank him for his efforts to stop the attempted Federalization of the Delta. Click on the following link and it will take you to his website and click the contact link. http://byrne.house.gov/.”

(1/17/14) Tax reform targets include 1031 property exchanges, NewsOK, 12/14/13, will worry you if you plan to use the tax-free exchange provision of the tax code to defer income tax from land sales. See also, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Proposes Repeal of Like-Kind Exchange Deferral and Other Changes Affecting Real Estate, BakerHostetler, 1/7/14

(1/14/14) Construction of a wood pellet mill is being considered in Childersburg, Alabama. If built, the mill will export wood fuel to Great Britain. Source: The Daily Home, 11/27/13

(1/13/14) Lynch Lawsuit Decision: Home owners and forest and farmland owners will be happy to know that a "federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit challenging Alabama's property tax structure and has kept intact one of the nation's lowest tax rates." Had we lost this case, forestland property taxes could have increased significantly. Source: Montgomery Advertiser, 1/10/14. More information is available from the Alabama Forestry Association.

(1/10/14) Let's not let this happen in Alabama. "A Virginia county barred a landowner from allowing a friend to camp on his 86-acre farm for a hunting excursion... The county, in southeast Virginia, contends that use of the camper would constitute an unauthorized 'campground' in violation of local zoning ordinances." Source: WND Politics, 1/7/14

(1/9/14) Prescribed Burning Insurance Available to Foresters. “All certified or graduate foresters can apply for commercial general liability insurance. A forester’s special liability form is available with limits up to $1.0 million. The forester’s special liability coverage includes herbicide application, prescribed burn liability, smoke liability, and professional errors and omissions. Master policies can also be issued to consultant foresters and wildlife biologists who burn for multiple landowners.” Call Outdoor Underwriters at 1-866-961-4101. Source: The Longleaf Leader, Winter 2013.

(1/8/14) Under threat of elimination by Congress as part of a tax reform discussion, capital gains tax rates are also, unfortunately, effectively boosted by inflation. Source: Tax Foundation, 12/17/13

(1/7/14)Ensure Sustainability with a Timber Sale Contract. The way that timber is sold in the US South provides a strong legal framework for ensuring that harvests are being conducted in a sustainable fashion. The process for selling timber and the documentation that accompanies it — the timber sale contract — are critical for demonstrating not only the legality of the sale but that all laws and best management practices are being followed as well.” Source: F2M Market Watch Blog, 12/10/13

(1/6/14) “Drone for aerial photographs and video” to improve service to clients was among the new investments made by Tutt Land Company’s Sean Brown, as listed in an email sent by Sean this morning. For a demonstration of “drone for aerial photographs and video,” make plans now to attend the Alabama Forest Owners’ Association’s Annual Meeting at Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge, April 25-26. Make room reservations by calling (256) 505-6621 or (256) 571-5540 (after hours or weekends). To receive our special rate be sure to mention Alabama Forest Owners' Association - market code 3654. Most attendees will make room reservations for Friday night only, but some will stay Saturday night to enjoy the park for a few hours on Sunday.

(1/3/14) Movement to Create a Mobile-Tensaw Delta National Park could remove quarter million acres from property tax rolls, timber production, and hunting. “If they had done this in ’79 there would be no ThyssenKrupp steel mill,” [David Peterson] said. “That would come off our tax rolls, would take ad valorem tax away from our schools, hunting and fishing would be more restrictive, you would have to buy state and federal licenses. There would be severe restrictions on where you can and can’t run your boat and put massive restrictions on what we can or can’t do.” Source: Should the delta become a national park?, Lagniappe, 11/14/13
 

(1/2/14)Alabama is doing its part in utilizing renewable energy sources including, of course, biomass. This is largely based on the long practice of paper and wood production companies using woody debris and wood waste to generate electricity for their facilities. Among other interesting facts noted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration recently, is that Alabama ranked fifth in the United States in net electricity generation from wood waste, landfill gas, and other biomass in 2011; virtually all of that electricity was generated by non-utility power producers.” Source: AFA Newsroom, January 1, 2014.