Category Archives: News

News about Kentucky Woodlands and their owners

California fires spark debate over forest management

Can most of the blame for California’s devastating wildfires be attributed to the state’s forest management? Fire scientists recognize a larger effect from climate change in promoting abnormally dry conditions and dead trees. The first nine months of 2018 have been the fourth-warmest on record for California. This past summer was the second-hottest on record in the state. An additional factor is the encroachment of urban development on wildlands.

Most of California’s forests are under federal or private control. US agriculture and interior secretaries Perdue and Zinke are pressing for farm bill authorizations in the current House version of the bill (Forestry Title of H.R. 2) which includes amendments mandating a controversial expansion of “categorical exclusions,” which allow land managers to fast track forest management projects and largely bypass environmental review. Read the transcript for a National Public Radio interview with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service.

Leading experts in forest ecology management think the Forest Title in the House version of the Farm Bill  does not properly address science-based prevention programs such as controlled burning and fuel reduction in wildland urban interface areas as well as the critical role of climate change. Instead it focuses on accelerated commercial logging and road building which generally exacerbate fire risk. The House bill’s forestry provisions also expand post-fire “salvage” logging which they contend contributes to ecological recovery in the disturbed area. New “categorical exclusions” limit input from state wildlife agencies among others. Read more 

Greg Aplet, science director for the Wilderness Society in Denver, takes the view of many wildfire behavior scientists: If the goal is to protect communities and lives from fire, the emphasis first needs to be on clearing out those dried out fine fuels, the understory, from the forest floor, not the green live trees. “The Forest Service often lacks the personnel and the resources to do the types of landscape-scale restoration work that needs to be done,” says Nick Smith, executive director of Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities, a non-profit forestry group. Read more

According to Dr. Chad Hanson, director and principal ecologist for the California-based John Muir Project, logging, including many projects deceptively promoted as forest “thinning,” removes fire-resistant trees, reduces the cooling shade of the forest canopy and leaves behind highly combustible twigs and branches. Read more:… The California fires took place in some of the most heavily logged areas of the Sierra Nevada range.

A study by Hanson and others of whether increased forest protection corresponds to higher severity in frequent-fire forests of the western US found that forests with higher levels of protection had lower severity values even though they are generally identified as having the highest overall levels of biomass and fuel loading. Some of these researchers have hypothesized that as forests mature, the overstory canopy results in cooling shade that allows surface fuels to stay moister longer into fire season. This effect may also lead to a reduction in pyrogenic native shrubs and other understory vegetation that can carry fire, due to insufficient sunlight reaching the understory.

In general, their findings—that forests with the highest levels of protection from logging tend to burn least severely—suggest a need for managers and policymakers to rethink current forest and fire management direction, particularly proposals that seek to weaken forest protections or suspend environmental laws ostensibly to facilitate a more extensive and industrial forest–fire management regime.

Nominate Your Service Forester for KWOA Recognition

We are looking for nominations from KWOA Members for your Outstanding KDF Service Forester

Kentucky Woodland Owners Association will recognize a KDF Service Forester for his/her outstanding achievements. Nominations may be made by any KWOA member and are due no later than February 13, 2019.

Purpose:

To recognize outstanding accomplishments of KDF Service Foresters employed with the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The applicant should have not received this award for the past three years. Nominations may be submitted by any KWOA Member.

 

Suggested format and guidelines for nominations:

  1. Entries may be typed or handwritten. Limit the award entry to 2 pages, one side only, plus 1-2 pages, one side only, of supportive information, i.e., letter(s) of support, news articles, pictures, etc. Additional pages beyond this description will not be considered. The nomination may be submitted in an electronically word file prepared format if desired.
  2. Consideration for the service award will be the demonstrated overall professionalism, the volume of work, the relationship with the woodland owner, the responsiveness to request and the sustained excellence over a period of time.
  3. Include in the application:
    • Full name, current address and title plus email address of nominee
    • Name, contact information of the one preparing the nomination
  4. Other considerations, if available. Work history, achievements that particularly relate to success

in working with Kentucky Woodland Owners: who benefited and what were the impacts. Additional contributions made to forestry including work on committees, task forces, and leadership positions.

  1. Summary Statements of Support: Concise, well-written, easy-to-read narrative summary statement (50-75 words).
  2. TIME PERIOD: Entries are due by February 13, 2019. Although forestry programs require more than one year completing, the major accomplishments being considered should have been realized during the past three years.
  3. Submit applications by February 13 to Karen Marshall, KWOA editor: editor@kwoa.net or mail hardcopy to KWOA at PO Box 694, Maysville KY 41056.

 

Kentucky Division of Forestry Service Foresters are the first line of support for Kentucky woodland owners who have a desire and need to manage their woodlands. 160,000+ woodland owners have 10 acres or more located throughout the state. The service forester’s workload is demanding and important to woodland owners.

KDF will review the top three applications for accuracy and notify the KWOA awards committee for the selection. This recognition will not automatically be awarded each year if applicants do not meet KWOA selection standards.

