Best Management Practices for Water Quality
The NCFA supports the legislatively defined forest practice guidelines and performance standards for water quality (now part of the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.) The Association urges full implementation of identified best management practices (BMPs) to achieve these performance standards. The practices represent sound, cost-effective ways of protecting water quality while allowing the continued management and harvest of forest products.
Best Management Practices and Wetlands
The NCFA has endorsed and adopted recommended forestry best management practices (BMPs) as published by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in June 1990. The Association urges immediate voluntary implementation by the membership and the forestry community at large. When fully implemented, these practices will assure continued timber production while maintaining other wetland values and functions.
It also is the position of the NCFA that normal, ongoing forest management activities conducted in accordance with best management practices as defined in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act are and should continue to be exempt from Section 404 permit requirements.
Biomass and Biofuels
The NCFA believes that the state’s forests can and should play a significant role in supplying woody biomass for energy solutions. We recognize that healthy productive forests depend on having strong markets for wood and wood products. By providing expanded market opportunities, biomass energy can provide an additional incentive to private landowners to keep their land in forest and to expand the management of the resource. In order to insure the long-term sustainability of the forest resource, it is essential that the state of North Carolina and the Nation embrace policies that support the economic and environmental benefits coming from healthy and productive forests. Evolving energy policies and management of the nation’s forests should support and not undermine such policies. We support energy initiatives that improve the environment, minimize economic distortions and maximize the vitality of our forests and the communities and industries that depend on them. We believe that market forces should be the primary stimulant for the use of wood and wood waste as a renewable fuel source and for determining fuel choices for energy generation. To the degree that government policies stimulate increased use of wood fiber for fuel, the government should increase the supply and availability of wood fiber from state and federal lands to help meet the added demands for wood. Further, existing companies that produce energy from woody biomass should not be disadvantaged by government incentives available to new businesses. And further, existing companies that already produce energy from woody biomass and seek to expand their biomass energy capacity should be equally eligible for government incentives as new businesses.
On October 9, 2009 the NCFA Board of Directors approved the following recommendations for its Biomass Harvesting Task Force related to the definition of “biomass” and the need for additional actions related to harvest.
Definition of Biomass: NCFA supports the definition of renewable biomass as contained in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Biomass Harvesting: The Board does not believe that additional harvesting guidelines restrictions, mandates or BMP’s for biomass are warranted or necessary at this time. Note: This could change over time depending on research findings or field operations that point to a need for additional actions.
Canadian Lumber Imports
The North Carolina Forestry Association strongly supports an end to unfairly subsidized lumber imports from Canada that are having a devastating impact on United States landowners and lumber producers. Until Canada ends these subsidies through open and competitive timber sales, we urge the United States government to take any necessary actions, including the extension of the softwood lumber agreement and/or the imposition of countervailing duties, to protect American landowners and lumber producers.
The NCFA supports the use of the harvesting method commonly known as clearcutting as one of several ways of harvesting timber. Like most practices, positive and negative impacts exist. Research has shown that clearcutting is a very effective and efficient way of harvesting timber and preparing a site for regeneration. Almost all of the commercial species of timber in the state require full sunlight for optimum growth. The complete removal of a stand allows full sunlight to reach the forest floor and stimulate new growth. Properly done, this method of harvest does not cause significant soil erosion or sedimentation. A timber harvest, particularly a clearcut, is seldom pretty and may cause “visual pollution” for some people. Alternative methods of harvesting should be examined and, if economical and appropriate, used in those areas with high scenic values.
Endangered Species – Reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act has provided a mechanism for protecting and rebuilding the populations of certain threatened and endangered species. However implementation of the current law does not provide for adequate consideration of human impact of the economic costs associated with compliance with the act. The NCFA supports reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act provided that it contains adequate provisions for balancing human and economic impacts with the benefits and requirements of protecting a particular species.
Expansion of Wood Processing Facilities in North Carolina
The North Carolina forest products industry, as represented through the NCFA, is united in its belief that new wood processing facilities will provide additional market opportunities and forest management options for private landowners. Markets for wood, particularly for previously unmerchantable material, provide essential financial returns and incentives to private landowners to improve and enhance their forest management programs. The forest industry is also united in its belief that improved markets, coupled with research, accurate forest inventory data and comprehensive landowner education programs, are essential to assure the long-term health and productivity of the state’s forest resources. With regard to landowner education, the industry is committed to assuring that forest landowners are aware of their forest management options, have access to professional assistance and make informed decisions regarding the management of their forests.
Increased Funding for the Forest Development Program
The NCFA supports increased state appropriations to the Forest Development Program. The state should match the forest products industry’s contribution dollar for dollar based on the previous year’s tax collection. Further, we support expanding allowable cost-share practices to include necessary hardwood management practices.
