Democratic Majority Senate OKs Timber Industry backed Bill
It’s a rarity when the timber industry gets measures it supports through the Democratic majority Legislature but that’s what happened in the 40-member Senate August 18 on a bipartisan 32 to 1 vote.
The bill, awaiting action by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, deals with timber harvest plans, which are required by the state prior to commercial logging.
A previous bill allowed plans, which normally have a three-year length that expired in 2008 and 2009 to receive four one-year extensions – under certain circumstances.
However, the California Forestry Association, which sponsored the current bill, AB 2163, said some timber harvest plans were missed by the earlier bill.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the number of timber harvest plans affected is between 50 and 80 – a small number of those on file with the state.
The forestry association argues that the extensions are needed so landowners can wait until timber prices improve before logging their property. Prices are at their lowest point since 1991, the timber industry says.
Several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, opposed the bill by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, an Artesia Democrat, arguing that harvest plans are supposed to be completed within the timeframes initially set and shouldn’t be extended.
The environmental groups also say prices have recovered enough to not warrant further extensions and that by giving landowners a longer time to log could cost jobs in the short term.
Extending previously approved plans also means newer regulations by the state to protect salmon or more effectively combat greenhouse gas emissions.
Originally, the bill extended the life of timber harvest plans to 10 years. The Assembly reduced that to five years.
In the Senate, the measure was amended so that plans that expired in 2008 and 2009 on which work was not completed could get four one-year exemptions.
Plans approved in 2010 and 2011 could receive two two-year extensions, creating the possibility of seven-year harvest plans.
The GOP governor has taken no public position on the bill.
September 20 is the 82nd day of the fiscal year that began July 1. There is no budget in place – the longest such delay in California’s 160-year history.
Filed under: Legislature/Legislation
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