Best Management Practices
Texas Forestry Association (TFA) supports the implementation of non-regulatory forestry best management practices (BMPs) to minimize nonpoint source pollution. BMPs are based on scientific research and provide uniform guidance to forest landowners and operators on how to comply with the overall nonpoint source management program administered by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, under the requirements of the Agricultural Code of Texas.
BMPs generally address timber harvesting, road construction, site preparation, tree planting and other normal forestry activities. BMPs also serve to maintain the productivity and sustainability of forested sites and should continue to serve as the foundation for practicing good forest stewardship.
TFA supports retaining the non-regulatory framework of the Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act as the most effective and efficient means of minimizing the impact of forestry operations on water quality, wetland areas, and coastal resources.
TFA supports the continued exemption of normal silvicultural practices from Clean Water Act Section 404 permit requirements and encourages the use of non-regulatory BMPs in wetland areas as the means of protecting wetland systems.
TFA is committed to working with state and federal resource agencies as the BMPs are updated as part of the 1990 Coastal Zone REAUTHORIZATION Act and upcoming amendments to the Clean Water Act. TFA will promote voluntary implementation of BMPs by all landowners through education and incentive programs to ensure that sustainable forest management is effectively integrated with environmental protection objectives.
Last Revision Date: 7/17/2007
TFA opposes legislation that would create a new special class of private property purchaser through tax favoritism. TFA opposes any tax subsidy that would provide a capital gains tax reduction to those selling private property to government or land trusts for conservation purposes. This type of tax favoritism would place purchasers of private property at a disadvantage when engaged in a competitive bidding process.
Timber Tax Reform
TFA supports federal legislation that would correct the competitive imbalance imposed by the U.S. tax system relative to the more favorable rules for timber investments in most competing nations. The Timber Revitalization and Economic Enhancement (TREE) Act, HR 1937, reverses the trend of decreasing U.S. competitiveness in the forest products industry by: 1) Providing a 60-percent deduction for qualified timber gain, which results in a maximum tax rate on such gain of 14-percent for both individuals and corporations; & 2) Provides for modernization of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) rules for timber property.
TFA supports passage of the TREE Act.
Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are essential for effective and economical reforestation in Texas.
TFA supports the use of herbicides and other pesticides when applied according to the label and in compliance with non-regulatory Best Management Practices for forestry purposes.
TFA opposes the removal of methyl bromide as a fumigant in forest seedling nurseries until such time a suitable replacement can be identified.
TFA is committed to working with the Texas Department of Agriculture to ensure that reasonable guidelines are developed for the use of pesticides so they do not pose a significant risk to endangered species or the environment and that guidelines for use of pesticides do not unnecessarily hamper forestry operations.
Property Tax On Private Forest Lands
TFA supports the continuation of the concept of taxing forest and agricultural lands on their ability to produce, i.e. - current use values opposed to highest and best use. The timber use and agricultural use value concepts have proven to be effective in maintaining those lands in agricultural and timber related uses, which better protects environmental stability.
TFA also supports the tax incentives for qualified forest zones and regenerated timberland to encourage reforestation, afforestation and the preservation of non-timber values (i.e. water quality, critical wildlife habitat and protection of historic/scenic areas).
We believe that taxation of qualified timberlands by methods other than their productivity capability will result in escalating property tax values eventually forcing a decline in available natural resources, and the benefits they provide to society at little, if any, cost to the public.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker And Timber Harvesting In The National Forest
Texas Forestry Association opposes any restrictions on timber harvests in the National Forest which are not based on valid scientific data.
We support U.S. District Court Judge Richard Schell’s September 30, 2003 decision to lift the moratorium on clearcutting within 1,200 meters (3/4 mile) of red-cockaded woodpecker clusters. There appeared to be no conclusive evidence to substantiate this policy, which was inconsistent with current knowledge of the biological requirements of the species.
Now, management of red-cockaded woodpecker populations can be guided by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan for species. The USDA Forest Service is currently following this plan (based on scientific studies) as the basis for their management activities.
