KWOA Board discusses strategic planning, timber theft and river basins as quarterly meeting

The KWOA/F Board of Directors convened its quarterly meeting on August 8 in Frankfort. Several guest presenters attended the meeting:

Aleta Botts – Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development

Bill McCloskey – Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy

Chris Osborne – Kentucky River Properties, LLC

Perry Thomas, DOW Watershed Management Branch

Aleta Botts, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD), described the services provided by this 501(c)(3) organization which works closely with GOAP. KCARD provides planning assistance for Kentucky agricultural organizations. Representatives of KWOA will be meeting with them to help clarify and further develop goals and plans.

Bill McCloskey, Deputy Director, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), explained the role of the Kentucky Agricultural Fund, which at the state level annually distributes about $16 million in tobacco settlement funds. Increasing farm income is the purpose of these investments. Funding requests that require additional development are often referred to KCARD.

 

Strategic Planning: Jack Stickney reported on the idea of applying for funding through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund in order to significantly expand the activities of KWOA. This would entail an increase in efforts to encourage woodland ownership, and the hiring of an executive director. After a lot of discussions, the group concluded that KWOA may not be ready to take on this level of additional activity, and as an alternative, might advocate for funding for woodland management activities through organizations with infrastructure already in place. As noted above, the intent is to review these plans in more detail with KCARD.

 

Chris Osborne, Forester with Kentucky River Properties LLC, said he was speaking on behalf of his employer as well as other large woodland owners in Eastern Kentucky in outlining a need to change timber trespass laws in order to protect the interests of landowners as well as the timber industry. In order to reduce the incidence of unauthorized logging, Chris suggested that the notification requirement to adjoining landowners should become mandatory for all logging operations. Industry groups, including KWOA and KFIA, will be asked to provide representatives to a group that will work toward this change. For a detailed report on the issue…

 

Woodland Assessment: Jim Corum reported that Jeff Harper, Director, Public Affairs Division, Kentucky Farm Bureau, has said he will meet with the Governor’s Office after the 2019 legislative session to discuss KWOA’s proposed changes in the woodland assessment.

Read the Background on the Corum’s case regarding timber property valuation.

On May 15, 2019 the Kentucky Claims Commission declined the Corum tax appeal.

On-going discussion on fair and equitable assessment and taxation of managed woodlands will utilize a White Paper by Jeffrey Stringer, Professor and Chair, UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources Extension.

2020 Annual Meeting: The meeting will be held March 24-25 at Lake Cumberland State Park. Recreation is the theme.

Health Task Force:  Joe Ball and Don Girton discussed efforts to obtain woodland owner federal financial relief from the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer disease. Both believe that in light of the $16 billion in federal aid being provided to farmers in connection with tariffs, EAB help in the near future is unlikely. (Bob Bauer, KFIA, noted earlier that red oak markets in Asia are down by half.) Joe Ball noted that the reluctance to fund EAB disaster relief is just one example of the lack of recognition of timber as an agricultural commodity. However, Girton and Ball will continue to work on their report.

 

Perry Thomas and three associates from the Nonpoint Source & Basin Team Section, Watershed Management Branch, Kentucky Division of Water informed board members about their work and its connection with silviculture and watershed plans. KWOA will be working with this agency in the future on water quality issues related to woodlands management.

 

Funding requests approved:

Kentucky Conservation Committee – $200

Sand County Foundation (Aldo Leopold Award): $500

UK Forestry Scholarship: $1000

UK Forestry Leadership Program: $400 for scholarships for two students

 

Future board meetings will be held 11/14/19, 2/13/20, 3/25/20, 5/14/20, 8/13/20 and 11/12/20.