The winning recipient and a guest will be invited to the KWOA annual meeting where the recognition and a plaque will be presented.

Previous award recipients were: James Morris (2010), Steve Gray (2011), Kevin Galloway (2012), Robert Bean (2013), Michael C.Froelich (2014), Lisa Armstrong (2015), William Knott (2016), Josh Frazier (2017) and Floyd Willis (2018).

Donate Items for the 2019 Annual Meeting Silent Auction

Start your spring cleaning early! Look for an item you would like to donate to the annual meeting silent auction. Donations can be anything with a monetary value. Examples:  sporting event tickets, gift baskets, gift cards, handmade items such as scarves, blankets and wooden items such as toys, bowls, spoons, etc.

Email a description of your item and a suggested minimum bid to Harry Pelle, board member, at hpelle@windstream.net. Please put Silent Auction in the subject line of your email.

New Kentucky Logging BMP Field Guide

The September 2018 field guide to the minimum requirements for logging Best Management Practices in Kentucky (FOR-130) is now available from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

The practices are designed specifically for logging operations to use before, during and after timber harvesting. If implemented correctly they will reduce or eliminate water pollutants that have the potential to be generated from logging operations where drainage channels and water bodies are present. The guide contains recommendations that can be used to effectively and efficiently implement the minimum requirements.

November 15 board meeting highlights for cooperators

Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy

KWOA participated in a September 19th meeting with this organization which coordinates the distribution of funds received by the state as a result of the tobacco settlement. There appears to be an opportunity for KWOA to initiate innovative programs that would be expected to result in more Kentucky landowners actively managing their woodlands. These might include education and/or demonstration programs administrated by others.

Health Task Force

KWOA and others are in the process of gathering data to submit to the Farm Service Agency for approval of an application for assistance to woodland owners for Emerald Ash Borer losses. There is also renewed interest in the Health Care Task Force which KWOA was instrumental in establishing. A meeting to explore starting a new task force is scheduled for December 5 at the UK Extension.

Kentucky Farm Bureau

Sections of the policy book are being changed to better reflect the role of forestry in the organization. The Forestry Commodity Session at the KFB annual meeting will be held November 29. Forestry will be included in Harlan County educational programs. KFB is encouraging the formation of a new program called “Ag in the Mountains,” which will include forestry. Input on what might be included in these programs is welcome.

UK Forestry Extension

Segments from the extension’s fall weekly radio program “From the WoodsKY” [https://forestry.ca.uky.edu/fromthewoodsky] are archived for those who would like to listen to them.

Topics include Christmas trees, herpetology, Robinson Forest, bats, urban forest initiative, fall colors, martial eagles, black bears, green forests work, forest health and what is forestry?

 

 

The extension is also launching a webinar series – Getting to Know Your Woodlands: A Primer for Beginners. The 4-5 two hour webinars will be held at county extension offices and other meeting spaces. Topics will include the southern forest and your woodland, getting to know your woodlands, managing your woodlands, identifying and managing woodland threats and wildlife and woodlands. The webinars will run on Thursdays from 7-9P (EST) on February 21, February 28, March 7, March 7 and an option field tour or extra local session on March 21.

The extension has produced a new video of its student Kentucky Leadership Program which will be run at the KWOA annual meeting.

Kentucky Tree Farm System

The Kentucky Tree Farm White Oak Initiative will hold a December meeting at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. The American Tree Farm System’s national meeting will convene February 26-28, 2019 in Louisville.

Sustainability of White Oak Timber – an April 2017 conference – was specifically for the industries dependent upon white oak including forest industries, industries using white oak casks, and organizations and agencies associated with these industries. https://forestry.ca.uky.edu/white_oak

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service  Jared Calvert said the allocation for EQUIP has not been determined. Woody residue treatment for ash has been recommended for EQUIP funding at $700 per acre. White oak promotion, rare and declining habitat and prescribed burning are also factors in EQUIP rankings.

Timber Property Valuation

Jim Corum, a KWOA past president, updated the KWOA board at its November meeting on his fifteen-year effort to bring the tax valuation of Kentucky woodland properties in line with applicable legislation and case law. Don Miniard, ,Kentucky Farm Bureau indicated that at the KFB committee level  has agreed to support the idea of preferable tax treatment for certified woodlands. This proposal is scheduled to be presented to the KFB board of directors on December 1. It will not require new legislation and the intent is to meet with the Revenue Cabinet to present the idea.

For background on the timber property valuation issue see the Special Edition Fall 2012 and Special Property Tax Assessment (August 2013) KWOA newsletters. Those efforts include presentations, discussions, appeals and plaintiffs with the Kentucky Department of Revenue – 2011 and 2012, Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals – 2014, Kentucky Legislature and Harlan County Circuit Court – 2015.

Hearing before Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals – 2014

Corum challenged the assessment of the family tree farm on November 18, 2014 at the Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals. The Appellant Brief challenges the Harlan County property valuation administrator’s agricultural use assessment of the Corum tree farm. The Harlan County PVA assessed the tree farm on the basis of pasture rents, not income from timber. According to the appellant, this results in two errors:  First, there is no rational relationship between the income generated by pasture land and the income generated by a tree farm. Second, pasture land yields an annual crop at a minimum whereas a tree farm operates on a 70-year cycle.