TFA firmly believes that forest management and the administration of wildlife resources, especially endangered species, should be based on scientific information and left up to professional wildlife biologists and professional foresters employed for that purpose.
TFA supports the reforestation efforts on private ownerships. Recognizing the fundamental importance of renewing a vital natural resource, incentive programs such as the laws passed by the Texas Legislature over the past several years that provide significant tax incentives for planting trees on agricultural open-space lands and on timber lands that have been harvested promote the cause of forest regeneration and augments tree planting efforts in the state.
TFA supports the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and the Forestry Titles which require states to set priorities for forestry assistance programs. TFA supports the allocation of EQIP funds that recognize and encourage tree planting on privately owned timber lands.
The benefits of a growing forest to the environment, the economy, and to society are numerous. Replanting efforts insure the availability of paper, wood and wood by-products for the future. They help maintain water quality, prevent soil degradation and provide wildlife habitat as well as recreational opportunities.
Loss Of Land Base Due To Water Impoundments
Texas Forestry Association (TFA) recognizes the seriousness of the future demands on our state’s water resources and do applaud the efforts of the regional water planning groups and the State Water Development Board in developing a long range water plan that encompasses water conservation and other appropriate measures to ensure that the citizens, agricultural/forestry operations and industries of this state have adequate water supplies available.
TFA is concerned that the identified water reservoirs in addition to the mitigated land required for these projects in East Texas will unnecessarily remove large acres of a land base that will destroy future economies and local communities. TFA opposes the construction and the funding of water impoundments in East Texas, unless such projects have been adequately justified and are supported by the agricultural communities in the affected rural communities. TFA’s concerns are as follows:
The loss of valuable timberlands and the land base that supports a key renewable natural resource.
The loss of future timber production from these lands.
The continued loss of valuable bottomland hardwood as wildlife habitat and other environmental benefits.
The usurpation of private timberland ownership in favor of ownership by governmental or quasi-governmental entities.
The loss of property taxes.
The loss of land to mitigation.
TFA supports and encourages the state to study other sources of water supplies and conservation measures in lieu of future water reservoirs. TFA suggests that the following steps be taken before any water impoundments are considered:
Utilize existing reservoirs, encourage water conservation and reuse prior to considering new reservoirs.
The state should support research and tax incentive programs that focus on desalination.
The state should impose water conservation and rate structure measures in areas of the state where water shortages are expected.
The future economic and socioeconomic impacts on the local communities, industries, taxing entities, landowners, agricultural and forestry operations must be considered.
Landowners should be compensated with annual rental payments until the reservoir is constructed and should have the right to royalties from the sale of water from the reservoir.
Landowners should have the opportunity to sign conservation easements instead of having the land condemned for mitigation purposes.
Water regions supporting the construction of the reservoir should share in the mitigation required for the project based on the percentage of water controlled by that region.
Utilize depleted aquifers for water storage.
Adopted on10/24/2007; Amended 10/9/2013
Wild And Scenic Rivers
TFA opposes the designation of rivers under the National Wild & Scenic River (NW&SR) Act. The NW&SR Act was signed into law in 1996. Under the provisions of the act the term river means a flowing body of water or estuary or a section, portion or tributary thereof, including rivers, streams, creeks, runs, rills and small lakes. Therefore any waters going into the designated watershed would come under federal management control. The Act also states that the boundaries of any river proposed in Section 5 of the act shall generally comprise that area measured within one quarter mile from the ordinary high water mark on each side of the river. In Section 6 of the act the acquisition procedures allow for condemnation to clear title or to acquire scenic easements or such other easements necessary to give the public access to the river and to permit its members to traverse the length of the area or of selected segments of the river.
TFA opposes this designation for the following reasons: 1) Designation would limit the economic growth of our local and rural communities; 2) Designation would infringe on private property rights of landowners; 3) Designation would limit the use of the land for agricultural and forestry practices; & 4) Designation would add to the federal regulations imposed on local communities and landowners in East Texas.
WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES (WOTUS)
The Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates pollution discharges to Waters of the United States (WOTUS). In 2015, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule that significantly expanded what constitutes a WOTUS. The proposed rule redefined the scope of federal power by expanding the list of water features subject to regulation under the CWA, adding costly new administrative burdens for states and landowners. TFA, along with numerous other organizations, opposed this rule and provided written comments to EPA. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed this new rule nationwide in October 2015.
In 2017, EPA published a proposal to rescind the stayed 2015 WOTUS rule and re-codify the WOTUS definition prior to 2015. This proposal also signaled intent to pursue rulemaking on a new WOTUS definition. TFA supports rescinding the 2015 WOTUS rule and developing a new rule consistent with congressional intent and judicial interpretations. The new rule should not extend federal jurisdiction to non-navigable, isolated/intrastate waters and wetlands, ephemeral streams, ditches, and should retain silvicultural exemptions in the CWA regarding dredge and fill and storm water permitting.
25 x 25 Alliance
The current and future risks to U.S. energy security are mounting; domestic and global energy demands are growing exponentially; environmental and health concerns and risks associated with fossil based fuel sources are escalating; solar, wind and biomass can be captured and/or produced on the land mass managed by U.S. agriculture, forestry and horticultural industries; and technology and production capabilities allow America’s producers and processors to play a major role in insuring a fully sustainable U.S. energy system. Therefore, TFA supports the goal of the 25 x 25 program of producing 25% of America’s energy from renewable resources by the year 2025 and commits to exploring the contribution which forestry can make as producers of energy and to participate in bringing this vision to life.
TFA supports changes to the state’s eminent domain law which would restrict an agency of government from using the power of eminent domain without first establishing proof that there is a public need for the land and documenting that there is no alternative available. The association also opposes the taking of land by eminent domain for recreational, environmental or private business purposes. TFA supports the position that landowners should be compensated for the value of their land and the timber resources on the land using both current and future values.
TFA supports legislation that requires those exercising eminent domain to make a good faith offer, and legislation that provides more adequate compensation to owners of property that is condemned which include royalty payments to the landowner. In addition, TFA supports legislation which returns to private ownership property acquired through condemnation for a stated purpose and not used for that purpose. TFA supports the position that the original landowner should be given the first option to re-purchase their property at the original sale price.
TFA supports the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) pilot Alternative Compliance Path (ACP) for wood and paper products in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 and LEED v4 rating systems. This pilot program, which was released pm April 5, 2016, enables all certified products to be eligible for LEED credit recognizing the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), American Tree Farm System (ATFS), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). TFA supports the promotion of the use of wood in LEED projects and the permanent adoption of the recognition of all wood certification systems in the LEED rating system.
TFA supports reducing the United States dependence on traditional energy sources and becoming energy independent. In that regard, TFA encourages improved energy efficiencies in forest management, utilization, transportation, and manufacturing of forest products. TFA also encourages and supports the use of alternative, renewable cellulosic energy sources, particularly woody biomass, to achieve this objective.
The “Keep the Forest in the Family Estate Tax Act” is a proposal to make changes to the estate tax Special Use Valuation for private forest owners. Special Use Valuation currently allows forest owners to value their managed forest at its current use value, rather than the fair market value, for estate tax purposes. When the Special Use Valuation was put into law, there was a restriction added that penalizes a landowner if they harvest timber within ten-years from the date the landowner elected to include their timber under this valuation. While forest landowners are eligible, the law was written for farmers and very few forest landowners benefit from Special Use Valuation. The proposed Act would allow the harvest of timber without estate tax penalties if the property is under a recognized management plan or in a third-party certification program.
TFA supports passage of the “Keep the Forest in the Family Estate Tax Act”.
