There’s nothing like being out of the area for a few days to liven matters up.
Over the past week, AB-904, the Working Forest Management Plan (WFMP) bill, has suddenly jumped into high profile. This bill takes the proven model of the NonIndustrial Timber Management Plan and expands it for properties up to 15,000 acres. This has been a long-standing dream for larger forest landowners and is vehemently opposed by the usual suspects.
Our first notice that this bill had progressed to the point that is entering the arena of public discussion was when we were alerted on April 19 that John Leopold of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors was pushing a motion for Santa Cruz County to request that the Southern Subdistrict be excluded from using WFMPs as a management option.
CCFA requested the membership to take up the banner at the Supervisor’s meeting April 23. The motion was voted down, primarily because the supervisors felt there had not been time for proper public comment and discussion, and the ball returned to Sacramento. We will need to continue to watch this in the County venue and weigh in on the benefits of the plan for the County.
The bill’s latest amendment was posted April 22, while the CCFA legislative team was traveling. President Jim Hildreth submitted a brief letter of support to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in advance of the Monday, April 29 hearing. Plenty of other forestry advocates did get a chance to analyze the bill and comment, including Forest Landowners of California and the California Licensed Foresters Association.
It is generally a good bill, with room for improvement. Our initial analysis leads us to support the bill if amended. We would like to see the following:
- The current inventory requirement is burdensome and expensive. The first inventory can be greatly reduced in its intensity and any subsequent inventory should only be required if there is an obvious occular disagreement between the RPF and CDF. If the RPF thinks there could be a problem he should do the inventory. If CDF thinks there is a problem then they should do the inventory. If it turns out that there was no problem then CDF has to eat the costs. If there is a problem then the RPF/landowner has to pay to CDF for the cost of the inventory, plus 10%.
- Given that the purpose of the bill is to transition forest composition and management to a condition deemed more beneficial to plants and wildlife, any changes caused by the WFMP or other voluntary actions of the landowner, that cause rare or endangered plants and/or animals to appear upon the plan area, shall be assumed to have been the result of those actions. No further regulations shall be imposed on the landowner [Safe Harbor] in order to promote a continuation of the actions that benefited the rare or endangered plants or animals and caused their establishment upon that land.
We hope to get a chance to weigh in with these ideas after Monday’s hearing.
Our usual table of legislation status is here:
Below is a “brief” list of the bills that had some action.
AB-8: hearing postponed until 5/6/13
AB-23: hearing set for 5/1/13
AB-37: hearing set for 5/1/13
AB-124: hearing set for 5/1/13
AB-203: hearing set for 5/1/13
AB-245 failed passage in committee. According to the posted analysis, the failure was due to the technical difficulty of imposing open-meeting requirements on conference call meetings. AB 527 and SB 726 also have provisions requiring the Western Climate Initiative, Inc. to the Bagley-Keene sunshine law. WCI is theoretically generating a protocol that would fulfill sunshine requirements.
AB-284 was amended and an analysis was posted. Hearing Monday, April 29.
AB-350 was amended to lower the maximum size tree that may be taken without permits for a fire perimeter from 34 DBH to 28 DBH which is still significantly bigger than the current 18 DBH. Several co-authors joined the bill. The Natural Resources Committee hearing is Monday April 29.
AB-374 was sent to Senate Judiciary committee
AB-383 was amended, but the changes do not affect anything of interest to CCFA.
AB-416 will be heard May 1, 2013
AB-468: status difficult to determine. The hearing date of 4/29 is still posted, although the latest history says this was canceled.
AB-515: hearing canceled at request of author
AB-763 will be heard on May 1, 2013
AB-769 was amended
AB-823 was amended to place more burden on the lead agency reviewing the conversion, although the applicant must still cover the costs of providing for a conservation easement on some equivalent piece of land. This bill STILL does not address the causal factors driving conversion of ag land.
AB-875 was amended and will be heard on Monday, April 29. The amendment mandated far too much of the AB 1492 money (65%) be dedicated to salmon restoration to the detriment of other forest improvement and restoration projects.
AB-929 was amended to add implementation of SRA fee reimbursement for those people determined to not be in an SRA.
AB-1213 was amended and a hearing set for 4/30/13. This amendment fixed the problem of creating a special protected status for bobcats and places them with all other fur-bearing animals. CFW is authorized the generate a management plan that would determine how many bobcats may be taken based on population data and the rules under which bobcats may be taken.
AB-1230: hearing canceled at the request of the author.
AB-1295 was amended
AB-1330: hearing set for 5/1/13
AB-1331 was gutted and amended yet again to address the need for future water bonds
AB-1375 was amended.
SB-1 passed Senate Transportation and Housing and was sent to Senate Appropriations. Redevelopment districts remain popular.
SB-34 passed Senate Natural Resources and Water and was sent on the the Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB-123 was amended to add in the date the bill would become active if passed.
SB-125 failed to pass the Senate Natural Resources and Water committee. The analysis notes that action on repealing the SRA fee has passed in the assembly and that AB 468 will deal with the situation by removing the SRA fee and replacing it with an emergency fund. This committee evidently prefers to deal with the situation through these bills.
SB-132 was placed in the Senate Appropriations Suspense file. This is the bill that requires non-lethal methods for disposing of mountain lions. Senate Appropriations believes that the new CFW policy covers the same territory as this bill and the bill is unneeded.
SB-731 was amended and has a hearing on May 1. It now has a $30,000,000 annual fund for grants for planning activities for implementing sustainable communities. We’re still for introducing measurable standards into CEQA but are ambivalent about throwing around $30,000,000 on developing “sustainable communities” with public money.
SB-749 has a hearing on April 29.