Forestry Reform Package is a lifeline for California’s timber industry
(Sacramento) – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed the most significant piece of California forest legislation in decades. AB 1492 provides reforms that will help to maintain and grow in-state lumber jobs while maintaining California’s high environmental standards. Legislators from both sides of the aisle worked together on this bill because of its broad support and the policy benefits of encouraging more jobs and better forest management in California. The signing of the bill is proof that government is successfully working to create policies to move California forward.
“With support and leadership from both parties, our state leaders took on a complex, multifaceted issue and developed a package of reform measures that will enhance stability of our state’s vital domestic forest industry,” says Janet Webb, president of Big Creek Lumber Company.
Big Creek Lumber Company is a family-owned lumber company who owns forestland and currently operates a sawmill and five lumber yards. Ms. Webb’s comments on the highly talked about new assessment, “as lumberyard owners we understand the challenges businesses face when a new assessment needs to be implemented. We also see the 1 percent assessment as the only clear, fair way to ensure all lumber being sold in California is treated fairly and California-made lumber is not placed at a competitive disadvantage to lumber produced out-of-state.”
“AB 1492 improves forestland owners’ ability to manage their land and provide greater flexibility to market California’s high quality, sustainably produced forest products,” says California Forestry Association President David Bischel. “The legislation will help to expand market opportunities for California producers, preserve working forests, encourage investment in our rural communities and will in time support thousands of new jobs.”
“The Governor’s signature on AB 1492 culminates a yearlong process of consensus building between the timber industry, environmentalists, the Legislature and the Governor’s Office,” Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro said. “It is a win for our environment because it creates a funding source to ensure all timber harvest plans receive thorough environmental review and provides additional funds for forest restoration projects. It’s a win for timber companies in California, who have long-term investments in our rural communities, by extending the life of harvest plans and reducing the pressures of lawsuits or excessive fees.”
The Forestry Reform Package includes three key pieces of the bill which aim to make California grown lumber more competitive with out-of-state producers . First, the bill clarifies existing California fire liability law for fires that spread onto federally owned lands in a way that brings predictability and insurability to all landowners within proximity to any federally owned lands in CA. Secondly; it extends the life of Timber Harvest Plans to a maximum total permit life of up to 7 years. Lastly, AB 1492 implements a new 1% assessment on lumber to be collected at retail, which was necessary to ensure that all lumber sold in California bears its fair share of state regulatory costs. The lumber fee will make the playing field for California lumber producers more level with producers in nearby neighboring states. The new lumber assessment will amount to on average less than 50 cents per transaction to consumers buying lumber at big box retailers in the state.
The California Forestry Association (CFA) consists of forestry professionals committed to the protection of our natural resources, environmentally sound policies, sustainable use of renewable resources and responsible forestry. CFA serves as a central voice for California’s forest-resource companies and communities.