Texas Forestry Association (TFA) understands the overall intent of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect critically imperiled species from extinction. As part of an organization guided by a conservation philosophy, we strive to enhance and perpetuate the Texas forest resource through sustainable management that ultimately provides high quality habitat for game and nongame wildlife species.
ESA listings and related regulations can have a negative economic impact, particularly on private property owners and agriculture based industries. Given the importance of these listing decisions, high-quality, scientific information is critical in order to make well informed decisions.
TFA supports using sound scientific research to evaluate species for possible listing as endangered or threatened under the ESA. The Habitat Protection Fund established by the 83rd Texas Legislature and administered by the Comptroller of Public Accounts provides a necessary vehicle to provide funding for state public universities to conduct high-quality species research to aid in making these determinations.
When sound scientific research identifies species of concern, at-risk species, or species that may need formal listing, conservation efforts can be critical to species recovery. TFA supports encouraging private land conservation through voluntary, incentive-based approaches. Landowners participating in these programs should be provided regulatory assurances that limit their obligations under the ESA or other regulatory programs. Market based approaches, such as private species conservation banks, are also opportunities to support recovery. With 95% of Texas in private ownership, private landowners are the key to species recovery and conserving the state’s natural heritage.
Adopted by the TFA Board of Directors on October 21, 2015
TFA supports the continued responsible use of prescribed burning by landowners as a management tool.
Prescribed burning is recognized as a valuable land management tool in both forest and rangeland ecosystems. The proper application of fire is essential for hazardous fuels reduction, site preparation efforts for forest and rangeland regeneration, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, and the control of insects, diseases, and unwanted or invasive plant species. Many native plant and animal species are dependent on an ecosystem that includes fire.
TFA recognizes that the use of prescribed burning enhances public safety by reducing or eliminating hazardous fuel loads thereby reducing the threat and devastation caused by uncontrolled wildfires.
TFA supports the Certified Prescribed Burn Managers program and encourages the state to seek ways to promote and recognize the professional burn managers by adopting laws and local regulations that encourage the use of prescribed burning on Texas’ lands.
Adopted by the TFA Board of Directors on October 21, 2015
TFA strongly recommends the prompt control of all native and non-native invasive pests and plants. These pests and plants cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage annually not only to Texas forests and woodlands but forests across the nation. Pests such as southern pine beetle and emerald ash borer and plants such as Chinese tallow, kudzu and cogon grass threaten millions of acres of forests and native ecosystems. Once established these pests and plants can decrease forest productivity resulting in lost revenue, recreational value and native habitat for a variety of game and non-game species. There are many proven methods for controlling and minimizing the impact and spread of these invasive species. A fundamental method is implementing sound forest management strategies such as prescribed burning, thinning and in some cases chemical treatments including both herbicides and insecticides. When forests are left unmanaged the chance for either native or non-native invasive species attacking or establishing increase dramatically. TFA encourages all forest and woodland owners to actively manage their forests and woodlands in order to maintain healthy and vibrant forested ecosystems.
TFA also strongly supports the continuation and development of research for both biological and chemical control agents for controlling native and non-native invasive pests and plants.
TIMBER TAX PROVISIONS
The timber tax provisions in the federal and state tax codes recognize the treatment of private forests as long-term investments in real property and the costs and risks associated with maintaining a healthy and productive forest. The timber tax provisions support jobs and encourage long-term land management decisions that are sound stewardship practices for the land, water quality, wildlife, and public recreational opportunities.
TFA members oppose any consideration by the U.S. Congress to repeal the Capital gains treatment of timber revenue; the repeal of the deduction for timber growing costs; the repeal of the deduction and amortization of reforestation costs; and the repeal of the treatment of timber as real property for purposes of the real estate investment trust rules.
Furthermore, TFA members support the timber tax incentives in the Timber Tax Manual of the State tax code that provide incentives for private landowners to reforest following a harvest; plant open space land to trees; and provide tax incentives to protect stream-side management zones, aesthetic areas, critical wildlife habitat areas, and areas of historic and special interest.