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Important Industry Update in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Rich Gordon, President and CEO, Calforests – Governor Issues Executive Order, Homeland Security Deems Forestry Sector as Essential
Last night Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order immediately ordering all Californians to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Exceptions to this order are only for those individuals who perform functions that have been deemed critical as part of federal infrastructure sectors. The essential critical infrastructure workforce is described in a March 19, 2020 document from the Department of Homeland Security . In a section on Food and Agriculture the DHS document describes as essential workforce: “Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products.” Based on this document the activities of the timber industry continue in California.

Calforests will closely monitor any possible changes to this description of essential workforce. Certainly, the need for building additional shelters, medical facilities, and housing create a dynamic where our industry can play a positive role in providing the materials necessary to meet these construction goals.

CAL FIRE Harvest Plan Processing
In terms of the processing of harvest plans, CAL FIRE is releasing a memo today that will clarify that they will continue processing plans. They are encouraging the use of electronic communication and regular mail. If you choose to hand deliver documents, you will need to contact that office to make arrangements as they may be closed to public access. They will continue scheduling PHIs as per normal procedures. Other agencies may have differing procedures. As of now Water Quality plans to operate in much the same manner as CAL FIRE. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is restricting at least some of their personnel from attending meetings, likely including some PHIs. The Information Centers are working on solutions to assist the processing of Archaeological Information requests.

CAL FIRE has stressed that they will continue to make every effort to continue the process as close to normal as possible.

Tax Deadlines
The Federal Income Tax deadline has been extended to July 15 th . The State deadline had previously been extended to June 15 th . The State Franchise Tax Board had previously announced that the June 15 th deadline could be pushed back even further if the Internal Revenue Service grants a longer relief period. The State has not made a change as of the writing of this Calforests Report, but a change is likely.

Stay Informed
I would like to encourage Calforests members to regularly check the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Updates page for real time updates related to the pandemic and actions taken by the state.