Therefore, instead of a pasture rent basis, cash rents from tree farms should be computed on the basis of a generally accepted forest industry standard measurement (the Faustmann method) which is used within the industry to value the annual growth of timber. The UK College of Agriculture has developed and published the average annual growth values of an acre of woodland based upon current market prices collected and published by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

By the above method the tree farm’s annual growth would be multiplied by the current market price for such timber less the amount payable to the typical logger. The resulting cash rent amount (stumpage value) would be subjected to the same capitalization rate (9.2%) used for cropland and pastureland as well as a present value multiplier (.0021) to equalize the 70-year crop cycle of trees with the annual crop cycles of cropland and of pastureland.

Based on the above findings, the appellant brief requests rulings from the Board of Tax Appeals that assess the Corum property applying a timber-based process that yields an accurate agricultural use value.

Brief of Appellee, Harlan County Property Valuation Administrator, in response to the Corum appeal

Currently, forestland is classified as agricultural property. If the state provided a lower rate for forestland, it would have to also apply that lower rate to all agricultural property. The state cannot constitutionally mandate a particular valuation method. Application of the prevailing class cash rental is divided by rate of return to arrive at an assessment that is fair and “equally burdensome” to all farmers. The constitution mandates that all property shall be assessed for taxation at its fair market value. It also allows for the assessment of agricultural or horticultural land according to its value for agricultural or horticultural use. This value is based upon the income-producing capability and comparable sales of farmland purchased for farm purposes.

The brief also noted other “weaknesses” with the appellant’s argument including:

  • Assessment of properties based upon their income only is inappropriate.
  • Most tree farms conduct periodic harvests, not just one every 70 years.
  • Most woodland properties have saleable timber at the time of purchase.
  • Woodlands are used for agricultural purposes other than harvesting timber.

The appellee brief recommends that the Corums lobby the legislature to address the desire for timberland to be exempt or nearly exempt from ad valorem property taxation. It recommends denial of the appeal and sets a fair cash value for the subject property based on the above findings.

At the November board meeting Corum again referenced a 1984 Kentucky Supreme Court case Doland v. Land that concluded the current PVA method made no adjustments for the characteristics of individual farms and therefore did not result in an equal tax burden:

“The method employed by the Fayette County PVA in assessing agricultural lands did not achieve the result required by Section 172A of the Kentucky Constitution in that it did not result in an equal tax burden.”

“There is a violation of constitutional rights if the effective tax rate is not uniform and thereby results in an unequal tax burden. Any method of assessment which fails to follow the constitutional directions and accordingly does not produce an assessed value based on agricultural use of each individual parcel, violates the constitution.”

Corum’s on-going appeal regarding property assessment is based on a lack of constitutional appropriateness regarding the disparity in application of property assessment criteria. For example, as a percentage of net income, woodland owners pay 15.6 percent of net income compared to 3 percent for corn farmers. The current assessment has economic implications for landowners regarding forestland as an investment given the carrying cost of the tax burden.

EPA, USDA and DOE will encourage the use of biomass as an energy solution

In a letter to Congress EPA, USDA, and DOE will encourage the use of biomass as an energy solution.

Labeling wood burning as environmentally friendly is at odds with environmental groups and some scientists, who say that the process releases all of the carbon dioxide that the trees had previously removed from the atmosphere and may endanger forest biodiversity.

To read more….

Nature and humans, not forest management, blamed for California’s devastating wildfires

Despite President Donald Trump’s claims, fire scientists say nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel.

Read more for why scientists know that management isn’t to blame according to Associated Press  science writer Seth Borenstein.

 

Kentucky Habitat Management Symposium

On December 10-11, 2018 at the Kentucky State University Research and Demonstration Farm in Frankfort, The Kentucky Habitat Management Symposium will be teaching and discussing some of the most important aspects of implementing pollinator, woodland and wildlife habitat management practices.

  • If you are currently (or want to be) engaging in on-the-ground habitat improvements this workshop is for you. Some of the most experienced and active land management professionals in the state talking about:
  • Pollinator habitat installation and management
  • Bees and how they are affected by land management activities
  • Invasive plant control
  • Woodland improvement
  • Native plants
  • Tree Health
  • Goats
  • Drones
  • Agenda - 2018 KY Habitat Symposium.jpgTo register ($40 – Includes lunch for both days) go to: https://www.thehabitatworkshop.com/events/2018/12/10/the-kentucky-habitat-management-symposium.

2018 Farm Bill Update

Unfortunately Congress did not come to agreement or pass an extension on the Farm Bill; while legislators will continue working on the bill, a vote is unlikely until after the elections. Current contracts will not be affected for any of the programs; but, without new legislation, new enrollments will not be accepted for programs like Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). The significant exception is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which was reauthorized in separate legislation earlier this year; so, new applications for EQIP could be successful.