National Forests – Role of the National Forests in North Carolina
The North Carolina Forestry Association (NCFA) believes that environmental protection and ecological restoration of the national forests can go hand in hand with economic opportunity and improved rural employment.
National Forests are extraordinarily valuable both ecologically and economically. They provide public benefits that include ecological infrastructure, an economic foundation for rural communities, and recreational and educational opportunities for people throughout the world.
The NCFA supports active management of the National Forests and supports adequate funding, community involvement, volunteerism, and public participation in planning so that the forests are managed towards accomplishing important social, environmental, and economic objectives.
As the planning process for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests proceeds, the NCFA encourages the US Forest Service and its partners and collaborators to consider the value of timber harvesting as an important part of accomplishing plan objectives and to see timber harvesting as an important tool to improving forest resiliency, sustainability, and health.
One of the primary objectives of the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Management plans is the enhancement of forest resiliency. Resilient forests are better able to withstand the impacts of both natural and manmade disasters, climate change, and non-native and invasive pests.
The NCFA believes that sustainable timber harvesting, when planned and supervised by professional foresters and other resource specialists, is a crucial tool in enhancing forest resiliency. Additionally, we believe that timber harvesting can be conducted in a manner that supports and protects other valuable resources, including water quality and wildlife habitat.
Timber harvesting is the beginning of an economic value chain that is multiplied many times over in the local community with the production, transportation, and manufacturing of forest products. The economic engine begun by harvesting supports the livelihoods of rural communities across the state, communities that are often far removed from economic activity enjoyed by more urban areas.
Additionally, timber harvesting is an important tool that can aid in the recovery of endangered species, provide conditions that enhance the restoration of ecological communities such as the American chestnut forest, remove invasive species, and produce suitable habitat for important pollinators, game species, and song birds.
The NCFA, like many other organizations that are committed to sound scientific management of our national forests, supports the appropriate use of both commercial and non-commercial timber harvesting on the national forests because we believe it is a crucial tool for improving forest health and resiliency, improving rural economic livelihoods, and protecting and enhancing other important forest resources.
Notification of Timber Harvest
The NCFA generally opposes any notification of timber harvest scheme, at least until reliable data or other substantive information is provided that clearly shows that (1) there is a real problem that needs to be addressed, (2) notification of timber harvest is the most efficient and equitable way to fix the problem and (3) such a program can be effectively implemented, i.e. the enforcement agency has adequate resources to carry out the program.
Pesticide Use in Forest Management
The NCFA supports the safe use and application of pesticides in forest management. When applied under EPA-approved label instructions, pesticides used in forestry are environmentally safe. While pesticides represent an important tool in forest management, they should not be used indiscriminately or on every site. Care must be taken to protect water quality and wildlife resources from inadvertent exposure to pesticides. When using pesticides, applicators should comply fully with all state and federal regulations.
Prescribed Burning and Smoke Management
The NCFA supports the continued use of fire as a forest management tool. Used properly, fire is an extremely cost-effective and environmentally sound practice. The resulting smoke from prescribed burning can be managed with a minimum of adverse impacts. The NCFA fully supports and urges its members to comply with the existing voluntary smoke management guidelines. We believe these guidelines are adequate to manage smoke from forest management operations and to protect the public.
Property Rights – Private Landowners’ Property Rights
The NCFA supports the right of private landowners to own and manage land for both economic and individual satisfaction. The right to own land is guaranteed under the Constitution. Further, government is prohibited from taking private property without due compensation. Although government has the authority to regulate certain actions on private property, regulations or legislation that diminishes the owner’s economic use of his property constitute, to some degree, a taking of that land. Thus government should provide due process and compensation for that taking. The only just basis for such compensation is fair market value. Further, the NCFA supports the right of private landowners to control the use of their property. Government should provide adequate protection for landowners from public trespass, including protection from all liability for unauthorized use of their land.
State Taxation of Private Forestlands The NCFA supports the concept of taxing land based on its current use rather than its potential highest and best use. In the case of forestland, the Association believes this tax system should be extended to all private land and not just land held by private, non-industrial landowners. Land-use taxation has proven to be an effective incentive for landowners to maintain their lands in agriculture or forestry use. It has also helped prevent indiscriminate development of these rural lands. We believe the taxing of land based on its highest and best use eventually will force the landowner to convert the land to that use, regardless of the social or environmental impacts.
Timberland Taxation – Capital Gains Taxation of Timber Income
The NCFA supports reinstatement of a capital gains tax differential for timber income. In 1944, Congress properly recognized the long-term high-risk nature of forestry investment and provided this tax incentive for forest landowners. In doing so, it encouraged such investments by taxing timber at lower rates. This action provided capital for landowners to reinvest in the management of their timberlands and made forestry investments competitive with other long-term investments. This has helped support the steady increase in the nation’s timber supply and the improved management of its forests.